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HR and OH: Working together?

Who should attend

This course is aimed at experienced HR and H&S professionals responsible for employee wellbeing, plus in-house lawyers. We assume knowledge of absence management principles.


The partnership between the occupational health and human resources functions does not always work as well as it might. Unrealistic expectations, misunderstandings and ad hoc, delayed and contradictory communication, on both sides, mean that the effectiveness of OH referrals and interventions may be reduced. Patient confidentiality, medical jargon and line managers facing commercial pressures an also widen any gap between HR and their medical advisors.

This briefing is for managers familiar with sickness absence processes. It covers the frustrations HR may have with OH, and vice versa, and the win-win benefits of developing this relationship. We also consider your experiences of complex and highly sensitive work-related health referrals, plus latest approaches to wellbeing.


09.00 - 13.00

09.00 registration and coffee, 09.30 start

Frustration on both sides (your experiences)

  • what HR wants from OH
  • what OH needs from HR

Reminder of key legal issues

  • access to Medical Records Act: rights and responsibilities
  • ‘special category’ data: impact of GDPR
  • duty of care and confidentiality
  • OH advice and the employers knowledge of disability

Making ‘good’ OH referrals and interventions

  • what should or should not go in a referral
  • off the record conversations?
  • when to involve OH and the cost of delay
  • graded return to work or ‘restricted duties’
  • OH advice models

Expectations and barriers

  • asking the right questions
  • what can the employee do, not what they can’t
  • slow response times
  • medical jargon: simple information and instruction
  • unrealistic adjustments: practical solutions
  • conflicting advice from GPs and OH

Difficult referrals – working together Q&A

  • long-term, intermittent and unconnected absence
  • obesity impacting on work
  • diabetes and safety critical roles
  • musculoskeletal pain / injury: rehabilitation?
  • mental health and stress and ‘always-on’ cultures
  • terminal illness and support
  • presenteeism and leavism: identify and discourage?
  • addiction
  • autism, dyslexia, and ADHD

13.00 close, followed by lunch

Download the full HR and OH programme




Clare Ward

Employment Lawyer
Clare advises on all employment law issues and disputes. She conducts her own advocacy, manages key client relationships, including working on secondment within a client’s business. She has led many sessions covering absenteeism and mental health issues in the workplace.

Dr Lucy Wright
Chief Medical Officer
Lucy has worked in the NHS, and at a senior level in the Health and Safety Executive and in the oil industry. She was a member of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, and is an examiner with the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. She works with clients to develop and deliver their distinctive health strategies.


Cost: £249

All prices are exclusive of VAT

Group discount:

10% discount for delegate 2 and subsequent delegates.

Online payment discount: 5%

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