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How can an Employer obtain a medical report from an Employee’s Doctor?

The Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 requires express consent from an employee before a company can approach the employee’s GP for a medical report.

Female doctor with her patientAn employer should draft a consent form for the employee to sign making it clear that they are giving consent to the GP to supply a medical report. In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 details of sickness absence and medical reports are classified as sensitive personal data and should therefore not be disclosed to third parties without express consent.

Also, there are strict rules about patient confidentiality and therefore no GP will disclose information unless they are sure the employee has consented to its release.

The employer should send the consent form to the GP along with a list of questions relating to the illness/absence and details of the role of the employee in the business. The more information that is supplied to the medical practitioner, the more likely it is they will be able to make an assessment and comment on the suitability of the role and any reasonable adjustments.

An alternative to obtaining a doctor’s medical report is sending an employee for an Occupational Health Assessment.

Occupational Health will assist with medical referrals to consider the timescales and likelihood of the employee being able to return to their full job role.  If an employee is returning from a period of long term absence, advice may also be given on a phased return plan for the employee and any reasonable adjustments which should be considered.

Dealing with absence is always challenging for employers but our recommendation would always be to deal with the matter early to avoid absence becoming long term. 

If you would like clarity on providing references or any other HR management issue please contact the ProAktive HR team on 01302 341344.

By Louise Addison Cert Mgmt (Open) – Employment Adviser

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