Staywell » Blog » How a Timely Management Referral to Occupational Health Can Save You Money

How a Timely Management Referral to Occupational Health Can Save You Money

Managing sickness absence is one of the top challenges for HR and business owners. Costs related to sickness absence are high and this looks set to continue with the added challenges of an aging population who remain in work past the national retirement age. The government recommends that a referral be made to occupational health following an employee’s 4th week of absence. However, a typical referral to occupational health is more often than not determined by a company’s absence policy. This principle can be seen in the case of an employee who was referred to OH after 11 weeks of sickness absence.

Timeline of a ‘typical’ referral to OH

‘Company X’ has a long term sickness absence policy in line with their industry standard that triggers on week 6. Mr K works on the production line and is paid £300 a week; he has been off work sick for the last 6 weeks with exhaustion, citing possible stress and depression. At the end of week 6 Mr K’s line manager informs the HR department.

HR reviews the case over the following working week and they make the decision to write to Mr K’s GP. It takes a further 2 weeks for the GP to send a report back to the HR team.

We are now at week 9

HR then reviews the GP’s report, Mr K’s mental state has not improved and he believes depression is causing a decline in his general health.  HR takes a week to review the case and decides that they need an independent OH report. An OH provider is contacted and a face to face consultation at Mr K’s home is arranged for a date the following week. The appointment goes ahead and the OH Company provide HR with the report giving Company X clear, decisive action.

We are now at week 11

The cost of this ‘typical’ referral to OH

SSP over 11 weeks (paid 52 out of 55 working days) £919.88
GP Report £150.00
OH face to face consultation £350
TOTAL £1419.88

Piggy bank wearing glasses looking at a calculator

What would a timely referral to OH look like?

We will revisit the case and apply a new method to ‘Company X’s’ sickness absence policy.

Mr K reports his absence to his line manager at ‘day 1’ as per ‘Company X’s policy’. Mr K mentions that he is feeling unwell and ‘exhausted’ and possibly is suffering from depression.  At the start of week 2 ‘day 6’ Mr K has not returned to work. His line manager then automatically refers the case to Occupational Health. The OH provider triages the case and arranges a face to face consultation with Mr K on week 2 of his absence. The OH report is sent to and received by HR on Friday of week 2, providing clear decisive action.

We are now at week 2

The cost of a timely referral to OH

SSP over 8 days £133.80
GP Report (rarely required by Staywell) £0
OH face to face consultation £350
TOTAL £483.80


This case demonstrates the importance of collaborative working between line managers, HR and OH alongside considered policy formulation. A timely referral to OH helps both functions manage sickness absence with greater efficiency, ensuring a speedier return to work for the employee and will ultimately save the organisation money.

Recent Posts

What is an Occupational Health Assessment?

What is an Occupational Health Assessment?

One of the most common questions that we get from our clients on a regular basis is “what is an occupational health assessment?”  An occupational health assessment is generally used as a blanket term, often a vital part in sickness absence management or in situations where an employee’s health is affecting their work or there…

Find out more
Neurodiversity: A Guide for Employers

Neurodiversity: A Guide for Employers

Why is it important? At least 20% of the adult population have a diagnosed neurological condition such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and/or dyspraxia. Therefore, it is essential that employers are aware of how to support such employees in order to create a diverse, productive workforce which values everyone’s…

Find out more

Neurodiversity at work: How Occupational Health can help

There is no standard human brain, and every individual has their own areas of strength and areas where they have more difficulty.  This applies no more or no less to people who have diagnosis or traits of neurodiverse conditions.  There is increased worldwide awareness of neurodiversity compared to a few years ago, and people who…

Find out more