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What To Say To Doctor To Get Signed Off Work With Stress? | HFNE

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

Probably you have been thinking what to say to your doctor to get signed off work with stress. Everyone knows that if you have the flu or you just had a baby then you need some time off work to stay at home and get some rest. However, what happens when you need some time off work due to stress, is it still as valid as having the flu?

Let us tell you that yes, it is still a valid reason and sometimes taking sick leave due to stress is the best thing to do. You may or may not see the situation as something you need to do but experiencing burnout, anxiety or depression long term can carry other consequences to your health.

Web MD agrees that “Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.” Stress is not something you should just ignore and leave untreated.

At this point, you may be feeling very stressed, frustrated and tired and you obviously are not feeling well. It is important to take care of yourself and if that means signing off work to help yourself feel a bit better, then that is completely fine. 

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

So now to figure out what to say to a doctor to be allowed to get signed off from work with stress, it is important to be transparent about how you are feeling and to give your doctor as much information as you feel as comfortable telling, they are professionals after all. 

However, stress leave is a serious issue. But how can you ask to take time off work due to stress? Well, it is your GPs job to determine if you actually need a sick leave due to stress. 

What if I am too stressed to work?

As we have discussed, this is a very common situation and can deeply affect your performance at work. If you feel unwell or unable to work due to stress, then a little time off can help you recover. 

It is also recommended to do this in moderation and it is clear that the time of your work routine can help ease mental health issues. Just assess the reasons why you are feeling stressed. Is it because of workplace harassment or a toxic environment? Is it because you have a heavy workload or work too many hours a day?

It is important to consider the reasons, also because you will have to give as much detailed information to your GP so it may be a good idea to write it down so you are clear about what to say to your doctor. According to Health Assured, “If you’re absent for more than seven days, including weekends and bank holidays, your employer will likely request a ‘fit note’”.  

This is also known as a sick note and is issued after an assessment of your stress and anxiety. 

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

How to get a sick note for stress?

The first thing you need to do is contact your GP as soon as you know you need a “fit note” and get the closest appointment you can. Be very honest and straight forward with your doctor when answering their questions. 

This is to ensure the doctor has a full picture of your mental health and how much time ideally you will need off work to feel better. If your doctor determines your stress levels and anxiety affects your fitness to work then they can issue the fit note. This note can either tell your employer you are not fit to work or you are fit to work taking into account advice, suggesting some changes or adjustments making your return to work easier. 

According to Health Assured, these changes may include “a gradual return, changes to the duties you perform or different working hours. If you’re off work with stress or depression, these changes can really help—discuss them with your employer. If your employer is unable to make the changes, however, the note will be treated as if it simply says ‘not fit for work.’”

When asking permission to be signed off work, doctors are interested to know the following:

  • The symptoms you are feeling are essential, this way the doctor can accurately reach the proper diagnosis of stress.
  • Be very detailed, upfront about how you are feeling. There is no need for lying if you are actually feeling frustrated, stressed, tired and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Be honest with your doctor and explain everything you have been feeling. 
  • Clearly communicate the symptoms you’re experiencing. Try to describe everything you are feeling as detailed as possible, your doctor needs this information to assess your situation and provide the best options available for you. 
  • Explain your situation and what you feel are the root causes. Try explaining to your doctor under which situations or circumstances you feel the most stressed at work. This way you can probably identify the root causes and the source of your stress and anxiety. 
What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

What is considered sick leave due to stress?

Stress leave is often recognized as a legal term but the most commonly used term is “sick leave”. It is often used to describe the situation where an employee is no longer mentally fit to work. This can be caused by many factors such as stress, burnout, anxiety or depression.

Many people consider this as an option to “get off work” but for others, it is related to a serious mental health issue that affects millions worldwide so you are not alone and it is nothing to be ashamed of.  

We live in a world where stress and anxiety keep rising at a dramatic rate even considering this a matter of public health. 

Stress leave symptoms

some of the most common stress leave symptoms include:

Physical symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscular tension
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sleeping difficulties, such as insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhoea or constipation
  • Dermatological disorders.

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Discouragement
  • Irritability
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Cognitive difficulties, such as a reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions.

Behavioural symptoms include:

  • An increase in sick days or absenteeism
  • Aggression
  • Diminished creativity and initiative
  • A drop in work performance
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Lower tolerance of frustration and impatience
  • Disinterest
  • Isolation.

How do you tell your boss you’ve been signed off work?

After your GP has decided you need to get some time off work you may be wondering how you should let your boss know. You can either chose to tell your HR department or your boss directly, it is entirely up to you. But some people chose to talk to their HR department mainly because they rather not talk about the details and avoid uncomfortable questioning. 

It is always scary and you may feel somehow ashamed but this is a very normal situation so don’t be afraid of being upfront and telling them what is going on without having to go much further into the “whys”. 

When do I need to consult my GP again?

This really depends on how you are feeling after being signed off work. You probably find yourself going back just after a couple of days after resuming your duties at work but you are still feeling unwell. Then, it is probably a good idea to determine if your actual job is the one making you sick. You can try working with your boss to see if there can be arrangements made for you to feel better at your workplace, especially because it is your employer’s obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure the Health, Safety, and Welfare of their employees. 

If after talking with your boss or the HR department, and there are no major changes implemented then you can think about considering going back to your GP. However, in many cases, your GP could advise you to change your job. Additionally, if stress is a persistent problem, you may consider going to therapy to learn how to cope with it. 

What are the main reasons for related stress due to work?

Some of the related reasons are excessively high workloads, bullying or harassment, dangerous working environment or lack of support employees that are going through a difficult time. 

Let’s take a look at the first reason. It is not a secret that a heavy workload can cause a lot of pressure, especially when trying to meet specific deadlines or trying to impress your boss or manager. But if you have too many things or tasks to think about all at once, then it is easy to feel overwhelmed. 

The second possible reason includes bullying or harassment. It is completely understandable that you wouldn’t want to be at work if there is a colleague or even your boss creating an uncomfortable work environment through bullying or harassment. It is advised to exhaust all the available options to end this situation, however, if you feel you are not able to direct this with the source of your problem then you may want to consider taking your case to HR.  

A dangerous work environment can be very stressful and it is your employer’s duty to guarantee your safety and wellbeing.  Also, feeling as if you are not having enough support after going through a tough situation such as the death of a loved one or personal issues try talking first with your employer to find appropriate solutions, again, exhaust all the options. 

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

Why is this section about what to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress important?

It is clear you are not well and you don’t feel comfortable at work. Your boss has started to notice how your performance has decreased for quite a while now and you feel you can’t take it anymore, you are sad, frustrated and anxious all the time.

Well, in this case, it is necessary to get an appointment with your GP and discuss all the details about what is going on so you can get some days off work and recover. Make sure you are clear and detailed about the information you provide your GP for an appropriate assessment of your situation. 

In this next section we will discuss “how long can you be signed off work with stress?”, how stress is reflected in the statistics, what can be considered as work-related stress, what are your rights, how your employer could measure stress and some additional considerations.

Table of Contents

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

You can be signed off work with stress if you visit your general practitioner (GP) and according to the employment law, if you are feeling too ill to attend work, you are entitled to a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. However, your GP will provide a sick note advising on the   of the time you are allowed to off.

In addition, to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay you must:

  • Be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer.
  • Earn an average of at least £120 per week
  • Have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)

Note: How many days you can get SSP for depends on why you’re off work.

Also, you may not qualify is you have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks) and if you are getting Statutory Maternity Pay. However, you must ask your employer to find out more.

Moreover, be aware of the warning signs that may indicate you need to see your doctor because of work-related stress:

  • Feelings of apathy and fatigue
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling worried most of the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Consider to talk to your doctor about getting signed off work with stress if your stress levels are interfering with your ability to work or your performance, stress levels are interfering with your normal daily life activities or if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Stress statistics: UK

According to the HSE, the average prevalence of work-related stress, depression or anxiety across all industries was 1,380 cases per 100,000 workers averaged over the period 2016/17-2018-19. However, the highest prevalence was found in Public administration and defence (2,500) followed by Human Health, and social work activities (2,120) and education (1,940), each with a statistically significantly higher rate than the average for all industries.

Additionally, they found that in terms of age and gender, females had statistically higher rates (2,390; 2,410; 2,030) compared with the average for all persons (2,020), specially in the age range of 25-54 years. However, males did not have statistically significant rates when compared to all persons (1,490).

In terms of the causes identified for work-related stress, anxiety or depression (from the Labour Force Survey) they found in order of higher prevalence rates:

  • Workload (620)
  • Lack of support (200)
  • Violence, threats or bullying (180)
  • Other factors (180)
  • Changes at work (110)
  • Role uncertainty (70)
  • Lack of control (30)

The document that supports this information is available here.

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

What is considered Work-related stress?

If as a consequence of your work you are suffering stress, this is generally understood to be “a harmful reaction that people have due to an overload of pressures and demands placed on them at work”.

There are many causes related to stress for example, if you are being bullied, having a higher workload, lack of support from your colleagues or management, bad working environment or being harassed.

If you suffer from stress, your employer has the following main legal duties according to Landau Law Solicitors:

  • Identify potential and avoidable risks to your health.
  • Take necessary measures or precautions to prevent harm to your health caused by work. 
  • Consider if you have any disabilities (physical or mental) that can have a substantial or long-term effect on your ability to work.

Work related stress: What are my rights?

As discussed, your employer has some duties to be considered under the Health & Safety Act and, they should make sure to limit stress at work claims by looking after your welfare. Your employer has a legal duty to take reasonable action and steps to promote your well-being by stopping or reducing:

  • Excessively High workloads.
  • Bullying.
  • Dangerous working environment.
  • Support employers through difficulties (such as bereavement).

These are just a few examples but there could be plenty additional risks your employer should make sure to identify and prevent, but it is also responsibility of the employee to bring your stress related issues/concerns to their attention. If you don’t, they can state they had no idea of those issues in the event of an employment tribunal.

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

Work related stress tests

If your employer is concerned about any of their staff members to be at risk of having work-related stress they can ask you to take a free online test. This can help employers determine if you (or any of your colleagues) are feeling stressed at work (or to what extent).

One of the tests used can be found in Stress.org so they can get an understanding of how you are feeling at the moment. According to Peninsula Group Limited “Such a survey can also go towards a process of managing stress better in your workplace. It’s, after all, essential for the health and success of your business. As such, be on the lookout for signs of anxiety and depression.”

How can my employer handle being signed off with work-related stress?

We all know how getting some time off to rest and recovery can help to deal with stress, but sometimes it is only temporary if we don’t apply any additional strategies. In this sense, your employer can ask for an occupational referral. 

As Peninsula Group states, “The reality is occupational health should be at the forefront of your business plan. And you can have an employee assistance programme (EAP) to support that. But if it comes to it, then an occupational health referral for is an option.”

Stress at work compensation payouts

Along with the fact that you can take some time off work with stress, you can expect getting paid under the right circumstances. This depends on several factors such as:

  • The effect of any treatment you may have had.
  • Your future prognosis.
  • Whether your workplace is responsible or not.

If it is determined that psychological issues or mental illnesses are involved leading to work-related stress leave, then payouts could include (peninsulagrouplimited.com):

  • Severe issues causing a very poor future prognosis can result in payouts of £43,710 to £92,240.
  • Moderate issues with a poor—but more optimistic—prognosis can lead to £15,200 to £43,710.
  • Moderate cases with some problems but a good outlook can result in £4,670 to £15,200.
  • Less severe cases can lead to £1,220 to £4,670 in compensation.
How long can you be signed off work with stress?

How to tell your employer about being signed off work with stress?

Just the thought of telling your employer about being signed off work with stress can be scary but it is best you talk to your manager or someone at the HR team and explain:

  • How your stress levels are affecting your job duties and your performance.
  • How you have received a sick note from your GP to take a few days off.
  • Some but not all the details of your leave (you are not obligated to reveal all the details).

Why is this section about how long can you be signed off work with stress important?

The answer to our initial question about “How long can you be signed off work with stress?” will really depend on the time your GP considers you need to take off according to your personal situation and circumstances but legally, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay up to 28 weeks. 

In addition, consider that after seeing your GP he/she will provide you with a “Sick note” that your employer usually may ask for when being signed off work with stress or any condition. Also, we saw how common is stress among workers in the UK, how likely it may be for them to be on a sick leave due to stress and how your employer’s duties are to mitigate your stress at the workplace.

In this third section we will be discussing what to do if you are signed off work with stress and anxiety, your rights when you are signed off with stress and anxiety, how to get sick note to be signed off work with stress and anxiety, and more information about being signed off work with stress and anxiety.

What should I do if I feel stressed and anxious at work?

If you feel stressed and anxious at work, it is customary that you visit your HR. You should also accompany this visit in writing to not let your employer get worked up about some concerns that you have been going through. 

Your employer can raise a defence against the unawareness of your stress and anxiety at work. You could eliminate this kind of outcome if your employer can try to adjust to these kinds of unpleasant feelings by managing training for these feelings arising in the office and providing attainable work adjustments.

If you fee that there isn’t anything that the employer has done, you can raise your formal grievance to the HR. This can be alleviated by the employer which he or she can try to minimize the outcome of this grievance and make sure that needs have been met.

If the stress and anxiety that you are feeling from work are making you feel overwhelmed, you need to visit your general practitioner to get you signed off work with stress and anxiety. In this case, you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks if you are too sick to attend work and your employer may also give an Occupational Scheme whereby they will pay you more than the minimum statutory amount.

You may even consider having a more flexible workload, especially when the source of your stress is your family and friends. The employer can consider this kind of proposal to help you to work more productively. 

Although employers are not required to give you flexible arrangements and some businesses are not doing this kind of adjustment. You can also try a negotiated exit and explain the reasons why your employer.

You can learn more about the process of negotiated exit by buying this book on this website.

Can I be signed off work with stress and anxiety?

Yes, you can be signed off work with stress and anxiety and you can do this by checking in with your general practitioner. Your employer can even give you this kind of access but your position at work will be left open to replacements. 

Your employer could make you leave permanently from work due to your prolonged absence and if he or she finds you incapable of doing your job due to your complication, you will be dismissed through a fair process. If you are signed off work with stress and anxiety, there is a need for you and the employer to check some medical advice that needs to be done in this kind of situation. 

The stress and anxiety that may have made you get signed off work with stress and anxiety may stem from how your employer treats you. These kinds of feelings may also come from the bullying that is directed at you in the workplace. 

These kinds of issues need to be addressed immediately by the employer. If the employer finds no reason for you to be signed off work with stress and anxiety, you will be given the consideration that your absence is a sign of misconduct. 

This is considered as one of the just reasons for dismissal. If you are being signed off with stress and anxiety due to real reasons, the employer is obligated to make adjustments to make sure you and others are not going to have these kinds of feelings from the work in the office. 

If these kinds of adjustments are impossible to make, then the employer will make you do the fair process of dismissal and this is considered as a just reason for dismissal. The employer and the affected employee can learn more about how to handle these disability issues at work by buying this book on this website.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

Does being signed off work with stress and anxiety mean you can apply for disability benefits?

Being signed off work with stress and anxiety cannot apply for disability benefits if these kinds of unpleasant feelings only arise from complications at work which are not identified in the Equality Rights Act of 2010. Disability should arise because you are having a lot of struggles in your regular activities.

This doesn’t mean that having stress and anxiety due to work is not considered to be not disabling to these affected employees. However, there are criteria that needs to follow if these are considered to be disabilities:

  • there must be a physical or mental impairment or dysfunction
  • this impairment or dysfunction must have evident adverse effects
  • those evident effects must be prolonged
  • the prolonged evident effects must have an adverse effect on normal daily activities
  • Whilst mental health issues or concerns are more than capable of becoming a disability, in order to be eligible for the protection the illness or complication must last or be expected to last for a period of 1 year or more. As an outcome, many forms of stress and anxiety that are associated with certain events such as bereavement, a marriage break up or temporary stress at work, are unlikely to be considered as disabilities.

If you are considered to be eligible in this act, your employer should be protecting you from the following:

  • direct discrimination
  • discrimination or prejudice arising from disability
  • indirect discrimination
  • failing to make reasonable or just adjustments associated with your disability and
    harassment and victimisation

You can learn some tips on how to deal with bullying at work by buying this book on this website.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

How to deal with employees signed off work with stress and anxiety?

You can deal with employees who are signed off work with stress and anxiety by doing the following tips below but first, an introduction is in order. Work makes us believe something in ourselves that we have important roles in society which is why the lack of this element can make us feel hopeless. 

Once you have returned from you being signed off work with stress and anxiety, you can see this as an important road to recovery and start anew from your break. As the employer, you should provide what needs the employee needs to feel welcome even though he or she may still feel guilty about being absent from several weeks or days from work.


Understanding Employers

Mental health issues can strike at any employee and these can make distress a reality in these affected employees. You might find yourself with these affected employees and you might find that you don’t recognize them due to their psychological distress. 

You should also remind yourself that your employee is still lagging behind in the workload and they should do it by the time they return from being signed off work with stress and anxiety. This is why you should become a good listener to them when they need some time to recover from their mental health issues. 

The colleagues of the employee should be able to greet him or her upon the return which can promote social support in the office. This can also minimize the prejudice that surrounds the concept of mental health issues. 

You should also remind yourself that the skills and abilities of the employee haven’t been lost from being signed off with stress and anxiety. Instead, you should remind yourself that they were sick at that time.

You can minimize your discrimination towards mental illnesses by buying this book on this website.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

Helping the Suffering employee

The employee that has been signed off with stress and anxiety should require some easing in the work environment again. You can do this by allowing them to slowly get back on track in the working environment and you can also do this by making flexible work adjustments. 

These adjustments can help these affected employees to gradually adjust to the work environment. Although these adjustments work differently between these affected employees. 

Some of these affected employees may need some support once they have returned from being signed off with stress and anxiety while some are more better at keeping their pace at their own. In this case, you should know what is best for your sick employee to help them get productive in their assigned work. 

You can do this by asking the employee that is being signed off work with stress and anxiety. You need to do this if you want to know what needs to be adjusted to help the sick employees’ fellow employees and yourself in the long run.

Open communication, adjusting, empathy and a good support network are the most important parts of controlling an employee’s return to work following a prolonged absence due to mental health issues and it’s up to employers to take that on board or risk losing a valuable member of staff. You can learn more about how to impl

In this brief section, we will be talking about signed off with stress, how to deal with work-related stress, constructive dismissal, and more information about signed off with stress from an employer and employee point of view.

Rights of an employee being signed off with stress


Workplace stress is getting typical nowadays with the 24/7 workload that employers are giving employees. In this case, employees are not able to rest even when they really need it. 

This 24/7 workload can lead the employee to have presenteeism. This makes the employee to get in line with working to keep his or her employment stable and this constant pressure is leading to more absences due to stress. 

However, there are legal ramifications in regards to this overworking of the employee. Your employees have the right to be signed off with stress. 

With this reason of being signed off with stress, employee rights are not far behind this truth. Next, the process of putting this reason as an excuse.

There is not much law on being signed off with stress but the employer has the duty of care in the Health & Safety Act. This means that you can’t make employees stressful and you should try to do something to minimize the stress in the workplace. 

As an employer, it’s your sole duty to look out for the wellbeing of your employees, especially those who are signed off with stress. You should make sure the following issues aren’t present in your workplace:

  • Extremely high workloads
  • Bullying
  • Hazardous working environment.
  • Assisting and supporting employees through concerns like a bereavement.

The employer should also determine influences that can risk the employee’s health and minimize these factors at all costs. Also, he or she should stop making more concerns that can ruin the productivity of the workplace. 

In line with this, employees have the right to be signed off with stress which can open up that the employee is stress. In tribunal ramifications, employers who didn’t know that the employee was stressed should use the employment tribunal if this kind of issue was brought to court.


How to deal with employees who are signed off with stress?

The concern is the detriment of physical or mental health due to excessive pressure in the workplace to finish up work that might be too much. The employer should place the health of the employee in his or her business plan. 

This is why some employers have the Employee Assistance Program to take care of employees. If you can’t attain this kind of program, you can always refer your employee who is signed off with stress to a professional. 

With this referral, you can at least save your employee and find some flaws in your business plans that may have caused the concern in the employee. This can also make sure that the employee is signed off with stress will be able to recover with the time out. 

In a referral, you can manage this through support. This kind of referral is needed when the following conditions are met:

  • The manager’s connection with the employee is complicated and needs a new avenue to solve.
  • The employee is dysfunctional with absenteeism for long periods of time.
  • There are health concerns that need addressing like anxiety or depression.

Another typical concern is that with the fact that work-related stress and pregnancy can have an impact on the female employees and making motherhood difficult. As mentioned before, the employer should give them the time off by being signed off with stress.

You can try to ease your stress in pregnancy by learning some exercise moves by buying this video on this website.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

Have a meeting or talk with the employee

This meeting with the employee can be done through the phone or in person. If you meet them in person, you need to choose a casual and neutral place for you two to talk. 

This can let the employee who is signed off with stress to feel that the meeting is informal and not something to feel stressed about.


Ask sensitively about the causes behind their stress at work

You need not coax your employee to talk about what he or she thinks about the causes of stress at work. You should recognize that mental health concerns are hard to open up which means you should put up a bit of a front if you want to make the employee feel comfortable about the stress at work.

You can learn more about work-related stress by buying this book on this website.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?


Prevent talking about concerns that may increase their stress

You need to concentrate on what can make the employee recover from being signed off with stress and return to work with a healthy mindset.


Administer a stress risk assessment

A stress risk assessment can help you determine what is keeping your employees signed off with stress so that you can make the necessary arrangements.


Devise an action plan with the employee

You can talk to the employee who is signed off with stress about the plans that you have made to manage the possible stressors that can come up in the workplace.


Prevent making extreme contact with the employee while they’re signed off with stress

You shouldn’t keep too much tabs with your employee who is signed off with stress. At the same time, you shouldn’t be too out of touch with your employee who is signed off since this can make him or her feel neglected. 

You should make sure that you balance out your interactions with your employee who is signed off with stress. You and your employee can come to terms with communicating if you two have an agreement.

You can learn more about how to effectively communicate with your employee by buying this book on this website.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?



Administer a return to work meeting and discussion with the employee

You are going to expect that letting the employee who was signed off with stress will make him or her stressed. You should make a welcome meeting for them to talk about how the employee is feeling and if he or she is ready to return to work.

You could also show the employee who was signed off with stress about the adjustments you’ve made to improve the work environment to lessen work stress.


Plan to check-in with the employee signed off with stress

You should check your employee’s status after being signed off with stress if he or she is comfortable with the adjustments you’ve made in the workplace.

What to do when an employee being signed off with stress doesn’t want to contact you?

When an employee who was being signed off with stress doesn’t want to go to the Sickness Absence Review meeting, you should reassure and make them employee be aware of the purpose of the meeting. You should tell him or her that the goal of the meeting is to know the causes of what made the stress.

You can also ask him or her if they will prefer having to talk to another member of the management team. If the employee chooses to be absent in the Sickness Absence Review meeting, he or she needs to have written proof from his or her medical professional on the credibility of his or her absence.

You can learn more about how absenteeism can affect the workplace by buying this book on this website.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

Will I be replaced for being signed off work with stress?

If you are having marked stress from your work, you can check with your general practitioner who can sign you a note to leave work. But your employer will have to go through a process of letting you get signed off with stress.

If you are found to be absent for a long time, the employer can dismiss you permanently since this is part of keeping business. With the right reason for your absence, the employer will see another perspective and do some standardized procedures to adjust to you being signed off with stress.

If the employer finds out that you have no good reason to be absent and you are absent anyway, the employer will dismiss you from your job permanently. If there is a good reason for the absence such as stress, the employer will try to make some adjustments in the workplace to help minimize the occurrence of being signed off with stress.

When should you choose to have a negotiated leave?

You might feel like you can’t work in your current job anymore due to the stress that you constantly feel. You can do this by taking a negotiated leave with your employee by going through some conditions.

You and your employer can agree that you can have a mutual termination of employment. If the employer finds your stress a reasonable cause, you may be given a financial incentive and job reference for your future endeavours.

This can only occur if you agree to the employer that you won’t make an employment tribunal against the employer for your work-related stress. You can do this by hiring an employment solicitor who can help with some legal issues that may surround this kind of agreement.

This can help you and your employer to come at an agreement in legal means. It also comes with you being fairly treated for your stress reason for getting terminated from your current job.

You can learn more about what an employment solicitor can do for you by buying this book here.

What are attainable adjustments you can do to minimize employees being signed off with stress?

The reasonable and attainable adjustments that an employer can do to minimize the occurrence of employees signed off with stress are the following:

  • Changing or alternating working times or hours
  • minimizing or changing responsibilities within the role
  • adjusting the working environment or situation like working from home, investing in specialist equipment.

The consideration of what is reasonable and attainable adjustments must be based on the costs that you will need to take care of in making adjustments and the size of your business. If your employee has a disability, you can make the necessary adjustments based on expert advice about adjusting to employees with disabilities.

