In what circumstances might an employer need to obtain a medical report on an employee?

An employer might need to obtain a medical report on a prospective employee before confirming a conditional job offer for a particular role, where health or fitness is a factor determining the employee's ability to do the job.

In relation to existing employees, an employer may need to obtain a medical report if an employee is on long-term sickness absence, to ascertain when he or she will be able to return to work, if at all, and whether or not there are any steps that could be taken to facilitate a return to work.

Similarly, obtaining a medical report may be appropriate if an employee has a high level of short-term sickness absence. A medical report could ascertain whether or not there is an underlying cause, and if there is, for how long the absences are likely to persist, and whether or not there are any steps that the employer or employee could take to reduce the amount of absence. If the employer is considering disciplinary action against the employee because of his or her absence levels, it should consider whether or not a report should be obtained as part of the disciplinary investigation. A sickness absence policy could include a trigger point at which the employer will obtain a report.

A medical report may be required to address whether or not an employee is disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, and therefore whether or not the employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the employee.

A medical report may also be necessary under the terms of a permanent health insurance policy that is provided by the employer as a benefit to employees.

Some industries require periodic medical testing of employees, for example where they may be exposed to hazardous substances.