How Many Days Can You Self Certify in 2023? Taking Time Off Work Without a Sick Note

When you’re off sick you don’t always need to provide proof of illness. This is called self certification. But how many days can you self certify before you need a sick note?

You can self certify your absence if you’re going to be off for 7 days or less.

If you want to understand the rules on self certification, and claiming sick pay during your time off work, our guide will help you understand your rights.

This means employers cannot insist on a sick note if a worker is only off for a few days. It’s important to be aware of the self certification rules and what employee rights are when off sick. You need to know more than just how long you can self certify for.

Lets take a deep dive into your rights during a sickness, and all you need to know about self certification.

What is Self Certification?

Self certification gives the employees the right to be off for a few days of illness. They can do this without having to request a sick note from their doctor. 

With self certification, the employer will usually ask for your illness to be put into writing for your staff records. This could be done via email or some companies ask their staff to fill in an illness form. A downloadable form is available online, called an SC2.

How Long Can You Self Certify Sickness For?

You can self certify sickness for 7 days. If your absence is longer than this, you need a sick note from your GP.

This process usually involves telling your employer the reason you are off. You may be asked to complete a sickness form on your return to work. Those 7 days can include weekends and bank holidays too.

If your employer is insisting on a sick note then refer them to the website. The rules on self certification are detailed there. However, there is no legal barrier to them requesting proof of illnesses shorter than 7 days.

How you self certify will depend on your workplace. It’s important to be aware of the appropriate sick policies to make sure you follow procedure.

Self Certification Forms

A self certification form is a document an employee fills in when they are ill for less than 7 days. Self certification forms can be found online for you to print out.

However, many employers use their own forms so you may be asked to use a company form. The form you can find online is called a SC2. It can also be used to claim SSP after you have been off for 3 consecutive days due to illness.

How Many Times Can You Self Certify?

There’s no limit on how many times you can self certify, but you can only use self certification once for absences that are 7 days or less.

Once you have been absent for more than the 7 day limit, you must make a GP appointment and provide your employer with a fit note with information about your fitness to work from your doctor.

Can You Self Certify for 28 Days?

During the pandemic, the government decided to increase the self certification period to 28 days. This meant individuals did not require a doctor’s note for up to 28 days. This allowed the NHS to prioritise the Covid Booster programme.

The self certification period reverted to 7 days on 27th January 2022, so you can no longer self certify for 28 days.

Self Certification & Sick Pay

You might be wondering how to claim sick pay when you are self certifying or even if you are entitled to claim?

The answer is yes, you can still claim SSP when you are off sick, even without a sick note. You need to be off sick for 4 days in a row and on the 4th day you are entitled to sick pay.

The days prior to this are referred to as “SSP waiting days”. Sick pay during this period will be at your employer’s discretion, and is referred to as occupational sick pay or OSP.

How Much is Self Certification Sick Pay?

Self certification sick pay kicks in on day 4 of sick leave. If you’re only entitled to SSP this works out at £109.40 per week for a total of 28 weeks.

Some companies may have their own sickness pay policies and this is fine but they cannot be less than SSP. You should always read your contract carefully when it comes to understanding how sick pay will work.

If you’re wondering what happens when sick pay runs out after 28 weeks our guide outlines what you can expect.

See Also: How Much is SSP Per Day?

Absences Longer than 7 Days

If your absence is over 7 days then you can no longer self certify and need to get a fit note. This can be done through your local GP service or other medical professional as required.

Failing to produce a sick note will affect your rights to SSP and your time off may go down as unauthorised.

How to Get a Sick Note

To get a sick note you will need to make an appointment at your local GP practise. They can issue a sick note / fit note once they’ve assessed your condition.

Since Covid, many NHS establishments including GP Practices are taking some appointments via telephone. This may be how you request a sick note from your GP. They may also want to see you for a face to face appointment.

A sick note, is officially called a fit note. This document will detail their professional opinion of your ability to go back to work. The note will either say the employee is fit for work or not fit for work.

It may also state any limitations the individual may have that means their job role may need to be adapted slightly. If the changes to the job role cannot be met then the note can be changed to not fit for work.

A sick note will not provide any confidential information about your health to your employer.

Further Reading


When do I need to provide a sick note?

You will need to provide a sick note if your illness is longer than 7 consecutive days and this will be obtained from your GP practice.

Do you get sick pay with a self certificate?

On day 4 your employer should start paying you SSP or sick pay as stipulated in your contract. You are still entitled to sick pay during a period of self-certification once you have been off for 4 consecutive days.

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