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Topic: Sickness absence

consent to medical report follow up letter
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Consent to medical report follow up letter

Consent to medical report follow up letter

Use our letter where an employee has either declined to consent to your seeking a medical report on them or to its subsequent disclosure to you by their doctor. The sanction is that you may have no choice but to make a decision about their ongoing employment without the benefit of that medical information, which will not usually be in their best interests.

No forced consent

You can't force an employee to consent to a medical report - this would be contrary to the provisions of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 which give an employee the right to refuse consent to a medical report being sought about them, or to refuse to allow a prepared medical report being released to you (effectively by withdrawing their earlier consent) if they asked to see it before it was sent to you. This legislation applies to reports prepared by medical practitioners who are or have been responsible for the clinical care of the employee, so would cover their GP, consultant, etc. It would not, however, cover an independent doctor that you've appointed to conduct a medical examination and then prepare a medical report, but you can't force someone to be medically examined against their will as that's a civil trespass, a criminal assault and a breach of their right to privacy.

Pressure point

What you can do though is exert a little pressure to persuade the employee to consent. So, where an employee has either not given their consent to a medical report, or they gave their initial consent but then subsequently withdrew it before the report was released to you, use our Consent to Medical Report Follow Up Letter to chase the employee. It points out that, although the employee is entitled to refuse consent, it’s likely to be to their detriment and not in their best interests to continue to do this because it means you will have to make some decisions about their fitness to work and their future health and employment without the benefit of valuable expert medical input. If your employee does continue to refuse consent in these circumstances, you are entitled to base any subsequent decisions on their future employment on the relevant facts available, even if that has to be without the benefit of medical evidence.

Medical examinations clause

One other way of exerting pressure is to threaten to invoke a Medical Examinations Clause as the next step, assuming there's one in the employee's contract of employment. This is a clause permitting you to require the employee to undergo a medical examination by an independent medical practitioner that you've nominated and then for the employee to agree to a medical report being prepared and released to you. Whilst you still can't force an employee to agree to be examined, in this case if they refuse without good reason they will be in breach of contract, enabling you to potentially take disciplinary action for that breach. So our letter has an optional paragraph covering this. However, be wary of taking disciplinary action in these circumstances and only do so where it's justified and reasonable; if it's not, the employee may have grounds to claim constructive or unfair dismissal.


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