Good practice when making occupational health referrals

Confidentiality and consent: OH acts as a filter between the employee and their medical details, and the employer

What are the do’s and don’ts when making referrals? In the first of a series of articles on the interface between HR and OH, Dr John Cooper advises on best practice.

The main reason for referring an employee to occupational health is to help a manager resolve a situation where an employee’s health might be affecting their fitness to carry out their job, or their job may be adversely affecting their health in some way.

And in doing this, a manager can seek advice from HR on policy, employment law and how to deal with employees who might have personal problems, as well as asking for help from OH on matters of health relating to an employee’s fitness for work.

While medical details are private and confidential to every person and no manager has the right to know an employee’s medical details, doctors and nurses are bound by the principles of patient confidentiality.

However, the employer does have a number of responsibilities relating to health for which they can ask specific questions of an OH service. In this scenario, the OH practitioner acts as a filter between the employee and their medical details and the employer and their specific questions.

Employers are not responsible for all aspects of their employees’ state of health, but they are charged with a duty of care, ensuring the employee is medically fit for a certain job (for example, driving a bus), and that the work conditions do not cause adverse health effects on one of their workforce (such as an occupational illness).

There are seven vital steps in this process, and the principles apply equally to telephone as much as to face-to-face consultations.

Step one

The first step is for the manager to be clear as to the reason for the referral and, consequently, the questions to ask the OH practitioner. The more specific the questions, the more likely they are to get answers that help them move the situation forward. Valid questions seeking an occupational health opinion include the following:

  • Is this employee medically fit to work in this role?

  • When, if absent, are they likely to be able to return to work?
  • Is a phased return recommended?
  • Is a review appointment recommended?
  • Would the employee’s condition be covered by the disability provisions of the Equality Act (2010)?
  • Are any adjustments needed to help the employee in their work?
  • Are there any restrictions in what the employee can do in their role?
  • Is the employee receiving the appropriate medical care and support?
  • Should the employee be considered for ill-health retirement?
  • Is the employee’s illness caused or exacerbated by their work?
  • If the employee is taking medication, is it likely to impair their ability to do their job safely and effectively?

HR/OH interface series of articles

This series of articles aims to help build the best value from the working relationship between HR and occupational health.

By gaining a better understanding of how the two professions operate, their needs, and what they both can or cannot do, OH and HR will be able to work together more collaboratively to the ultimate benefit of both employee and employer.

The articles might help HR managers relatively new to working with occupational health, or working for SMEs with limited access to a contracted OH provider. The references to “manager” apply equally to both line and HR managers. The title OH practitioner refers to either a physician or a nurse/adviser.

OH practitioners can use the articles to advise HR and line managers about the role of OH, what they can expect from an OH referral and legal compliance concerning consent and confidentiality of medical information.

Referrals to occupational health that are not appropriate and tend not to help include

  • Please review – this is too vague. Review what: left ear? Right foot? Mental state?
  • What are the details of this person’s illness? – this is confidential information.
  • What medication is the employee taking? – this is confidential and irrelevant.
  • Is the employee likely to be in regular attendance in the future? – this is impossible to predict as attendance depends on so many variable factors.
  • And not as one referral simply stated: “Needs heart and lung transplant” – what is it exactly the manager wants from OH?
  • Or: “What do you think is the diagnosis and prognosis?” in a complex case still undergoing investigations – no way of knowing until investigations are completed.

Step two

Having made the referral, the second step is for the manager to explain to the employee the purpose and procedure for the referral and obtain their consent to be referred to occupational health.

Examples of what the manager might say include the following:

  • “I have recently become increasingly concerned about your performance at work. And I want to refer you to occupational health so they can explore whether or not you might have some illness that could be the cause of this and, if so, what can be done about it.”
  • “We are aware that you have a health problem, and we want to make sure we are providing sufficient support for you.”
  • “Your absence level is higher than average and we would like OH to advise on whether or not anything more can be done to help your health.”

Step three

The third step is for the manager to write the referral itself, which is frequently done on a pro forma template.

Details should be included about the employee’s job, their length of service, absence record (if appropriate), date of birth, and any conflicting interests at the workplace, such as grievances or complaints.

The specific reason for the referral should then be clearly stated, along with the questions to be answered by the OH practitioner.

Ideally, referrals should be limited to about four to six questions, as there is unlikely to be sufficient time for the OH practitioner to address more.

