Sickness and Absence Policy

The Sickness Absence Policy and Procedure exists to provide a fair and consistent approach to the management of sickness absence in the work place.

Referred for fitness assessment


Health assessments undertaken in response to a referral can provide the following:

  • Assist you and your line manager to understand how your health problem can impact your ability to undertake your role now and in the future. The report gives an objective expert opinion on your fitness as well as advice on what support and adjustments might assist you to undertake your work despite your health problem.

  • Prepare you to return to work, if you have been away for an extended period following surgery, medical treatment or recovery from a serious illness, an assessment in advance of your return can help you and your manager understand your needs and plan your rehabilitation.

  • Create an opportunity to talk over in confidence any concerns you may have about your health in relation to your work with an experienced Occupational Health Advisor.

Information for staff

Why am I being referred?

Your manager should have already discussed the reason with you and given you a copy of the referral form. If not you should contact your manager. The referral form provides the OH Advisor with information on your job, recent sickness absence and the concerns your manager has.

The consultation

Assessments are undertaken in the Occupational Health Department at South Kensington campus. You will be seen by an Occupational Health Advisor: a experienced nurse or doctor who has specialised in workplace health. An assessment usually lasts 40 – 60 minutes.

The Advisor will ask you about health problems or concerns you have and treatment you are receiving. They will also ask you to describe how your health problem is affecting the work that you do. The advisor will also usually ask about your life outside of your work and how you travel to work.

Depending on the type of problem you are experiencing they may also need to carry out a functional assessment e.g. checking how well you can move your back, or use a computer keyboard.

If you have information about your condition such as results of investigations, any planned hospital appointments along with details of prescribed and over the counter medication you may be taking this will be helpful in understanding your treatment and any effects of treatment.

If a clinical examination is necessary to assist diagnosis a doctor will carry this out, you should come suitably dressed for an examination.

It is unusual that Fitness Assessments include examinations which would require the client to undress. However the presence of a chaperone may assist in supporting and reassuring the client during a consultation. The occupational health professional may also require a chaperone to be present for certain consultations.

Most occupational health interactions take place without a chaperone; however you can request the presence of a chaperone (a member of the Occupational Health team) for any aspect of your consultation or assessment.

Other information

Sometimes it is not possible to give a clear opinion on your fitness after a single assessment. The Advisor may need information from your doctor or want to visit your work place. They may also need to see you again to assess your response to your medical treatment or the effectiveness of support measures. Visits to your place of work are usually arranged through your manager.

When further information from your doctor is required, the Advisor will ask you to sign a consent form. You have a right to see a report if you want before your doctor sends it to the Advisor.

The Occupational Health Advisor may suggest the following referrals:

  • Active Lifestyles Team to assist you improve your fitness and well-being
  • Physiotherapy to assist recovery from musculoskeletal injury
  • Employee assistance program for counselling or advice on personal issues
  • Smoking cessation service

Follow up appointments

If a further assessment is needed, the Advisor will arrange a second appointment with you. Your manager will be given an interim report based on the information available at your first appointment.


All the information you give to the OH Advisor or medical information they obtain from your doctor is confidential: no details are given to anyone else without your agreement. The report prepared for your manager addresses the effects of your health on your fitness for work and will not include details of your health problems or other medical information you have given during the consultation unless you give permission for this to be included even if you have already disclosed this information to your line manager. If medical information is shared with a manager, they are advised that it is confidential and only information on the functional effects of your can condition can be shared.

Can I bring someone with me to my appointment?

Yes. If you want, a member of your family, friend or work colleague can attend the consultation with you to support you. If the OH Advisor needs to ask about details of your health that you might find embarrassing to discuss in front of someone else, then that person can sit outside for this part of the assessment.

Please do not bring young children to an assessment, as there are no facilities in the OH Department to care for them.

Why can’t my GP carry out the assessment?

Your doctor is the expert when it comes to treating your illnesses. An Occupational Health Advisor has had specialist training and experience in workplace health issues, giving them a greater understanding on how your health can affect you in your work and what can be done to help. The College’s OH Advisors are much more familiar with your work and workplace than your doctor would be. When an OH Advisor needs additional information on your health, treatment plans or results of investigation to complete an assessment the Advisor will, with your written consent, contact your doctor for the information.

Difficulties in attending

If you are too unwell to be able to travel to South Kensington for the assessment, contact us and ask to speak with the OH Advisor dealing with your assessment. If you have any additional needs (e.g. car parking space, mobility assistance or a translator) please let us know as soon as possible.

Your department should cover exceptional travel costs, over and above normal fares to work, to attend an appointment.

The report

Once your assessment has been completed, the OH Advisor will write a report for your manager. The Advisor will discuss with you at the appointment what they intend to say. If you wish to see this report before it is sent to your manager you can request this at your appointment.

The report concentrates on the effects of the health problems on your work and will address the questions asked by your line manager in the referral form. The Advisor may need to make recommendations if they feel you might be helped by some changes to your work. In certain circumstances they will need to talk over recommendations with your manager before including them in a report.

Reports usually cover

  • Whether you have a health problem which may affect your attendance or performance at work
  • If so, how it may affect your attendance or performance in future
  • An estimate of the time you may need off for appointments or for treatment
  • If you are off sick, how long it is likely to be before you are ready to return to work or full duties
  • If you have been seriously unwell, recommendations to your manager on   supportive measures that might assist you to return to work before you are fully recovered, e.g. working part-time or only carrying out some of your duties for a time
  • Advice on the types of adjustment which may assist you undertake your work
  • If you are not fit to return to your current job, recommendations on alternative types of work you are fit for
  • Whether your health problems may qualify you for retirement on medical grounds

You will be sent a copy of the report at the same time as your manager

What should I bring to the assessment?

Medicines: If you are taking any medicines, you should bring a note of the names and dose of the medicine. Don’t forget to tell the Advisor about over the counter medicines, as well as any prescribed by your doctor.

Contact details for your doctor: Your Doctor’s name and address.

Hospital information: If you are being treated at hospital, or waiting for an appointment, bring details of the Doctors name, the name and address of the hospital, your hospital number and details of any appointments. All this information is usually on your hospital appointment card or letter.

Other treatment: If you are receiving any other treatment for your health, e.g. from a physiotherapist, an osteopath, a complementary practitioner, please bring contact details for them (name, address and telephone number).

What next?

Your manager will arrange to meet you to discuss the report and any recommendations made.

Recommendations given to your manager by the OH Advisor on changes to your duties or hours work are advisory only. Your manager will do what is reasonable to help you but may not always be able to put them into practice.