The Council's Occupational Health contract is with Health Management. The Occupational Health Service will provide independent professional advice to both management and employees on fitness for employment. This will include:

  • pre-employment (employee fitness for employment) checks and examinations where appropriate
  • medical advice regarding specific employee absences and likely return to work date
  • rehabilitation advice for employees returning to work after illness
  • advice on underlying medical reasons for employee absences
  • advice on measures to secure employees’ early return to work
  • advice on modifications to job task and or equipment to enable employees to remain in employment despite poor health or disability
  • advice when an employee is unable to continue working
  • advice on ill health retirement
  • advice and guidance on employee well-being initiatives and their implementation

Referrals to Occupational Health

The purpose of the Occupational Health report is to establish the medical position of the employee in the form of general statements on their health in relation to their ability to do their job, so that an informed and fair decision can be made.

Decisions about an employee’s sickness absence are managerial, not medical, even where an Occupational Health Service report has been obtained.

The Employee Relations Team will support the occupational health referral process and should be contacted to initiate the process. Details of when an occupational health referral is appropriate are included within the relevant sections of this guidance, however it may also be appropriate in some special circumstances to refer an employee to Occupational Health when:

An employee is absent with a stress related illness

  • an employee is being assessed for Ill Health Retirement
  • a Hepatitis B vaccination is required for the employee to carry out their duties in a safe environment
  • an employee becomes disabled
  • there are concerns for work performance
  • there are concerns for an employee’s safety within their working environment
  • substance abuse problems are suspected
  • surveying an employee’s health
  • investigating a workplace illness or injury

The above list is not exclusive and advice can be sought from the Employee Relations Team. An employee must however be referred to the Occupational Health Service for an up to date report prior to any review meeting that considers termination of employment.

If there is a decision to refer the employee to the Occupational Health Service the relevant line manager must discuss the nature of the referral with the employee, covering the following points:

  • the reason(s) for the referral
  • the nature of the questions to be asked of the Occupational Health Service
  • the employee’s rights during the process
  • any additional facts to be included in the referral
  • the importance of the employee attending at the agreed date and time

The Occupational Health Service will then arrange to see or contact the employee concerned (contacting the employee’s GP or specialist as necessary) and provide a report to management via the Human Resources Department, which will provide information on the employee’s true medical position.

The Occupational Health Service will also advise the employee of any measures they themselves can undertake to maximise attendance at work.

You can download the Occupational Health Referral guidance.

Employee Assistance Programme

The Employee Assistance Programme - called HM Assist - is provided by specialists and counsellors via telephone and face to face counselling for both practical and emotional support whether they are for personal or work related concerns. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is a confidential service totally independent of the council.

For further information go to the wellbeing page.

For advice on managing absence/health issues at your school, contact Karen Cardow, Employee Relations Advisor 01904 554630, or Joy Holmes 01904 554233.


Yorwellbeing is an online wellbeing resource for staff and their families. The Yorwellbeing website gives you access to free impartial advice and is accessible anywhere, anytime.

It has been designed to take a broad view of the factors that affect the health and wellbeing of our employees and their families - from stress and anxiety to childcare, habits and addictions to healthily eating on a budget, exercise to personal debt.

The idea for Yorwellbeing originated in the City of York Council Wellbeing agenda. The Wellbeing programme of work aims to reduce stress in the workplace – one of the major reasons for staff absence, nationally and locally.

Yorwellbeing is a 'work in progress' so we welcome your feedback.

For further infromation email

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