The employee should be able to see a copy of the form, and ideally should also sign it, giving their consent, before it is sent to arrange the appointment.

Step four

The fourth step is the consultation itself. The OH practitioner will need to take details of the employee’s medical history as well as their job and any potential hazards or stressors involved.

A medical examination may be required, subject to the employee’s consent, for conditions such as back pain.

Medical reports may need to be obtained from the employee’s doctor, once again only with consent, for more complex cases.

It has to be remembered that employees are primarily the patients of their own GP, and OH practitioners must not stray into areas that are the GP’s responsibility.

The OH practitioner is not usually able to carry out investigations, make referrals or treat employees, but some OH services do include extra resources such as counselling or physiotherapy for rapid assessment and treatment.

Where there is doubt as to what OH might or might not be able to do medically, it is best to contact the employee’s own GP to talk through the scenario and agree who does what.

Step five

The fifth step is the report prepared by the OH practitioner. Written and informed consent is needed from the employee for this report, and the General Medical Council guidance recommends that the employee has the right to see the report before it is sent to their manager.

In such cases, the employee may ask for a fact to be corrected, which should be done.  But if they disagree with an opinion in the report (perhaps, for example, in relation to when they could return to work) then the OH practitioner is not obliged to change the opinion. However, they may point out in the report that their opinion differs from that of the employee.

Typically, an employee will be given one to three days in which to comment on the report before it is sent to their manager.

The report itself should address the main reason for the referral as succinctly as possible and answer the specific questions, in order to help the situation in a way that will benefit both employee and manager.

Step six

The sixth step is for the report to then be sent to the manager, with a copy to the employee and HR. Some OH services also copy this report to the employee’s GP.

Step seven

The seventh step is for the manager to review the situation in light of the written advice and any recommendations in the OH report. Ultimately, the best reports enable the manager to at least move the situation forward, and ideally to resolve it completely.

Points to consider when making occupational health referrals

Although it may seem simple on paper, there are some crucial points to be bear in mind in the process of referring an employee to the OH department.

Doctors and nurses always have to work within their own set of medical ethics and guidelines. The most important of these is the preservation of patient confidentiality. The challenge then for an OH practitioner is to know how much medical information to put in the report.

Essentially, it is more useful for the manager to know about the employee’s functional abilities – what they can or cannot do in their job – rather than any medical details per se.

But sometimes it does help to report on some medical factors, such as an employee who is epileptic and may need first aid at times. This is always subject to the employee’s agreement for the information to be divulged.

Another crucial factor to consider is whether or not the reason behind the referral is more for assessment or for support.

Some managers just want their employee assessed for a specific purpose (are they fit to return to bus driving after their heart attack?). Others want to help and support an employee who is having a difficult time healthwise – for example, feeling stressed and struggling with their job.

It is also critical to get the timing of the referral right. There is no point in referring someone to OH while they are still under investigation to establish a firm diagnosis or waiting for the result of a scan.

Similarly, people who have undergone surgery need time to recover, and usually will see their surgeon for a post-operation review before being considered for a return-to-work referral.

On the other hand, people experiencing stress-related issues or mental health problems often benefit from an early referral.

If in doubt, therefore, the manager or HR should communicate with the OH service and discuss when would be the best time to make the referral.

The OH practitioner will always try in the report to answer the referral questions as accurately and fully as possible, but it should be understood that medicine, as with quantum physics, deals with probabilities and not certainties. OH practitioners do not have a crystal ball, and trying to foretell the future needs to be done with care and honesty.

Illnesses can affect different people in different ways, resulting in a wide variety of responses to a given diagnosis. It is often more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person may have.

It also has to be recognised that the OH practitioner is often seeing an employee who is extremely anxious about the referral, especially if they think their job is at stake. OH is not, as one employee once feared, “the military police of the organisation”.

The OH practitioner needs to gain the trust of the employee in a very short space of time, otherwise the full details of the situation – medical and occupational – will not be apparent.

At the same time, they must stay completely impartial and objective – not on either employer’s side or that of the employee. The OH practitioner should be a bridge between the two, able to provide advice and guidance on how best to address the given situation.

The best OH practitioners have good knowledge of their workplaces – their hazards as much as their culture – and equally know their patients well and their state of health. They are then well placed to advise on the best solutions.

