iOH Code of Practice

Definition

The code is based on the iOH values of iTRUST – Transparency, Respect, Understanding, Support and Teamwork.

Codes of Practice (COP) describe preferred or recommended standards to be met or working methods that can be used to comply with standards. Approved COPs describe the duties imposed by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. iOH has developed this COP to provide measurable definitions for Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services practice for members and employers and to act as a checklist for members to demonstrate good practice and adherence to the legal principles outlined in the legislation referred to within this COP.

It is not intended to demonstrate compliance with the law in respect of those specific matters on which the Code gives advice. You may use alternative methods to those set out in the Code in order to comply with the law.

iOH’s offers each member the opportunity to display within its contracts with its clients’ reference to the fact that it follows the iOH Code of Practice.

Introduction

As a non-regulatory Organisation, iOH COP offers guidelines to its membership in the key areas of conduct, performance, ethics and probity. The Code of Practice represents the core professional values and behaviours underpinning ethical considerations in Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services and standards of conduct expected of individual and corporate members of iOH.  

The purposes of the code are:

  • To develop, support and maintain the reputation and credibility of members where they do business through economic, social and professional integrity;
  • To inform and protect current and potential consumers of Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services;
  • To support and protect the integrity of the Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services industry;
  • To encourage equal opportunity of access to and at all levels of employment;

The code represents but is not intended to address every ethical issue. This code of practice is to be read in conjunction with local legislation (see Bibliography and References), which directly or indirectly affect the professional practice of Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services.

1. Equality

iOH and its members agree to comply with the Equality Act (EA) both as service providers and employers, with particular reference to Chapter 3 on ‘Equality of Terms’.

iOH is defined as a ‘Membership Association’ iOH and undertakes not to discriminate against a person requesting membership. A number of concession memberships are available to increase our inclusivity and facilitate access to our membership resources, services and networking.

As an informal ‘Trade organisation’ iOH and its members will not discriminate against a person requiring their service or services.

iOH recognises that many of its members are defined as ‘Service Providers’ under S29 of the Equality Act 2010 (EA) and members are expected to act and operate under the provisions of this section. Guidance can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/notes/contents.

Members shall:

  • Foster equal opportunities for all employees, supporting universal human rights and fair employment practices
  • In their relationship with people with disabilities, demonstrate the importance of delivery of support services with dignity, privacy, safety, health and concerns of the individual person;
  • In their relationship with society and potential consumers, accurately represent their skills and competencies in the provision of Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services;
  • Respect the uniqueness of an individual with every effort made to provide a holistic and integrated life service consistent with the “norms” of daily living activities, respecting the consumer’s culture and choices;
  • Work with the consumer to determine goals and priorities, involving significant others if this are the consumer’s choice;
  • Work in ways that are compatible with the consumer’s culture to assist them to achieve desired outcomes.

2. Data Protection and Confidentiality

Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services matters commonly involve the management and processing of sensitive medical data. Statutory instruments govern such matters, and members are expected to adhere to the Information Commissioner’s Office guide to General Data Protection Regulation for Data Protection Officers (DPO).

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) apply to information held about individuals ‘personal data’. Guidance for DPO can be found here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/. This provides the individual the right to access personal information from the OH provider, subject to a qualifying Subject Access Request (SAR). iOH members should be expected to comply fully with the requirements of the GDPR and charge appropriately for any SAR. All employee data shall be stored to the highest possible standards, both physical and electronic.

3. Conduct

iOH expects all members to consider their relationships with colleagues and business; and conduct themselves with honesty and integrity and to ensure that such conduct does not damage the public’s confidence in iOH and their profession. iOH members should not become involved in behaviours or activities likely to damage the public’s confidence and should treat fellow iOH members accordingly.

Members shall:

  • Accurately model and promote the iOH Vision, Mission and Values;
  • Respect the needs, practices, special competencies and responsibilities of their own and other professions, institutions and all agencies with which they have working relationships and experience;
  • Respect the needs, practices, competencies and responsibilities of the Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services industry, other institutions and statutory and non-government agencies that constitute their working environment.
  • Support the development of accepted standards for the delivery of services and the operation of employment support services;
  • Provide safe and healthy workplaces, protecting human health and the environment and promote sustainable development;
  • Carry out business practices, in an ethical way, respecting the laws and contributing to the economic well-being and social development of the countries and communities where they conduct business;
  • In the provision of employment support services, promote fair competition including respect for intellectual and other property rights, and not offer, pay or accept inducements for goods or services;
  • Respect the needs, practices, special competencies and responsibilities of their employees, own and other professions, institutions and all agencies with which they have working relationships and experience.

