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Occupational Health Assessment – FAQs



Is an OH Assessment Independent?

The assessment is invariably paid for by the employer and is geared to offering the employer appropriate advice and addressing any specific Management concerns raised at the referral stage. However the Doctor will conduct the referral and produce a report in a neutral manner.

Is the report biased?

The Doctor will conduct the assessment and produce the report in a dispassionate and neutral manner. However the Doctor will inevitably not have a full knowledge of the background details or circumstances and will have to rely upon the information provided beforehand, observations during the consultation/examination and what the subject tells them.

The individual will definitely provide their perspective during the consultation so it is therefore very important for the referring Manager to provide sufficient and clear information during the referral process so the clinician has a balanced viewpoint.

Does the Doctor have access to any medical records?

The Doctor only has access to what is available and provided at the referral stage or anything the subject may take along to the consultation.

Should the Doctor need access to medical records then they will have to follow a set procedure to gain access to them which includes getting written consent from the subject. Essentially it is the same procedure that, for example, HR may use to get a GP report. Additional time and cost would b incurred.

Are Doctor's recommendations binding?

Recommendations are not binding and are simply recommendations. It is for the employer to assess whether the recommendations are practical and reasonable to implement for their organisation and circumstances. However the advice is given by an expert medical professional and an employer should give them serious consideration.

Is the Doctor's opinion on whether the Equality Act provisions on disability binding?

The OH Physician is a medical expert who will give their view on whether the Equality Act provisions will apply. However it is a legal decision (and not a medical decision) made in a tribunal or higher court whether the Disability provisions of the Act apply or not. Legal decision would almost certainly have considered any medical opinions offered and therefore the Doctors opinion should count in this respect.

We think our employee is lying, will an assessment confirm this?

An OH Assessment is NOT a forum to prove whether an employee is lying or to decide whether the reported diagnosis is true (see next question).  It is unrealistic for the clinician who does not have access to full NHS records nor access to diagnostic test/results to be able to comment with certainty on such a topic.

If you have any serious doubt then we would suggest you seek a report directly from the employee’s GP.

Will an assessment give us a diagnosis?

Many illnesses can take weeks or even months, a battery of tests and require specialist consultants to be officially diagnosed. An Occupational Health Assessment is simply not meant for this purpose; its primary aim is to educate and inform Management about the situation and in particular about the employee’s capabilities in respect of working in their role safely.

Note: There are a few specialist Health Surveillance / Medicals such as for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and/or Asbestos where an OH Physician is expected to make a diagnosis.

Does an Employee have to attend?

In short, an employee cannot be compelled to attend an OH assessment. It is therefore essential to fully explain to and engage your employee in why you wish to go down this route and what you want to achieve by doing so.

What can we do if an employee refuses to attend an OH Assessment?

We would recommend that you try your best to encourage your employee to attend. Thereafter you need to explain clearly that any Managements decisions you will be making will therefore have to be made without expert medical advice.

It would be advisable that this is all clearly documented.

Can the employee see the referral form?

All documentation connected with the case including the referral form would have to be copied to the employee if they request to see them.  This is both true under the GDPR subject access request process and under GMC medical/ethics guidelines.  It is good practice for the employee to know (and/or even see a copy) what is included in the referral form ahead of the consultation.

Can we talk to the clinician before the consultation?

The general approach Everwell takes is that anything significant that needs to be covered in a consultation MUST be in writing and the employee should be aware of anything included.  Everwell clinicians cannot and will not introduce random information that is not documented and so essentially anything verbally discussed cannot be used in the consultation and therefore we generally discourage verbal exchanges of information.