In this section, we will discuss “what to say to the doctor to get signed off work with anxiety”, what happens if you are too anxious to work,  how you can get a sick note, how to tell your boss you have been signed off work and some additional considerations.

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with anxiety?

If we think about what to say to your doctor to get signed off work with anxiety we don’t really have a magic formula or a checklist of things you need to say to your doctor that guarantees you get out with a sick note signing you off work with anxiety. Your doctor will decide whether or not they should issue a fit note depending on the information you provide them with and the assessment they make about your mental state.

We all know how having the flu, a stomach bug or migraine can be sufficient to get signed off work for a few days, but what happens if we need some time off because we are struggling with anxiety? Well, let us tell you that being signed off work with anxiety is as valid as being signed off with the flu. You may feel guilty or ashamed but the truth is that anxiety can become a very debilitating and serious condition.

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with anxiety?

So if you want to know what to say to your doctor to get signed off work with anxiety, the best advice we can give you is to be open, honest and transparent about how you are currently feeling and to provide your doctor with information so they can determine the next steps and give you their professional advice. 

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with anxiety?

It could happen that during these difficult times we are struggling worldwide with coronavirus (COVID-19) many employers were forced to close their businesses due to a general lockdown measure taken by the government to avoid the virus from spreading faster. However, many employees from certain areas that can’t actually work from home (e.g. NHS staff). The rest of the population is subjected to go out only for food and health reasons. 

For some anxiety sufferers with social anxiety disorder, having to be in a general lockdown may not sound like a bad idea after all. Those ho suffer Generalized Anxiety Disorder may be worried all the time about how they may get infected (even if they are home), their relatives or thinking about how they will pay bills if they are not allowed to work. Well, the government implemented the following measure for those who are not sick, need to stay at home and can’t go to work as a result:

“Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £118 per week, some of those working in the gig economy, or self-employed people, is able to claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.”

What happens if I am too anxious to work?

Anxiety is a serious and debilitating mental illness, and it is a condition you have to pay attention to. If you are part of the population who (for one reason or the other) can’t work from home and have to go out to work, being exposed to the virus every day then it can become quite stressful increasing your anxiety levels. You may feel heart palpitations, sweating in excess, chest pain, dizziness, etc. all those anxiety-related symptoms.  

If you realize you are too anxious to go to work and need some days off because of your anxiety, you are allowed to be off work for less than seven days which means you don’t need a sick note for anxiety. You can just ‘self-certify’ your absence by filling a form once you return to work. However, it is important you call your employer and let them know you will be absent from work. 

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with anxiety?

If after seven days you consider you still need more time to recover then, you need to get in touch with your GP and set up an appointment. During this appointment, your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your anxiety, if you are taking medication, if you have been having side effects, if your medicine is working, for how long have you been taking it, when do you feel the most anxious, any triggers you may have identified (e.g. work-related or personal).

Just remember to be honest and open when answering the questions your GP is asking. As stated by ‘Health Assured’, “If your doctor decides your problems affect your fitness for work, they can issue a fit note. This note can advise that either you’re ‘not fit for work,’ or ‘fit for work taking into account advice.’” 

How do I get a sick note due to anxiety?

As we have discussed, setting up an appointment with your GP is the first step. Your doctor will like to have a clear picture of your mental health, and how and an estimate of much time you will need to remain off work. If your doctor determines your anxiety is significantly and negatively affecting your work and your daily life activities, he/she will issue a ‘fit note’. 

This note will let your employer know if you are not fit to work or if you are but taking into account some advice, suggesting some changes and adjustments that will make you feel better when you are at your workplace.

According to Health Assured, these changes may include “a gradual return, changes to the duties you perform or different working hours. If you’re off work with stress or depression, these changes can really help—discuss them with your employer. If your employer is unable to make the changes, however, the note will be treated as if it simply says ‘not fit for work.’”

Before going to your appointment consider thinking and clearly stating:

  • Your current symptoms, no symptom is too small or insignificant. Try to describe them with examples if it is better for you. Your doctor needs clear and concise information about your symptoms so he/she can reach a diagnosis and make some recommendations based on it.
  • Be very detailed, upfront about how you are feeling and when. You don’t need to lie to your GP if you are feeling frustrated, angry, stressed, etc., they won’t judge you, they are professionals.
  • If you have identified root causes or those triggers for your anxiety let them know to your doctor. This way he/she can make recommendations on how to you could manage stress more effectively.

How do I tell my boss I have been signed off work?

After your GP has issued the ‘fit note’ you may be wondering how is the best way to let your boss know. You can either chose to tell your HR department or your boss directly, it is entirely up to you. But some people chose to talk to their HR department mainly because they rather not talk about the details and avoid uncomfortable questioning. 

You may feel scared or ashamed talking about your mental health but know you are not obliged to give too many details about it. But rest assured, this may not be the first time they are dealing with an employee who is off sick due to anxiety, stress or even depression.

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with anxiety?

Why is this section about what to say to the doctor to get signed off work with anxiety important?

When we discussed what to say to the doctor to get signed off work, we mentioned that the best thing to do when having a conversation with your doctor is, to be honest, open and try to answer all of their questions in detail so your doctor can actually have a clear picture of what is happening to you. If he/she decided you need time off work, they will issue a fit note so you can get some time to recover and if they send you recommendations, make sure you follow them.

Anxiety is a very serious mental health issue and you need to make sure you take care of your mental health, not just ignore it and pretend it is not there or someday it will go away because it won’t happen like that.

In this section, we will discuss “what to say to the doctor to get signed off work with depression”, what happens if you feel too depressed to work, tips on what you can say to your doctor to get time off work due to depression and some additional recommendations.

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with depression?

What to say to your doctor to get signed off work with depression is a very common question and the answer is very simple, just be honest. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to talking about your own mental health. Perhaps you have been recently struggling with depression and you may suspect you are suffering from it or you have struggled with it all your life but without an official diagnosis. 

But know how depression is considered one of the most debilitating and disabling conditions so it is pretty serious and a reason to be concerned. Most people think that having a mental illness is not really “a big deal” or it will just go away spontaneously if we just don’t think about it or it is simply “all in your head”. 

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with depression?

People that don’t know what it feels to be clinically depressed may feel entitled to tell you how they feel sad at times and how it tends to go away on its own. Yes, feeling sad is a normal human emotion and it has happened to all of us at some point, either we have experienced receiving bad news or the death of a loved one. But depression is more than being just sad at times.

In addition, there is a lot of stigma around mental health undoubtedly. For most people (if not everyone), talking about their mental health is a sensitive subject especially if they have to share details with their employers. Feeling discriminated, misunderstood, bullied or harassed because you have a mental illness is not fun, at all. You may be feeling ashamed and alone, but let us tell you that this is not the case. You are not alone.

What if I feel too depressed to work?

This is another common question and depression sufferers have asked themselves this question more than once in their lifetime. It is no secret how depression is a condition that can affect your job significantly and perhaps taking some time off can help you feel a bit better. 

However, as good as it sounds, it is recommended to do it with moderation. Health assured indicates that “The routine of work can help ease mental health issues. Just be sure the depression isn’t caused by workplace harassment or a toxic environment.”

You can always self certify the first 7 days of being absent from work but if you feel you need more time, you will likely need a ‘fit note’ issued by a GP or a hospital doctor.

How do I get a ‘fit note’ for depression?

Getting a fir note for depression really depends on the assessment or evaluation from a health professional. This is why it is imperative to contact your GP as soon as you feel you need a fit note to stay off work while you feel better. It is always important, to be honest, and forward with your doctor when he/she makes questions regarding how you feel. This is needed so they can have a clear understanding and build a picture of your mental health status. 

If the doctor finally determines you are not fit for work, they will issue a fit note. The note can either say you are “not fit for work” or “fit for work taking into account advice”. This last reason will include some notes and advice so there can be adjustments made to your workplace to make you feel better when you are there.

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with depression?

Some of the changes may involve a gradual return to your work duties, changes to the specific duties related to your job or suggest a change in your working hours/schedule. “If you’re off work with stress or depression, these changes can really help—discuss them with your employer. If your employer is unable to make the changes, however, the note will be treated as if it simply says ‘not fit for work.’”

Can my doctor refuse to sign me off with depression?

Your doctor can actually refuse to sign you off with depression if they believe you are not genuinely depressed or if they feel you are faking. However, you don’t have to worry at all if you are being truthful, honest and have had a history of depression already. 

The reason why it is hard or tricky sometimes to get signed off work with depression is that some people tend to take advantage of it in an attempt to play the system, get some days off and even benefits from the government. 

Getting medical leave for depression can be considered good when you take the time to work on yourself and feel much better. In addition, you may be suggested to go to therapy (e.g. CBT) or start antidepressants (if you are not taking them already) to take the path of recovery. 

Signed off with depression: What are my rights?

So you have been to the doctor, you have followed all the advice and you got your fit note to stay off work for a few days or weeks and you have already considered starting your treatment. This is very positive and having some time to yourself can help you work through your depression. 

However, you may or may not be feeling guilty at this point because you got to have some time off work without having really a “valid reason” or that is what some of your colleagues or even your boss might think. Even though there are no “visible signs” or just because people can’t actually “see” your depression, it doesn’t mean that is less valid than having a stomach bug or the flu. 

On the contrary, it is a tremendously valid reason and it is actually considered a disability. You are protected by the Equality Act 2010, which states that: 

“A person (P) has a disability if—

(a) P has a physical or mental impairment, and

(b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with depression?

Can I go out of I have depression?

If you have been signed off work with depression you may be worried about getting caught if you are out and about, and people thinking you are actually lying about your condition. However, some mental health experts may actually recommend going outside and doing activities that can actually help you with your recovery and will, in turn, make you feel better. 

No one is expecting you to just be locked up in your house, in a dark room thinking about how you actually have more free time to feel worse. This is actually detrimental to your recovery.

Disability and the law

You do have rights and you are certainly protected against discrimination in:

  • Recruitment and selection process for a new job.
  • Pay (terms and conditions)
  • Sickness absence or sick leave
  • Training and development
  • Promotion (e.g. if you have applied for a new job position)
  • Dismissal (e.g. unfair dismissal)
  • Redundancy

Make sure you read about your rights and employment laws in regards to disability. Most people are not aware so they are not informed about what they could do in certain scenarios.

What to say to the doctor to get signed off work with depression?

Why is this section about what to say to the doctor to get signed off work with depression important?

As discussed on what to say to your doctor to get signed off work, the best thing to do is, to be honest. Your doctor is a professional and he/she won’t judge you, so use this as an opportunity to let all your worries and feelings out. In addition, having a mental health illness such as depression is something that really needs your attention.

Getting a sick note from your doctor may be a temporary solution so you take some time off and work on yourself but always consider getting advice on a more permanent solution (e.g. medication and/or therapy). Make sure you know your rights and know you are not alone.

In this section we will discuss “Signed off work with stress, can I go out?”, what is considered stress, if it can be considered a disability, employer’s duties, recommendations if you are experiencing a lot of stress at work and some additional considerations.

Signed off work with stress, can I go out?

The answer to “signed off work with stress, can I go out?” is yes, you can go out. Being signed off work with stress does not mean you have to be confined to your house or staying there because you are afraid about what people might think if they saw you out and about. Yes, we know there is a terrible stigma around mental health and how people consider they have a “free pass” to judge others.

Signed off work with stress, can I go out?

Stress can make you feel worried and with this feeling of uneasiness, but it is something manageable so going out and doing other things to clear your mind can actually help you feel better.

If you bump into someone from work and what they might think try not to overthink too much and just let them know you hope to be back soon and with a renewed sense of self.

However, if you get signed off work with stress for a few days or even weeks because your doctor decided you needed the time off then investing your time partying or going out every night won’t be the best way of recovering from stress but it ends up being a personal choice how you spend your time off.

What is considered stress?

We all have felt stressed at some point either because we have kids, financial issues to cope with, a high workload, the death of a loved one, divorce/separation, losing your job, etc. 

According to Mental Health UK, “Stress is our body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event. What contributes to stress can vary hugely from person to person and differs according to our social and economic circumstances, the environment we live in and our genetic makeup. Some common features of things that can make us feel stress include experiencing something new or unexpected, something that threatens your feeling of self, or feeling you have little control over a situation.”

Signed off work with stress, can I go out?

We know how stress in our daily lives can actually add more pressure to the demands we have in our workplace and if we don’t find a way to cope with it or manage it effectively it can be very detrimental to our mental health in the short and long term. Stress at your workplace can be caused by many situations such as being bullied, a lack of support from your management or colleagues, having a higher workload or just due to an unhealthy work environment

Either way, it can be classed as a reason to get signed off work, so we can have a few days for ourselves and to find ways to deal with stressful situations in our daily lives.

