The Occupational Health Service (OHS) provides an independent, confidential advisory service to both 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.
Occupational Health can:
- provide support for employees with an identified health problem
- ensure managers get medical advice on their employee's medical fitness to work
- provide advice to managers on a likely return-to-work date
- advise managers if the condition is work related
- make recommendations of modified duties or changes to the work environment to help with an earlier return to work
Occupational Health assessments will not provide:
- detailed medical information about the employee
- mediation between the manager and employees where an employee has not returned to work when deemed medically fit
- resolution of workplace concerns that fall under the remit of management, for example, decisions regarding transfers
If the issue is related to work-related stress, see the manager responsibilities on the managing work-related stress webpage
How to refer an employee to Occupational Health
You can make a referral to Occupational Health using the management referral form (Word, 143KB, 4 pages).
You must ensure your employee is fully aware of the reasons for the referral.
You must complete all sections of the form. This includes the questions you would like an opinion on and the sickness absence grid.
Forms not fully completed will be returned and may delay the process.
Your employee must be given an opportunity to read the form. They must give their consent before a referral is made.
Employee rights and attending Occupational Health
Employees do not have to undergo any type of health assessment. This can only happen with their consent.
Employees have the right to refuse to attend Occupational Health. However, the employee should understand that refusal to attend the OHS appointment may mean that further management action is taken without the benefit of medical advice.
Information given to managers from the assessment
You will get a report giving answers to the questions raised.
The report may include:
- an opinion on the employee’s fitness for work
- possible time frame for return to work
- recommendations that may enable an earlier return to work
If you do not understand any part of the report or require additional information, you should reply to the OHS for clarity or outlining what information you require.
You must have local procedures in place for securely storing Occupational Health correspondence. This must be compliant with HSE data protection guidance.
Work rehabilitation training - supporting an employee to stay at or return to work
The 'Work Rehabilitation in the HSE' training programme supports line managers in the management referral and rehabilitation process. The training, consisting of two 20 minute modules, is available on HSeLanD
The returning to work from sick leave booklet (PDF, 625KB, 12 pages) contains information for employees who are out of work with long term sick leave, and to support employees return to work as soon as possible.
Get information on supporting employees back to work in the rehabilitation section.