As previously reported in our blog a website is offering fake new-style Med 3s which include a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’. The web-site charges £9.99 – and it’s “buy one and get one free”.
The website concerned (http://www.doctorsnotestore.com) says it provides “Guaranteed 48 hour delivery of authentic looking replica doctors sick note or medical certificate. Written on official doctors notepaper, with real stamp“. It says “all fake-sick notes come with an official sick note stamp” and offers the ability to choose from doctors at medical centres in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow – or any other area.
It also says that documents purchased from it “are to be used for entertainment purposes only. We do not condone intentional false absence from an employer or educational institution. We do not condone illegal use of these documents“. But then it goes on to say “Print a homemade sick note and you are much more likely to be caught out“.
Fake sick notes are not new. A BBC news item in August 2008 suggests they have been around since at least 1997. However their abuse for fraudulent purposes continues to be something about which employers and HR departments should be on their guard and the development of new fake fit notes is a prompt for a timely reminder.
More seriously, it seems that the previous Government’s introduction of “fit notes” to replace old-style “sick notes has hit an unexpected snag. The new fit notes were introduced in April (by the less than snappily named Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) Regulations 2010). They enable a doctor to select a ‘may be fit for work’ option if they think that returning to work will help the individual concerned. The fit note form provides tick boxes for a doctor to suggest, where appropriate, common ways for an employer to support the individual’s return to work and also provides space for the doctor to give general advice.
The unexpected snag was highlighted at a recent CBI sickness absence conference. The snag is that although all doctors can tick the boxes, many are apparently unable to write clearly. The Daily Telegraph report on the conference says that the fit-note “…has been billed as the cure to Britain’s sicknote culture but has been laid low by a more serious affliction – doctors’ illegible handwriting“.