"Referral to OH Guidance for Managers"
Management Referral to Occupational Health: Guidance 1. The Occupational Health Service The University retains the services of the Occupational Health Department at York Hospital and works in close liaison with them regarding all aspects of occupational health support. The service aims to provide line managers with guidance on health issues regarding short and long term absence and where there is concern about an underlying health problem or disability. Staff should be encouraged to attend appointments with the Occupational Health Service to ensure that line managers receive relevant information about their ability to undertake their duties and what adjustments may be necessary. If a member of staff declines to attend an OH assessment, managers may need to take decisions without OH input. 2. Who should be referred to the Occupational Health Service? A manager should consider referring a member of staff to OH for a health assessment where: the employee has had several episodes of short term absence, and, following RTW discussions, the manager has concerns the employee has a short term absence citing stress, work related back or upper limb disorders there is a long term or continuous absence (more than four weeks and there is no prospective return date) there may be a health aspect contributing to performance issues there is a concern that there may be a work related health problem or that an existing health problem is being exacerbated by the employees work the employee is due to return to work following a period of sickness absence and the manager is seeking advice on adjustment and phased hours the employee has a long term health problem which is affecting aspects of work and the manager needs advice regarding any workplace modification / safe systems of work Occupational Health should not be seen just a reactive service. It is important that the University pro-actively manages the health of its employees and prevents absence, wherever possible, by identifying support mechanisms for individuals. If a manager has a concern about an individual’s health, this should be discussed with them at the earliest opportunity and a referral can be made to Occupational Health for professional advice where this is felt necessary. In cases where a manager is unsure of whether to make a referral, advice can be sought from the HR department or the Occupational Health team. Managers may also seek general health advice from Occupational Health without making a referral. S/HR/Occ Health/Occ Health Referral/Guidance for Manager (July 08) Page 1 of 4 2. Making a referral Before making a referral, the line manager must meet with the employee to discuss the referral and reasons for referral. If the employee is absent from work, then the manager should discuss referral during regular contact. In some instances it may be necessary to meet with an absent employee to ensure that the manager has sufficient details about their ill-health before making a referral. The employee can be asked to attend work or, with the employee’s consent, the manager can visit them at home. 2.1 Completing the Referral Form Section 1. The manager must complete all the details in this section. Section 2. Full employee details should be given in this section. Section 3: Key Demands of the Job Section 3 is very important as it allows the Occupational Health Advisor to make an assessment of the characteristics and risks involved in the employee’s job role. The line manager should consider the key activities and tasks the employee would normally be expected to do in their daily work and tick the relevant boxes. Where necessary, involve the employee in this. The manager should also detail the employee’s hours of work and, where part-time, their working pattern. Section 4: Reason for Referral This Section relates to the principal reason for referral to the OH department. The line manager should include details of: The individual’s health Attendance Performance history to date and Details of any adjustments currently in place. You may want to add further information about the job requirements if you do not feel the job description (which is sent to OH with the form) covers all the relevant details. In order to obtain all relevant information for including in the report, when meeting with the employee you may want to ask: Have they been to see their GP to discuss their health issue? If so, what were they advised Have they been prescribed any medication? If so, is it short or long term? Are they receiving any other support, e.g. Counselling? Have they been referred to, or been or seen by, a specialist? If so, what have they advised or when you will get an appointment? If absent, have they discussed their return to work with their GP and have they given any indication of when they will be fit to return to work? Are their health issues likely to be ongoing? Have they had similar health issues in the past? If so when? S/HR/Occ Health/Occ Health Referral/Guidance for Manager (July 08) Page 2 of 4 Additional relevant documents should be attached to the referral, for example, copies of RTW discussions, sickness absence history etc. 4a: Specific Questions To ensure that the OH advice is specific and relevant, the manager should choose from the standard questions. Consider carefully what specific advice you require from OH. If the information you require will not be addressed by the defined questions, you may add an additional question. Space has been allowed for this. Section 5. The manager must ensure that he/ she has ticked the boxes and signed and dated the form. Ensure all relevant documents are attached to the form before it is sent Section 6. The employee must complete this section having discussed the referral with their line manager. If they do not consent to the Occupational Health referral, then the referral can not go ahead. The manager should explain that decisions will be taken regarding future management without the benefit of specific OH advice. If the referral is sent to the OH department without the signed consent, no further action can be taken. 3. The role of the Occupational Health Service On receipt of a completed referral, the OH Service (OHS) will operate a triage system to determine the most suitable team member to manage the referral. The Occupational Health Physician (OHP) will be utilised to deal with more complex cases and those where ill-health retirement is likely. Following referral by the manager, the OHS will aim for an appointment to be arranged within five working days to see a Clinical Nurse Specialist and, where this has been assessed as appropriate, an appointment with the OHP within ten working days. The Clinical Nurse Specialist may refer to the OHP once she has seen the employee. (Need further information prior to assessment, so the OH department may seek consent from the employee to contact their GP or specialist for further information. Interim advice where possible will be given along with provisional timescales.) Where an employee is seen for assessment, Occupational Health will write to them to confirm the date, time and location. The manager will be copied into this correspondence and should check with the employee that they have received their letter. 3.1 The Appointment The appointment will offer the employee the opportunity to: discuss the nature of the illness or health related issue consider the ongoing treatment options consider the likelihood and anticipated timescale for return to work S/HR/Occ Health/Occ Health Referral/Guidance for Manager (July 08) Page 3 of 4 discuss what support or assistance may be necessary to facilitate a return (for example a phased return on reduced hours, alternative duties for a specified period of time or a longer term adjustment) If additional information is required, the OH department will seek to obtain consent from the employee to liaise with their GP or specialist for a report. It should be noted that seeking such information may lead to a delay with the report. 4. Confidentiality The content and discussion of the Occupational Health assessment will be confidential, as will any information received from specialist reports. A report will be compiled by the Occupational Health Advisor for the line manager and released with the consent of the employee. The employee will also receive a copy of the report where it has been requested. Only details and advice relevant to the ongoing management of the individual within the workplace will be included. The employee may refuse to allow a report to be released by the Occupational Health Department, and, in this case, staff should be made aware that the University will take reasonable action based on the information available without the specialist advice from OH. Under the University’s duty of care to its employees, there may be extraordinary circumstances where the OH Department discloses information without consent where it believes that there is unacceptable risk to the individual or other members of staff. 5. The Report from Occupational Health The report will be sent to the referring manager within (days) of the assessment. Where further information is required, an indication will be given as to the likely timescale. The content of the report will vary depending on the nature of the health issue and the questions asked in the referral. The information may include: an assessment of fitness for work in the case of short term absence, clarification of whether there is or is not an underlying medical reason preventing improved attendance likely timescale for a return to work (if absent from work) recommendations on how to assist a return to work or provide support to a non- absent employee; for example, phased hours, modifications, reasonable adjustments, reduced hours or a change in working patterns if not fit to return to their normal job, advice with regards to further actions where applicable. Contacts: Occupational Health: 01904 725098 or 725099 S/HR/Occ Health/Occ Health Referral/Guidance for Manager (July 08) Page 4 of 4