If you are responsible for managing employees in a company, you may encounter situations where you have concerns about the well-being of one or more members of your team. Whether it’s an employee’s physical health, mental well-being, signs of alcohol or drug misuse, frequent absences, or musculoskeletal complaints, arranging a referral to Occupational Health (OH) can be beneficial.
Understanding a Management Referral to Occupational Health A management referral occurs when a manager refers an employee to Occupational Health for an assessment, aiming to gain a better understanding of their current health status and determine their ability to work safely or return to work after an absence. Before making the referral, the manager should have a discussion with the Occupational Health Provider to ensure its appropriateness and the OH team’s ability to assist. The manager should then communicate the referral to the employee, explaining the benefits of the assessment for both the employee and the employer. It’s important to obtain the employee’s consent before proceeding with the referral and to inform them about what they can expect during the assessment.
What to Expect During an Occupational Health Assessment
During an Occupational Health Assessment, the employee may meet with an Occupational Health Doctor, Nurse, Physiotherapist, or Mental Health Practitioner. They will be asked about their current health status and medical history. The clinician will inquire about the employee’s job tasks and discuss their current level of functioning to identify areas of difficulty. Based on this information, a plan will be developed to assist the employee at work or facilitate their return to work. This plan may include suggested workplace adjustments, changes to working hours or duties, or a phased return. If appropriate, the clinician may recommend and coordinate a referral to another healthcare professional. A report summarizing the assessment findings and outlining any work-related recommendations will be written by the medical professional and sent to the referring manager. In most cases, the employee can review the report before it is shared with the manager for added reassurance.
Making an Occupational Health Referral
When you identify an employee who may benefit from an Occupational Health Assessment, it’s recommended to contact your Occupational Health provider to discuss the referral and its appropriateness. Subsequently, obtain consent from the employee for the referral to proceed. Your Occupational Health provider will provide you with referral paperwork to complete, which typically includes information about the employee, relevant medical details, and specific questions you would like the Occupational Health clinician to address. Additionally, there may be standard questions you can request answers for, such as “Is the ill health work-related?” or “Are there any reasonable adjustments that would assist the employee?” You can also include your specific questions to gain insights into how to support the employee at work. After the assessment, the Occupational Health clinician will generate a report outlining management recommendations and addressing the specific questions posed in the referral. This report should provide valuable guidance to help you effectively manage the employee’s return to their normal work fitness and function.
By following these steps and actively engaging with your Occupational Health provider, you can facilitate the process of making an Occupational Health referral and ensure that your employees receive the necessary support for their well-being and work-related need.