Here at the Co-op we want to support colleagues to stay in, or return to work, if they’ve got a health condition or are off sick. We’ll refer colleagues to occupational health, with their consent, to get advice about their health condition and what we can do to help them at work.

Remember that occupational health don’t make decisions for us, they give managers medical information and advice to help them to make decisions.

Crucial bits

We get the best out of occupational health advice when colleagues are referred at the right time, we ask the right questions and everyone knows why we’re doing it.

When to refer

On-going absence – If a colleague’s been off sick for over a week, and their Fit Note suggests they might be off for a while, call ER Services to discuss whether a referral to occupational health would be helpful to get more information about their health. There’s more information in the Ongoing Sickness Absence Process

Frequent short-term absence - If a colleague’s taking a lot of short periods of absence, or if they’ve had three periods of absences for the same reason within a year, call ER Services to discuss whether a referral to occupational health would be helpful to get more information.

Disability – If a colleague has a long-term health condition or disability, you can get advice from occupational health about any adjustments we can make to help the colleague to stay in work – see the Guide to Reasonable Adjustments

Work-Related Illness or Injury – If a colleague has been injured at work, or has an illness that they believe has been caused by work, you must call ER Services to discuss making a referral to occupational health.

Diagnosis with a life-changing illness – If a colleague has been diagnosed with a serious illness, such as cancer or MS, or if they have received a diagnosis that their condition is terminal, you should call ER Services for advice on how to handle the case and whether referral to occupational health would be appropriate.

Remember that early intervention is key – the longer a colleague is off sick, the less likely they are to return to work. If you’re not sure when to refer, call ER Services for advice.

Types of referral

Depending on the colleague’s health condition, you can make two types of referral;

Management referral – this will give you information about the colleagues’ health, how it may affect them at work, and a medical view about their likely return to work if they’re currently off work.

Workstation assessment – this might be recommended by an OH nurse/doctor or physiotherapist and involves an assessment of the colleagues’ work area to make recommendations for any adjustments that are needed.

Making a referral

Managers need to access the Occupational Health portal via MyApps to make a referral. There’s a manager guide below to support you.

If you need any support with MyApps or other IT issues, please contact the IT service on 0330 606 1844. For any other queries about access not related to MyApps please contact .

All referrals will need to include a case reference number from ER Services. If a referral is submitted without an ER Services case number, the referral will be rejected.

You’ll need to include the colleague’s phone number and email address in your referral, so that occupational health can contact them. Make sure if the colleague is off sick that you give a phone number and email that they can access while they are away from work. If you provide a mobile number for the colleague then they’ll get SMS notifications to confirm their appointment details.


The cost of an occupational health referral will be charged to your cost centre. If the colleague doesn’t attend their appointment, or respond to calls from our occupational health provider, there will be additional charges that will also be charged to your cost centre.

Things to think about


After you’ve made the referral, it will be triaged by Health Partners to determine; - Whether the referral contains all of the information needed, and whether occupational health can add value to this case - Whether the colleague will need a phone or face-to-face appointment.

If there are any concerns about the referral, Health Partners will call you to coach you to improve the quality of the referral so that it can be resubmitted, or give you advice on what to do next if occupational health can’t add anything to the case.

Arranging Appointments

You can put details on the referral form about when the colleague would and wouldn’t be available for an appointment.

If you have provided an email and mobile number for the colleague, then an appointment time will be allocated for them and Health Partners will contact them to let them know. The case will be updated in the portal with the appointment details and you’ll get an email to confirm that this has happened.

If the appointment time is not suitable, then the colleague should contact Health Partners to rearrange on 01273 013679 or

Travel issues

If the colleague’s appointment has been arranged at a location that’s going to be hard for them to get to, tell them to call Health Partners to see whether alternative locations are available.

If the colleague needs to use public transport to get to their appointment, or take a taxi due to mobility issues, they can claim under expenses – see the Expenses Policy.

Cancellation fees

If an appointment is booked for the colleague and they don’t turn up, your cost centre is still charged;

Cancellation Fees

Storing occupational health reports

You’ll be able to see the colleague’s occupational health report on the Health Partners online portal. You may need to print a copy off to use in your meeting with the colleague. You will need to dispose of it securely, or store it securely and separately to the rest of their colleague file. You should never save the report electronically.

If the colleague’s line manager changes, you can transfer the case on the portal to their new line manager. There’s details on how to do this in the guide below.

If you need further support

If managers need advice about when to make an occupational health referral and the process, or advice about managing a colleague’s absence or health condition, they should contact ER Services.

If managers need to talk to Health Partners to ask questions about a report or raise a concern they should call 01273 013679 or email