Key points

    • The clearer and more relevant the reasons behind the referral, the better the value from the referral.
    • The process needs to be done in a manner that meets medicine’s ethical guidelines.
    • The more supportive the referral, the more likely a beneficial outcome. Trying to “get rid of a difficult employee” via occupational health rarely works in practice.
    • Managers have the right to ask certain questions about their employees’ fitness to work, but not the right to enquire about all medical details.
    • The report from OH services should allow the manager to at least move the situation forward, and, ideally, to resolve it entirely.
    • Not all OH practitioners know everything about every disease, and at times it may be necessary to seek further reports or information.
    • Be clear when questioning whether or not an employee is “suitable for this job” about distinguishing skills and abilities to do the job (which is for the manager to assess) from medical fitness to work (which is for OH to assess).
  • OH provides advice, but the decisions are made by the line manager on the basis of advice from OH and HR.
  • It is up to the manager to decide if any recommended adjustments or restrictions can be accommodated. They may choose to ignore or change the advice from OH, but if things then go wrong, the manager may have to defend and justify their decision to a higher authority or an employment tribunal.
  • If in doubt, a phone call and discussion with the OH practitioner is the best way forward. Honesty is vital in such discussions. There is no point in pretending to support an employee if really you are trying to get rid of them. Complete clarity about your real aims and intentions will help the OH practitioner have a better all-round picture of the situation.
  • A collaborative approach between the line manager, HR and OH is ultimately the most favourable way to bring about a resolution of the underlying situation in which an employee’s health might be of relevance to their ability to carry out their occupation, and to bring the best potential outcome for both employee and employer.

Dr John Cooper MB BS FFOM is an experienced occupational health consultant who has worked internationally in both the private and the public sectors. He was educated at Oxford University and St Thomas’ Hospital London, and is a former medical director at Mobil Oil. He was also global chief medical officer at Unilever for 15 years. He has developed award-winning health and wellbeing programmes, lectured internationally and published studies on the business benefits of a healthy workforce.


“Duty of care” is the legal requirement for an employer to act towards its staff and the public in a reasonable way, with watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence.

The General Medical Council (GMC) website has a section for employers, including information on how to check a doctor’s status on the register, registration and licensing, and the obligations of employers. There is also a section on good medical practice, the standards doctors need to demonstrate in their work.

48 Responses to Good practice when making occupational health referrals

  1. Avatar
    albey longmoor 25 Feb 2018 at 8:04 pm #

    Hi having read the article with interest I would like to ask the question if OH doctor states in his report that the employee who had a herniated disc is fit to carry out his designated work duties.
    The employer reinstates the employee to his work duties and the employee has a recurrence of his back injury who would be to blame the OH or the company.

    • Avatar
      alicia 15 May 2018 at 7:24 pm #

      Above in the artical it says OH provides advice but the duty of care is with the line manager, I guess the line manager represents the company I.e the employer

    • Avatar
      Barry Bennett 6 Sep 2018 at 5:32 pm #

      That very much depends on the circumstances of the injury. Was the employee following appropriate moving and handling procedures? Was a risk assessment carried out and followed?

      Your questions is too broad to be answered in this type of forum.

    • Avatar
      Chris Davidson 10 Sep 2019 at 5:17 pm #

      The Employer has the responsibility for the Health and Safety and Welfare of all their employees whilst they are at work. The Occupational Health is only an Advisory source for Employers. Employers DO NOT HAVE TO ACT ON OH ADVICE. You do have the right to challenge OH reports but it is always best to take advice from your GP. It is also worth remembering that the Employee has the Legal right to have the OH report before it is released to the Employer and have anythings removed from the report before it is released to the Employer, however the OH must advise the Employer that things has been removed at the request of the Employee but the OH MUST NOT STATE WHAT HAS BEEN REMOVED. The Employee has a Legal obligation to carry out their duties in a safe and appropriate manner and also has the Legal right to refuse to work if they believe it is unsafe to them their colleagues or the environment including members of the public.

