Does an employer have the right to approach an employee's GP for information about their state of health?

An employer must not approach an employee's GP for a medical report without first obtaining the employee's written consent. When doing this, the employer is obliged to inform the employee of their rights under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988. The employee has the right to see a copy of the report once it is prepared but before it is relayed to the employer, to ask the doctor to remove information the employee considers damaging or irrelevant or to refuse to allow the doctor to release the report to the employer. These rights do not generally extend to reports prepared by an independent doctor paid for by the employer.

In addition to obtaining the employee's consent, as required by the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988, the employer must ensure that it complies with the data protection principles and other requirements of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (retained from EU Regulation 2016/679 EU) (UK GDPR). It can request information about an employee's health where this is necessary for the purposes of performing or exercising employment law obligations or rights, for example to assess whether or not an employee is fit to carry out the work, to prevent health and safety risks or to prevent disability discrimination.