The new Act on Specific Health Services became effective on April 1 2012. The act introduces a new system of company preventive healthcare, detailing the provisions that employers are obliged to ensure.

In a significant change, the act allows employers whose employees perform work that is classified as 'first-category work' (typically, administrative work) to have, on written request, their occupational medical examinations carried out by the general practitioner at which the employee is registered. At present, all employees, even those carrying out first-category work, are obliged to undergo medical examinations at the company's preventive care provider, which employees are often unwilling to do.

The new legislation unequivocally stipulates the employer's obligation to pay for occupational medical services (with a couple of exceptions, related to the assessment of occupational diseases and after hazardous work has been completed). This legal regulation confirms current general practice, but was previously not expressly stipulated by law.

A special provision regulates the assessment of job applicants' capacity for work. If a job applicant refuses to undergo a medical examination, he or she will be regarded as incapable of work and therefore unable to start performing work. The job applicant must bear the costs of this examination; the employer will cover such costs only for persons who subsequently establish an employment relationship with the employer or where so agreed.

Under the act, the employer must require an employee who is working under agreements outside the employment relationship (ie, special agreements typically used for short-term or part-time work) to undergo entrance medical examinations. In practice, this obligation is problematic, especially in the case of single (non-recurring) agreements created in order to complete a job (eg, the presentation of a lecture lasting only a couple of hours). This regulation has already come under fire and it is hoped that the relevant provision will undergo change as part of future amendments.

If an employer still has doubts regarding an employee's capacity for work on health grounds, the new legislation expressly lays down the employer's right to require the employee to undergo an extraordinary occupational medical examination, a procedure that the employee cannot refuse.

Other details regarding occupational medical services, particularly health examinations, will be governed by an implementation decree of the Ministry of Health, which has not yet been adopted.

In addition, with the exception of the obligation to pay costs for preventive care, the law grants employers a one-year grace period before the new rules must be followed (ie, starting from April 1 2013). Therefore, medical checks for employees who are working on the basis of agreements that do not constitute an employment relationship need not be carried out immediately.

For further information on this topic please contact Tereza Erényi or Tomáš Liškutín at PRK Partners Attorneys at Law by telephone (+420 221 430 111), fax (+420 224 235 450) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]).