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Providing Occupational Health Services

What is Occupational Health?

Occupational health is a specialist branch of medicine focused on health in the workplace. Occupational health specialists are trained to provide advice on work-related illnesses and accidents, fitness for work including pre-placement screening and assessing employees for fitness for work after a period of sickness absence.  They also can provide advice on health and wellbeing, stress at work and ill health retirement.

Is the information discussed at the appointment confidential?

All information given to the Occupational Health Service will be kept in an employee’s occupational health record and maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, and guidance produced by the General Medical Council and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.  There is a report which will be discussed with you at the appointment which will be sent to your employer to advise them on your fitness for work.

What happens at an occupational appointment?

During the appointment you will be able to discuss confidentially your health and how this may be affect your work or be affected by work. You may or may not be examined as part of the assessment, depending on the medical problem. The consultation will usually last between 30-40 minutes. During the appointment the content of the referral and the report written will be discussed with you.  You will be given the opportunity to discuss the content. The content of the report is to help your employer understand your fitness for work at this time.

What happens to the report that the occupational health specialist writes?

The report is written based on the information obtained from the consultation with the occupational health practitioner and any supporting medical evidence provided.  The report will be sent to the referring person usually Human Resources.  You will also be asked to consent for copies to be accessed by your line manager and sent to your General Practitioner. It is your decision if you would like to have access to your report.

You may request to see the report before or at the same time as it is sent to the employer. The content of the report will be discussed with you as part of the consultation and will focus on the questions requested in the referral and ‘job requirements’ detailed on the referral form. 

Do employees have the right to change the occupational health report if they don’t agree with the contents?

The report that is produced by the occupational health professional is independent based on the information provided by the employer, employee and additional medical evidence.  You is entitled to raise concerns within the time frame stated on the consent form.  The author of the report may agree to amend the report if there are factual errors within the report or you may withdraw their consent for its distribution or they may attach comment to the end of the report as an addendum.

Does an employee have the right to stop Occupational Health writing a report?

You are entitled to withdraw their consent to the process at any time.  However, the fact that you have done so will be notified to the employer with a statement that Occupational Health is unable to provide information regarding fitness for work.

Do the recommendations have to be implemented by the employer?

Occupational health provides an advisory service and that any recommendations made in the reports are implemented at the employer’s discretion after considering the business needs including other employees in the team.

What about the Equality Act?

Where someone meets the definition of a disabled person in the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to any elements of the job which place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people.

Employers are only required to make adjustments that are reasonable. Factors such as the cost and practicability of making an adjustment and the resources available to the employer may be relevant in deciding what is reasonable.

Further information can be found at: