I had an interesting question posed to me via my website recently about OH report payment:
“I wonder if you could answer a question. After starting a new job, it is standard to complete an OH questionnaire. As I take medication for anxiety, OH has requested a report from GP. GP wishes to charge £130 for this report, and OH says they are not responsible for paying this. I cannot afford it.
What do you advise should happen next?”
Here is my reply (names and formatting has changed for blogging purposes)
Sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Your query brings up a few issues which I shall try to answer,
OH Report Payment – Who?
GP’s always charge for a report, and occupational health will not have a budget for this. The money for the report should come out of your new departmental budget where you will be working, that is, your new Manager should pay for the report as he is the employer. He will have authorised occupational health to write for the report. If he can’t afford it, then he shouldn’t have asked for it.
Anxiety in the Workplace
Whether you need a GP report for anxiety is debatable as it is a common condition and unless you’re in a job that is highly stressful or somehow related to working with vulnerable people, then I would argue that it’s not necessarily required.
Could you attend occupational health in person for a discussion and not getting a report? They will be able to assess you directly.
Talk to Your GP
You could ask your GP to write a shortened report saying if he believes you’re fit for the job or not. Explaining why you are doing this – I am sure your GP will try to help. He/she thinks the employer is paying and it’s a different situation if their patient has to pay.
You may be covered by the terms of the Equality Act depending on the seriousness of your health condition. In this case, the employer has to make reasonable adjustments to the job and cannot discriminate against you in this way.
Make a Complaint
You could send it in an official complaint to the occupational health department and your new company HR, citing that you didn’t know you’d have to pay for the report and that you can’t afford it and see what happens.
What Happens Next
You asked me what I think should happen next and I have to say I’ve never come up against this issue before. I have never heard of anybody charged for their own pre-employment GP report in my whole time as an occupational health professional which covers about 28 years.
You will have signed a form of consent to get the information from your doctor – ask for a copy of this so you can check the wording of the form you signed. You could also withdraw your consent to the report anyway, but, although you are well within your rights to do, it may make you seem ‘difficult’ to your new employer. Look at my information on giving consent by putting ‘consent’ in the search box on this site.
I suggest that you contact the HR department of your new company and ask them for some advice on how to get past this, or failing that discuss it with your new manager.
Finally, I understand it’s not the best way to begin a new job but please do not be intimidated by these bully boy tactics.
Good luck – I hope that helps.
And just to be absolutely clear – there is no guidance that I know of, saying a new employee has to make an OH report payment.