How to make an Occupational Health Referral

15th April 2020

Are you worried that an employee’s health may be having an impact on their performance at work? Are you concerned that their job role may actually be having a negative effect on their health? Perhaps you’ve noticed one of your employees is consistently more absent from work than before. These are some of the main reasons why you may refer an employee to occupational health. It is our job, as occupational health professionals to ensure people are happy, healthy and at work. As part of our role, we provide objective information that can assist management in addressing the issues that they are concerned about. Use the advice below to find out why, when and how you should make an occupational health referral for one of your employees.

Ask us the Right Questions

Before making an occupational health referral, you should be clear on the reasons for your referral to make sure that both you and the employee get the most out of it. Part of this process is making sure that you ask us the right questions so that we can address these as part of our consultation, and answer them in our report.

The more specific and relevant these questions are, the better a position you’ll be in order to move forward. Ideally, we’d recommend choosing between four and six questions for this process. The questions should link to the reason you’re making the referral, and what you hope to get out of the process

Examples of questions that you may ask could include:

  • Is this employee medically fit to work in this role?
  • When will this employee be able to return to work? (If they are currently absent)
  • Is a review appointment recommended for this employee?
  • What adjustments can be put in place to help this employee in their work?
  • Is there any part of this employee’s job role they are unable to carry out?
  • Is the employee receiving the appropriate medical care and support?
  • Is this employee’s illness caused or made worse by their current role?
  • Does this employee’s medication have an impact on the ability to do their job safely and effectively?

Obtain Consent

Before making an occupational health referral you must obtain consent from the employee whom it concerns. You must fully discuss the referral with your employee, either directly, via telephone or as part of a formal consultation so that they understand the reason for this referral. For your employee, it’s important that you put the reason for the referral into context. Whether you’ve noticed a change in their performance levels, an increase in absences or if it’s related to an existing health condition they have. Doing so will help to ensure both you and your employee get the most out of this process.

How to make an OH (occupational health) referral

When it comes to writing the OH referral, it is a fairly simple process. We have a free occupational health referral form you can download on our resources page to guide you through the process. Within this form, you’ll be required to fill out personal information such as the employee’s name, address, date of birth and job title. Next, you’ll need to select what information you require:

  • An assessment of medical capability to continue in their present role;
  • A review/update regarding on-going health issues and impact on work;
  • Recommendations on any adjustments in the workplace; or
  • Advice regarding the Equality Act 2010.

You’ll also need to state any support that you have already provided your employee and answer a series of questions relating to the employee following this.


If the referral is due to absence, you will have a separate section to fill out, stating how long the employee has been off work, or when their first and last absence occurred. You’ll also be encouraged to put down brief reasons for the referral, and reference any information pertinent to the employee’s medical or domestic situation or, absence history that has already been made known to you.


Following the consultation between ourselves and the employee, we will produce an occupational health report. It’s important to note that these reports are advisory only. The content of these reports will depend on the reason for the initial referral, the questions that you have asked as well as any recommendations we make. Before we send a copy of the final report over to you, we must obtain written and verbal consent from the employee. If they wish to do so, the employee is able to dispute any opinions within the report, but we are not obliged to change them. We do, however, have to state any differences in opinion.

Next Steps

Following the report, you should be in a strong position to move forward with the employee. Whether that’s putting adjustments in place to assist them in their role, or putting an absence management plan in place. If you would like any further information around making an occupational health referral, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our occupational health team, we’re here to help!

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