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Occupational health care

All employers, regardless of the size of the organisation or the form or duration of the employment relationship, are obliged to arrange preventive occupational health care. The basic idea of the legislation is that employers take care of their obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act with the help of health care professionals. The employer can arrange occupational health care through a public health centre or a private medical centre providing occupational health care services. The occupational health care provider may also be an operator maintained by the employer. Occupational health care is free of charge for employees.

The employer’s obligation to arrange occupational health care for its employees is laid down in the Occupational Health Care Act (1383/2001).

Arranging occupational health care

The purpose of the Act is that employers, employees and occupational health care together promote

  • prevention of work-related illnesses and accidents
  • health and safety at work and in the working environment
  • employees’ health, work ability and functional capacity at different stages of their careers
  • work community activities

Statutory occupational health care is not medical care. The aim of occupational health care is to provide services that prevent and treat illnesses, maintain work ability and promote health. Occupational health care is organised to maintain employees’ health and support participation in working life. Occupational health care promotes the well-being and quality of life of the working-age population, as well as the quality of working life and employee productivity. In addition to preventive primary health care, employers can also offer their employees medical care services as an additional benefit. The scope of occupational health care may vary depending on the employer.

Processing of health data

The employer may only process personal data that is necessary for the employee’s employment relationship. The employer may only process data concerning an employee’s state of health if the employee provides them to him or her or if the employee has given written consent to disclose health data concerning him or her to the employer. The processing of data must be related to the payment of sick pay or other compensation. The data may also be used to determine whether there has been a justified reason for absence from work.

Health data concerning an employee should only be processed by persons who prepare or implement decisions based on the data. The employer must designate the persons who will process health data or define the tasks involving the processing of health data.

Persons processing employees’ health data are bound by professional secrecy and may not disclose the information to third parties. The obligation of professional secrecy continues even after the employment relationship has ended. However, the employer may hand over the medical certificate given to him or her by the employee to the occupational health care service for the performance of occupational health care duties, unless the employee has prohibited the transfer.

The employee’s health data must be stored separately from other personal data collected by the employer.