      • Avatar
        employee not giving up 3 Oct 2019 at 9:26 am #

        I’m interested to read this.
        I contracted an illness at my workplace (lung related). My client have a use the hand rail policy.
        I also for a period of 2 or so months experienced respiratory issues as did my team. Reading these concerns my company ignored my 4 requests to investigate. instead they sent me to their company doctor. I have medical evidence that my chronic lung condition returned around the same time I used company handrails and was very sick. OH assessment had been written and the doctor refused to see my notes saying he was an expert concerning my condition. During assessment a number of things were confirmed by the assessor who agreed my requests were reasonable. Whilst waiting for the report I asked for copies of letters he’d written to my consultant and he refused to send them. I made subject access requests which were also ignored. I also asked for a copy of the OH assessment medical form – you’ve guessed it, this request was also ignored.
        The report was sent to me 10 days after it was written and addressed to my employer and contained biased fabricated information. Prior to the report, the doctor wrote to my employers sharing with them confidential medical information (which was manipulated from the information my doctor shared with the assessor. I signed a patient consent form that I wished to see the medical report before my employers).
        Question: the OH doctor works for my employers and has made medical information available to my employers without my knowledge or consent. Additionally, this OH doctor has provided a very one source and manipulated report that contains very little medical information regarding my condition. He writes that he did not have NHS/GP information yet the information was on their forms completed at the time of my assessment. Finally, this OH doctor had systematically refused to share with me the letters HR had written to my consultant which shows questions he had asked in order to write his report.
        I should add that I made a subject access request for my employers to make available correspondence between them and the OH doctor however I’ve just come to realise that my employers would have asked certain questions to their OH doctor as part of the referral but they have not disclosed this as part of the subject access request documentation.

        Can anyone help with what to do in next steps?
        Can I re write the medical report?
        Can I get my own OH report?
        Can I raise the above malpractice to the GMC?

        Incidentally I am dealing with grievance against my company – the assessment was conducted prior to my grievance raised and the doctor was compliant even agreeing with me in the assessment as to what the company should have done – however since filing my grievance, the OH doctor and his secretary have been rather obstructive and non-compliant.

        Your help greatly appreciated.

  2. Avatar
    Julie 15 Mar 2018 at 5:21 pm #

    Hi , just read your article, going through the same thing. Did you get a reply if you don’t mind me asking.

  3. Avatar
    peter owen 26 Mar 2018 at 12:44 pm #

    Interesting & informative article.
    Question for you – if a referral to occupational health is documented as action required by a line manager following the performance management or appraisal process, is there a duty on the employer to make this referral, and what what would be a reasonable timescale in which to initiate this.
    Many thanks

  4. Avatar
    alicia 15 May 2018 at 7:34 pm #

    Question can an occupational health doctor re diagnosis a medical condition that was done by both Gp and specialist whom followed the set diagnostic rules and knows the patients history and condition.

  5. Avatar
    John Matthews 18 Jun 2018 at 11:06 pm #

    I’m a train conductor with a eyesight problem in one eye. My other eye is excellent and can read the bottom line of the eyesight chart. OH advice from companies own specialist eyesight doctor is I can return to duty. Rail company refuse to accept my fitness standards to work. Does Equality Act apply? I’m still authorised by DVLA to drive a bus it’s just UK rail eyesight standards are higher.

  6. Avatar
    Tony 11 Jul 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    Hi I’ve been signed off work with stress by my gp as I’ve got a lot going on at home got called in to see ocuppational health told him what was going on and he said he can overide my gp and sign me back in to work is this correct

    • Avatar
      Phil Johnson 10 Aug 2018 at 12:50 pm #

      The relationship between yourself and your employer is the one that is important here. The doctors, however self-important they may feel, are simply advising you and/or your employer. Nobody can “force” you to go to work and the decision to stay away is yours alone (unless your employer feels that there is a risk to your health, that of others or to their business related to you being at work). If you check the wording of the medical certificate from your GP, it says “I [your GP] advise you [the patient] to refrain from work…”. The medical certificate has very little influence other than as a piece of advice. Your employer may take advice from OH, which might suggest (for example) that you are otherwise well enough to work but are affected by issues at home and are unlikely to return until those issues are resolved. Should the employer feel that there is no reasonable expectation of those issues resolving and that they should therefore “dispense with your services”, any steps such as legal action(ET or whatever) are between the employee and the employer with GP and OH advice as “evidence”. In essence “signing off” and “signing back” have no legal status and are not a requirement, other than where an employer requires a medical certificate to justify medical absence. This is related to your contract of employment and not a medical requirement.

    • Avatar
      Moses 3 Oct 2019 at 7:34 pm #

      Good evening.
      I’m sorry to hear your story. I’m in a similar state with my employer.
      There must be a guide line for the grievance to resolve the issues.
      If you feel they are not following procedures and you feel they have treated your unfavourably then you can bring your casearch to the Employment Tribunal. Who can compel the disclosure of all data held about you.
      Or you can get legal representation from a solicitor.
      Employers are very nasty once you get into this sort of situation. …but don’t give up.

