Can I Refuse to See Occupational Health? (A guide)

In this brief guide, we will look at the question “Can I refuse to see Occupational Health?”, as well as other related questions such as Occupational health assessment as well as Occupational health referral employee rights.

Can I refuse to see Occupational Health?

Yes, you can refuse to see Occupational health, but you need to do so only in cases where you believe that there is some unfairness in the situation or you feel you do not need to and you are also able to provide some evidence of why you cannot see them.

In most cases, refusal to see occupational health is not a problem, and the employee cannot get penalized if they refuse to see Occupational health, but because this is a possibility some employers may include clauses in contracts that compel the employees to visit the Occupational health professional.

Usually, such a clause outlines that the employee needs to see occupational health or a medic in cases where they need written reports about the employee’s health and functioning, and in these cases, if you refuse to see occupational health, you may get into trouble.

According to the laws related to occupational health, in cases where the visits are mandated by the contract, any failure to comply with a reasonable instruction would be a disciplinary matter which may involve a process that ends in dismissal as well. 

However, in most cases, even in these cases, most of the time failing to follow such a reasonable instruction is unlikely to form grounds for dismissal and there may only be disciplinary action such as a warning.  

Even if they had given prior warnings or instructions, the employer is going to have to show that dismissal for failure to cooperate falls within the band of reasonable responses and that they have followed the fair procedure in respect of the disciplinary, else they might be open to unfair dismissal claims.  

In most cases where the person refuses to see occupational health, it may become more key to figure out why the individual was refusing to co-operate and whether it would hold up as reasonable.

The main point of occupational health is to prevent work-related injuries or health conditions, and there may be no reason why you should refuse to see occupational health, because in most cases they are in the employees’ favor.

They often seek to determine whether an employee is physically suited for a particular job, so you don’t really need to refuse to see them unless you have something to hide.

Occupational Health Referral: Employee Rights

If you have been referred to occupational health, you may want to know what the occupational health referral means and what employee rights you need to be aware of in this case.

According to Collingwoodhealth, here are some of the chief things an employee is entitled to after an Occupational health referral:

“When you seek the advice of an occupational health clinician, you’re required to submit a management referral. Before you make the referral, however, you first need the employee’s permission.

Best practice is to have an employee’s signed consent. In order to get the advice you need, you may have to divulge information the employee may not want other parties to know, even if those other parties are bound to medical confidentiality. You should have their consent to do so.

The employee should be told about all aspects of the referral, including information you as a manager may think is confidential. The reason for full disclosure is that an occupational health referral is considered the employee’s medical information; the employee has a right to see it at any time.

Sharing sensitive information with occupational health can be important for the manager making a referral. 

Managers need to be aware that the employee has a right to view this information (pertaining to their case that they want to share with the occupational health worker) and can request copies of communications regarding their referral.

The occupational health clinician must show the referral to the employee should they ask and may share it with them at the beginning of an appointment to ensure the employee understands their reasons for being referred and what advice their employer requires. They don’t do this to be difficult. The law requires them to do so. It would be counterproductive if at this point the employee saw something they weren’t aware of when they gave their initial consent.

There have been cases where the employee said they didn’t know what questions were in the referral, nor the information that would be shared. Some referrals have contained privy management discussions and internal reports – the manager didn’t realize the employee has a right to see this if it’s in the referral, which caused difficulty and distrust.”

An experienced occupational health provider should let you know if they receive a referral with sensitive information, ensuring you are aware of the employees right to view it. Best practice is to ensure you are not sharing information you would rather keep confidential.”

If you want to know what happens with occupational health usually, this experience from someone who saw them might help:

“I’ve been referred to two different OH departments and had two very different experiences. In one place, it was all about working with me to ensure that I could cope with work and my disability. It was about finding accommodations that made things easier for me, it was a collaborative process and meant that my disability only minimally affected my work. At another place, it was completely the opposite (even though it was the same type of work as previously). It was all about liability and banning me from doing things. I was then told I could start doing one form of work if my condition was stable, I did better than that and my condition improved. I was still banned from that kind of work because improvement wasn’t the same as staying stable, if I’d continued to be a certain level of unwell apparently I’d have been fine! My health was used to keep me on constant probation and I couldn’t work to the best of my abilities because I was so restricted.”

