Occupational Health and When to Refer an Employee

Occupational health are registered (NMC – nurses or GMC – Doctors) health professionals such as nurses and doctors with specialist qualifications in workplace health and wellbeing. In addition, physiotherapists, psychologists and occupational therapists also work in the field of occupational health.

The need to refer an employee to occupational health arises in circumstances such as:

  • Long-term sickness absence > 4 weeks
  • Short-term frequent sickness absence
  • Performance or behavioural changes that are an issue
  • The employee is stating that work is affecting health
  • The employer has concerns that ill health, treatments or medications may impinge on safety or performance
  • For a fitness to work assessment
  • Return to work advice
  • Explore the likelihood of the employee being disabled under the Equality Act.
  • Assess fitness to attend formal meetings such as disciplinaries.

The advice received informs decision-making processes; such as those relating to sickness absence and performance, work content, working hours and patterns, location of work and capability.

Occupational health advice can assist you to be legislative compliant, protect you from litigation, fulfil your employer duty of care responsibilities and demonstrate being a fair employer.

An occupational health report will give you insights into the health issue, how it can give rise to work related difficulties, estimate the length of time the issue will occur, give advice to the employee and employer on how to improve the situation.

The occupational health assessment can explore with the employee about adjustments for the business to consider. The adjustments intend to ease the workplace issues arising from ill health. A business is not obliged to implement adjustments, unless they are judged to be reasonable under the Equality Act.

Occupational health professionals use their clinical knowledge to ask relevant and explorative questions. The purpose is to consider how the individual’s ill health is affecting work ability, effectiveness of treatments, the probability of improvements and to scope improvements to work performance and attendance.

The occupational health assessment is an opportunity for the employee to have a confidential discussion with a specialist health professional about their health, treatments, lifestyle and work. GP and non-occupational health professionals’ role is to diagnose and treat the ill health. The time allocated in GP and associated clinics centers on diagnosing and establishing an optimum treatment regimen. The occupational health assessment tends to be between 30-60 minutes and concentrates on refining work abilities.

To start the occupational health process or for more info, give Zoe, Duncan or myself a call. We will discuss your concerns and give you opinions on the value of occupational health for that circumstance.

Anna Harrington

Occupational Health Advisor

Wellbeing & Health in Business


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