The Society of Occupational Medicine has collated what it has concluded are three common scenarios why employers do, or do not, consider asking for OH advice.
The slightly tongue-in-cheek analysis by the society’s medical appraiser Dr Eva D’Souza outlined a first scenario in which an employer no longer has employees. Or rather, that the employees it once had had either left, been made ill and gone off sick or were now claiming disability discrimination against it.
“Sometimes it is the business culture that is sick and not just the employees. Managing your employee health issues and their work is no different to any other good management practice. If you neglect the financial risks in your business, it will suffer,” said D’Souza.
The second scenario was that the business was already thriving and had good management systems in place, so staff felt valued. Staff retention rates were therefore already high and absence levels low.
In this scenario, the organisation had probably previously already been using HR, health and safety and OH support.
“You manage the health issues relating to your employees and their work in the same way as any other significant business risk and have a culture where employees can raise concerns early and feel like they will be heard and can be offered support, if needed,” said D’Souza.
The third scenario was that someone had suggested the employer might want to refer an employee to OH because they had been off sick for a year and their manager was therefore at the point of suggesting that they resign.
“Better to seek competent occupational health advice late in the day, than not at all, as you could face unintended consequences of your actions, for example constructive dismissal and disability discrimination claims, if you haven’t followed fair processes in a reasonable way,” adds D’Souza.