Access to an Employee Medical Report
Without an employee medical report it will be hard to evidence you have done all you can to assist and help an employee back to work. As an employer, you are expected to exhaust all options before looking at a dismissal on the grounds of ill health.
Obtaining an employee medical report will help you to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee and reduce the risk of them being placed at a disadvantage.
Why would you require an employee medical report?
- To manage long term absence
- To understand an employee’s capability
- To help you to make reasonable adjustments
- Due to the nature of the work
Information contained within the medical report is deemed as ‘sensitive information’ under the Data Protection Act 1998 and therefore an employee must provide the employer with express consent. Employees must also be made aware of their rights under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 such as the fact they have the right to say no, a right to see the report before the employer does and a right to ask the medical practitioner to amend any incorrect or misleading information.
It is advisable to have a policy outlining when a medical report may be required, such as after a set period of time an employee is absent from work or after a set number of short term absences. The purpose of a policy would be to ensure consistency and reduce any risk of discrimination.
When consent has been given and an employer writes to the medical practitioner it is important to ensure all the relevant information is provided such as details about the hours of work, key responsibilities and health & safety considerations of the employee’s job. It is also important to be able to make an informed decision about an employee’s capability to perform his/her job to ask relevant questions such as:
- The likely duration of the absence?
- Is it a recurring illness/condition?
- How long is the employee potentially going to be absent?
- In the medical practitioners opinion, is the employee deemed to be disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010?
- Is there any recommendations for reasonable adjustments in the medical practitioners opinion?
- What effect does the employee’s medication have, should the employer be aware of any side effects?
The list provides a few example questions of what to as but there are many more that may be relevant to each employee.
Managing employee sickness can be a lengthy process and comes with potential risks such as discrimination and unfair dismissal. For guidance, advice and training please contact us at Jude Read-HR Consultancy on 01455 231982 | 07716 918272.