Matters of clinical professional conduct are regulated by the appropriate medical bodies, including and not exclusive to:

  • Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • General Medical Council (GMC)
  • ACPOHE and Royal College of Occupational Therapy (RCOT)
  • British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS)
  • Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF)

4. Standards

Members agree to:

  • Carry out business practices, in an ethical way;
  • Behave in compliance with established standards and practice and any local consumer rights laws;
  • Accurately represent their skills and competencies supported by training, knowledge, experience and skill. Any advertising in relation to professional activities should be accurate, should not be misleading, false, unfair or exaggerated. iOH members should not claim that their skills, equipment or facilities are better than their peers unless they can demonstrate that this is true;
  • Ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in the delivery and receipt of services
  • Respect the autonomy of people receiving their service, acknowledging the consumer’s role, and sharing the power and decision making;
  • Promote fair competition including respect for intellectual and other property rights, and not offer, pay or accept inducements for goods or services;
  • Not enter in to or continue with relationships with consumers which will, or have the potential to, exploit, harm or disrupt the life of the consumer and their family;
  • Respect the rights of a consumer to refuse a service, or involvement in research or educational activities;
  • Provide appropriate supervision for all personnel for whom they have supervisory responsibility;
  • Work with key personnel and groups or Government agencies (as appropriate to local situations) to improve the quality of services in the various communities to ensure equality of opportunities for people with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In particular, written or verbal disparagement of colleagues or competitors and other iOH members or their staff would not be regarded as acceptable conduct by an iOH member and is likely to bring the industry into disrepute.

The Board will act on behalf of the membership to consider and take further action required to address any acts or omissions in breach of this COP.

Subcontracting:

iOH members should subcontract tasks to other persons or organisations only when they can substantiate that the knowledge, skills and experience of the subcontractor is sufficient to carry out the task safely, and effectively. Contractors should not be asked to perform work outside their Scope of Practice. Unless otherwise stated in the contract for services, iOH members may still be responsible for the output from subcontractors and should ensure that the subcontractor works safely and effectively as if it were complying with iOH’s Code of Practice itself.

Recruitment:

Members should ensure that suitable employment checks are in place to protect clients and are encouraged to follow the NHS guidance on Employment Check Standards (https://www.nhsemployers.org/your-workforce/recruit/employment-checks). All key administration and clinical staff should be appropriately Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) formerly Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) should be implemented and monitored to ensure that key skill sets are maintained and relevant.

4. Medical reports

In the case of medical reports, members are expected to follow the principles of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and should ensure that all personal data is treated in strict medical confidence, and only passed on to employer or other party with the individual’s (patient or employee) express consent.

All reports should expressly address to comply with the requirements of the EA:

  • Description of a physical or mental impairment and how the impairment affects or is affected by work. Diagnosis should only be disclosed with the express consent of the individual or where the condition is already in the public domain;
  • Identification of disadvantages arising from this impairment that affect the individual and whether the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the individual’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities;
  • Steps for the employer to consider in order to avoid the disadvantage, including identification of adjustments or adaptations that would require the avoidance, alteration or removal of a task or physical feature of the work;
  • Identification of an auxiliary aid, e.g. an ergonomic handle, where the practitioner feels competent and qualified to make that recommendation or onward referral / escalation to a specialist assessor including funded services, e.g. Access to Work;
  • Fitness for work and all matters affecting such, including psychosocial factors.

5. Consent

Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support services are concerned with the provision of professional advice and guidance to enable employers to support and manage employees with health conditions affecting or affected by their work.

Members are expected to follow the Access to Medical Reports Act (AMRA) 1988 and to gain consent to applications for medical reports for employment or insurance purposes. Members are expected to obtain employee written or documented verbal consent to disclose most reports to employers.

The individual employee is entitled invariably to sight of the report (whether it be from a doctor or nurse, psychologist or similar) prior or simultaneously to the employer, but save for factual inaccuracy, the employee is not entitled to edit or demand changes to the OH report. This is in contrast to patient rights in relation to GP/consultant reporting.

In circumstances where the examining clinician believes the content of their report is very likely to cause the individual employee significant distress, the clinician is within their rights to decline to provide the employee with a copy of the report, and in those circumstances a copy would normally be sent directly to the GP for onward clinical management. 

The only exception to this is if information is received which is considered to pose a significant risk to health of an employee or the public in general, and obligations to disclose to the relevant authority (e.g. Multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), Police, GP) in such matters overtakes the responsibility to the individual employee.

6. Personal Conduct & Responsibility

Members shall:

  • Promote the philosophy and model the values, integrity and ethics of iOH and advocate on behalf of people with disabilities to the community at large;
  • Contribute to the continuing development of Occupational Health, Wellbeing and Employment Support service delivery, and research wherever possible;
  • Actively contribute to, maintain and develop iOH’s organisational competence by improving and updating knowledge and skills;
  • Acknowledge and support other colleagues whose culture, values and beliefs may differ from their own;

iOH recognises that poor conduct even outside professional life may still affect public perception and confidence in the profession in general. Consequently, each iOH member and key operational and clinical staff member should inform iOH if at any time they are convicted of a criminal offence or have accepted a police caution. Clients should be made aware of these events, as should regulatory bodies.

At annual renewal, each iOH member should disclose, subject to the limitations of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, if any key operational or clinical member or their employee has been convicted or cautioned in relation to any one of the following types of behaviour:

  • violence or threat of violence
  • offences involving dishonesty or probity
  • offences receiving a prison sentence or community service order
  • sexual misconduct including offences in relation to pornography
  • abuse (domestic or otherwise)
  • supplying or use of illegal drugs, or alcohol dependency

This is by no means a full list; iOH will look at each declaration on its own merits and recommend accordingly.

7. Complaints

iOH members shall have and display within their contracts with clients a clear, unambiguous and straightforward process for receiving, investigating and adjudicating upon complaints. The process should include the right of Appeal, and in the event of dispute, should nominate an adjudicator whose recommendations shall be binding on both parties.