Robin59 Member Posts: 32
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:06 in Living with arthritis

Well after yesterday's discussion with my Universal Credit Work Coach, I have got a new Fitnote from my Doctor. I have to admit I find it a bit confusing, I always thought that a fit/sick note was issued if you aren't well enough to work? Don't get me wrong I know that sitting at home is not good for me but I don't really understand how I can look for work if I am not fit? Do I just go for things that I think I could do (I have only ever worked in Education so don't have a clue) If I don't try they will apply sanctions to my Universal Credit which isn't very much to start with! My Education Agency consultant hasn't bothered to contact me since I sent her an email explaining that I had Osteoarthritis of the hips that was the beginning of last week. I want to do something, not just for the money but it is a minefield.

Just wondered if any of you have had experience of how these Fit notes work?

Thank you in advance 😉


  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,395

    Hi @Robin59

    Interesting I thought they were to say what you are able to do Fit notes? Does yours say anything like any restrictions?

    In your shoes I would contact ACAS for some advice.

    Let us know how you get on I am interested.

    Take care

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 32

    Hi Toni

    On mine the Doctor has put I am not fit for any sort of work, Universal Credit said that depending how long I have the sick /fit note for I may be asked to have a health assessment done. There is a section on it where it says you are fit enough to do some sort of work but maybe that is for after you are assessed? I did ask if I had a fitnote saying I am not fit for work does that mean if my Agency finds me a role I can't do it? But I was told that if I felt I could do it then I am allowed to do it regardless of the fitnote, I find it all very confusing. It seems like conflicting advice to me, I had one over the Summer holidays so I would not be expected to look for work, but now I am told yes have the fitnote but continue to do the commitments discussed with your Workcoach.!!

    Of course I want to do something - I've just had 6 weeks holiday, but at the same time I have to be realistic and accept there are roles I can't do any more.

    Of course I will let you know how I get on and I may contact Acas as you suggest because right now the whole situation is as clear as mud!😥

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,992

    Although I am not on Universal Credit (I get PIP and ESA) I do know that it is not an easy system to navigate with a disability as my baby Sister has had experience of it as has my Home Help. When I applied for ESA, which is now classed as a "Legacy Benefit", I had an assessment after which they determined that there was no work that I could do so I was placed in the ESA Support Group. Once that determination has been made one does not have to go through another assessment ever! So unlike UC where it would appear that one has to fight for every penny you get, UC seems to consider that everyone is capable of work irrespective of their physical and/or mental health. So unfair.

  • YvonneH
    YvonneH Member Posts: 1,076

    Hi @Robin59

    Welcome from me too. I have the ACAS link to information on fitnotes. I haven't read it all but it seems to be a good explanation of what they are supposed to do. I guess the next step is to see what the not actually says, there is guidance for that too.

    I hope that helps, good luck!

    Yvonne x

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 32

    Thank you Yvonne and Mike for your comments much appreciated 🙂

  • Shell_H
    Shell_H Member Posts: 548

    When I was going through my application for Universal Credit I told them I had a disability which affects how I can work. I have no idea what I ticked or how I answered the question, but I've been put on the Universal Credit version of ESA - I don't have to look for work, but if I do get some that's great.

    With the fitnotes, in my past experience I thought the fitnote meant you didn't have to look for work (although again if you did get it that's great). I haven't heard of a work coach telling you to both get a fit note and look for work. I'd probably ask the work coach to explain why you need to do both. All my work coaches with Universal Credit have actually been really friendly and willing to help explain, so I can only hope yours is too. This sounds confusing, so ask!

    If you don't want to ask in person you can always put it in your online journal - you can leave messages there to your work coach and/or team there, and someone will read it and reply.

    With regards to what kind of jobs you're looking for and applying for, again in my experience they just want you to show that you have tried. So document where you look for work, and which jobs. Certainly to start with they wont penalise you for only applying for the jobs which you feel are suitable for you. I believe there may be some form of time after which they will say you need to apply for more jobs, but to start with you can stay in industry and be more picky over what you apply for.Again, this is something you can chat to with your work coach. The system is pretty naff and actually quite mean, but the people I've dealt with for universal credit have been helpful.

    hope this helps.

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 32

    Shell_H thank you so much for taking the time to answer my comment. To be fair when I first applied the day I broke up from school for the Summer Holidays I got a Fit Note from my Gp (as I was advised to do) mainly because otherwise Universal Credit would have expected me to actively look for work as they put it. So I am assuming that hasn't changed now I have another Fit note to last till the 5th of October. Maybe I misunderstood what my Work Coach said on the phone (I agree the one I have seems very pleasant) I have commitments I am supposed to do and then a meeting at the Job centre at the end of the month.

    It's so frustrating because I've had loads of phone calls asking about my availability for work, really depresses me because I know if it wasn't for the Osteoarthritis I would easily find something! I have even put a note about my mobility on my CV because I won't lie and pretend I am something I am not you can't do that anyway when Kids safety is involved. The worse thing that could happen is me saying I can do something and then I can't.

    By the way what is ESA?

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,992

    Hi Robin, ESA is Employment Support Allowance, see

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 32

    Thanks Mike I hadn't heard of it to be honest, but I will ask about it.

  • Milly63
    Milly63 Member Posts: 3


    mice had fit notes for most of the first half of this year. After about 4 months I was put on a health journey. I have Lumbar spinal stenosis, multi disc degeneration and have multiple joints affected by Osteoarthritis invluding my spine and inflammatory arthritis.

    I hadn’t worked since before Christmas last year so I took part in a phone assessment and I must say the chap doing it was absolutely lovely. He was medically trained so that helped when talking about my problems. I was then told from my assessment I was declared limited capability for work or any work related activities.

    it’s not how I saw my life going as I’m only 57yrs old but I no longer have to worry about getting fit notes now and receive an extra benefit in with my universal credit claim. It’s taking me a while to accept all of this but on the really bad days of pain and fatigue it’s a relief not to have to try and crawl into work on my crutches and try to carry on.

    it’s worth the keeping up with the hassle of getting the notes as they can help you financially if some or all work becomes impossible for you.

    I hope you get the help you need.

    regards. Mandy

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 32

    Hi Mandy

    Thank you so much for your response. Believe it or not reading it has made me feel better about my situation. I did the last school year if I'm honest because I needed the money I struggled physically (hip) but I didn't miss a day and I'm proud of that. I am now finding that my Agency are finding it very hard to find me a new role (to be fair I can understand it do they risk a school not wanting me because I have mobility problems or do they say nothing??) Part of me is panicking because I don't know how I can survive much longer bills have to be paid regardless. But then I am also thinking should I just accept I can't do the work anymore? My Fitnote runs out on the 5th of October, I had a message from Universal Credit saying that I will receive a questionnaire through the post that I have to fill in have you had this too?? Then I will have to have an assessment. So I may get more money with my Universal Credit. I am very glad that you no longer have the stress of forcing yourself into work and I hope you are managing financially. That is my huge worry. I'm a few years older than you 61. things could have been different if they had left the retirement age alone.!!!

    PS I nearly forgot to ask do you get PIP? I've applied for that too though apparently I don't stand much chance of getting anything.

    Best wishes Annette