Following two referral appointments to our company Occupational Health Physician (in accordance with agreed policies in place), we received a written recommendation, on both occasions, that employee was fit to return to work on lighter duties for a phased period of time and that this employee’s local GP was in agreement with the Occupational Health person's opinion. The employee was informed on both occasions of the recommendations but maintains that, in his opinion, he remains unfit to return to work and intends to be guided only by his local GP, who subsequently issued him with a further cert for a further extended period of time after the 2nd appointment date. What is the company’s legal entitlements in such a situation? Is it appropriate for an employer to make a decision to discipline and/or withdraw entitlement to sick pay solely based on the opinion of its Occupational Health physician's recommendations due to their expertise in this area? Or would it be best practice to seek a third party opinion before any action is taken?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 5 March 2013
Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox
Issues covered:

It is likely that the occupational health adviser has a better understanding of the employee’s role and responsibilities. Any advice given by a GP will usually rely entirely on the employee’s version of events. In cases of conflict it is worth asking the employee if occupational health can speak to the GP to come up with appropriate recommendations.

It is also worth asking an employee to take a copy of his or her job description to their GP and/or asking the employee for permission for the GP to speak directly with the employer. If the GP and Occupation Health advice are very different, it is important that you investigate why. If an employee has a rare condition it may be that neither the

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Arthur Cox. Contact telephone number is +44 28 9026 2673 or email

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