Occupational Health - yay or nay?

Hi aIl

I’m having a flare up/exacerbation type thing at the moment. Have been struggling at work for a few weeks now. Went to the doctors last week (she is VERY supportive) and she said if I want time off just say so and I get a sick note. She also mentioned it would be a good idea to contact occupational health…there are two ways for me to do this

1 I contact my line manager and ask her to refer me. If this is the case then she gets a report after every appointment at OH.

2 I contact OH and refer myself, in which case it’s just between me and OH.

Which is best to do? Should I always keep my line manager in the loop - just in case - so there’s always a record of how i’m doing, or do you think it really doesn’t matter. So far having OH on my side doesn’t seem to have been much help but maybe behind the scenes I need to keep everyone abreast of how i’m doing? I do need to try and keep going for another couple of weeks at least as the other secretary in my office will be on 2 weeks annual leave from this coming Friday.

Wish I could win the lottery! That would solve all work problems! lol

Very grateful for all input - especially if you worked with MS for a while. I’m so scared of the possibility of being sacked/medically retired etc etc.

Now then Nana…they cannot sack you for being sick. I think it best to keep them informed of whats happening, especially as you feel you have to cover someone elses holiday, so they know what`s what.

That way, you(I hope) will get more support should you be off. Sounds like you could do with some sick leave at the mo.

If you do ever go on the sick and feel unable to work, they CANNOT sack you.


i have to disagree with Polls. You can be dismissed (sacked) through inability to do the job. I have been involved in the process as a line manager of a 70000+ employees. You have some protection and may be entitled to Ill health retirement if you can’t do any role for any type of employer or compensation for dismissal.



ok, if you say so…but if someone goes sick for a long term, and dont they then have to see a company doctor (or doc of their employer`s choosing) to determine if they are fit enough for the job they are employed to do?

If the answer to that is no, then the company can retire them on ill health if there are no other more suitable vacancies.

So doesnt this mean you cant be sacked for being sick?

Please explain if I have got this wrong Paul.


You are dismissed/sacked for inability. Ill health retirement is looked at the individuals ability to do any job (not just in that business). The business/pension company often do their best to freeze your pension until retirement age (65/66/67 or 68). It is their interest to make money/profit until you reach pension age or pass away. I know of a dear friend who was denied ill health pension until they passed away with a terminal illness. They investigated the legal rules to this to no effect. Carp but they couldn’t do anything.


Not sure if I’m right but I get a sense that you are being almost apologetic for having m.s. and being unwell at the moment.

That shouldn’t be the case.

What is the purpose of involving OH at this stage - are you looking for some adaptations to be done at work?

You have legal protection as an employee with a disability and you should familiarise yourself with that.

And remember your employer is just that - they are not your friends - their ‘interests’ may not be the same as yours!

Thanks for the comments all. Krakowian: I do feel apologetic - and I know that’s totally illogical. I’ve had adaptations at work and I was going to consult OH because my GP said I should keep them involved as much as possible as they’re “on my side”. This whole bloody business is getting me down. I WANT to work and I was fully prepared to work until i’m 66. That was before MS reared it’s ugly head of course - that’s making my life rather more difficult than I want it to be.

Hi NanJuls

I was nervous about OH too and felt very vulnerable about work. An HR professional on here told me to trust them - and that they would be on my side. They were!

My employer referred me and everyone kept in touch. It’s difficult for employers to do the right thing if they are not fully in the picture. They are obliged to help and support you and OH will advise them as to your needs. In the end I did have to stop work but the involvement of OH helped me get the best outcome.

The MS Society funds a lawyer at the Disability Law Service. They give free legal advice on employment matters. I found them brilliant. They really gave me confidence.

Feel free to send me a message if you would like to discuss further.

Best wishes with it all.

It is usually a good idea to involve the line manager. Unless he/she is a real shocker with form for being a devious swine. For a start, it makes it easier to work collaboratively to find adjustments that will work for you. Also, it is also very difficult for the manager, whose medical advisor the Occupational Health professional technically is, to ignore formal advice from that quarter. That can work in your favour. The line manager (or HR, or both) will be very involved anyway, most likely, however you play it.

Finally, anything that keeps keeps lines of communication simple is usually helpful.

Good luck


If your work know you have MS you should have a meeting and explain how you are. they cant sack you for being ill, but you need to keep them in the loop i think they are far more likely to help. when i was off sick for six months my line manager was brilliant she even came to visit me with flowers, and they allowed me as long as it took. at the time i wasnt diagnosed with MS but i now believe it was an MS relapse. they even supported me back to work slowly.

I was on full pay too.

When I was off work last year - around the time I was diagnosed - I was off work for four months, I was on full pay (I work for the NHS), however you do have ‘sanctions’ if you are off long term. I know they can’t sack me - but the thought of being on monitoring, then maybe getting that ‘first letter of concern’ etc etc scares the bejesus out of me. I know if things progress I might have no choice - and whatever happens, i’ll survive it but in my own little paranoid way I feel that - behind the scenes - they will be hoping that they can get rid of me at some point. If I eventually was to get a Tier 2 ill health retirement that would be ok I guess. However, if they got rid of me on a Tier one and then i’d have to start signing on and applying for jobs etc etc etc. OMG I just can’t imagine :frowning: Life really is a bitch huh

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Yes, can see the problem. The tone of these discussions is so important, and that might be something you can influence to your advantage. You have had sickness absences already - there’s not question but that you are on the radar; it’s just a matter of what the tone of the debate is. If you seem to be putting your head in the sand at work and hoping it all goes away, that potentially leaves you out of the loop or a discussion that will be happening all right - just not involving you! But if you are being Mrs Proactive and piling in there being ultra positive and keen to do a great job and wanting to form a therapeutic alliance of you and your employer and their advisors to help you to stay in work and perform well long term… well, that actually makes you harder to quietly get rid of! It’s about setting the agenda yourself where you can, rather than letting it be set for you by others. Take it to them, NanaJuls! And good luck.


Thanks Alison - I will! :slight_smile:

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