  7. Avatar
    Mayra 28 Jul 2018 at 5:28 pm #

    I am in your situation albeit a bit more complex
    I was referred to OH and still waiting to be called in.
    I hope it s how you say though I cannot know. It s first time I find myself in this situation.
    I really hope they will sign me back into work. But as I say my situation is a bit more complex.

  8. Avatar
    Barry Farmer 2 Aug 2018 at 3:54 pm #

    I have had two referrals for the same illness and on both occasions I was not shown the referral prior to it being sent. And only informed on the second referral after it had been sent.

    Reading the above am I right in saying this is bad practice?

    And if so where do I stand?


  9. Avatar
    S mitra 7 Oct 2018 at 7:04 am #

    Sir, my wife had urinary bleed problem. I asked the govt Dept in writing and thereafter submiief two reminders for referring her to authorised speciality hospital. The head of the office responded after second request after fifteen days. Can he be liable of medical negligence under article 21 pf the Constitution

  10. Avatar
    G Driver 12 Dec 2018 at 10:57 am #

    Can a company make you have OH medical?

    • Avatar
      Claddie 10 May 2019 at 11:08 am #

      You can’t be forced to attend OH.

      However the consequences will depend on your contract and your employers policies.

      It may be part of your contractual obligations.
      It would also man that managers need to make decisions on the info the do have available (e.g. someone has been off for 4 months with a condition, its improving and they should be back in 6 weeks, however the only facts he manager has is the individual has been off for 4 months. They then need to decide how long they can keep the post open or whether they need t progress on the grounds of capability)

  11. Avatar
    Joe 9 Jan 2019 at 1:07 am #

    Can you refuse to go to occupational health and if so what actions can your employee take ?

    • Avatar
      Pen 30 Mar 2019 at 9:06 am #


      Can anyone tell me if you can be referred to occupational health for two issues?
      I have a back problem and work related stress. Do I have to choose which issue
      I want the referral to address.

      • Avatar
        Con McGarry 25 Apr 2019 at 10:54 am #

        Work related stress is not a health issue

        • Avatar
          peter 23 May 2019 at 11:50 pm #

          I don’t understand, I have been told I’m unfit for work with work related stress by two different doctors.

    • Avatar
      Ausra 22 Oct 2019 at 1:34 pm #

      How I have reseved information from my employer for ocupation doctors apoitmen by letter by email.
      Becose I just get message from my store manager by text and asking before 2days notice do I can atend.
      But that day my working day I losing my contract hr.
      And for me that not professional not reseived any letter and like I been read I have sign concern letter.
      Can you please help me I’m so confused

  12. Avatar
    Tracey 13 Jan 2019 at 2:00 pm #

    this is a very useful article. I am in the process of being referred as a result of work based anxiety. After reading the questions asked by OH prior to referral around mental health I am cynical about the potential outcome being on the side of an employer and not employee which supports a negative view of MH in the workplace and may give weight to further exclude or dismiss. Is this your experience?

  13. Avatar
    DEAN DAVIES 11 Feb 2019 at 1:03 pm #

    Hi I’ve had a telephone assessment due to being off four times in three years with a bad back. It says I should continue with exercises for my back and go swimming, to yoga and a chiropractor. Plus should have less duties for 3 months. Can my employer terminate my contract due to this?

  14. Avatar
    Amanda 16 Feb 2019 at 8:03 pm #

    I was referred to OH after going off with a work injury which my employer is not admitting to I read this article with interest as recently I have been referred again by manager by text to my phone with no clarification just states a review at the moment there are many changes going on at work and I have become anxious over my job as i feel they are using this to get people out the worst is I’m not being treated by my gp although a referral was made to them for treatment via a pain clinic and this has been going on for months also I was never informed or asked to sign anything before a referral or got to see the report before OH sent it to my manager bad practice all round I think

  15. Avatar
    Tendai 17 Feb 2019 at 1:23 pm #

    As the Employer, can i ask staff to pay for the Occupational Health assessment ? All my employees are on self employed contract

    • Avatar
      Claddie 10 May 2019 at 10:52 am #

      No that would not be reasonable

      Your post is also a bit confusing. Are your staff employees or contractors. Employees would not have a self employed contract

  16. Avatar
    Chellebooka 18 Feb 2019 at 6:55 am #

    I have had 3 OH referrals. My employer has implemented the physical reasonable adjustments however I have MH problems and need some more help ie work from home etc. I am not being allowed this due to poor performance which is due to disability no reasonable adjustment have been made for my actual job. I am currently waiting for another face to face OH and have been waiting 6weeks on top of the 3 months before I went off sick. I am continually getting ill. My question is could I have Disability leave until my OH appointment ?

