What is an Occupational health assessment report?

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In this blog we will explore what an Occupational health assessment report is. 

We will also discuss what is included in the Occupational health assessment report and what happens after the report has been shared with the employer. 

What is an Occupational health assessment report?

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Following the consultation with an Occupational health specialist, a report is made that is written by the Occupational health specialist on the employee’s condition to work.

The occupational health report will include information related to the employee’s medical condition, their ability to work, their needs of accommodation and support, as well as anything that can be done to help improve their well- being like referrals to medical services etc. 

The employees have a right to see the report before anyone else and requires their consent to be sent across to their manager or employer.

Usually the employee will  be given a few days to see the report and at this time, the employee can ask for facts to be corrected. The employee has the right to disagree with what is mentioned in the report.

While the OH specialist needs to change factual  information if the employee disagrees with it and there is no factual evidence,the report should mention any differences of opinion.

The report will usually mention the condition, medical situation, and answer any questions that have been specifically brought up. 

The report is then sent to the manager as well as to the employee, HR representative and, in some cases, the employee’s GP.

The most important aspect of the report is the advice that is given to employers and managers regarding what can be done to accommodate the employee within the work space and also their condition in terms of their fitness to work.

It is based on these inputs that the manager or employer should take steps such as giving medical leave of absence, recidong work hours, providing support etc to help the employee adjust to working with their medical condition. 

What is included in the  Occupational health assessment report?

According to MedWise, an Independent Occupational Health service provider, here are the details that are included in the Occupational health assessment report:

  • The report will provide an outline of the employees health-physical and mental- status and how this current status impacts their ability to perform their role reliably, safely and effectively.
  • The report will also include information related to suggestions made by the occupational health specialist for the employer in terms of adjustments and accommodations for the workspace, the workload, and other issues related to the employees working condition. 

For example, if the employee has issues related to shoulder pain due to lack of a proper work desk, the specialist might recommend the employer to replace the work desk with something more ergonomic. 

  • If you have a medical condition, the report will also include information related to when you are likely to be fit to go back to work.
  • It will also include information that suggests modifications that can be made to working conditions which will be necessary for the employee to recover from their condition and return to work. 

For example, the specialist might recommend a phased return to work, or gradual return to work. 

  • The report will also answer any questions that have been brought up by the employers as well as the employee during assessments. Such as: How long would you expect their condition to last? Could the condition be aggravated by the workplace or their role? In your opinion, is the employee fit to continue working in their current role? What are the aspects of the role the employee is not fit to continue?
  • Information related to medical diagnosis will not be included in the report if the employee is not willing to disclose the information to the employer. 
  • In case of factual corrections, the specialist will make them if the employee has factual evidence that the information given is wrong or update information related to their condition if there is evidence of change in circumstance. 
  • The report will also include notes related to disagreements if the employee does not agree with the contents of the report but has no evidence to back their disagreement. 

What is an Occupational Health assessment?

Once the referral has been sent, there will be a consultation between employee and OH specialist where during the consultation, the OH practitioner will take all of the details that have been provided, including medical reports from the medical practitioner of the employee and go through it. 

In some cases where there are no medical reports, there will be a medical examination- usually done by an independent medical professional that the employee will be subjected to under consent. 

The OH practitioner is not a professional who does the medical examination nor do they treat the employees they are present to assess the condition and make suggestions to the employees and employers concerned with how they can move forward regarding employees job and role. 

If you have been referred for a medical assessment, you will be sent to a medical professional to check your condition. The assessment and the doctor’s notes will then be sent across to the Occupational Health specialist. 

While assessments are usually face to face with a professional, in some cases consultations occur over the telephone or in more recent years, via video calls. 

The Occupational health department will send across a date and time of the planned call to you as well as your manager or employer. The assessment will take around 30 minutes or so 

Your consent is required for the consultation to proceed, if you do not want to give consent, inform your manager immediately and beforehand. 

Some of the issues that are discussed during the consultation includes information related to your condition include:

  • Your medical history
  • How it impacts your work
  • History of absences
  • Pharmacological and other interventions and treatments you are under
  • Changes in situation
  • Fitness to work
  • Impairments if any
  • Present state of medical condition 

Can an employer ignore an Occupational health report?

Unfortunately Yes. 

