An employer’s failure to investigate discrepancies in an occupational health report (which found no disability) will not necessarily fix it with constructive knowledge of disability and thereby a duty to make reasonable adjustments. An employer is only required to carry out a reasonable investigation into an employee’s health. In this case, the employer had reviewed GP letters regarding the absences from work, discussed the employee’s health with her, and made follow-up enquiries of the occupational health adviser (which were not answered adequately). This was sufficient to meet the required standard without going back to the adviser for further clarification, and enabled the employer to form its own reasonable judgment that the employee was not disabled. It was therefore under no duty to make reasonable adjustments. (Donelien v Liberata)
The case reiterates the importance of not relying unquestioningly on an occupational health report. It also provides some comfort to employers that, if other steps are taken including consulting the employee, it may satisfy the standard of investigation required even where it fails to follow up on queries about the report.