The Role of Occupational Health in the Workplace

Occupational health is a specialised branch of medicine that focuses on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees in the workplace. Occupational health professionals provide expert advice and guidance to employers on managing health-related issues, ensuring compliance with legal obligations, and promoting a safe and healthy work environment. However, when occupational health makes recommendations, many employers may wonder whether they are legally obliged to follow them.

The Legal Framework Surrounding Occupational Health

In the UK, employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. This includes protecting them from work-related illnesses and injuries, as well as supporting those with pre-existing health conditions.

While there is no specific legal requirement for employers to follow occupational health recommendations, failing to do so could put them at risk of breaching their statutory duties. If an employee’s health or safety is compromised due to an employer’s failure to act on occupational health advice, the employer could face legal consequences, such as:

  • Employment Tribunals – Employees who feel their health has been adversely affected by their employer’s inaction may bring a claim to an employment tribunal. If the tribunal finds the employer negligent, they may be ordered to pay compensation to the employee.
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Enforcement – The HSE is responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in the workplace. If an employer fails to protect their employees’ health and safety, the HSE may investigate and take enforcement action, such as issuing improvement or prohibition notices or even prosecuting in serious cases.

The Benefits of Following Occupational Health Recommendations

Aside from the legal implications, there are numerous benefits to following occupational health recommendations:

  1. Supporting Employee Health and Wellbeing – By implementing occupational health recommendations, employers demonstrate a commitment to their employees’ health and wellbeing, which can improve morale, job satisfaction, and retention.
  2. Reducing Absence and Improving Productivity – Occupational health advice can help prevent work-related illnesses and injuries, as well as support employees with existing health conditions to manage their symptoms and maintain their productivity. This can lead to reduced sickness absence and improved overall organisational performance.
  3. Minimising Legal and Financial Risks – Following occupational health recommendations can help employers avoid costly legal disputes and compensation claims, as well as reputational damage that may result from neglecting employee health and safety.

When to Seek Occupational Health Advice

Employers should consider seeking occupational health advice in various situations, such as:

  1. Long-term Sickness Absence – When an employee has been absent due to illness or injury for an extended period, occupational health can assess their fitness to return to work and recommend any necessary adjustments or support.
  2. Performance Concerns – If an employee’s performance has declined and there are concerns that health issues may be a contributing factor, occupational health can provide guidance on managing the situation.
  3. Disability and Reasonable Adjustments – Occupational health can advise on an employee’s disability status and recommend reasonable adjustments to help them carry out their role effectively.

Choosing an Occupational Health Provider

When selecting an occupational health provider, it is essential to choose a reputable and experienced provider who can offer tailored, high-quality services. London City Healthcare is a leading occupational health provider that works with businesses across the UK, offering a range of services, including health assessments, absence management support, and expert advice on health and safety matters.


While there is no explicit legal requirement for employers to follow occupational health recommendations, doing so is strongly advised to ensure compliance with health and safety obligations and to promote a healthy and productive workforce. By working with a trusted occupational health provider like London City Healthcare, employers can access expert guidance and support to manage employee health effectively and minimise legal and financial risks.

For more information on occupational health services or to discuss your organisation’s specific needs, contact London City Healthcare on 0207 236 3334 or via our contact page.

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr. Kalia helps to run the Occupational Medicine provision for London City healthcare and is a company doctor for one of the largest multinational companies based in the UK.

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