Understanding the Role of Occupational Health

Occupational health is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees in the workplace. It aims to prevent work-related illnesses and injuries, promote health and safety, and support employees who have health concerns that may impact their ability to work effectively. As an employer or HR manager, understanding when and how to refer an employee to occupational health services is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive workforce.

Reasons for Referring an Employee to Occupational Health

There are various situations in which referring an employee to occupational health may be necessary:

  1. Long-term Sickness Absence – If an employee has been absent from work due to illness or injury for an extended period, an occupational health assessment can help determine their fitness to return to work and identify any necessary adjustments or support.
  2. Frequent Short-term Absences – When an employee has a pattern of frequent, short-term absences, an occupational health referral can help identify any underlying health issues and provide guidance on managing their attendance.
  3. Performance Concerns – If an employee’s performance has declined and there are concerns that health issues may be a contributing factor, an occupational health assessment can provide insight and recommendations for support.
  4. Health and Safety Concerns – When an employee’s health condition may pose a risk to their own safety or the safety of others in the workplace, an occupational health referral can help assess the risks and advise on appropriate measures.

The Referral Process

When referring an employee to occupational health, follow these steps to ensure a smooth and effective process:

  1. Communicate with the Employee – Discuss the reasons for the referral with the employee and explain the purpose and benefits of occupational health assessments. Reassure them that the process is confidential and designed to support their wellbeing.
  2. Gather Relevant Information – Collect information about the employee’s job role, responsibilities, and any specific concerns or incidents that have led to the referral. This information will help the occupational health provider understand the context and provide tailored advice.
  3. Choose an Occupational Health Provider – Select a reputable occupational health provider, such as London City Healthcare, who can offer comprehensive assessments, advice, and support. Ensure they have experience working with businesses in your industry and can provide timely and professional services.
  4. Make the Referral – Contact the occupational health provider and submit a referral form, including the employee’s details, the reasons for the referral, and any relevant background information. The provider will then arrange an appointment with the employee.
  5. Follow Up – After the assessment, the occupational health provider will send a report with their findings and recommendations. Review the report carefully and discuss any proposed adjustments or support measures with the employee, implementing them as appropriate.

Benefits of Occupational Health Referrals

Referring employees to occupational health can have numerous benefits for both the individual and the organisation:

  1. Early Intervention – Occupational health assessments can identify health concerns early, allowing for prompt intervention and support, which can prevent minor issues from escalating into more serious problems.
  2. Expert Advice – Occupational health professionals have specialist knowledge and expertise in managing work-related health issues. They can provide valuable advice and guidance to employers and employees alike.
  3. Supporting Employee Wellbeing – By referring employees to occupational health, employers demonstrate a commitment to their staff’s wellbeing, which can improve morale, job satisfaction, and retention.
  4. Managing Absence and Promoting Attendance – Occupational health referrals can help manage sickness absence more effectively by providing advice on return-to-work plans, reasonable adjustments, and ongoing support to maintain attendance.
  5. Compliance with Legal Obligations – Employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees. Occupational health referrals can help demonstrate compliance with this obligation and provide evidence of steps taken to support employee wellbeing.


Referring employees to occupational health is an essential tool for managing and supporting employee wellbeing in the workplace. By understanding the reasons for referral, following a structured process, and working with a trusted provider like London City Healthcare, employers can ensure their staff receive the expert advice and support they need to maintain their health and perform at their best.

If you are considering referring an employee to occupational health or would like to discuss your organisation’s occupational health needs, contact London City Healthcare directly on 0207 236 3334 or submit an enquiry via the 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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