What if an employee refuses consent to obtain a medical report?

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occupational health
An employer can request an employee to attend a medical assessment or request a medical report from a GP, where an employee has a medical condition or their fitness to work is a concern. These are at the expense of the employer and should only be requested where there are genuine concerns about the employee’s ongoing suitability to perform the role into which they are recruited.

Usually, there may be a clause within the contract that states the employer reserves the right to ask the employee to undergo a medical examination at their request. So, if an employee refuses they would be in breach of contract.

On a practical level, if an employee does refuse to sign a consent form, so that either a report can be obtained from their GP or they undergo a medical examination by an independent medical advisor, it can be difficult to manage the employee and address the concerns about their fitness to work.

Some of the reasons an employee may refuse is that they might not be sure what the purpose of obtaining a report is. How will that information then be used and stored? These are valid concerns and can easily be laid to rest by the employer having a meeting with the employee and explaining the purpose for requesting a report and responding to their concerns. The information requested would be around the role the employee is appointed into and how any health concerns may be affecting their performance or attendance. The report would also suggest adjustments that could be made which would enable the employee to return to work and make a contribution to the business. This should then satisfy the employee and agree to the medical report.

If an employee still refuses, they should be advised that any decision the business has to make on their ability to perform the role, will therefore have to be made without the benefit of medical advice and may be detrimental to the employee and their future employment.

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