If I am stressed due to work, What can I do?

Talking to your line manager or HR personnel about your issues should be considered as your first option and try to get a writing confirmation of your discussion to protect you in the future, if your employer argues that they were not aware of any work-related stress. After the discussion, your employer could adopt or follow certain steps to review your job position and make sure you are carrying the right amount of work, possibly even being more flexible with working arrangements.

A recommendation from the legal experts is that “If you still feel that nothing has been done about the situation, you may wish to then raise a formal grievance by following your company’s procedures which can usually be obtained from your HR department. Your employer is unlikely to want to travel down the grievance route and it may be that asking for the policy is enough for them to sit up and take notice of your problem.”

Signed off work with stress, can I go out?

Moreover, if you are still struggling with stress after talking to your employer then, consider setting up an appointment to visit your GP who can issue a Sick note to sign you off work so you can have time to fell better. You may be eligible to get Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks if you feel very unwell to go to work. 

Is stress considered a disability?

Unlike anxiety or depression, stress is not actually considered a disability and it can actually affect everyone but not to the same extent. Some people develop coping skills to deal with stress which help them manage their stress better. However, those who doesn’t can actually have a higher risk of developing anxiety and/or depression.

As the legal experts from Landau law explain, “If your stress has been caused only by a reaction to difficulties at work, it is unlikely in itself to be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. This is because it is not automatically considered to be a mental impairment that affects your day to day normal activities.”

However, by no means they intend to say that stress is not something to be taken care of or treating but according to the Equality Act, the following criteria should be met:

  • There must be a physical or mental impairment;
  • This impairment must have substantial adverse effects;
  • Those substantial effects must be long termed;
  • The long-term substantial effects must have an adverse effect on normal day-to-day activities.

In addition, in order to qualify as a disability and qualify for protection, the illness should last or be expected to last for a period of 1 year or more. “As a result, many forms of stress and depression that are related to specific events such as bereavement, a marriage break up or short-term stress at work, are unlikely to qualify as disabilities.”

Employer’s responsibilities

Your employer has some legal duties when their employees are suffering from work-related stress. The main legal duties according to Landau Law are:

  • To identify significant and foreseeable risks to your health;
  • To prevent harm to your health that is foreseeable and caused by work;
  • To consider any disability you have (physical or otherwise), that has a substantial or long-term effect on your ability to work.

Moreover, your employer must be proactive when considering all the potential factors that could lead to work-related stress or make existing health conditions worse. They should follow a series of steps to identify the risks and sources of stress that could foreseeably cause their employers health issues.

Can I be sacked after being signed off work with stress?

As we have discussed, stress is not really classed as an illness. However, it can lead to several physical and mental conditions. 

As the legal experts indicate “Your employer is, however, entitled to expect that you can cope with the normal pressures of the role, unless they are specifically aware of a particular issue. In terms of whether harm is ‘foreseeable’”. You are entitled to notify your employer (if they are not aware already) of any issue related to your health and safety at the workplace. 

After they have assessed the situation, they can take a series of steps to mitigate the situation such as sending you home if they consider it necessary or making an occupational health referral. 

As Tom Street from Tribunal Claim mentions “Studies show that long-term stress, not only proves detrimental to an individual’s performance but can also have significant moral and monetary consequences for businesses like higher staff turnover.”

Therefore, as an employee you can ask your employer to make the necessary adjustments or arrangements to guarantee your well-being while you are at your workplace. This means that you are actually protected by employment law against unfair or wrongful dismissal. So to answer this question, we can say that your employer should not fire you just because you have been signed off with stress. 

Why is this section about “signed off work with stress, can I go out” important?

The answer to “Signed off work with stress, can I go out” really depends on how you would like to spend your time off work but it is certainly a time your doctor consider for you to recover and not specifically to go partying every night but to recover much faster so you can go back to work with renewed energy and a better perspective to resume your job duties.

Also, as we have discussed, stress is not actually considered an illness but if left untreated or if you don’t really pay attention to it, then it can actually put you at a higher risks of developing anxiety or depression.

In this section, we bring the answer to the following question: “How can I ask my doctor to sign me off work?” Therefore we talk about fit notes, what they are and who can get a fit note. 

How can I ask my doctor to sign me off work?

If you are suffering from a significant level of stress, or other issues such as severe anxiety disorder, depression or other mental or physical health distress, you may be signed off work by your GP.

Your doctor will only give you a fit note if your health affects your fitness for work. The fit note is your property and you should keep it – your employer can take a copy if they want one for their records.

If you’re off work sick for 7 days or less, your employer should not ask for medical evidence that you’ve been ill. Instead, they can ask you to confirm that you’ve been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.

If you’re off work sick for more than 7 days, your employer will usually ask for a fit note (or Statement of Fitness for Work) from a GP or hospital doctor. Fit notes are sometimes referred to as medical statements or a doctor’s note.

Your doctor cannot give you a fit note for nonmedical problems (such as problems at home or relationship trouble at work). They may, however, be able to suggest other sources of help.

If you need a fit note, contact your GP surgery. Or if you are getting hospital treatment, ask for one from your hospital doctor.

Your doctor will assess you, and if they decide your health affects your fitness for work, they can issue a fit note and advise either that:

  • you are “not fit for work”
  • you “may be fit for work taking into account the following advice”

According to the NHS recommendations, your doctor will choose the “may be fit for work” option if they think that you are able to do some work, even if it is not your usual job, with support from your employer.

Discuss this advice with your employer to see if you can return to work. For example, your doctor may suggest possible changes, such as:

  • returning to work gradually, for example, by starting part-time
  • temporarily working different hours
  • performing different duties or tasks
  • having other support to do your job. For example, if you have back pain, avoiding heavy lifting

If your employer is unable to accommodate the changes advised by a doctor, then the fit note is treated as though it said “unfit for work”.

You should ask your doctor to give you practical advice in the fit note about what you can do at work, rather than simply record your health condition. You should then discuss this advice with your employer, to see if they can make any changes to help you return to work. 

Who can get a fit note?

Doctors issue fit notes to people to provide evidence of the advice they have given about their fitness for work. They record details of the functional effects of their patient’s condition so the patient and their employer can consider ways to help them return to work.

How can I ask my doctor to sign me off work? 

How your doctor will assess your fitness for work

Your doctor will assess your fitness for work by considering how your health affects what you can do at work (for example your stamina and concentration). They will decide whether you are not fit for work of any kind, or whether you may be fit for work taking account of their advice. 

Your doctor will not automatically assess that you are not fit for work if you have a health condition, and they will consider your fitness for work in general instead of just thinking about your current job. This gives you and your employer the maximum flexibility to think about ways to help you go back to work (which might include moving you to a different job for a while or changing your duties). 

The Government has recently launched a new program called Fit for Work, which is designed to help you return to work more quickly. Your GP or employer can refer you to the program with your consent.

 Once referred, an occupational health professional helps design a Return to Work Plan to help you return to work. Legislation now means this plan can be accepted as evidence by your employer in the same way as a GP Fit Note. You do not need to obtain further fit notes from your GP.

If your fit note says that you are not fit for work

Show the fit note to your employer to arrange your sick pay. They can take a copy but you should keep the original. It’s usually a good idea to keep in touch with your employer while you’re away so that you’re ready when it’s time to go back.

If your fit note says that you may be fit for work

Your doctor will give you advice on the rest of your fit note about how your health affects what you can do at work – make sure you discuss this with them and understand their advice.

You should discuss your fit note with your employer to see if they can help you return to work – this won’t necessarily mean doing your old job, or working full time. Employers want to help their employees return to work, and can often make changes to the workplace or job duties. 

Your local safety representative or trade union may be able to help you in your discussions, and the checklist below may help you prepare for them: 

  •  Look at the tick boxes and comment box for advice on what you can do at work, and how your employer could support you; 
  • Check how long your fit note lasts and whether you are expected to be fit for work when it expires (explaining the sections of the fit note explains how you can do this);
  • Think of possible changes to help you return to work. It may be helpful to put any changes you agree down in writing so that everyone is clear on what has been agreed.

If your employer cannot make any changes, they do not have to. In these circumstances, you should treat your fit note as if it said that you are not fit for work and use it as explained above. You should not go back to your doctor for a new fit note.

Going back to work 

You should go back to work as soon as you feel able to and with your employer’s agreement – this may be before your fit note runs out. You do not need to go back to see your doctor before going back to work. 

Your doctor cannot give you a fit note stating that you are ‘fit for work’. For a small number of jobs, there are separate processes to ensure it is safe for you to return. If this applies to you, your employer will tell you. You do not need a fit note to cover this period while you wait for your employer’s assessment and your doctor will not be able to issue further fit notes to cover it.

In this section, we will discuss “what to say to your doctor to get time off work”, the main reasons to get time off work, what to say to your doctor, how to tell your employer and taking your time to recover.

What to say to your doctor to get time off work?

What to say to your doctor to get time off work is a very common question. There are many reasons why an employee would like to get time off work (leave of absence), but not all of them are valid excuses. One of the most common reasons would be stress but it can also happen that you are feeling unwell due to a minor or major health condition, mental health illness such as anxiety or depression, etc., meaning you feel unfit to work. 

Let’s talk about stress for a bit. Besides being a way to be signed off work, stress leave is something you need to take seriously. If you have been struggling to cope or manage stress for a while then it is imperative to get help. Stress can not only lead to, for instance, gastrointestinal problems but can also lead to anxiety and/or depression. 

What to say to your doctor to get time off work? (A brief guide)

Yes, you may think something like “everyone feels stressed sometimes” but the truth is not everyone knows how to deal with stress, but instead just attempt to conceal it. We live in a world where some people need to take on huge workloads or work more hours just to manage to pay bills and live comfortably. Let’s talk about the main reasons for getting time off work due to stress.

Main reasons for getting time off work (stress leave) 

Your stress may be entirely related to your work, but for some people, it also has to do with things happening in their lives. For instance, if you are single and have no kids, your stress could be related to your work, your boss, colleagues, etc. but if you are a single mom or a single dad, or you have a difficult situation at home, having stress-related situations at work will just add more to the problem.

 At your workplace, you can identify how a heavy workload, long working hours or doing overtime, lack of opportunities or poor management and support from your boss can make you feel fatigued, tired, stressed, anxious, depressed, you name it. So when do you consider it is time to consult with your doctor? The answer really is, as soon as possible. Don’t wait to be too overwhelmed with all that is happening to consider paying a visit to your doctor.

Yes, we understand how important it is your work, next month’s meeting, the launching of a product or the presentation of a project, but your mental health is definitely more important than any meeting or presentation. 

As we have discussed and according to ‘Web MD’, “Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.” Do not ignore what your body is trying to say, it is crucial to do something on time.

What to say to your doctor to get time off work? (A brief guide)

What can I say to my doctor?

There is no right or wrong answer and there is definitely no science (or magic checklist) behind what you can say to your doctor to get some time off work. First, you need to make sure to set up an appointment with your GP. 

Doctors went to medical school and they are trained professionals so they won’t judge you or make you feel ashamed about how you are feeling and why you need to get time off work (for the right reasons), on the contrary, they are medically trained to help you with any mental health issue or a medical condition you may be suffering from. 

Be honest and clear about your symptoms, no detail is too small or insignificant. They need to see the whole picture to understand what is happening to you and how they can help. If your doctor considers you do need time off then they will issue a ‘sick note’ or ‘fit note’ indicating whether you need a few days off or if your situation requires long-term treatment.

As Paul Pendler, Psy.D advises, be willing to explain your GP the duties you carry out at work and how your condition is affecting you when doing these tasks and work with your doctor to establish a treatment plan and an estimated return to work date.

Symptoms to consider

If you are dealing with stress you may be feeling some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigued.
  • Apathy.
  • Feeling anxious or depressed.
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual.
  • Feeling over-worried most of the time.
  • Feeling overwhelmed most of the time.

Telling your employer

If you have been signed off work, it is necessary you let your employer know about it. Your employer may require the note from your doctor and may want to ask you some questions depending on the reason why you were signed off. However, you are not obliged to give any specific details if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. 

Initially, you can simply let your employer know by calling your line manager or if you want to make it more formal you could also write a letter due to sick leave. It is really up to you.

What to say to your doctor to get time off work? (A brief guide)

Focus on getting better and recovering while you are off

If work is making you feel ill or unwell try to switch off from work for a few days. We are so compelled to leave all the electronic devices we can with our working email or ready to attend that important work call. Remember you were signed off work, so this should be taken as a period where you can relax and get better. The best thing to do here is to keep your work-related communications to the minimum. 

