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Access to Medical Reports

There may be occasions when an employer may want to have medical information concerning an employee. Typically this will arise when an employee has either frequent short term sickness absences (in order for the employer to determine if the absences were genuinely due to sickness), when an employee has been off work for a long time (in order to obtain a prognosis and likely “return to work” date), or if an employee is disabled (in order to ascertain the effects of the disability on that person and his/her ability to do the work, and to determine if any adjustments to the work may be necessary).

Under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 an employer may not apply to a medical practitioner for a medical report without the consent of the employee. In this context a “medical report” means any medical practitioner who is or has been responsible for the clinical care of that individual – usually the G.P. and/or any consultant that the employee is seeing. The legislation allows the individual to require any medical report to be disclosed before it is supplied to the employer. In addition there is a right to correct any errors. If there is a failure to comply with the legislation the individual may apply to the court.

The use of a medical report can be particularly helpful when considering adjustments that might be made to the individual’s work. Furthermore, a medical report can be critical in determining if an individual is “disabled” or not (as this is an obvious pre-requisite to them pursuing any claim of disability discrimination).

In order to comply with the Access to Medical Reports Act an employer must give certain information to the individual before obtaining a medical report (PAYG)


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