Your employer may ask you to agree to an Occupational Health Report. This may happen if you have been off work frequently or for a long period of time because of illness. Or maybe you have a condition that makes it difficult to continue performing your normal work duties.
Occupational health consultants often work for independent companies servicing many different employers. Some will conduct face-to-face consultations. Others will do so over the phone to save your company money.
You should not assume that because of their status they have an extensive medical background. Instead, their role is often to interpret information provided by your GP or health consultant and provide recommendations to your employer.
Should I give my consent to an occupational health report?
We would normally recommend that you give your consent to speaking to an occupational health consultant.
If you are struggling with your health, or with carrying out your role because of a medical condition, an occupational health report may help. Once a report is produced, your employer can no longer have any excuse for not understanding the nature of your condition. Or what it can do to support you.
However, if you do have reservations about agreeing to an occupational health report, you should discuss these with your GP, union or WRS.
What will be in the occupational health report?
The occupational health report will typically cover all the following:
- Details about you and your role at work.
- Why your employer has referred you for an occupational health assessment.
- A summary of your condition. This will include any letters or reports that you may have agreed to provided from your GP or other medical specialist.
- The causes of your condition. These may be medical, personal or relate to your working environment.
- If you are off work, an assessment of when you can be expected to return. Also any ‘reasonable adjustments’ – temporary or long-term – that may be required to help you do so. These could include recommendations on – your working hours; targets and objectives; adjustments to your role; how often you can be reasonably expected to be off work sick; etc.
- Whether your condition may qualify as a ‘disability’ under the Equality Act 2010. If so, you may be entitled to special treatment in the form of ‘reasonable adjustments’.
On occasion, you may find that the occupational health report is critical of your employer’s conduct. This is especially so if your employer has failed to follow previous recommendations. This could be very useful if you are at risk of your contract being terminated.
However, you must understand that it is primarily prepared on behalf of – and for – your employer; not for you!
Checking the occupational health report’s accuracy
Always demand to see a copy of your occupational health report in advance of it being sent to your employer.
And insist that you have the chance to alter anything that is incorrect.
If anything is incorrect, put in writing what changes are required. Otherwise, a shoddy or incomplete report could have serious implications for your job.
If you are required to attend a meeting on your health or sickness absence, ensure the content of your occupational health report is discussed.
This is important. Your employer will then need to show that it has taken account of, and responded to, any recommendations in the report; such as ‘reasonable adjustments’.