Legal Article - Employment Law

Health Assessments for Night Workers

Employers must offer a free health assessment to any worker before they are put on night work. Employers must also give night workers the opportunity to have further assessments at regular intervals.

Free means that employers pay any costs and the workers do not lose wages or incur any other expenses because of having an assessment carried out. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether the worker is fit to undertake night work.

Regular intervals are not defined in the Regulations, but will vary between individuals according to factors such as the type of night work, its duration and the age and health of the worker. Where appropriate the employer should be guided by the judgement of a health care professional.

Any workers who are night workers on 1 October 1998 should promptly be given the opportunity to have a health assessment, unless the worker has had such an assessment on an earlier occasion and the employer has no reason to believe that assessment is no longer valid.

This would also apply after the 1 October to other workers who are to do night work.
Young persons are entitled to a health and capacities assessment if they work during the period 10pm to 6am.

From Night Shift to Day Shift

If a night worker is found to be suffering from health problems that are recognised as being connected with night work, they are entitled to be transferred, whenever possible, to suitable day work. Where no alternative suitable day work is available and where the employer has taken all reasonable measures to try and accommodate the worker, including consulting them, any subsequent dismissal will probably be fair.

Working Time Records: Health Assessments

Employers must keep adequate records that show they have complied with the requirement to provide for health assessments. These can be in any form, but must show who is a night worker, when they had an assessment and the result of the assessment. After every assessment the health care professional should provide the employer with a simple fitness-for-work statement. These should be kept. Clinical information, however, must remain confidential and can only be released to an employer with the worker’s written consent.

Working Time Regulations Enforcement: Health Assessments

The HSE or local authority Environmental Health Departments will do so.

Published: 03 Jun 2011

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