Occupational Health Assessment FAQs for Employees

What Is Occupational Health?

 Occupational health practitioners play a key role in supporting the effective management of health issues within the workplace. As occupational health professionals, we are concerned with the work-related impacts of an employee’s health, both in terms of how work or the workplace might impact on the employee, as well as how the employees’ health may impact on their work. 

It is not the purpose of occupational health to provide diagnosis or treatment, but to provide support to employees, to interpret medical information and to present it to managers in a useful way that allows them to consider work-related issues, such as timescales of absences or adjustments, which may be made to support employees in their place of work. An independent occupational health assessment (also known as a management referral or sickness absence referral) is a work focused and objective evaluation that an employee undergoes with a qualified and experienced occupational health clinician to assess and document specific health concerns, issues, and future goals/management. 

An employee’s General Practitioner (GP), whilst understanding the health issues and their patient, may not understand the work processes or the hazards present in their workplace. Occupational health clinicians are all are governed by the same moral, professional, and ethical codes of conduct to which all medical and nursing professionals must adhere. Therefore, the assessments are confidential, independent, and objective in nature. 

Occupational health can provide advice across a range of areas, including, but not limited to: 

  • The potential impact a medical condition may have on an employee’s ability to attend work/perform their duties

  • Likely return to work timescales

  • Whether or not workplace adjustments may be considered

Why Have I Been Referred To Occupational Health?

 A referral to occupational health may be due to a variety of reasons, e.g., to provide advice to managers on support at work with health-related issues. 

You may have advised your manager that you have a health issue that is affecting you at work or is currently being investigated and your manager may wish to ensure you have appropriate support at work or your employer’s absence policy may require managers to refer staff experiencing prolonged or frequent sickness absence, normally after a period of absence defined within the Business’ sickness absence management policy, or occasionally sooner if it is thought this would be of help. 

Your manager should have discussed the purpose of the referral with you before contacting occupational health. Normally an appointment should lead to advice for both you and your manager regarding, for example, the likely duration of sickness absence, the possible impact of your ill health on your work and suggest rehabilitation approaches for return to work or reasonable adjustments to enable you to remain at work, where appropriate. 

What Will Happen At My Appointment?

The occupational health clinician (doctor or nurse) will introduce him or herself to you and explain the purpose of the assessment. The doctor or nurse will then ask for your consent to proceed with the assessment. They will discuss your current condition, your past health, and its effects on your activities with you. 

It would be really helpful if you bring a note of any medication (prescribed and/or any ‘over the counter’ medication) you are on and the name and address of your GP or any hospital specialist you’re attending. Your best interests and wellbeing are of primary concern to all of us at MCL Medics. Therefore, we will make every effort to make your occupational health consultation as straightforward and comfortable as possible. 

What Will The Report To My Manager Contain?

The contents of a report will depend upon the nature of the problem and the questions that have been asked in the referral we receive from your manager. Reports concentrate on the effects of the health problems on work. Medical details are not usually disclosed unless necessary for supporting you in your work, and only when you have given informed consent for disclosure. 

The answers to the questions asked by your manager will be discussed with you in detail by the occupational health clinician. In general, this may include likely duration of sickness absence, the day-to-day effect of any permanent or short-term disability and subsequent advice on restrictions/adjustments to normal duties, which may enable an earlier return to work and rehabilitation. 

Who Will See My Occupational Health Records?

The standards of confidentiality for records held by your GP or any hospital specialist also apply to occupational health records. Therefore, neither your manager nor HR staff has access to your records. Details of your medical records will only be released at your request, with your informed consent or, in exceptional circumstances, as a legal or ethical requirement. 

Can I Have A Copy Of The Report From Occupational Health To My Manager?

You will be given the opportunity to request a copy of the report when you have your appointment. Your line manager will be notified that you have been provided with a copy. You will be given 3 days to review the report and respond, where a copy of your report is forwarded to you, via email. The report will then be forwarded to your manager. Where the report has to be posted, you will be given 5 days, from date of posting, to review it and respond. The report will then be forwarded to your manager. 

At this stage you have the opportunity to provide your consent or request amendments to any perceived factual inaccuracies on the report, for example, where you may have inadvertently given us a wrong piece of information at the time of the consultation, or the clinician has misunderstood what you’ve said at the time and noted something down wrong. In these instances, we will gladly correct any such factual information promptly to ensure there are no mistakes within your occupational health report. However, our clinicians will not amend opinions, advice, or recommendations. This is because our process is independent, evidence-based assessments that produce non-biased reports providing work-related health advice to both employer and employee, from a qualified occupational health professional or you may withdraw your consent. 

A copy of your report can be sent to you at a later date if you make a request it in writing.

Will Occupational Health Write To My Gp/Hospital Specialist For Information?

The occupational health clinician only has access to what is available and provided at the referral stage or anything you may take along to the consultation. If the occupational health clinician thinks that a report from your GP and/or hospital specialist, where appropriate, would be useful, the reasons for this will be discussed with you and a request made only with your informed written consent. Your right to read any such report will be explained to you at this time. 

What If I Do Not Feel Able To Attend My Occupational Health Appointment?

If you feel unable to undergo the assessment you should inform your manager and occupational health, as soon as able. Without the benefit of guidance from the occupational health clinician your manager may make decisions regarding your ongoing employment based on the information available to them. Alternatively, the occupational health clinician will discuss any concerns you may have about the appointment on the day but will not proceed further without your consent. 

What If I Cannot Make The Particular Appointment Date/Time?

If you are unable to attend, please inform your manager as early as possible in order that the appointment may be offered to another person and your appointment can be rebooked. If you have any questions regarding your referral to occupational health, you should discuss this with your line manager, in the first instance. Approaching an occupational health assessment positively helps to ensure that it will benefit both you and your manager.