  17. Avatar
    Jacqueline Hill 3 Mar 2019 at 6:12 pm #

    My manager referred me to OH without informing me or obtaining consent. I feel bullied and manipulated. What are my rights? I am not absent from work but she wishes to change my remit to fill staff absences and is using OH

  18. Avatar
    Elizabeth 6 Mar 2019 at 6:41 pm #

    The occupational health nurse who assessed me refused to share her report with myself prior to sending it to my manager. She stated this was her company’s policy despite my objections. She stated I had to request a copy from my manager directly. Surely if this report is about myself I am entitled to see it first and secondly to have the right to request any factual inaccuracies are corrected prior to its release to my manager.

    • Avatar
      Claddie 10 May 2019 at 11:03 am #

      The Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 would apply here.

      You do have a right to access the report. You also have the right to access it prior to it being sent. You then have the right to
      1. Allow it to be sent
      2. Ask for it to be changed. The clinician does not have to change it, particularly if you are asking them to change the advice in the report as they are being asked for their advice
      3. Allow it to be sent but send a covering letter detailing what you disagree with and why
      4. withdraw your consent

      If you don’t actually know what is in the report then you cant really give informed consent to it being sent, it cant be sent without your consent.

      If uncomfortable you do have the right to withdraw consent and refuse for the report to be sent.

  19. Avatar
    Nikki 2 Apr 2019 at 10:24 pm #

    While signed off work my manager sent me a consent form to be seen by OH, without her already having OH within the company. I agreed. This was 2 months ago, I haven’t received any referral form or know of any questions she wants to ask or even know who or where this OH is. Then I receive a phone call that said OH has sent a report and asked my doctor for a report and it is ready for me to view. When viewing it, this said OH had poorly written a report on my apparent grievances, which was all made up or fabricated, and basically continued to slander me before asking for proof of my illness because he and my manager do not believe me. One of my main illnesses is mental health problems, so i find it extremely worrying a medical professional would accuse me of faking this illness. Can OH do this? Can they give my doctor a fabricated report about myself without so much as talking to me on the phone or meeting me in person? Can they guess what is or isn’t wrong with me after only talking to my toxic manager?

    • Avatar
      Suzie 10 Jul 2019 at 6:21 pm #

      Hi Nikki, can you let me know if you received a reply to your question please as I have a similar incident going on with myself.

  20. Avatar
    Jackie 13 May 2019 at 1:03 am #

    I have been off work now for 6 weeks after being dignoised. I have had tests and been confired to being benign.

    I was asked by employer to give medical report. I agreeed. They chose their questions and submitted them to the doctor.

    Doctors reply stays i am fit to return to work.

    This was not the answer they are hoping for.

    They asked again more questions, again didnt get the answer they wanted. .

    Now they are asking specifically the diagnosis, treatment and prognos.

    Are they allowed to ask this question?

    I believe under the AMRA 1988 this question is not a fair question and not information they require. When the Doctor has made his report and answered the questions to say i am medically fit to work.

  21. Avatar
    Laura 27 Aug 2019 at 11:00 am #

    I had to undergo an OH assessment about a month and a half ago. I have received my report which has been sent to my Employer. I am still yet to hear anything with regards to the outcome of the report. Are you able to let me know how soon after the report is sent to my Employer should I have a follow up meeting to discuss.

    Many thanks

  22. Avatar
    Dylan Peterson 29 Aug 2019 at 3:01 pm #

    I appreciate what you said about a manager needing to ask if an individual is medically fit to work in their role or not when they are referred to a doctor. My brother recently got his foot run over by a forklift, and he needs to be evaluated to see if it’s safe for him to work. I’ll share this information with him so that he can ask his boss about referrals for an evaluation.

  23. Avatar
    Steven Prestlam 12 Nov 2019 at 9:20 am #

    I have been off work with work related stress for 8 weeks. My work policy said that I should have been referred to OH within 2 weeks of being off but it took them 5 weeks to refer me. I have still heard nothing about an appointment or meeting and it’s now 3 weeks since the referral – 8 weeks off work in total. Given the reasons for my absence are totally around my working conditions, am I right in thinking that I shouldn’t return to work until OH had happened and potential changes to work have been made?

