France: Ministry of Labour publishes Q&A on Occupational Health
Author: Olivier Kress
Ministry of Labour Publishes Q&A Answering Five Questions about Occupational Health
The occupational health related Q&A published on the 13th of May 2022 by the Ministry of Labour outlines the existing legal framework surrounding workplace health and safety and particularly, what an employer’s obligations and an employee’s rights are with regards to medical visits.
Amongst this reminder concerning pre-existent rules, two elements appear noteworthy:
- The Q&A includes details regarding what is referred to as “désintertion professionnelle” (a phenomenon where a worker becomes or feels gradually excluded from the workplace and whose job is thus at risk as a result of the alteration of his or her health), the prevention of which was the object of a 2 August 2021 law.When an employee has been absent for medical reasons for more than 30 days, a medical visit before his or her return to work may be organised by the occupational health doctor.
The employer must inform the employee of the fact that he is entitled to request that such a visit take place.
During the course of said visit, the occupational health doctor may recommend that the employee’s work conditions be modified, that a more adapted position be sought out, or that training should be organised to make finding another position or changing professional fields easier.
- The Ministry of Labour intends to remind employers of the fact that they are required to organise a medical visit prior to an employee returning to work under certain circumstances (after maternity leave, leave caused by an occupational disease, leave longer than 30 days after a workplace accident, leave longer than 60 days because of an illness or accident unrelated to work).The Q&A goes on to state that employers must contact occupational health services as soon as they are made aware of the date on which their employee’s leave will end. The visit must occur on the day the employee resumes work and no later than 8 days after that date.
This visit allows the occupational health doctor to check that the employee’s work conditions are compatible with his or her health. The doctor may suggest that the employee’s position be adapted or declare him or her medically unfit to work.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Employers should remember to monitor the length of time during which employees are absent in order to:
- remind any employee on medical leave for more than 30 days of their right to request an occupational health doctor visit,
- organise a visit on the day the employee resume work or 8 days after such date, at the latest, when the employee has been absent for particular medical reasons and/or for a particular length of time.