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Medical Reports

Published April 2, 2015 (last updated on February 28, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


There are a variety of reasons why an employer might ask an employee to provide a medical report. The reason may be as straightforward as needing a diagnosis for an injury or illness that has led the employee to be absent from work.

Alternatively, the employer may need to establish a likely return-to-work date for an employee with a long-term illness or injury. In some cases, medical reports can clarify if an employee is able to perform the intrinsic responsibilities of their role, or even give the grounds to approve a flexible working arrangement request. 

Sometimes employers need a qualified opinion about their employee’s condition from a general practitioner (GP) or medical specialist. This is called an ‘independent medical examination’.

What is an independent medical examination?

An independent medical examination (IME), also known as an independent medical assessment (IMA), is an examination performed by a medical specialist in order to evaluate an employee’s mental or physical health.

The purpose of an independent medical examination is to gain a more complete picture of an employee’s injury, medical condition, or disability.

An independent report from a qualified medical specialist can help an employer plan for a worker’s rehabilitation and return to work. If the injury was sustained while the employee was working, an independent medical examination can help the employer prepare in the event of a claim.

Who should the independent medical examiner be?

In many cases, it’s appropriate for a GP to perform a medical examination. However, if the employee is being treated by a specialist for a particular type of illness or injury, it’s preferable that the treating doctor carries out the examination. For instance, an employee suffering from workplace stress will most likely need an independent medical examination by a psychiatrist.

The independent medical examiner needs to be professionally trained and medically certified. They also need to be actively practising at the time of conducting the examination.

What do employers have to do?

In some cases, the employer may select a a medical practitioner to perform an independent medical examination. It’s the employer’s responsibility to:

  • Pick a suitable and qualified independent medical examiner.

  • Ensure that an appointment can be made within a reasonable time period (usually four weeks).

  • Ensure the appointment is as close to the employee’s home as possible.

  • Provide all relevant appointment details and any relevant information about how the employee can prepare for the examination at least 10 days in advance.

What do employees have to do?

If an employer requests an independent medical examination, the employee has a legal obligation to attend. If an employer books an appointment for an independent medical exam, the employee should:

  • Confirm the appointment immediately. If the employee is unable to attend the appointment, they should speak to their employer to arrange an alternative date as soon as possible.

  • Let the employer or clinic know if they have any special needs, such as an interpreter or disabled access. 

  • Take all test results and radiographic films (including X-rays, MRIs, CTs, and ultrasounds) to help the examiner make a thorough assessment.

Also be aware that employees can take a support person to the appointment if needed. Advise the doctor or the receptionist if you wish to be accompanied during the examination, as the medical examiner must agree to the support person’s presence. The support person cannot act as an interpreter or answer the medical examiner’s questions. 

Can employees refuse independent medical examinations?

For a new injury or illness, employees are legally obligated to undergo independent medical examinations.

In some cases, the effects of an injury can continue for some time. It may be necessary for the employee to attend further examinations so the medical examiner can report on their progress.

If an employee refuses the directive to attend a medical examination, it should be treated as a HR issue and could result in disciplinary action.

If an employee is asked to attend more than one independent medical examination in relation to the same injury or illness, they may have a right to refuse. Employees do not have to attend any unnecessary appointments for independent medical examinations.

Additionally, the employee does not have to attend if the proposed medical examination is to assess physical or mental capabilities that are not related to the inherent requirements of their job.

How can Employsure help?

Employsure can advise you on the process of requesting an independent medical assessment. For peace of mind, please call our FREE 24/7 Advice Line now on 1300 651 415.

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