  24. Avatar
    Spencer Pearson 13 Nov 2019 at 6:43 am #

    Hi , just read your article, going through the same thing. Did you get a reply if you don’t mind me asking.
    This is a very useful article.

  25. Avatar
    Shana 16 Nov 2019 at 11:42 am #

    I’ve been subjected to racist bullying/ harassment/ discrimination/ berated on the floor at will/ scapegoated for mistakes made by colleagues on the late shift and during the day also diminished. Both by colleagues and supported by the TL. The TL seeks any and every opportunity to provide entertainment. There are two risk based issues being investigated. The first one where I was proven right when I was forced to authorise deals using another PC via a third persons ID. Because for months that system software wasn’t made available to me. Yet after having complained in writing it was made available in 2-3 days. The second risk based issue raised since God knows how long is being made to load the same trades after I have already pushed them through. The TL and the TLs manager resent me and three days prior to letting me know that they was very satisfied with the risk assessments conducted stated that when the decision would be arriving three days later that I just had to follow what would be relayed. Strange comment strongly suggesting that a consensus would be arrived at in their favour prior to knowing of their decision. That is the decision by business controls and the risk department. And once again my instinct was right. That indeed was the decision. So back again to loading my own work.

    Since I haven’t taken any days off, the HR all in the guise of duty of care had used the TLs Head to call me at will to “question” my being fit to work. Recently the same HR personnel called me in to question my mental health. No mention of the bullying which is external stress related and nothing to do with fitness to work. So I queried the HR personnel on how the Mental Health of those indulging in the aforestated ugly minded activities are not being referred to an OH dr and why was I being coerced into visiting their OH dr?

    Not just that the report by my gp is being ignored and the gp has clearly said that it’s all stress related. Regardless they are pushing me to visit their OH dr even stating that the car ride would be paid for.

    I find this not just harassment because now the HR personnel is quoting the contract.

    Yesterday in the canteen a different person from HR who used to smile and talk with me when I relayed what had and is happening me just once prior to yesterday couldn’t resist telling me that the best thing to do in these circumstances is to leave because in their experience these things can drag on for years.

    So I put their comments in whilst replying to the HR personnel in addition to letting then know that I would be investigating my tights.

    Sorry I should have said at the outset that I am indeed very grateful for this well written article and to find the very helpful comments by so many who are being subjected to a similar ordeal.

    It would be great to hear from you.
    Thank you

  26. Avatar
    darren 28 Nov 2019 at 11:24 pm #


    If anyone could help i would really appreciate it as company is upping the pressure on me.

    i suffered a back injury in 2016 and again in 2017, in 2018 i suffered a heart attack, there was a problem establishing blood pressure and heart was down to 35 bpm,
    Once this had been addressed i was given the all clear by hospital and GP.
    I had a 15 minute OH assessment in which he seemed more interested in my back injury,
    The report came out and said i was currently unfit for a substantial role, I disputed this, but company saw it as grounds for dismissal under capability.

    Only after requesting my personal report was i able to understand why the OH assessor asked me about my back, there was an email sent to the OH provider from HR asking for my back to be included in the assessment.

    Is it ok for the company to request for my back to be assessed as this was a disability? Would they have asked the same if i had one leg?

  27. Avatar
    Mark 2 Dec 2019 at 12:10 pm #

    Can anyone help me on this matter.
    My manager wrote a letter to me telling me I had to attend a sickness review meeting. She and HR have a copy of my OH report and wish to discuss in with me.

    However the OH report was not written up till 5 days later. We both got the OH report on the same day as I had requested. I was given a written warning at the meeting. I informed them at the meeting I did not feel I was being treated fair.

    I have to appeal and would like to bring it up that they had not been honest with my medical OH report and I feel that are in breach of the data protection act. Would I be right on this matter?
    Many thanks.

