Management Referral to Occupational Health

Guidance for Managers

The Occupational Health Service works within the University’s Safety, Health and Wellbeing Team and aims to complement the University's academic reputation by providing a support service that promotes and preserves both the physical and mental wellbeing of all employees. We assist in ensuring that the work environment is safe and that an employee's health is not adversely affected by their work activities.

Managers may refer employees to Occupational Health (OH) for advice on a range of problems or difficulties which are or may be affecting an employee’s ability to work effectively and/or efficiently.

The guidance below will help you in the referral which will be made by your HRBP on your behalf.

Reason for Referral

  • Fitness for work following illness or injury
  • Long-term or frequent sickness absence (see also Managing Absence Code of Practice) www.exeter.ac.uk/staff/employment/leave/sickness/managing/
  • Concern that an employee may have a work related health problem, or an existing health problem that is aggravated by work activities.
  • Deteriorating work performance or conduct associated with health problems.
  • Work placement advice or reasonable adjustments in respect of an employee with a declared disability under the Equality Act 2010

This is not an exhaustive list; it is intended as a guide only.

Referral Procedure

When referring an employee to Occupational Health:

  • Discuss your reasons for referral with your HR Business Partner (HRBP) or HR Adviser.
  • Your HRBP or Adviser will make the referral on your behalf.
  • The employee being referred has the right to see what has been written about them and should receive a copy for their own records.
  • Provide as much factual information as possible to help OH understand the issues.
  • Be specific about the information that you are seeking from OH.
  • Provide details of any performance issues that may be relevant.
  • Discuss the referral with the employee. It is important that they understand the reason for and benefits of referral.
  • Give the employee the information leaflet: ‘Guide for Employees being Referred to Occupational Health’.
  • Obtain the employee’s written consent to proceed. If the employee is absent from work verbal consent is acceptable providing it has been documented. Consent by email is also acceptable but must be evidenced.
  • HR will email the referral to managementreferrals@exeter.ac.uk

What can you expect from Occupational Health following referral?

  • On receipt of the referral the OH/Disability Adviser will send an appointment to the employee concerned within 5 working days.
  • If OH is unable to contact the employee or the employee does not attend the OH appointment, the OH/Disability Adviser will advise HR and the referring manager.
  • If the employee refuses to attend the appointment, or refuses to allow OH to send a report, you may have to make management decisions without the benefit of OH opinion. In such circumstances it is advisable to seek further advice from your HRBP or HR Adviser.
  • At the appointment the OH/Disability Adviser will ensure that the employee has consented to the referral and consents to the consultation. The OH/Disability Adviser will discuss the referral and the information being sought from the employee. They will ensure that the employee understands the questions being asked.
  • The OH/Disability Adviser will send a report to the referring manager and a copy to HR within 5 working days of the appointment. This will allow time for the report to be written and for the individual concerned to see the report before it is released if request
  • OH/Disability Advisers are bound by professional codes with respect to confidentiality and can only share information regarding an employee with their consent. If an employee chooses not to consent to a report being released the OH/Disability Adviser will not be able to provide any information. Managers will then have to base their decision without the benefit of Occupational Health advice and opinion.
  • Where the OH/Disability Adviser needs to obtain further medical information, either by writing to the employee’s doctor, medical specialist or by arranging an appointment with an Occupational Health Physician, the referring manager will be advised. Obtaining medical reports has to be carried out within the requirements of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and can be a lengthy process, often taking up to a minimum of six weeks. The OH/Disability Adviser will endeavour to keep the manager advised and if appropriate provide an interim report.
  • OH reports are advisory only. OH/Disability Advisers will on occasion contact the referring manager prior to a report being sent to discuss the feasibility of proposed adjustments. Please also contact the OHA concerned if you believe it to be beneficial or if you wish to discuss the case in further detail. However you should not ask questions about the employee that you are not prepared to put in the referral.
  • Where rehabilitation programmes are suggested it is for the manager to decide if they are reasonable and manageable from an operational perspective. If there is any doubt about this or managers require further advice they should contact the OH/Disability Adviser concerned who will be happy to discuss this further.