A new Occupational Health Service (OHS) for DWP, provided by People Asset Management (the ‘PAM Group’), started on 1 March 2018. This will mean that some OHS Procedures have changed but key DWP Policies will remain in place
DWP promises all employees, under OHS Policy Paragraph 3 that: "You can expect:
Your manager to explain clearly why they wish to refer your case for occupational health advice
- To be given reasonable time to reflect before giving your consent
- Your case not to be referred if you do not give your consent. If you do not give consent, your manager can still contact OH, but can only discuss the case in generic terms.
- Your manager to give you a copy of their referral upon request
- Your manager to give you a copy of the outcome report upon request
- Entitlement to access to a private room for telephone appointments, Physio Advice Line, or discussions with your manager
- To be allowed to be accompanied by a friend or Trade Union representative to a consultation or appointment, though they may not answer questions on your behalf
- Confidentiality at all times."
New procedures provided by PAM Group
Managers will have the opportunity to select standard questions for the OHS referral and can add many more additional questions in the free text field. The previous OHS contract only allowed up to 3 additional questions.
Managers will have the simplicity of one referral type. PAM will book the employee’s appointment ‘after triage’. This means that a PAM Group clinician will decide when a face to face or telephone consultation is best for each referral and will ensure that the referral is allocated to the correct specialism at the outset.
Managers can also choose to have a pre and post assessment discussion with the PAM Group clinician at the time of the scheduled appointment.
Consultation with DTUS
Review and revision of the DWP OHS Policy is for consultation with the departmental trade union side (DTUS). This consultation will take into account the policies of each of the trade unions. A full update will be provided upon the conclusion of consultation with DTUS.
Advice for members
PCS advice for members is based on current DWP policy. An employee’s case will only be referred for OH advice once the employee has given their ‘informed consent’. Members are encouraged to consent, so that any decision made by their manager is based on an understanding of their health condition. ‘Informed consent’ means that the line manager must discuss the referral with the employee and have their consent for it to be sent to PAM. Members should ask their manager to:
- Send a copy of the OHS referral to them at the same time the referral is sent to PAM
- Send a copy of the OHS outcome report to them at the point it is received from PAM
- Inform PAM (using the free text box) for the referral if they feel they need to be accompanied by a friend, family member or trade union representative at their OHS consultation or appointment.
It is normally best practice to co-operate with an OHS referral but the employee can withdraw their consent at any time and the process will stop. When consent is not given, or is withdrawn, the manager can still contact the PAM Group but can only discuss the case in generic terms.
Advice for PCS representatives
An OHS consultation is designed to be a one to one conversation between the member and a PAM clinician/specialist. Sometimes a member may want to be accompanied by a friend, family member or PCS representative. This is a supportive, observational role not a representational role. The member must answer the questions which they should normally have been given in advance because they have requested, and received, a copy of the referral from their manager. An OHS consultation is promised confidentiality under DWP policy. Only the employee, with a third party chosen by the employee, and PAM Group staff should be present.
It is not PAM’s role to be involved in employment disputes between the employee and the employer. Where they believe that the occupational health consultation is becoming an employment dispute matter, they will suspend the appointment and refer it back to management. This would be exceptional and PAM will consult with the parties if this situation ever arises.
Branches with feedback on the new OHS contract with the PAM Group, or in need of advice, should contact PCS.