The Occupational Health service provides an independent and confidential advisory service to employees and the employer on matters relating to the ‘effect of health on work’ and ‘work on health’.
This advice is provided on the basis of specialist knowledge of the work environment, which the employee's own doctor may not have, and for that reason, their opinions may differ.
Reasons your manager may refer you to Occupational Health
Your manager may suggest a referral to Occupational Health because of:
- an absence from work due to illness or injury
- frequent short absences from work
- a work issue that is affecting your health
- a health issue which may be affecting your ability to do your job
Your manager will go through the reasons for your referral. You should read the management referral form (Word, 146KB, 4 pages) before signing your consent.
Occupational Health will advise you and your manager on the likely duration of sickness absence and the effects of ill health on work. They may suggest rehabilitation approaches back into the workplace.
The HSE returning to work from sick leave (employee booklet) (PDF, 632KB, 12 pages) provides information for employees out of work with sick leave.
Attending the Occupational Health service
You will only be assessed by Occupational Health if you give your consent for this to happen.
You can refuse to attend the Occupational Health service but this may mean that further management action is taken without the benefit of medical advice.
You should discuss any concerns you have about the assessment with your manager. You can also contact Occupational Health for more information about the assessment.
What happens at the appointment
The nurse or doctor will discuss the reasons for your referral. If it is a management referral, they will go through the referral form with you.
They will review all information you have provided, such as GP or specialist reports.
Occupational Health may ask for your consent to contact your specialist or GP if further information is required
If a physical examination is likely to be necessary this will be explained, for example, if you have sustained a back injury.
At the end of the consultation, you may be given specific advice to improve your health and wellbeing.
Where a referral is made by your manager, they will tell you what will be in the report to be given to your manager.
Information that goes in the report to managers
The management referral form may have specific questions from your manager. The report will usually contain answers to these questions, if possible, and any other relevant information relating to the reason for referral and fitness for work.
Details to be included in the report will be discussed with you at the consultation.
These may include:
- medical fitness to work
- likely duration of sickness absence
- day-to-day effect of any permanent or short-term disability
- recommendations that may enable an earlier return to work
Occupational Health will only make recommendations. Your manager will decide if ‘reasonable accommodations’ can be made.
Occupational Health records and confidentiality
Occupational Health records are kept secure. They are accessed by Occupational Health employees only.
Employee information is managed in accordance with data protection and GDPR requirements.
If you are unable to attend your appointment
Inform your manager and Occupational Health immediately if you cannot attend an appointment. Your appointment may then be offered to another employee. Your manager can request another appointment for you when applicable.
If you are not well enough to attend your appointment, you may be asked to provide a doctor's report instead. Occupational Health may also ask for your written consent to write to your GP or specialist.