If your client is unable to return to work, they may be referred for consideration of ill health retirement and assessed by a Doctor (Independently Qualified Medical Practitioner). Part of the IQMP’s role is to establish whether:
- They have had all the recommended / available treatment for their disorder
- They are considered to be permanently disabled by their condition and therefore unable to work as a fire fighter
- Their condition is related to their work (an industrial injury)
Bear this in mind when you are providing reports and, where appropriate, address these issues directly.
The ill health retirement process can take several months and is often the source of considerable stress and distress for the individual, especially when it is part of an absence management procedure. Try to help them understand that however personal it feels, the reason the process is so rigorous is to prevent and protect people against unfair dismissal on the grounds of ill health.
Being ill health retired, without completing their 30 years, can be a source of disappointment and shame for some responders. If possible, encourage them to think about how they can celebrate their service with colleagues and family. If not, acknowledge the loss of leaving early and in this way. If civic service and the camaraderie of being in a team are important to them, help them think about where they might get this now.