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Occupational Health


The primary purpose of health assessment fitness for work is to make sure that an individual is fit to perform the tasks involved effectively and without risk to their own or others’ health and safety.  It is not the intention to exclude a person from a job but to make any necessary reasonable modifications or adjustments to the job to allow the person to work efficiently and safely.

Why an assessment may be needed:

  • the individual’s health condition may limit or prevent them from performing the job effectively (e.g. musculoskeletal conditions that limit ability)
  • the individual’s condition may be made worse by the job
  • the individual’s condition may make certain jobs and work environments unsafe to them personally (e.g. liability to sudden unconsciousness in a hazardous situation, risk of damage to the remaining eye in an individual with monocular vision)
  • the individual’s condition may make it unsafe both for themselves and for others in some roles
  • the individual’s condition may pose a risk to the community (e.g. infection transmitted by a food handler)

When an assessment may be needed:

Assessment of medical fitness may be needed for those who are:

  • being recruited for the first time (depending on work exposures)
  • being considered for transfer to a new job (depending on work exposures)
  • returning to work after significant or prolonged illness or injury
  • undergoing periodic review relating to specific requirements (e.g. health surveillance)
  • being reviewed for possible retirement on grounds of ill-health

An assessment may be needed to help both the employer and the employee but should be directed at the job in question.  In all situations there is a legal requirement to consider ‘reasonable adjustment’ if the individual has a disability within the definition of the Equality Act 2010 and it is good practice to do so in any case.

On employment health assessments

Many medical conditions and virtually all minor health problems have minimal implications for work and should not be a bar from employment. For most jobs no agreed advisory medical standards exist and for many jobs there need be no special health requirements.  Where questions about health are included on job application forms this should be only to seek information that may be necessary to enable any modifications to the interview process.   The reason for the employment health assessment should be confined to fitness for the proposed job and only medical questions relevant to the employment should be asked. Please refer to the employment health assessment procedure in the recruitment guidance on the HR web pages.