Occupational Health Assessment

Occupational Health Assessment may involve 3 main components in most conditions: Pre-Employment Health Assessment, Physical health Assessment during the job, and Mental Health Assessment.

Pre-employment health assessment may include screening measures related to the particular needs of a certain job scenario, for instance, what physical skills a construction worker might need to have or something that a firefighter needs to be able to do.

Another form of assessment that may be done by occupational health is physical assessment that revolves around the ability of the employee to continue to do their job, or any physical health related problems they may be acquiring from their job, like chronic pain.

The last type of occupational health assessment is Mental health Assessment, which involves an analysis of the employee’s mental health condition and if they are experiencing any mental health related issues regarding their work or if they have mental health related conditions that may be interfering with the ability to do their job.

What Powers does Occupational Health have?

According to the UK worker laws, occupational Health has the following powers:

  • Providing fit notes
  • Doing pre-employment assessments to check if the employee is capable of doing the job
  • Determining if the employee is experiencing any problems in the workplace
  • Assessing the employee’s mental health to check if the job is affecting them adversely.
  • Checking if the employee is ready to come back to work
  • Checking to see what changes in the workplace the employee may need after they have been back from long term sick leave
  • Physical assessment to check if there are any problems in the employee’s physical health owing to the job.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at the question “Can I refuse to see Occupational Health?”, as well as other related questions such as Occupational health assessment as well as Occupational health referral employee rights.

Occupational health is a highly beneficial service available to the employees in the UK, but sometimes it may not seem like it when the employee does not want to see the professional or when they are being manipulated in some way with the help of Occupational health.

Whatever the reason behind not wanting to see Occupational Health services, it is always beneficial to be aware of one’s rights and duties in the workplace so that one does not get taken advantage of.

If you have any questions or comments related to “Can I refuse to see occupational health?” you can reach out to us anytime.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can I Refuse to see Occupational Health?

What does an occupational health check involve?

An occupational health assessment involves a medical assessment of an employee by an occupational health professional who may have healthcare related qualifications, and it seeks to assess an employee’s physical and mental health so that their employer can have recommendations related to what that employee is capable of.

Occupational health assessments are often used in the determination of whether an employee is physically and mentally suited for a particular job.

Why do I have to see occupational health?

You might have to see Occupational Health because your manager wants to resolve a situation in which your ill health might be affecting your fitness to carry out your job, or on the contrary if the job is adversely affecting your health in some way.

Can Occupational Health sign you off work?

Occupational Health may not be able to sign you off work, but they may play a role in ensuring that you are able to come back when you are completely better, and they may work to ensure that the workplace does not affect your health in a bad manner.

Occupational health is a healthcare related position, but they play a different role when someone is on a leave long-term due to being sick, which means if they are away for four weeks or longer, and they are an enabler of sorts who help the employee come back to work instead of signing them off.

Can an employee request to see occupational health?

Yes, an employee can request to see occupational health, and the employee can also gain telephone advice and/or request a confidential consultation with an occupational health practitioner if they have experienced aggravated health problems or concerns that they may have.

What is the main focus of occupational health?

The main focus of occupational health is on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees in the workplace, and it is a specialized branch of medicine that does so.

Occupational health focuses also on preventing work-related illness and injury by encouraging and establishing safe working practices and ensuring that the employee is able to give their best performance in the easiest and healthiest way possible.

Citations

https://www.acas.org.uk/using-occupational-health-at-work

https://www.concentra.com/occupational-health/#:~:text=Occupational%20health%20is%20a%20field,injury%20prevention%20and%20employee%20education.

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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