Smart Clinic

So, you’ve been referred to occupational health…

If you’ve been referred for an occupational health assessment by your workplace, you may have a lot of questions and possibly be unsure what to expect.

Here’s the answer to a few common questions you may have.

Is it bad to be referred to occupational health?

No. It’s important to debunk the myth that people get referred to occupational health because they’re in trouble at work. That is not the purpose of occupational health, disciplinary proceedings will typically be via your human resources department who will have a set procedure that involves investigating issues at work. This is entirely separate to occupational health.

You will have been referred to occupational health due to an absence from work or health condition, and your management team would like further advice and information from clinical specialists on how best to support you and the business. They may have specific questions that they want to ask a medical professional to ensure that they are acting appropriately.

Please visit this article for more information on the purpose of an occupational health assessment.

Will an occupational health report go against me in the future?

Your occupational health report will be saved as part of your HR records so that an employer can ensure that they are acting appropriately and following any advice relating to your health in the future. This should not ‘go against’ you, but may be used to make informed decisions.

What can I expect from an occupational health appointment?

An occupational health appointment will be a discussion, either remotely or in person, with a clinician trained to assess fitness for work. They will discuss why your employer has made the referral and what will happen next. During the appointment they will ask you questions about your current medical situation and your past medical history. Depending on the circumstances they may ask you some social questions such as any workplace or home related issues you may have.

After this they will produce an occupational health report for your employer. With your consent, this will be sent to your employer when it’s ready.

Please visit this article for more information on the purpose of an occupational health assessment.

Do I have to attend an occupational health assessment?

You should consult your employment contract to ascertain whether there is a clause in there that mandates you to attend an occupational health assessment when requested. If no such clause is present then you are not obliged to, however it will usually be in your interest to do so.

If you refuse to attend an occupational health assessment then your employer will manage the situation without any medical input or advice from occupational health. This means they may not have received any advice about your current ability (or inability) to work, any adjustments you require or any considerations

What power does occupational health have?

Occupational health is an advisory service. Typically it will provide advice to your employer or yourself. It will be your employer’s decision what action they choose to take, not occupational health.

In the case of an ill-health retirement application, the decision on whether an individual is likely to be eligible is often made by an occupational health doctor.

What will the occupational health report say?

An occupational health report is not a transcript of the entire conversation you have with the clinician. It will be a shortened summary, detailing any relevant clinical advice that can be offered following on from the conversation. The advice will likely include the medical practitioners opinion on a number of factors such as your current fitness for work, your future ability to work, any impact a health condition may have on your work, whether you are covered by any relevant disability legislation, whether you are able to attend meetings with management whilst absent, how long you are likely to be absent for, and other similar subjects.

I have a fit note (sick note) from my GP, so why have I been referred to occupational health?

Having a fit note doesn’t negate the need for an occupational health assessment. Nor does it overrule any occupational health advice.

A fit note (previously referred to as a sick note) is issued by a general practitioner after a short (typically 8-10 minute) appointment, and will have very little information on. If your employer requires more information or advice, they will seek the advice of a specialist practitioner from occupational health. This will involve a more detailed assessment and includes a more detailed report.

Please see more information about the difference here.