I would like to describe the professional isolation that can be experienced
by an OH professional when client management decide to go against health advice
and apply pressure directly through the OH adviser’s employing company or
I recently devised a rehabilitation programme for an employee returning to
work after suffering non-work-related stress. When she returned to work, the
departmental manager told her to work the first two weeks at half days until he
had contacted HR to find out what the actual procedure was.
The HR department informed her of the referral process via OH. On her second
day back at work I saw her following an HR referral. During the consultation I
fully assessed the employee and devised a rehabilitation plan consistent with
my findings and the ability of the employee. This plan would have seen the
employee back at work within four weeks.
However, when the employee returned to her department and informed the
section manager of the plan, the manager telephoned me and challenged me
regarding the proposed plan. During the conversation the manager became quite
angry, stating she would be logging a complaint. She also tried to gain medical
information from me and stated she knew about the employee’s problems and felt
she was fit to resume work.
At this point I told her that I would not discuss any aspect of the case
with her and directed her to contact HR. She did this and logged a complaint
about my attitude and questioned my ability to implement the rehabilitation
This complaint was then forwarded and my manager was asked to investigate.
During this investigation it was found that I had acted within the boundaries
of my role.
However, after this, a cascade of minor events were brought to my attention
through my manager. I started to wonder if this had anything to do with my
Following this, the company had arranged a teambuilding exercise at a local
hotel, which was followed by an evening meal. I had previously informed my
manager that I could not attend in the evening.
Two days before the event, my manager asked me in front of eight other
employees if I would be going to the evening function. I said I would be going
all day but could not attend in the meal. At this point she told me I would be
going and that it was part of my contract to be flexible to the client’s
Later that day my manager said she wanted a meeting with me to discuss the
client’s concerns over some aspects of my work. I attended and was shocked at
allegations (without evidence) that there had been several complaints regarding
my work. Some of the issues being raised made me to think there was some sort
of conspiracy going on.
I would recommend anyone with similar problems to contact the RCN as it has
been a good source of support.
Name and address supplied
Has anyone experienced a similar situation or have any advice to offer our
reader? Call Eliza O’Driscoll on 020 8677 1951 or e-mail eliza firstname.lastname@example.org