What Not to Say to Occupational Health Assessment? (9 Tips)

In this brief guide, we will discuss what not to say to occupational health assessment, and discuss some other common occupational health assessment questions and answers.

What Not to Say to Occupational Health Assessment?

The list of what not to say to occupational health assessment may often be the same as what not to say to your employer, they are there to help you but you should still not see that as a moment to unload your frustrations with the job on them.

Here are some other things you should not say to Occupational Health Assessment:

  • Do not insist that you don’t need the occupational health assessment.
  • Try to be honest and don’t lie about your symptoms.
  • Don’t tell the occupational health expert that they are not a doctor.
  • Don’t plead with the expert to help with your job or get you a good referral in some way.
  • Do not tell the occupational health assessment inspector that you don’t trust their judgment.
  • Do not try to undersell your symptoms or problems in any way or attempt to appear perfect.

Many people are afraid of occupational health assessment and there may even be a good reason for it; there have been many reports where it has been seen that occupational health ended up being quite biased and created issues to the person instead of helping out.

However, there are also instances where the occupational health assessment actually helped, which means that you can at least try it out if you are not doing well medically and might need some help.

Occupational health assessment is done independently, meaning this expert does not work for the same employer you do, meaning they can actually help you out with your problems.

Occupational health assessment is also known as sickness absence referral, management referral or occupational health return to work assessment and it usually involves an evaluation that an employee undergoes with a qualified occupational health assessor in order to assess and document specific health concerns, issues and goals for the future. 

Occupational health assessment is usually done by a qualified nurse or doctor who has an additional qualification in occupational health and they usually do so at a time that is convenient for both the employee and the employer.

All the data and information regarding the occupational health assessment that is discussed during the appointment or meeting with the employee is kept completely confidential, but the final report that is drafted by occupational health assessment is shared with both the employer and employee, in the manner of advice that the occupational health assessment is giving both of them.

The commonly done occupational health assessments are based on the employees’ answers which may also include workplace surveys and referral forms. 

The reports of the occupational health assessments are not something to be scared of, as they are meant to be used for making positive changes within the workplace that are meant to promote the employee’s health. 

These reports made from occupational health assessments should not be treated as medical documents for personalized diagnoses and treatment plans, however, because they are not intended as such, but they may be used as a reference point with a diagnostician that the individual chooses to go to on their own time.

What is the role of Occupational Health Assessment?

Many people are not entirely aware of what occupational health assessment is meant for or what their duties are about, other than that they are meant to make the workplace a better environment for the employees to work.

While occupational health assessment is in fact engaged in helping employers take concrete steps in the direction of making the workplace better in general, they are not just doing that, and some of the other roles of occupational health assessment are as follow:

  • Occupational health assessment investigates a worker’s health to see if the workplace can help or not help, for instance, occupational health assessment may not be able to help with getting the employee better, because that is down to them and the treatment they are getting but they can find ways to make work easier while they are recovering.
  • When the employee is better from the treatment and they are ready to work again they advise the employer of how to ease the employee back in gently and make arrangements they may require for their specific medical issue. They may do this by knowing the employee’s medical condition, the needs of the employer as well as all the tasks or risks involved in what the employee does, and how they relate to their health.
  • Occupational health assessment may also be done within the framework of the company policies and procedures around health matters, for example, sick pay schemes, rehabilitation, opportunities for temporary or permanent job changes, and their results may often affect these conditions.
  • When the occupational health assessment finds that the workers haven’t been to the doctor at all and need urgent treatment, they may see if they can check the problem there itself, like blood pressure or heart rate, and they can include this in the report as well.

Laws about Occupational Health Assessment

Occupational health assessment was one of the points in the Equality Act 2010 in the UK and the primary purpose of occupational health assessment was established as being the identification of disability and reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations are meant to be any and all changes the employer is able to make to the workplace to accommodate the disability or medical condition of the employee, so that they are able to get back to work in an easier way.

Occupational health assessments also provide fit notes based on their assessment of the reasonable accommodations that have been made by the employer.

Other provisions made under the Equality Act of 2010 are as follows:

  • “Extending protection against indirect discrimination to disability
  • Introducing the concept of “discrimination arising from disability” to replace protection under previous legislation lost as a result of a legal judgment
  • Applying the detriment model to victimization protection (aligning with the approach in employment law)
  • Harmonizing the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people
  • Extending protection against harassment of employees by third parties to all protected characteristics
  • Making it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out when applying for jobs, by restricting the circumstances in which employers can ask job applicants questions about disability or health”

Can I Refuse to See Occupational Health?

Yes, you can refuse to see Occupational health, however, it is advisable to only use this right in cases where you believe that there is unfairness involved or you feel that you do not need to and you are also able to provide some evidence of why you cannot see them.

When someone refuses to see occupational health it is usually not a problem, and there are also no penalties involved, but because employees’ refusal is a possibility some employers include clauses in contracts that compel the employees to visit the Occupational health professional, and before you refuse to see occupational health, you should check these clauses.

Some contracts may require the employee 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.  

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we discussed what not to say to occupational health assessment, and discuss some other common occupational health assessment questions and answers.

Occupational health assessment may feel like a death sentence to the career sometimes, especially if all you have heard are horror stories about how being sent for occupational health was a precursor to being fired or demoted.

But what you should know is that occupational health assessments are meant to be there for the employee, and they are essentially a more health-conscious version of human resources, and they seek to ensure that the workplace remains a place where people can give their absolute best performance. 

If you have any more questions like what not to say to occupational health assessment, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What Not to Say to Occupational Health Assessment?

What can I expect from an occupational health assessment?

You can expect that an occupational health assessment will check the details on your referral form, and they may discuss the contents of said form with you as well.

You can also expect to have occupational health assessment to ask you about your current health problems. 

Occupational health assessment may also chat about your job, so make sure you expect to answer some of these questions without any hesitation, and you should also be able to answer questions about any activities involved in the daily functioning of your job.

Can the employer ignore occupational health advice?

Yes, an employer can choose to ignore occupational health advice, as the final decisions related to the job are made by the employer and not occupational health assessment.

You as an employee may be entitled to see the report before it is sent to your employer and you are entitled to suggest changes, but you do not have the authority to insist that the employer make the changes occupational health assessment suggests.

On the other hand, you can also ignore some of the occupational health assessment advice and if your employer is also okay with it, it won’t affect your job either.

Can Occupational Health sign you off work?

No, occupational health cannot sign you off work, but when someone has medical conditions that keep them off work for a long time, Occupational Health may play the role of an enabler; and they may ensure that there are no barriers to returning to work and helping the sick employee return safely.

Another case where occupational health plays a role in someone who is signed off work is when they assess the condition of the employee and make decisions about the sick note or fit note that is provided by the employee’s doctor.

Do I have to agree to occupational health?

No, you do not have to occupational health, neither seeing them nor following the things they are suggesting, but if you do either of these things, you need to be aware that they can help give you the support you need medically and they can help you be at work or come back to work in an easier way.

Citations

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance#overview

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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