What is Occua Occupational Health Service?
Occua Ltd is an Occupational Health Service provided through contracted arrangements with your employer to support employee health and wellbeing needs.
Occupational health provides an impartial medical opinion regarding your health and an assessment of your fitness for work. Medical information obtained during each assessment remains confidential, but recommendations to support you at work will be shared with you, your Manager/HR Manager. OH services are intended to support you and to assist your organisation to consider adjustments as appropriate to support you in the workplace.
Why have I been referred?
The reason for your referral should have been discussed with you by your HR/Line Manager. Sometimes when you are physically or psychologically unwell, your ability to come to work and do your normal duties is affected. The organisation’s attendance management policy requires employees to be referred if they are experiencing prolonged or frequent sickness absences or have identified health issues needing support.
Sometimes the referral is because your manager feels they need guidance on how best to support you with a health concern or workplace adjustments, even if there has not been related absence.
Do I have to attend?
It is strongly advisable for you to attend for your appointment when requested to do so, as this is the best way you can be supported. You should also be aware that there may be contractual expectations for you to attend when management are trying to offer support.
Employees are expected to co-operate in respect of workplace attendance management. If you fail to attend for an occupational health appointment your HR/Line Manager will be notified and a further appointment will be sent to you. Failure to attend on second and subsequent occasions may mean that your HR/Line Manager may have to make decisions without the benefit of guidance from the occupational health service. This may not be in your best interests.
Where will the Occupational Health appointment take place?
Appointments may be a telephone appointment, Zoom appointment or face to face appointment.
Telephone or Zoom appointments: You need to be a quiet area where you can talk in confidence about your health. This may be an office or might be your home environment or similar. If you are using a mobile phone for the appointment please check the room you will be using has a good mobile signal.
Face to face appointments: These are usually conducted in your usual place of work (unless other agreements have been reached with your employer). Occasionally an alternative off-site location is agreed. You will be notified of this in your appointment letter.
If you experience difficulties regarding your appointment please contact your HR/Line Manager.
What happens at an appointment?
The appointment will usually take up to an hour for a first assessment starting with an introduction to the processes used by Occua Ltd in relation to the referral, obtaining the history and discussing consent arrangements for an onward report to your HR/Line Manager.
You will then be asked questions about various aspects of your work, social life outside of work, past and current health and medical treatment for the health advisor to gain a holistic picture of all the things that might be impacting upon your health. This usually takes about 45 minutes. A short discussion about recommendations and support needs will then take place, based on the history you have provided. This will usually take a further 10-15 minutes. This information will be recorded in your confidential occupational health file as a record of the conversation. This will be held by occupational health.
The information obtained and agreed will enable the health advisor to create an appropriate report containing recommendations to your manager, to support your health at work.
What information will the occupational health report contain?
The report is sent by the occupational health service to your HR/Line Manager as agreed at establishment of the service. You will also receive a copy of the report for your records.
The information contained in the report will include basic background information that has been agreed with you, an opinion regarding your fitness for work, suggestions regarding support, adaptations or restrictions that in the opinion of the health professional might assist you at, or to return to, work. Advice that might assist you to maintain your work performance or attendance will also be offered if relevant. Any questions raised in the referral will be answered.
Details of your medical condition will only be revealed if management knowledge of this is indicated in the referral or if you consent to disclose this information. The report should be discussed with you by your HR/Line Manager once they have received it.
Do I need to consent to the release of the report?
After the appointment, the OH Adviser will draft a report and send you a link to the Occua Portal where you can see the report and download a copy for your records if you wish. You will be asked to consent to its release to your HR/Line Manager.
If you consent, the report will be released and the referral will be closed.
If you have any concerns, you can indicate this on the Portal and the OH Adviser will discuss the issue with you with the aim of allowing you to consent to release of the report. The Adviser will explain the options you have.
Ultimately, however, you have the right to withhold your consent, in which case the OH Adviser will notify your HR/Line Manager that you have withheld consent. In this case, your HR/Line Manager will not have the benefit of the OH advice and may make decisions without the benefit of that advice, which may not be in your best interests.
What are my rights with regard to requesting changes to the OH report?
Once you have seen the report, you will need to decide on one of the following options, within a given time frame (usually 48 hours if sent electronically or 5 working days if sent in paper format). If you fail to reply within that time frame the report will automatically be released to management with assumed consent.
You have the following options:
- Agree to the report being released to HR/Line Manager straight away after you have seen it.
- Request amendments to factual inaccuracies (note this does NOT apply to medical opinions).
- Agree to the report progression with the addition of your own comments: (you add a statement*).
- Withdraw consent for the report to be released; in which case the report will not be sent to anyone (but will be filed on your OH record), a separate letter will go to management, indicating you have withdrawn consent for the report to be released. Management will then have to make decisions without the benefit of the OH report. You should be aware this might not be in your best interests as management are only entitled to make use of information about which they are aware and not any supporting factors.
*3. Please note: changes will not usually be made to medical opinion offered in the report as this is what the employer has contracted the OH service to provide. If you do not agree with the medical opinion offered you can attach your additional statement (to accompany the report) and your employer can. if they so wish, take this statement into account in reading the report.
What if I cannot make the appointment date?
If you are unable to attend an appointment when offered, please inform your HR/Line Manager as soon as possible, in order that charges are not incurred by the organisation. Failure to notify in reasonable time may mean your employer is charged for the missed appointment.
Alternative appointments will be offered as requested by HR.
If you change or fail to attend the appointment without very good reason on more than two occasions OH will close the case and arrange for your manager to discuss your needs with you.
Can the Occupational Health Advisor visit me at home?
Usually not, although agreements may be reached in very exceptional circumstances. It will be possible to conduct a telephone appointment if there are difficulties with face to face appointments. Please contact your HR/Line Manager to discuss concerns.
What happens if I cannot arrange transport to get me to the appointment?
Most people generally have the means to call upon friends, colleagues or family if they are unable to transport themselves by car or public transport.
If you have difficulties with transport, please contact your HR/Line Manager in the first instance. It might be that your organisation can assist you, either through appropriate internal arrangements or by offering assistance towards costs of public transport. If you are genuinely unable to find a means of travel, or if you are too ill to travel, then you should discuss this with your HR/Line Manager.
Will there be any further contact from Occupational Health?
Following on from the initial OH assessment and report, the Advisor may want to see you again to assess progress. If this is the case you will be advised and will then be contacted with the follow up appointment details at a later date.
Who will see my Occupational Health records?
Health records created and held by Occua Ltd are maintained in confidence usually electronically (or paper form in locked cupboards within locked rooms). These records are only accessible to occupational health. These records are not shared with anyone else outside of the occupational health service without your explicit permission. Details of your records will only be released with your specific written consent, or as a legal requirement.
Will Occupational Health write to my GP/hospital specialist for information?
If the OH advisor thinks a report would be useful, you will be contacted and your written consent will be sought. No requests for further medical information will be progressed without your explicit consent. Your right to read any GP/Specialist report subsequently provided by your own medical Advisors will be explained to you, in line with the Access to Medical Reports Act.
If you have any questions that are not answered by this information please contact your HR/Line manager in the first instance.