Your manager or employer can ignore the advice and suggestions given by the Occupational Health specialist in their report since it is only suggestion and advice. 

The inputs for accommodations are not mandatory, rather it is completely up to the manager or the employer whether they want to take up the advice or not. 

Now, it is very important that any employer should consider any advice on the occupational health report in order to make adjustments that are necessary to address any issues that have put you in a disadvantage.

However, ultimately it is their call in terms of what is reasonable for the company to accomodate or not. If they find that they are unable to make the accommodations the occupational health report has suggested they can choose to ignore it. 

However, on a positive note for the employee, ignoring the recommendations made by an occupational ehealth report puts the employers on shaky ground especially if you feel that you have been discriminated against or find that the accommodations were reasonable enough. 

Seamus McGranaghan for Legal Island suggests that if the employer finds that the accommodation advice on the report is unrealizable and flawed in terms of facts, the employer can choose to ignore the report however it is best if the employer takes a second opinion with a specialist of the medical condition in question. 

Getting another assessment and report from another occupational health specialist, preferably one that is not tied to the company, could be a good place to start. 

However, in a case where this is not the issue, the employer who has not taken the advice of accommodation and adjustments given on the report will most likely have a very hard time trying to justify why they have not implemented adjustments that have been suggested by occupational health.

If you find that your employer has unjustly ignored the advice on the occupational health report, then what you can do is to bring up a case to the Employment Tribunal and claim for disability discrimination.

What is occupational health?

Occupational health is one area of the public health domain that is concerned with the physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations.

This area of public health involves promoting, advocating, and maintaining the highest degree of well-being for workers in the workplace across various occupations. 

The main role of occupational health within the workforce is to support management of health issues of employees within the workplace and are concerned with how their occupation impacts the health of the employee. 

It is important to mention that occupational health, while they are concerned about how the work or the workplace might impact on the employee, it is also focused on how the employees’ health may impact on their performance at work. 

Occupational health within the workplace provides support to employees by interpreting medical information of employees in the case that they are unwell and to present it to Managers in a way that allows for employee advocacy as well as makes rooms for accommodations to support the employee in the workplace.

The support they provide includes providing advice to both the managers and supervisors as well as the employees in areas related to:

  • How the medical condition impacts an employee’s ability to work and perform well on the job as well as the impact it has on their ability to carry out their responsibilities. 
  • Workplace adjustments and accommodations for the employees well being such as reducing work hours or workload. 
  • Time scales for the return of employees to work in the case they wish to take a medical leave of absence. 
  • Advice and referrals to Counselling and Psychological Services or any medical services. 
  • Providing employees with information related to employees fitness to return to work and  remain at their present role.

Occupational health specialists are the professionals that employees often reach out for guidance on the issues mentioned above.

Conclusion

In this blog we have explored what an Occupational health assessment report is. 

We have also discussed what is included in the Occupational health assessment report and what happens after the report has been shared with the employer. 

References

The Occupational Health Assessment: a Guide for the Employee. MedWise. Retrieved on 24th March 2022. https://medwise.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/the-occupational-health-assessment-a-guide-for-the-employee-converted.pdf

Booth.S. Top tips to get the best from your occupational health provider. HRZone. Retrieved on 24th March 2022. https://www.hrzone.com/engage/employees/top-tips-to-get-the-best-from-your-occupational-health-provider

Six best-practice tips on how to make an occupational health referral. Fusion Occupational Health. Retrieved on 24th March 2022. https://www.fusionoh.com/blog/how-to-make-occupational-health-referral

Occupational Health Referrals. Guide. University of Glasgow. Retrieved on 24th March 2022. https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_554573_smxx.pdf

Questions to ask when you are submitting an Occupational Health Referral. FusionHR. Retrieved on 24th March 2022. https://www.fusionbusiness.org.uk/occupationalhealthreferral/

Disability. MS Solicitors. Retrieved on 24th March 2022. https://www.ms-solicitors.co.uk/employee/discrimination-in-the-workplace/disability-discrimination/faqs-disability/#15

Is an employer entitled to rely on Occupational Health advice about disability? Pure Employment Law. Retrieved on 24th March 2022. https://www.pureemploymentlaw.co.uk/is-an-employer-entitled-to-rely-on-occupational-health-advice-about-disability/

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