In addition, try to follow the advice and recommendations from your doctor. If you haven’t been able to sleep well in the last few weeks or months, try to address the root cause since it won’t go away on its own. Make sure you take time to take care of your body, the exercise by walking around your neighborhood or going to the park, eating balanced meals and drinking a lot of fluids to keep ourselves hydrated.

Recovering from stress or any other health condition requires time so be patient. You will eventually recover even if you don’t really know when. Your doctor may have prescribed some medicine for pain (if you have been injured or suffered from an injury) or for a mental health condition. 

What to say to your doctor to get time off work? (A brief guide)

Returning to work

For some people, this can be the hardest part of their recovery. After being signed off for whatever reason, we may be thinking about how we will go back to do the same things that could have potentially contributed to us feeling sick. This is why it is important to have a phased return, especially if you have been signed off work due to stress. 

This means taking it slow and start working just a few hours a week, then if you feel better you can move on to a few half days and so on. Keep track of what you are feeling and make any necessary adjustments. Here it is vital to work with your employer and your doctor so you can have a successful period of transition back to work.   

As advised by ‘Hive’, “As you’re getting back into the swing of things, you can also try working remotely for a few days a week, which will be easy with a tool like Hive. Hive will allow you to communicate and collaborate with your colleagues from the comfort of your own home as you ease your way back into work.”

Why is this section about what to say to your doctor to get time off work important?

As discussed on what to say to your doctor to get time off work, the most important thing is, to be honest, have genuine reasons and avoid lying to your doctor. If you are battling with stress, anxiety or depression, do not wait until you feel too overwhelmed or unable to work at all to do something. Your doctor is a trained professional and it is there to help you and advise you, so avoid postponing going to visit them.

Additionally, after being signed off make sure you focus on you and recovering. When it is time to return to work, talk to your employer so you can do it gradually and have a successful transition period.

In this section, we will discuss “how to get signed off work with anxiety” and some considerations when you go to see your GP, how to get a fit note, talking to your employer and returning to work after being signed off.

How to get signed off work with anxiety

Probably you have been wondering how to ask your doctor to get signed off work with anxiety or just how can you actually take some time off to concentrate on your health and take care of yourself. However, you may be feeling that having anxiety is not a valid reason to get signed off work since it is considered a mental health issue. 

How to get signed off work with anxiety (How to)

There are a few things we need to discuss here. First, having a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder is a valid reason to get signed off work. However, you need to consider if your anxiety levels are normal or if you actually have an anxiety disorder. We all have felt stressed and anxious at some point in our lives, some more than others, but when anxiety levels are too high then it can significantly impact your normal functioning. 

So now to figure out what to say to a doctor to be allowed to get signed off from work with anxiety, it is important to be transparent about how you are feeling and to give your doctor as much information as you feel as comfortable telling, they are professionals after all. 

However, stress leave is a serious issue. But how can you ask to take time off work due to anxiety? Well, it is your GP’s job to determine if you actually need a sick leave due to anxiety.

What if I am too anxious to work?

As we have discussed, this is a very common situation and can deeply affect your performance at work. If you feel unwell or unable to work because you have high levels of anxiety, then a little time off can help you recover. 

It is also recommended doing this in moderation and it is clear that the time of your work routine can help ease mental health issues. Just assess the reasons why you are feeling stressed. Is it because of workplace harassment or a toxic environment? Is it because you have a heavy workload or work too many hours a day?

How to get signed off work with anxiety (How to)

It is important to consider the reasons, also because you will have to give as much detailed information to your GP so it may be a good idea to write it down so you are clear about what to say to your doctor. According to Health Assured, “If you’re absent for more than seven days, including weekends and bank holidays, your employer will likely request a ‘fit note’”.  

This is also known as a sick note and is issued after an assessment of your stress and anxiety. 

How to get a sick note for anxiety?

If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or you may have been struggling recently to cope or symptoms have worsened. To get a sick note for anxiety we advise:

  • Scheduling an appointment with your GP.
  • Talking to your doctor, explain what is happening, and he/she may examine you to assess your condition.
  •  Your doctor will decide if you are fit to work or not.
  • They will write a sick note if they consider you are not fit for some work or not fit for work at all.
  • Presenting your sick note to your employer.

According to Health Assured, these changes may include “a gradual return, changes to the duties you perform or different working hours. If you’re off work with stress or depression, these changes can really help—discuss them with your employer. If your employer is unable to make the changes, however, the note will be treated as if it simply says ‘not fit for work.”

How to get signed off work with anxiety (How to)

What is Anxiety?

Feeling stressed or anxious from time to time is perfectly normal, we have all been there. However, it is important to differentiate between normal anxiety and having an anxiety disorder because you may not need a sick note if you are experiencing the normal anxiety levels but if the levels are too high and your life is being affected significantly then it may be necessary to get sick leave. 

Signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety levels impeding your ability to work or your performance.
  • Work-related anxiety levels are interfering with your personal life.
  • Being worried excessively.
  • Feeling agitated, rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, dry mouth, among other physical symptoms.
  • Feeling restless (e.g. “on edge” or having an uncomfortable urge to move).
  • Feeling exhausted or fatigued.
  • Having difficulties concentrating or focusing your attention.
  • Irritability.
  • Tense muscles.
  • Difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Having panic attacks.

How do you tell your boss you’ve been signed off work?

After your GP has decided you need to get some time off work you may be wondering how you should let your boss know. You can either chose to tell your HR department or your boss directly, it is entirely up to you. But some people chose to talk to their HR department mainly because they rather not talk about the details and avoid uncomfortable questioning. 

It is always scary and you may feel somehow ashamed but this is a very normal situation so don’t be afraid of being upfront and telling them what is going on without having to go much further into the “why’s”. 

How to get signed off work with anxiety (How to)

Returning to work after being signed off

Mental illness can strike anybody at any time of their lives and there is nothing to be ashamed of and additionally, returning to resume your job duties may feel scary or frightening. However, your employer may be already aware of your situation and may have already made some adjustments to your workplace to make it easy for you to return to work. 

As Jeff Durham from Safe Workers indicates, “Some will require a lot of support and flexibility when they return, whilst others may want to play the whole thing down and just get on with it as they used to, so they may want less fuss to be made and a more subtle approach to be implemented. 

“Therefore, it’s always important to establish how best the employer can ease the return to work so that both they and the rest of the staff know just what is expected of them in terms of trying to make the return to work as painless and as easy as possible. The best way to do this is by talking with the sufferer before they plan to return.”

Consequently, your employer should guarantee you feel safe and comfortable when coming back to work in order for you to have a smooth return and help you cope with anxiety. 

Why is this section about how to get signed off work with anxiety important?

When thinking about how to get signed off work with anxiety we have to consider a few things before talking to your GP. First, anxiety is considered as a very disabling illness, even though it you may think it is not as “valid” as having diabetes or back pain. 

Second, if you feel too overwhelmed with anxiety or symptoms have been getting worse, make sure to schedule an appointment to go to your GP so they can assess your current mental state and advise on the next steps. If they consider you need to get some time off work to get better and focus on your health then, they will issue a fit note. In addition, it is important you let your employer know what’s going on, so they can make any necessary adjustments for your return. 

In this section we will discuss “how long can you be signed off work with anxiety?”, mental health statistics about the UK, going back to work after being signed off, anxiety and the potential impact in your work and some additional considerations.

How long can you be signed off work with anxiety?

Answering how long can you be signed off work with anxiety does not have a specific answer. According to the Equality Act 2010, “any mental health condition that has long-term (12 months) or substantial effects is considered a disability. So this basically means you can actually be signed off work with anxiety as long as you require feeling better or getting better.

How long can you be signed off work with anxiety?

In addition, some people could require faster, just needing a few days from work, while others need to take some time off to get treatment. If you have been to your GP, and he/she determined you need to get signed off work with anxiety then, you will get a “fit note” specifying how long you can be off work but you can actually go back to work sooner if you feel ready.

However, according to Health Assured, “if an employee is unable to work and there aren’t any reasonable adjustments that can be made, you can dismiss them. This should be considered as a last resort and you’ll need to prove that you explored all options for reasonable adjustments to help them stay in their role.”

Mental health statistics: UK

According to the HSE, the average prevalence of work-related stress, depression or anxiety across all industries was 1,380 cases per 100,000 workers averaged over the period 2016/17-2018-19. However, the highest prevalence was found in Public administration and defence (2,500) followed by Human Health, and social work activities (2,120) and education (1,940), each with a statistically significantly higher rate than the average for all industries.

Additionally, they found that in terms of age and gender, females had statistically higher rates (2,390; 2,410; 2,030) compared with the average for all persons (2,020), specially in the age range of 25-54 years. However, males did not have statistically significant rates when compared to all persons (1,490).

In terms of the causes identified for work-related stress, anxiety or depression (from the Labour Force Survey) they found in order of higher prevalence rates:

  • Workload (620)
  • Lack of support (200)
  • Violence, threats or bullying (180)
  • Other factors (180)
  • Changes at work (110)
  • Role uncertainty (70)
  • Lack of control (30)

The document that supports this information is available here.

How long can you be signed off work with anxiety?

Going back to work after sick leave

According to the NHS “If your job is still open for you, consider talking to your GP before going back to work. Then you can arrange a meeting with your employer or occupational health adviser.”

Consider talking to your employer about any concerns you may have about returning to work, specially if your GP has noted some recommendations. You could also ask about how you could gradually go back to work by cutting the hours or having a flexible schedule (part-time and eventually increase the amount of hours), specially if you have been recently medicated or the doctor has changed your medication/dose. 

Also, it has been suggested by the NHS to ask for additional support from a colleague in the short or long term and/or a place you could go to for a break when needed.

Reasonable adjustments

The employment laws are intended to protect employees, and it is the same law that required employers to make reasonable adjustments for workers with disabilities or long-term physical/mental conditions to their workplace. For example, if you have social anxiety, your employer could provide you with your own desk instead of “hot-desking”. 

How long can you be signed off work with anxiety?

Anxiety and its impact on work

Just as any physical or medical condition, having a mental illness such as suffering from an anxiety disorder such as a social phobia or a panic disorder can be as incapacitating and debilitating.

Having an anxiety disorder means having an extreme fear or worry about places, objects or situations, that won’t normally trouble people. Anxiety takes over when we have an unrealistic sense of danger about a situation, place or object. 

As explained by ‘Fit for Work’, “They can cause a state of panic and when a phobia becomes severe, a person may organize their life around avoiding the thing that’s causing them anxiety.”

Symptoms related to anxiety may include:

  • Insomnia or struggling to go to sleep.
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shaking
  • Chest pain 
  • Tingling sensation
  • Cold flushes 

Anxiety can affect or impact your work negatively, so it is important to seek treatment and help as soon as possible. However, some conditions may require longer and involves a combination of therapy (e.g. psychotherapy, counselling or CBT) and anti-anxiety medication. 

Anti-anxiety medication

If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, your GP may have decided to give you a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. For instance, Prozac or fluoxetine, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor widely use in the treatment of depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and bulimia. However, it comes with side effects just as any other type of medication, but it doesn’t mean everyone gets them. 

If you just started taking your medication it is necessary for your body to adjust to it and you need to be aware that one of the adverse effects include an increased risk of suicidal behaviour.

How long can you be signed off work with anxiety?

For instance, you could be really worried about the time your GP has given you, either a few weeks or a month, it doesn’t really matter how long. However, it is very important you get time for yourself and to recover otherwise it is very likely you will continue experiencing more problems related to your mental health. Also, there is no such things as “too much time off” if you really are in need for it. We understand how worried you could be about losing your job by being dismissed, but your health should be your number 1 priority.

Why is this section about how long can you be signed off work with anxiety important?

The answer to “How long can you be signed off work with anxiety?” is not a simple and straight answer as we have discussed so far since it does not have a specific answer. However, the Equality Act can help us answer the question saying that actually be signed off work with anxiety as long as you require feeling better or getting better. In addition, we know how an anxiety disorder or any other mental illness can impact your work and can become very disabling and debilitating.

If you are feeling too overwhelmed or think you can’t manage with your anxiety at work, make sure to seek professional help from your GP.

In this section we will discuss “how long can you be signed off work with stress?”, how stress is reflected in the statistics, what can be considered as work-related stress, what are your rights, how your employer could measure stress and some additional considerations.

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

You can be signed off work with stress if you visit your general practitioner (GP) and according to the employment law, if you are feeling too ill to attend work, you are entitled to a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. However, your GP will provide a sick note advising on the   of the time you are allowed to off.

