Q&A – What medical exams can an employee request?
There are different ways to monitor employee health to ensure they stay healthy. In line with legal provisions, as an employer, you are responsible for requesting a medical exam by an occupational physician. But can an employee also consult the occupational physician?
In brief, as an employer, you usually take the initiative in monitoring health in the workplace in line with prescribed law. An employee may request an impromptu consultation and visit prior to returning to work.
What is the normal course of action?
As an employer and in consultation with the occupational physician, you determine the date on which an employee will undergo a legally-required medical exam. You inform your employee of the date and the type of exam involved. There are two exceptions to this rule: an employee may request an impromptu consultation and visit prior to returning to work.
The impromptu consultation: in the event of work-related complaints
The name says it all: any employee can directly request an impromptu consultation with the prevention advisor-occupational physician without the intervention of the employer. However, this cannot happen for just any reason. The employee must have health problems that they believe are job-related. The prevention advisor-occupational physician has ten workdays to perform a health assessment.
The prevention advisor will inform you of the impromptu consultation. If the employee does not want to go on that date, they must request an impromptu consultation during a period of leave.
An employee can also request an impromptu consultation as a part of their reintegration plan. Specifically, if they believe that (part of) the measures in the reintegration plan are no longer suited to their health. The prevention advisor-occupational physician can then review the reintegration process.
The visit prior to returning to work: adapted work area
Has an employee been absent (for a short or long period of time)? If so, then they can directly request a visit from the prevention advisor-occupational physician in the prelude to returning to work. The goal: to adjust their work area and the range of duties where possible to reduce physical or mental strain. This makes it easier for the employee to pick up where they left off when returning to work.
As an employer, you must inform all employees of their right to request such a visit. The employee then decides whether to do so.
Monitoring health should not be confused with the exam for returning to work. This is compulsory for well-defined employee categories (a safety job, a job requiring increased vigilance, and activities with defined risks) after being absent for more than four consecutive weeks due to illness, accident, or childbirth.