  28. Avatar
    Celia 19 Dec 2019 at 12:39 pm #

    I would be grateful if you could provide information on a member of staff who was referred to OH and was unaware of the referral form content until the doctor mentioned it and the referral was all about performance. The OH Doctor was concerned that the information had not been neither disclosed or discussed, the employee mentioned that it was defamatory and caused even more stress. The OH Doctor suggested to speak with the line manager ASAP to discuss the content and why it was not shared. The line manager said that she did not have any requirement in showing the form and refused to discuss the content. The employee brought a colleague as the relationship with this manager had deteriorated a long time ago and she wanted a witness.
    The member of staff returned to OH who issued the manager to undertake a Stress at Work Risk Assessment as the employee was clearly even more distressed by the whole interaction. The line manager carried the risk assessment poorly and with little interest which resulted on a grievance. The employer says that the do not have any requirement to show the content of a form to the employee before going to OH.
    As this is personal information and the opinion of a manager which has clearly shown lack of empathy and collaboration, does any law prevent from private information to be disclosed without the consent of a person? can a manager do this chosing not to follow good practise. The employee was off sick for 5 months and has developed cronic anxiety and an irregular heart beat.

  29. Avatar
    Blanco 25 Jan 2020 at 7:12 am #

    I facing some issues at work and I don’t know what do to I hope somebody can help me out here.

    I been working in a company for 6 month under probation and my probation is ending in February

    I’m under occupation health but I been pressured by my manager to do more and even threatened to give me a first written warning I been suffering from low prolapse disq I’m not sure what my rights are and what I should do it’s stressing me out really bad and I think they want me to leave this job I feel like I’m not even getting the right support form my manager no the OH What can I do can somebody plz help many thanks

  30. Avatar
    Thabang Gabayo 4 Mar 2020 at 11:14 am #

    Hi, we have an employee working on the mine. According to mine health and safety, all the employees needs to refresh their medical every 12 months. We have referred the employee on 15 January 2020 to the mine hospital which turns out that he could not proceed with medical because his Blood Pressure was too high. He was then referred to the local clinic by the OH practitioner, so he can take treatment in order to control his Blood Pressure. Until today employee is still struggling with his Blood Pressure whilst under the treatment he is getting from the local clinic.

    How do we assist this employee, please help

  31. Avatar
    Jennifer Jenkins 14 Apr 2020 at 4:38 pm #

    Hi, I’m looking for some advice. In February I gave my company permission to gain a medical report from my GP my manager has said this was sent but she has not received the report yet & keeps asking me to ask my GP if they received the request. My question is should it have been sent via recorded delivery & should my manager be asking me to chase it? I’m now being asked to sign another form giving her permission to send the request again I’m very reluctant to do this not knowing what’s happened to the first one.

    • Avatar
      Jaida Greshen 20 Nov 2020 at 3:35 am #

      Al of our correspondence tended to be done electronically. Scans and such like but sent through and encrypted file programme. I hope you managed to sort this. I realise it has been some time. Personally, I would have made enquiries to the GP simply for my own peace of mind. I’m not sure your employer can chase it due to gdpr

  32. Avatar
    Jaida Greshen 20 Nov 2020 at 3:29 am #

    It’s quite sad to hear of all the stories about bad experiences with occupational health. Mine was so supportive. She stated in her opinion, my condition fell under the EA2010. Due to an error in my work, I was under investigation which is what prompted the OH referral as I explained I was feeling close to a breakdown. The meeting went ahead while I was still off sick but supported by rep as per occ health suggestion. I was told at the time there was no outcome where I would lose my job, only to be dismissed saying they couldn’t trust me. They are now saying that I was told in error that I wouldn’t lose my job and while occupational health is able to advise, there was no evidence on their side that the EA2010 applied to me (although they acknowledged that they knew I was taking meds for condition and had been for some time). I’m fighting this but it’s taking it’s toll and with everyone being so overloaded, it’s hard to focus on the matter. I am hoping to get some talking therapies soon. I feel let down by the whole system but so grateful to have had such a wonderful OHP

  33. Avatar
    Chris. 22 Feb 2021 at 8:12 pm #

    Have been asked to see occupational health for an assessment, but feel unable to do so. Physically and mentally dont feel able. Have only just done an assessment and am awaiting treatment for anxiety. Asked emploer for part time hours, five months ago, to reflect my circumstances. HR asked me to agree without allowing me time to view paper work. Then sent me letters on contracts and agreements after I said couldn’t attend another assessment yet,gave reasons, but with no luck so far. tomorrow have to talk again to HR on phone, when have informed them that hear buzzing in one ear (Moisture on ear drum)
    GP has given me fit note for part time hours. COVID has delayed treatment, but last advice to me was, keep myself safe, which is difficult when employer doesn’t listen. Got injuried at work, through questionable managerial decisions.
    For some people, at work, getting part time hours is as easy as filling out one form. In my case, thats not been case.

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