In addition, to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay you must:

  • Be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer.
  • Earn an average of at least £120 per week
  • Have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)

Note: How many days you can get SSP for depends on why you’re off work.

Also, you may not qualify is you have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks) and if you are getting Statutory Maternity Pay. However, you must ask your employer to find out more.

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

Moreover, be aware of the warning signs that may indicate you need to see your doctor because of work-related stress:

  • Feelings of apathy and fatigue
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling worried most of the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Consider to talk to your doctor about getting signed off work with stress if your stress levels are interfering with your ability to work or your performance, stress levels are interfering with your normal daily life activities or if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Stress statistics: UK

According to the HSE, the average prevalence of work-related stress, depression or anxiety across all industries was 1,380 cases per 100,000 workers averaged over the period 2016/17-2018-19. However, the highest prevalence was found in Public administration and defence (2,500) followed by Human Health, and social work activities (2,120) and education (1,940), each with a statistically significantly higher rate than the average for all industries.

Additionally, they found that in terms of age and gender, females had statistically higher rates (2,390; 2,410; 2,030) compared with the average for all persons (2,020), specially in the age range of 25-54 years. However, males did not have statistically significant rates when compared to all persons (1,490).

In terms of the causes identified for work-related stress, anxiety or depression (from the Labour Force Survey) they found in order of higher prevalence rates:

  • Workload (620)
  • Lack of support (200)
  • Violence, threats or bullying (180)
  • Other factors (180)
  • Changes at work (110)
  • Role uncertainty (70)
  • Lack of control (30)

The document that supports this information is available here.

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

What is considered Work-related stress?

If as a consequence of your work you are suffering stress, this is generally understood to be “a harmful reaction that people have due to an overload of pressures and demands placed on them at work”.

There are many causes related to stress for example, if you are being bullied, having a higher workload, lack of support from your colleagues or management, bad working environment or being harassed.

If you suffer from stress, your employer has the following main legal duties according to Landau Law Solicitors:

  • Identify potential and avoidable risks to your health.
  • Take necessary measures or precautions to prevent harm to your health caused by work. 
  • Consider if you have any disabilities (physical or mental) that can have a substantial or long-term effect on your ability to work.

Work related stress: What are my rights?

As discussed, your employer has some duties to be considered under the Health & Safety Act and, they should make sure to limit stress at work claims by looking after your welfare. Your employer has a legal duty to take reasonable action and steps to promote your well-being by stopping or reducing:

  • Excessively High workloads.
  • Bullying.
  • Dangerous working environment.
  • Support employers through difficulties (such as bereavement).

These are just a few examples but there could be plenty additional risks your employer should make sure to identify and prevent, but it is also responsibility of the employee to bring your stress related issues/concerns to their attention. If you don’t, they can state they had no idea of those issues in the event of an employment tribunal.

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

Work related stress tests

If your employer is concerned about any of their staff members to be at risk of having work-related stress they can ask you to take a free online test. This can help employers determine if you (or any of your colleagues) are feeling stressed at work (or to what extent).

One of the tests used can be found in Stress.org so they can get an understanding of how you are feeling at the moment. According to Peninsula Group Limited “Such a survey can also go towards a process of managing stress better in your workplace. It’s, after all, essential for the health and success of your business. As such, be on the lookout for signs of anxiety and depression.”

How can my employer handle being signed off with work-related stress?

We all know how getting some time off to rest and recovery can help to deal with stress, but sometimes it is only temporary if we don’t apply any additional strategies. In this sense, your employer can ask for an occupational referral. 

As Peninsula Group states, “The reality is occupational health should be at the forefront of your business plan. And you can have an employee assistance programme (EAP) to support that. But if it comes to it, then an occupational health referral for is an option.”

Stress at work compensation payouts

Along with the fact that you can take some time off work with stress, you can expect getting paid under the right circumstances. This depends on several factors such as:

  • The effect of any treatment you may have had.
  • Your future prognosis.
  • Whether your workplace is responsible or not.

If it is determined that psychological issues or mental illnesses are involved leading to work-related stress leave, then payouts could include (peninsulagrouplimited.com):

  • Severe issues causing a very poor future prognosis can result in payouts of £43,710 to £92,240.
  • Moderate issues with a poor—but more optimistic—prognosis can lead to £15,200 to £43,710.
  • Moderate cases with some problems but a good outlook can result in £4,670 to £15,200.
  • Less severe cases can lead to £1,220 to £4,670 in compensation.
How long can you be signed off work with stress?

How to tell your employer about being signed off work with stress?

Just the thought of telling your employer about being signed off work with stress can be scary but it is best you talk to your manager or someone at the HR team and explain:

  • How your stress levels are affecting your job duties and your performance.
  • How you have received a sick note from your GP to take a few days off.
  • Some but not all the details of your leave (you are not obligated to reveal all the details).

Why is this section about how long can you be signed off work with stress important?

The answer to our initial question about “How long can you be signed off work with stress?” will really depend on the time your GP considers you need to take off according to your personal situation and circumstances but legally, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay up to 28 weeks. 

In addition, consider that after seeing your GP he/she will provide you with a “Sick note” that your employer usually may ask for when being signed off work with stress or any condition. Also, we saw how common is stress among workers in the UK, how likely it may be for them to be on a sick leave due to stress and how your employer’s duties are to mitigate your stress at the workplace.


In this section, we will discuss how to get a sick note for anxiety, what a sick note means, how to determine if you need one, how to talk to your doctor and some recommendations.

How to get a sick note for anxiety

“How to get a sick note for anxiety?” is actually a common question. If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or you may have been struggling recently to cope or symptoms have worsened. To get a sick note for anxiety we advise:

  • Scheduling an appointment with your GP.
  • Talking to your doctor, explain what is happening, and he/she may examine you to assess your condition.
  •  Your doctor will decide if you are fit to work or not.
  • They will write a sick note if they consider you are not fit for some work or not fit for work at all.
  • Presenting your sick note to your employer.
How to get a sick note for anxiety (Tips)

According to Dr. Zubair Ahmed and Jenny Huelin, “A written report from another healthcare professional can support your case to get a sick note. Examples include a hospital discharge summary or notes from a consultation with another GP.”

In addition, if you may be wondering How much does a sick note cost?, we can tell you that NHS sick notes are actually free if you have been sick from work for more than 7 days. However, your NHS GP may charge you for a private medical certificate if you have been off sick for 7 days or less. 

We understand that talking to your doctor about your mental health can be challenging since it is such a personal and sensitive topic. However, if you have noticed changes in the way you are feeling or thinking over the last few weeks or months that make you feel very anxious or worried.

How to get a sick note for anxiety (Tips)

As Medic spot states “You can get a sick note for mental health issues like depression, work-related stress, and anxiety. The NHS introduced the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health in 2016 to reduce the long term impact on people experiencing mental health problems. There are resource work-related to support people with mental health and reintegration in the workplace.”

What are sick notes?

Sick notes are also known as “fit notes”, are certificates issued by a doctor. They are meant to inform or notify your employer or person in charge, that your absence was due to health problems. They can say “fit for some work” or “not fit for work”.

However, sick notes are discretionary and your doctor can actually refuse to give your one if they believe you are fit to work. They are intended to help document when your symptoms started, what symptoms you have had and how severe they have been, providing an accurate picture of your actual health condition.

How to get a sick note for anxiety (Tips)

“Sick notes are generally used to show your employer that you are unwell and need time off work. They can also be used to advise your employer that you need a change in your work hours or duties. Other organizations such as colleges and Universities may also ask for a sick note, particularly if you perform poorly or miss an exam due to being unwell.”

Subsequently, fit notes are intended and designed to prevent people from taking time off when they are not actually sick. This is why it is advised to refrain yourself from asking for a sick note from your doctor if you are not actually sick, since lying about it may have severe consequences that include disciplinary actions. 

How can my GP help?

If you feel you are struggling or can’t cope, speaking to your GP about your mental health then, they can ask questions to assess your current mental health status, and they may help you to understand a bit better what is happening, what you are going through and what options are available to you. 

In addition, if they consider necessary, they can suggest or offer to prescribe medicine, going to therapy or some useful tips for lifestyles that can improve your mental health. Also, they can invite you again for a follow-up appointment in a few weeks’ time to check up on you. However, if they consider necessary, they can refer you to a specialist for further assistance.

How to get a sick note for anxiety (Tips)

What happens if I take time off without having a sick note?

The number of days you can have off sick without having a sick note from your doctor will depend (usually) on your employer’s absence policy. Moreover, you may find specific or relevant details in your employment contract. Normally, employers will ask for a sick note after you have been ill for more than 7 days.

What qualifies as Anxiety?

Feeling stressed or anxious from time to time is perfectly normal, we have all been there. However, it is important to differentiate between normal anxiety and having an anxiety disorder because you may not need a sick note if you are experiencing the normal anxiety levels but if the levels are too high and your life is being affected significantly then it may be necessary to get sick leave. 

Signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety levels impeding your ability to work or your performance.
  • Work-related anxiety levels are interfering with your personal life.
  • Being worried excessively.
  • Feeling agitated, rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, dry mouth, among other physical symptoms.
  • Feeling restless (e.g. “on edge” or having an uncomfortable urge to move).
  • Feeling exhausted or fatigued.
  • Having difficulties concentrating or focusing your attention.
  • Irritability.
  • Tense muscles.
  • Difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Having panic attacks.

How to talk to your doctor about your anxiety levels?

First, it is important to schedule an appointment with your GP. When you go in for your appointment, it is important to be upfront about how you are feeling, clearly communicate any symptoms you may be experiencing and what you feel are the root causes. Also, be open to receive your doctor’s advice and available options for you.  

Ask any questions you may have to clear your mind of any doubts respecting your mental health and the available options, especially if you have been suggested medication (e.g. Side effects, benefits, etc.). If your doctor considers it is necessary for you to take some time off then you may receive a “fit note”. 

Subsequently, after your appointment, your doctor may recommend booking in follow-up appointments to check up on you. 

Fit note return to work date

Let’s assume you have gone to the GP, and they issue a note saying you are not fit to work. Your doctor will state on the note when you should go back to work. Sometimes your GP may even ask you to see them before you go back to work, depending on your situation and actual condition. If your condition is not serious, you may even consider talking to your employer about returning to work before your sick note end date. 

However, sometimes you may not be able to return earlier if:

  • Your doctor has advised that you should stay off work for the full duration of the sick note.
  • Your employment can not make the necessary adjustments to your workplace.
  • Your employer has indicated you can not return to work before the sick note end date. 

In addition, to get back to work you do not need to be signed fit by your doctor but in some scenarios, your employer may not let you go back until you show them medical evidence that you are fit to work or if you meet special requirements.

Why is this section about how to get a sick note for anxiety important?

Here we have discussed how to get a sick note for anxiety. First, make sure you schedule an appointment, then, be honest with your doctor about how you are feeling and any symptoms you may be experiencing (try to be as clear as possible). After assessing your situation, your doctor will decide if they issue a fit note to be signed off work for as long as the note states. 

When returning to work you do not need any note but you may be required to show your employer medical evidence that you are fit to work. Remember, mental health conditions need to be addressed and are as important as any other health condition.


In this section, we will discuss how to get a sick note for depression, tips on what to say to your doctor, but also if it is possible your doctor may refuse to sign you off work with depression, how to tell your employer (or not) when you have been signed off, going back to work and additional considerations.

How to get a sick note for depression?

You may be thinking ‘how to get a sick note for depression?’. This means you either have been diagnosed with depression or you think you may have been showing symptoms, and you would like to take some time off. 

Mental health is a sensitive topic for most people and there is just too much stigma around the topic since most people think having a mental illness is not as valid as having cancer or diabetes. However, depression is considered a disability and employees are protected by the Equality Act against discrimination, stating that:

“A person (P) has a disability if-

  1. P has a physical or mental impairment, and 
  2. The impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P’s ability to carry out normal day-to day-activities.”

Mental illnesses can have few visible signs and unlike the symptoms that can be manifested if you had diabetes or any other medical condition, but doesn’t make it less serious or in need of treatment.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

What can I tell my doctor to get a sick note for depression?

Setting up an appointment to see your GP would be the first step. Your doctor would like to have a clear picture of the status of your current mental health, and an estimate of how much time you will need to remain off work. If your doctor determines your depression is significantly and negatively impacting your like, they will issue a ‘fit note’.

This note will let you take some time off and may include some recommendations/adjustments that can potentially make you feel better when you are at your workplace. According to Health Assured, these changes may include “gradual return, changes to the duties you perform, or different working hours. If you’re off work with stress or depression, these changes can really help– discuss them with your employer. If your employer is unable to make changes, however, the note will be treated as if it simply said ‘not fit for work’.”

