Since 6 April 2010 sick notes have changed. We are now encouraged to help people to get back to work earlier. This might be possible through a phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations. Long term sickness is bad for morale so hopefully this will be seen positively by employers. They have no obligation to agree to these terms, however.
Further details from: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/fit-note-employee-guide.pdf
Please remember that all employees can self-certify for the first seven days of illness. It is unfair to other patients if appointments are being used inappropriately. A self-certificate is available online at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/sc2.pdf or paper copies are available from reception.