The Act no. 373/2011 Coll., on Specific Medical Services (the “Act”) introduces new obligations for employers with regard to the Occupational Medical Service. Whilst the Act came into effect on 1 April 2012, a transition period was allowed during which the occupational medical services could be provided based on the preceding law. This transition period will end on 1 April 2013.
Under the new rules, the employer is obliged to provide the employees with occupational medical services. For this, employees include employees working under special agreements for short-term, part-time or non-recurring work, as well as job applicants. The occupational medical services consist of:
- assessment of the impact of work activity, work environment and work conditions on health;
- preventive examinations and assessment of overall health condition to evaluate medical fitness for work;
- consultancy on health protection at work and protection from accidents at work, occupational diseases and diseases related to work;
- first aid training; and
- regular supervision at workplaces.
In case the employees perform only work characterised as “first-category” (pursuant to the Act on Protection of Public Health, e.g. administrative work), the occupational medical examinations may be carried out by a general practitioner with whom the employee is registered. Otherwise, the employer is obliged to enter into an agreement with a provider of occupational medical services.
The provider of occupational medical services will also be obliged to, amongst other things,
- conduct regular supervision at workplaces;
- inform the employer and employees about the potential impact of the work conditions on employees’ health;
- cooperate with the employer and employees regarding health and safety; and
- inform the employer about identified health and safety issues.
The Act also requires job applicants to undergo a medical examination before entering into an employment relationship with the employer. If the job applicant refuses to do so, he or she will be regarded as unfit for work. The job applicant bears the cost of such medical examination unless agreed otherwise or unless he or she enters into employment with the employer.
Under the current wording of the Act, an employee of the provider of occupational medical services could not provide these services to other employees of this provider. This rule particularly affects university hospitals; however, it could also negatively affect companies which have an on-site medical clinic.
Two major amendments to the Act are currently being discussed in the Parliament. The first amendment excludes the short-term, part-time and non-recurring work agreements from the obligation to undergo the medical examination before entering into an employment. This amendment passed its first reading in the Chamber of Deputies. The second amendment is more complex: it covers the exclusion of certain agreements as well, but also allows, under certain circumstances, the employee providers of occupational medical services to provide such services to other employees. This amendment has been approved by the Government and it is expected that it will replace the first amendment as well.