Before going to your appointment consider thinking and clearly stating:

  • Your current symptoms, no symptom is too small or insignificant. Try to describe them with examples if it makes it easier. Your doctor needs clear and concise information about your symptoms so they can reach a diagnosis and make recommendations based on the information available.
  • Be detailed and upfront about how you are feeling. You don’t need to lie to your GP if you are feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, stressed, etc. They won’t judge you, they are professionals trained for it.
  • If you have identified root causes for your depression let them know. This way they can make recommendations on how to manage it.

Can my doctor refuse to give me a sick note for depression?

Your doctor can refuse to give you a sick note for depression if they believe you are not genuinely depressed or if they feel you can still go to work but with some recommendations to your employer. However, you shouldn’t have to worry at all if you are being honest and you have had a history of depression.

The reason why doctors may refuse to sign off work for an employee due to depression is that some people tend to take advantage of it and attempt to play the system, get some time off, and even benefits from the government.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

How do I tell my boss I have been signed off work?

If you have been to your GP and they have issued a fit note so you can be signed off work then you may be wondering how you should tell your boss or your employer. You can either decide to call your boss or let your HR department that you will be off work for as long as the fit note was issued for but you are not obliged to let them know why or give out any details that will make you feel uncomfortable.

It is always scary and you may feel guilty or ashamed for taking time off work due to depression but it is more common than you think. Don’t be afraid of being upfront and tell them what is going on but you don’t have to let them know all the details, just say you are feeling unwell.

Do I need to go back to see my GP again?

It depends on how you are feeling after being signed off work. You can probably feel better after a few days and be ready to go back or you could need more time to be fully able to resume your duties.

Here it is necessary to determine if your job is the one making you sick or if there is something else making you feel unwell. Work with your boss to see if there are adjustments or arrangements made for you to feel more comfortable and supported at your workplace, especially because it is your employer’s obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure the Health, Safety, and Welfare of their employees.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

If after talking to your boss or HR department, and there are no major changes implemented or no changes at all then you can think about submitting a claim. Otherwise, you can go back to your GP if you are still feeling unwell. If you are still feeling depressed and it is interfering significantly with your life, your doctor can suggest therapy, medication or a combination of both to learn to cope with it.

Going back to work and how does work benefits mental health

You were off for a few days and you may worry now about going back. It is normal to be concerned about how your boss or colleagues will react and how you will cope after being off. However, just considering going back is stepping in the right direction and your employer should be able to support you, making you feel better.

What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

If you have been off for a short amount of time or even long-term, and your job is still available to you, consider talking to your GP before going back to work. Your GP can give you professional advice and useful recommendations to cope with and adjust.

You could talk to your employer about:

  • A flexible schedule: you could ask them if you can have a phased return or go back with a part-time schedule.
  • Support from a colleague.
  • A place you can go for a break if you need it.

According to the NHS, “People usually find going back to work after a period of mental illness a positive experience.”

Among other things, work can give you:

  • a sense of identity and purpose
  • the chance to build new friendships
  • better financial security
  • the feeling that you’re playing an active part in society

Why is this section about how to get a sick note for depression important?

If you are feeling depressed it is just normal and expected to want some time off work to get better. If you go to work depressed, it will be detrimental for you and your performance. Going to see your GP and ask for a few days off is nothing to be ashamed of. However, your doctor may refuse to give you a fit note, so make sure, to be honest about your symptoms and how you are feeling.

Moreover, if your doctor has issued a sick note and signed you off for a few days, it is important to consider any recommendations or adjustments that can be made to your workplace so you can feel better when you return.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about What to say to doctor to get signed off work due to stress

Can you get a sick note without seeing a doctor?

According to the NHS “A fit note must be signed by a doctor but you don’t always need to see your GP in person to get one. It depends on: why you’re off work sick. whether your GP needs to assess you face-to-face”. 

Can I claim for work-related stress?

There are certain conditions that must have been met before you can submit a work-related stress or bullying claim for personal injuries. As an employee, you must have been diagnosed with a recognized psychiatric illness in order to bring such a claim.

How long can you get a sick note for?

The amount of time you can get on a sick note depends on your GP after they have assesses your situation so it can go for a few days to a couple of weeks or even a month.

Can you take sick leave for stress?

In most cases, stress is not considered a mental illness however, there are some underlying conditions that can develop due to stress and they may need medical assistance.

Can I take time off work for stress?

You can always take some time off work due to stress but it is important either to consult it with your boss, your HR department or your GP so they can issue a “fit note”. 

How long will doctor sign you off work for with stress?

You can be signed of work for up to seven days without needing a sick note for stress from your doctor (self-certify). However, if you need more than 7 days off work with stress then you need to go to your GP and ask for a sick note from them so you can remain absent but it is up to your doctor to grant or deny it.

Will doctor sign me off work with stress?

You may be signed off work with stress by your GP if you have been dealing with a lot of stress and if he/she considers. However, your employer is not obliged to keep your job available and could ultimately dismiss you for long-term sickness absence or if they consider you are no longer capable of performing your duties after performing the appropriate investigation (finding no good reason for the absence).

Can I be signed off with anxiety?

Yes, you can be signed off with anxiety by your GP if he/she considers you need time off to get well or to feel better.

What do I tell my doctor to get stress leave?

You could tell your doctor the following to get stress leave:
Be honest and open about the symptoms you are experiencing.
Be as clear and detailed as possible.
Listen to your doctor’s advice and try to follow through.
If recommended, book follow-up appointments.
Tell your doctor about any identified work-related stress triggers, so they can have a better picture about your situation.

What is a nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown (mental breakdown) is used to refer to a period of intense mental distress. During this period, you may feel unable to function in your daily life activities. Although thus term was considered a medical term in the past to refer to a wide variety of mental conditions, it may still be used to describe intense symptoms of stress and a struggle to cope with life’s challenges.

  

How do I ask my doctor for sick leave?

You can ask your doctor for sick leave by being open about your symptoms, listen to your doctor’s advice, be open about your feelings, you need to explain your condition honestly, and book some follow-up appointments. 

How long can a doctor give sick note for?

A doctor can give you a sick note for by 7 days. This can only occur when the employee will be absent for 7 days or more. The seven days or more will be including holidays, non-working days, amd weekends. These kinds of notes are even free when the employee is sick for more than 7 days. 

Can you be fired for having a mental breakdown?

Yes, you can be fired for having a mental breakdown since this is considered unprofessional or bad behaviour at work. Although you can’t get fired for having poor work performance if the employer knows you are suffering from a mental health concern or issue. This is why it is important for you to try to do de-stressing activities or exercises during a break in the workplace.

What mental illness keeps you from working?

The mental illness or concern that keeps you from working is a personality disorder. This is because having this kind of disorder will make other employees find you annoying and toxic to be with which may affect group scenarios for work projects or assignments.  If you are suffering from this kind of disorder, you may find it difficult or hard to adjust to your work and social life.

Can I be fired for mental health issues?

No, you can’t be fired for mental health issues or concerns. This is considered illegal for the employer since it is considered in employee rights. Other possible situations or circumstances that are associated with this situation are rejecting you from a job and forcing you to take sick leave. The employer does not have the right to make you adjust to situations or circumstances that may trigger your mental health condition or issue.

Can my employer call my doctor UK?

No, an employer can’t call your doctor unless they get your written consent. This is part of the rights of the employee which is the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and this kind of situation is stated in this kind of right. 

Can I fake a doctor’s note?

No, you can’t fake a doctor’s note. This kind of action is subject to legal matters since it is a crime of ethics toward your employer. People who engage in this kind of action tend to practice writing their doctor’s signature. If the doctor is found to not have written the note, this is considered as forgery. 

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

You can be signed off work with stress for at least 7 months. In addition, if stress is adversely impacting your health, you should be consulted by your general practitioner who can get you a leave of absence from work which will make your absence valid.

Can you get a sick note for stress?

Yes, you can get a sick note for stress but you can also self-certify yourself if you have this condition. This means filling in an authorized  form when you return to work. This applies to any kind of ill conditions, not just mental health concerns. An understanding employer will let you call in sick with depression or other mental illnesses that can impact your productivity in work.

Can you go on holiday if you are signed off sick?

Yes, you can go on holiday if you are signed off work sick. In this case, if you are not physically able to work, but physically able to take a holiday and have a mental health disability that might be assisted by a holiday.

Will the doctor sign me off work with stress?

Yes, your doctor can sign you off work with stress if you have been suffering from significant levels of stress that are now affecting your performance at work and your personal life. However, consider how stress is not considered an illness but it can contribute to developing other health conditions and mental illnesses. 

Can I get a sick note for anxiety?

Yes, you can get a sick note for anxiety. If your anxiety feels too overwhelming and you are struggling to cope, pay a visit to your GP so he/she can assess your situation and consider issuing a fit note to sign you off work for as long as your doctor considers necessary.

What do I tell my doctor to get stress leave?

You don’t have to tell your doctor anything in particular to get stress leave. Just be honest and tell them how you have been feeling, how stress is affecting your life significantly and how you could be possibly developing other health conditions (e.g. gastrointestinal problems) or mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. It is extremely important you pay attention to stress to prevent it from evolving into something else.

Can you ask your doctor to sign you off work?

If you have been sick for more than 7 days you can ask your doctor to sign you off work. Those first 7 days can be self-certified but after, you will need a fit note from your GP. Your GP will assess your situation and will determine whether you do need to get signed off work or not.  

Will a doctor give you a sick note for depression?

Yes, a doctor can give you a sick note for depression. Depression is considered a serious mental health condition and a very disabling one. Your doctor can issue a fit note after assessing your condition. Your doctor is a trained medical professional so he/she will expect you to talk honestly about your symptoms, how you are feeling and can also give you advice.

Can you ask a doctor to sign you off work?

Yes, your doctor can sign you off work by issuing a fit note. However, you can self-certify the first 7 days of being off work. If you need more time, you can pay a visit to your GP or hospital doctor to sign you off work for a few more days depending on the assessment and your condition, meaning if you just need a few days more or long-term treatment.

What do I tell my doctor to get stress leave?

Here are some key points you should remember when talking to your doctor about getting a stress leave:

  • Be honest and clear about your symptoms.
  • Be as detailed as possible, no symptom is too small or insignificant.
  • Listen to your doctor’s advice and try to follow them.
  • If needed, make sure to book any follow-up appointments for additional evaluation/assessment of your condition.
  • Mention the work-related triggers so your doctor can have a clear picture of your situation at work and how stress may be potentially affecting your work.

Will the doctor sign me off work with stress?

Yes, your doctor can sign you off work with stress if you have been suffering from significant stress levels and are struggling to cope.

How long can a doctor sign you off work?

You can be signed off work for as long as your doctor recommends. Some conditions may be temporary and just a few days will suffice, but some may require long-term treatment. Make sure to discuss this with your doctor before you leave consultation.

How long can you be signed off work with stress?

You can be signed off work with stress as long as your GP or hospital doctor indicates. However, if you are too ill to go to work you may be eligible for a statutory sick pay for up to 7 months.

Can you go on holiday if you are off work with stress?

Yes, you can go on holiday if you are off work with stress if you are off sick but without a physical condition. If you have been signed off due to stress, a holiday might help with the recovery.

Can you ask a doctor to sign you off work?

Yes, you can ask a doctor to sign you off work if you have been sick for more than 7 days. You are required to get a fit note from your GP or a hospital doctor because usually your employer will ask for it. Just be completely honest and open about how you are feeling and why you need some time off.

Can I take time off work for stress?

Yes, you can take time off work for stress. You can actually be honest with your manager or boss (if you have a good relationship) and ask for a few days off if you consider you are struggling with stress. However, if you  don’t have that level of trust or that type of open relationship with your boss then, it is recommended to get an appointment with your GP since he/she might give you a fit note so you can take some time off.

Can you be fired for depression?

You should not get fired for depression and to your employer might be the last option to consider. Specially if you are not capable to perform your duties any more due to a long-term illness.

Can I ask my doctor to sign me off work for stress?

You can ask your doctor to sign you off work for stress. After an assessment, the doctor will decide whether you can get a fit note and whether you suffer from a stress-related issue. 

Can I ask the doctor to sign off?

You can ask a doctor to sign you off work after 7 days since your employer will usually ask for a fit note (or Statement of Fitness for Work) from a GP or hospital doctor. Fit notes are sometimes referred to as medical statements or a doctor’s note.

How long will the doctor sign you off work for with stress?

How long will a doctor sign you off work because of stress-related issues it depends on how you are presenting and feeling. It is important to know that If you’re off work for fewer than seven days, you don’t need a sick note for stress from your doctor. 

