Are You Still Writing for GP Reports to Manage Absence? – 5 Reasons To Think Again

As an experienced Occupational Health Nurse, I have always wondered why it is that some HR professionals and managers write to GPs rather than ask an Occupational Health specialist for a report to help them to manage absence. Occupational Health is the speciality of medicine which has the knowledge skills and training to provide advice on fitness for work in any industry setting and also has specialist knowledge of the diseases of occupations

Asking a GP, who has never had any occupational health training or even visited a workplace, for an opinion on fitness to work, rarely provides any useful advice on capability. It generally lengthens the management of the absence as GPs are very busy and can take weeks before a response is received and the report can be expensive.

Maybe it’s time to review your approach?

1. In my experience, non-medical people writing for a GP report are mostly wasting their time. I know that seeking further medical evidence is advised in many management of absence procedures, but I do not believe writing to a GP will give you anything other than a report which states the employee’s perspective on their medical condition. Once that is written in a report, it can sometimes ‘stranglehold’ the employer into a corner it is difficult to get out of without being seen to be unreasonable.

‘If Mrs Jones could be given a job nearer to home with light duties, reduced hours and a different Manager, I am sure she would be able to return to work’

2. The GP report may advise you of an employee’s diagnosis, but can you really make a judgement on what work capability an employee has from a medical diagnosis? If for example they are diagnosed with bi polar disorder, endometriosis or sciatica where does this leave you? Can you be absolutely sure that you are aware of all reasonable adjustments possible for these conditions? Fitness for work is about capability and not disability and the majority of GPs do not have enough knowledge of the workplace, diseases of occupations or risk assessments to provide a report which can be used by employers to manage a case forward with confidence in the workplace.

3. Reasonable adjustments are required if a condition may be likely to fall under the provision of the Equality Act 2010. This is however ultimately a legal and not a medical decision, but identifying what your obligations are in terms of disability legislation, can be complex and the tribunals are busy with cases where employers have not considered what the employee can do, rather than what they can’t. GP reports do not generally offer much helpful advice in this area and employers can easily fail to make simple adjustments just because they have not been given enough guidance on what can be done in the workplace to increase the capability, or ‘workability’ of employees with a medical condition. The GP will confirm that a medical condition is present, but how does … Read More

The Best Thing an Owner Can Do for Their Business Is Continue to Breathe

One of the best things a business owner can do for their business is continue to breathe. It sounds simple but for some business owners the hardest part about business ownership is finding time for themselves.

Health can be defined in a range of ways but the way I see it is; health is the absence of illness and the presence of vitality. Vitality is that energy and exuberance that comes from someone who is well rested, with energy to burn and the focus to put that energy to good use. I know many business owners that miss the mark when it comes to their own health.

Often business owners believe they need to work 24/7, putting themselves into a situation where it is difficult to sustain for the long term. If your business does not allow you the time to look after yourself over the long term, what makes you think the business will even last that long… Or that you will? By having your business over reliant upon you, it is likely you are starting a cycle that will turn into a cyclone, that can only result in a path of destruction.

What happens is this: first you begin to work all of the time. You are working in your business and doing the hard yards and there is a part of you that thinks ‘this is what I have to do for my business to continue’. You are being a martyr. The pressure on you builds until you are working so much you lose contact with your friends and family. Little did you know, that they were the support system of your life and without them you are left unsupported. Anyone who thinks that they have to do it alone is suffering from what I like to call the ‘Hero Complex’.

The ‘Hero Complex’ describes those people that think they don’t need anyone else’s help. They think they can move mountains on their own and run their business on their own. It is almost an ego trip for them. Little do they realise, that every hero has a sidekick. Someone who helps them when they can’t see an answer. Someone who keeps them focused when the going gets tough. Often it is purely the belief that the sidekick has in them, that reenergises the hero to go on and win. Some heroes even have a whole team to support them in their mission! If you believe you can do this on your own and that your business will only operate if you do everything, all of the time… You are wrong. In every instance you are wrong.

The key to success is having a team of experts to help make decisions… and a pit crew who support you… and cheer squad who believe in you. As Michael Jackson said ‘you are not alone’ and you never should be.

If you have made the choice to be 100% work all of the time, what happens when … Read More