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Is it only advisable for an employer to follow Occupational Health advice

(16 Posts)
lurpaklover Tue 03-Feb-15 14:32:55

Does an employer have to adhere to the recommendations on a OH report or would they only ever be advisable? The report mirrors what my GP has said and I have a meeting in just over a week to discuss the report. Concern on my part is related to phased return as treatment for my condition is working but been warned once work is thrown into the equation then could flag up concerns. OH highly recommend a phased return. All ifs and buts but would sooner be prepared. Many thanks

flowery Tue 03-Feb-15 15:19:05

There's no legal obligation. They should consider the recommendations and ideally implement if possible, but they don't have to. If the recommendations are for adjustments related to a disability the legal requirement is a bit stronger.

lurpaklover Tue 03-Feb-15 15:39:06

Thanks flowery. I don't think my condition is covered under the disability act. The phased return is recommended due to length of time I have been absent.

pocketsized Tue 03-Feb-15 16:15:21

OH recommendations are just that, recommendations, however, I think an employer would be on fairly shaky grounds if they flat out refused to consider the recommendations or didn't give good reasons for not implementing (sometimes however it's just not practical to implement them) The aim should be that you, OH and your management work together to assist you back to work in a way that keeps you healthy and helps avoid you going off again - a win win situation all round.

lurpaklover Tue 03-Feb-15 16:35:14

Thank you pocketsized, more good advice. Got the meeting with management and a gentleman from HR. Like you both have said it will be working together to get me back to work in a way that keeps me healthy and avoids me going off sick again. Safeguards for both parties really. Wish there was a 'like' button on here as the advice given is good. Thank you so much.

Millerpup Tue 03-Feb-15 18:07:50

I would just like to add that you have to be careful that you don't get caught up in a system that does't work for you. OH and HR will make some recommendations for a phased return this is normal but if you think it will be too much too soon tell them.

lurpaklover Tue 03-Feb-15 19:55:14

Thank you Millerpup. Even more good advice. I shall be noting it all down I think before I go down. I presume that any any phased return will have a monitoring element. Fingers crossed all will go well. I am wondering it would be wise to take someone from the union I am in with as they no doubt have dealt in these maters day in day out.

flowery Tue 03-Feb-15 20:16:52

In circumstances where there is not a disability, the employer would not be on "shaky ground" if it didn't/couldn't agree to a recommendation for a phased return.

It's certainly sensible to agree a phased return if it is medically recommended, as it can benefit all involved, but if it's not possible/practicable and the employer would prefer to wait until the employee is fit to return to normal hours, there's nothing unlawful about that.

lurpaklover Tue 03-Feb-15 21:03:31

Thank you Flowery for taking the time to give such valuable advice, along with the others. It is so kind of everyone to take the time. I can just hope I suppose that my employer does allow some kind of phased return if medically recommended. If not then like you say it may be that I take a while longer to recover and return when I can resume normal hours. The key is working together to a solution that us mutally acceptable.

pocketsized Wed 04-Feb-15 08:42:25

Hi flowery

Sorry if my earlier post was a bit vague - I didn't mean that they would be on shaky ground of they didn't implement a phased return, just if they didn't consider it. Sometimes it just isn't possible to accommodate what the medical professionals would like in the work enenvironment, in which case waiting longer to return when fitter is perfectly reasonable. Whilst not as legally strong as in cases where disability is a factor, I think most employers would been wanting to remain within that bracket of "reasonableness " - that however is just based on my experiences, there may well be others with less positive experiences

flowery Wed 04-Feb-15 08:52:21

No it wouldn't be shaky ground for not considering it either. It's sensible to consider a phased return, and most employer would consider it (otherwise why pay for an occupational health report in the first place) but there's no legal risk in not doing so.

Not considering adjustments to the role that would allow a return where an employee otherwise wouldn't be able to at all would be questionable, disability or otherwise, if the employer then went on to dismiss the employee for capability or something.

lurpaklover Wed 04-Feb-15 09:34:05

Thank you for your replies. Update is just got back from the doctors and he has signed me off for a further week because if treatment reasons. Positively though for me this is the first time in 5 months that it is a definate yes you can go back to work (yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ). He has also given me a note dated the day after saying a medical recommended phased return for 4 weeks. This is due to the side effects caused by the treatment I am on for my condition. The side effects are are lesser of the two evils as the symptoms of the condition would prevent working. Hoping not going to cause trouble as another week off. Will phone union I think. Should I worry about anything else?

Sandthefloor Wed 04-Feb-15 09:43:23

It is important that you check how the phased return will work. When I returned from a neck injury and was on a phased return I had to use Annual Leave to cover this. This meant that I had a lot less holidays for the rest of the year, so had to work longer without a break putting me under more strain.

fridayfreedom Wed 04-Feb-15 09:49:12

Yes to the above. When I went back after a back injury , my phased return involved taking annual leave. Luckily I had acrued time in lieu so I didnt need to take much leave.
I would check this out before agreeing to anything.

lurpaklover Wed 04-Feb-15 12:54:57

Thanks for that advice. Yet again because it is all new you just don't know. People are so kind with their advice. It is so much appreciated.

maggiethemagpie Wed 04-Feb-15 19:46:22

Your employer doesn't have to follow the recommendations (clue's in the name there), but if the case went to court they may need to justify why they did not. Even the duty to make reasonable adjustments - employer has to decide if they are reasonable, and there may be valid business reasons why they are not.

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