Can I get a sick note without seeing the doctor?

You can get a sick note without seeing a doctor in two cases:

1. If your fit note is issued based on a telephone assessment, you will need to collect it from your GP practice.

2. If you’ve already seen your GP and need to ask for a fit note more than a day later, they may issue a fit note without seeing you again.

Can I just ask my doctor for a sick note?

You can ask your doctor for a sick note. You will be properly assessed and diagnosed, and the doctor will decide if you are either “fit for work” or “unfit for work”. 

How many sick days is too much?

How many sick days is too much, it depends on the company’s policies, but usually, anything that exceeds 7 days will have to be back proofed. 

How do I get time off work from my doctor?

To get time off work from your doctor the best thing you can do is set up an appointment. In addition, it is important, to be honest, and have clarity about why you need time off (e.g. stress, depression). After your doctor has assessed your condition and situation, it is likely they will give you a sick note. Then you need to let your employer know about your leave of absence and focus on your recovery. 

How long can a doctor sign you off work?

Your doctor will decide the amount of time you need to be absent from work. If you are off up to 7 days you can self-certify your absence but if you are more than 7 days you need to go to see your GP or your hospital doctor and ask them if they can issue a fit note (medical certificate) that your employer will need to justify your absence. Fit notes are also known as a doctor’s note.

Will the doctor sign me off work with stress?

Your doctor can sign you off work with stress if he/she considers the stress levels are too high and are impacting negatively your work, your performance and your life in general. Even though stress is not considered an illness, it does affect your health in the long run. 

Can you take time off work for mental health?

It is possible to take time off work for mental health reasons. You can either talk to your employer and let them know you need some time off due to mental health reasons or schedule an appointment with your GP so they can sign you off work by issuing a fit note. 

What do I tell my doctor to get stress leave?

Here are some key points to remember when talking to your doctor about a stress leave:

  • Be open about how you are feeling and your symptoms. No symptom is small or insignificant, they need all the information they can get to assess your condition.
  • Be upfront about how it is affecting or impacting your life.
  • Listen to what they have to say and their advice on how to manage stress more effectively.
  • If your GP asks, make sure to book any follow-up appointments.
  • Explain your situation as clearly as possible and try to identify the possible triggers.

Can you get signed off work with stress?

You can get signed off work with stress if you are suffering from a significant level of stress. Your GP can help you get signed off work with stress if you are currently suffering from significant levels of stress. However, your employer is not obligated to keep your job available when you return. 

Should I stay off work with anxiety?

You could stay off work with anxiety if you have been to your GP, and they have assessed you current mental health considering you need sick leave to get better. If you stay off work because you have anxiety and you do not have a fit note then you may put yourself at risk of losing your job, depending on the terms signed in your contract and your company’s policies.

Can I go on the sick with anxiety?

You can actually talk to your employer to see if they can allow you to get signed off work due to anxiety but it will actually be a discretionary decision, and they are not obligated to keep your job position when you come back. However, if you feel anxiety is too overwhelming talk to your GP and ask them for a sick note so you can have a few days off to rest and plan ahead. 

Will my doctor give me a sick note for stress?

Your doctor may give you a sick note or “fit note” for stress. You must provide your employer with a note from your GP if you are planning to get signed off work, so you won’t break your employment contract. It is recommended to ask your GP to be specific about your mental health status and why you are not able to go to work. However, stress is not considered an illness, and they may decide if they issue the fit note.

How long can your doctor sign you off work?

If you are off work sick for more than 7 days, your employer will usually ask for a fit note issued by your GP or a hospital doctor. Fit notes are also known as medical statements or a doctor’s note. Your doctor will decide for how long they will issue the fit note for, specifying when you should go back but some doctors may actually recommend going to a follow-up appointment before the end date to assess your mental health. 

How long can your doctor sign you off work?

Your doctor can sign you off work for as long as he/she thinks. However, you may self-certify the up to 7 days and going forward if you keep feeling unwell, you need a sick note from your GP to justify the days you will be off work. In addition, you may be eligible for SSP for up to 28 weeks but you need to check your rights and your employer’s policies if you need an extension or need more days. 

How long can I stay off work with stress?

You can stay off work with stress for up to 7 days without having to show any medical evidence that you have been ill. However, according to the employment law, if you are still too ill to go to work then you need to go to your GP, so they can issue a sick note for you to take more days off work and recover.   

Can you take time off work for mental health?

Yes, you can take time off for mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If you consider you are struggling with your mental health call and set up an appointment with your GP. After he/she has assessed your condition they can issue a fit note so you can take some time off to recover.

Can Doctor sign you off for stress?

Your Doctor can sign you off for stress if you consider that you are suffering from significant levels of stress. However, consider that your employer is not obliged to keep your job available for you on an open-ended basis. 

What do I tell my doctor to get stress leave?

Tell your doctor the truth when you go for an appointment asking to get stress leave. Be honest and open about your symptoms and how you are feeling, try to be as clear and detailed as possible for your doctor to have a better perspective and try to book any follow-up appointments (if needed). 

How long will doctor sign you off work for with stress?

You can be signed of work for up to seven days without needing a sick note for stress from your doctor (self-certify). However, if you need more than 7 days off work with stress then you need to go to your GP and ask for a sick note from them so you can remain absent but it is up to your doctor to grant or deny it.

Will doctor sign me off work with stress?

You may be signed off work with stress by your GP if you have been dealing with a lot of stress and if he/she considers. However, your employer is not obliged to keep your job available and could ultimately dismiss you for long-term sickness absence or if they consider you are no longer capable of performing your duties after performing the appropriate investigation (finding no good reason for the absence). 

Can I be signed off with anxiety?

Yes, you can be signed off with anxiety by your GP if he/she considers you need time off to get well or to feel better.

What do I tell my doctor to get stress leave?

You could tell your doctor the following to get stress leave:

  • Be honest and open about the symptoms you are experiencing.
  • Be as clear and detailed as possible.
  • Listen to your doctor’s advice and try to follow through.
  • If recommended, book follow-up appointments.
  • Tell your doctor about any identified work-related stress triggers, so they can have a better picture about your situation.

What is a nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown (mental breakdown) is used to refer to a period of intense mental distress. During this period, you may feel unable to function in your daily life activities. Although thus term was considered a medical term in the past to refer to a wide variety of mental conditions, it may still be used to describe intense symptoms of stress and a struggle to cope with life’s challenges.

Will my doctor give me a sick note for stress?

Your doctor can give you a sick note for stress or a “fit” note that you must provide your employer, to avoid breaching your employment contract. Make sure to ask your GP to be as specific as possible about your current mental health and situation. Stress is not considered an illness, but if the reason is depression then the fit note should mention it. 

Can you get a fit note for anxiety?

Most of the fit notes are issued for physical health conditions such as having a bad back, but they can also be used for mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and work-related stress. Your GP needs to assess your current situation and why you need a fit note to be able to issue it as specific as possible for your employer. 

How do I get a sick note for work?

If you need to get a sick note for work, get in contact with your GP surgery. Or if you are currently receiving treatment at a hospital, ask f¡your hospital doctor to issue one. Your doctor will assess you and then decide if you are not fit to work depending on your current health status. If they decide you are not fit, then they will issue a note advising that you are “not fit for work”. 

Can I get signed off work with stress?

Your GP can help you get signed off work with stress if you are currently suffering from significant levels of stress. However, your employer is not obligated to keep your job available when you return. 

Can I get a sick note without seeing the doctor?

You can get a sick note without seeing your doctor based on a telephone assessment, but you will still need to collect it from your GP practice or ask someone else to collect it for you. According to the NHS “If you’ve already seen your GP and need to ask for a fit note more than a day later, they may issue a fit note without seeing you again.”

Can you get signed off with depression?

You can get signed off with depression if your GP issues a fit note indicating for how long you will be off and when you are expected to return. However, after they have assessed the situation they may or may not issue the fit note, be honest about your symptoms with your doctor. 

Can I ask my doctor to sign me off work?

You can ask your doctor to sign you off work if you have been more than 7 days off work (self-certified). If you require more time, set up an appointment with your doctor and be honest about how you are feeling and how your depression is affecting you. Your doctor will assess the situation and if needed, he/she will issue a fit note.

Can I take time off work for mental health?

You can take time off work for mental health. You have up to 7 days that you can self-certify if you feel you need time off due to mental health issues, but if you require more time you need a GP to issue a fit note.

Can you get a sick note for mental health?

Yes, you can get a sick note for mental health if you have been off sick for more than 7 days. Set up an appointment with your GP and be honest about why you need a fit note. If your doctor issues the fit note it will indicate how many days you can take to be off work and when to return.

How long can GP sign you off for?

There is not a specific amount of days, your doctor will decide how long you should be off work. However, you can be off sick on SSP for up to 28 weeks.

Recommended reading

  • 9 Strategies for Dealing with Workplace Stress: Practical tools to reduce and manage stress at work
  • How to Turn Stress on Its Head: The simple truth that can change your relationship with work
  • Be Bulletproof: How to achieve success in tough times at work
  • HBR Guide to Managing Stress at Work
  • Work without Stress: Building a Resilient Mindset for Lasting Success
  • The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to Reset Your Body, Mind, Relationships and Purpose
  • Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle
  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress
  • Change Your Thinking with CBT: Overcome stress, combat anxiety and improve your life
  • Stress-Proof
  • Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast
  • How to Build a Healthy Brain: Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Depression and Future-Proof Your Brain
  • Calm: Working through life’s daily stresses to find a peaceful centre
  • Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now
  • Conquering Anxiety: Stop Worrying, Beat Stress and Feel Happy Again
  • The Depression Cure: The Six-Step Programme to Beat Depression Without Drugs
  • It’s Not Always Depression: A New Theory of Listening to Your Body, Discovering Core Emotions and Reconnecting with Your Authentic Self
  • The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
  • The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress
  • The Self Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem
  • The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to Reset Your Body, Mind, Relationships and Purpose
  • Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle
  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress
  • Change Your Thinking with CBT: Overcome stress, combat anxiety and improve your life
  • Stress-Proof
  • HBR Guide to Managing Stress at Work
  • Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World
  • Stress The Psychology of Managing Pressure: Practical Strategies to turn Pressure into Positive Energy 
  • Mindfulness Gift: Rustic jar Full of Daily Mindful tasks and Challenges.
  • Happy: Finding joy in every day and letting go of perfect
  • A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage
  • 9 Strategies for Dealing with Workplace Stress: Practical tools to reduce and manage stress at work
  • How to Turn Stress on Its Head: The simple truth that can change your relationship with work
  • Be Bulletproof: How to achieve success in tough times at work
  • HBR Guide to Managing Stress at Work
  • Work without Stress: Building a Resilient Mindset for Lasting Success
  • Anxiety: Panicking About Panic  Audible Audiobook
  • Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy : How to calm the emotional storm? Using DBT to overcome anxiety & manage your emotions. Includes skills on how you can change the way you respond to stressful situations
  • Anxious: How to Advocate for Students with Anxiety, Because What If It Turns Out Right? (Lead Forward)
  • Practicing Mindfulness: The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety:An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation,Mindset,Unlocked Subconscious and Self Confidence. Take Control in Your Life
  • The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, a Calmer You
  • Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast
  • The Anxiety Journal: Exercises to soothe stress and eliminate anxiety wherever you are
  • Conquering Anxiety: Stop Worrying, Beat Stress and Feel Happy Again
  • Anxiety Relief: Self Help (with Heart) for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and Stress Management
  • The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to Reset Your Body, Mind, Relationships and Purpose
  • Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle
  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress
  • Change Your Thinking with CBT: Overcome stress, combat anxiety and improve your life
  • Stress-Proof

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Healthassured.org: How to get a sick note for depression

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Peninsulagrouplimited.com: “Off work with stress: Employee rights”

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Relaxlikeaboss.com: “Stress Leave: How To Take Time Off Work For Stress”

Landau Law Solicitors. Stress at work.

Peninsula UK. Off work with stress: Employee rights.

Safe Workers. Returning to Work After Absence Due to Anxiety or Depression.

CitrusHR. How to handle an employee off with work-related stress.

Peninsula group limited. Off work with stress: Employee rights.

Tribunal claim. CAN I BE SACKED FOR STRESS RELATED ABSENCE?.

Healthassured.org: “How to get a sick note for depression”

Relaxlikeaboss.com: “Stress leave: How to take time off work for stress”

Gov.uk: “Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)”

Healthassured.org: “How to get a sick note for depression”

Healthasurred.org: “Off work with depression what are my rights”

Landaulaw.co.uk: “Stress at work”

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What to say to doctor to get signed off work with stress?

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.

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