The employer’s obligation to arrange occupational health care for its employees is prescribed in the Occupational Health Care Act (1383/2001).
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 the employer shall take care of the obligations of the Occupational Health Care Act with the help of health care professionals. The employer can arrange the occupational health care through a public health centre or a private clinic offering occupational health care services. Occupational health care services can also be offered by a provider maintained by the employer. Occupational health care is free of charge to the employees.
The purpose of the Act is to promote the following through co-operation between the employer, the employee and the occupational health care provider:
- the prevention of work-related illnesses and accidents
- the healthiness and safety of the work and the working environment
- the health, working capacity and functional capacity of employees at the different stages of their working careers
- the functioning of the workplace community
Statutory occupational health care is not medical care. The goal of occupational health care is to produce services for the prevention and treatment of illnesses, maintaining working capacity, and promoting health. Occupational health care is organised to maintain the health of the employees and promoting their participation in the working life. Occupational health care promotes the well-being and quality of life of the population at working age, as well as the quality of working life and the productivity of employees. The employer can choose to offer its employees also medical treatment services in addition to preventive basic health care as an additional benefit. The extent of occupational health care may vary depending on the employer.
The employer is only allowed to handle personal information necessary for the employee’s employment relationship. The employer is only allowed to handle the information concerning the employee’s health, if the employee submits it to the employer or has given a written consent to hand over health information concerning him/her to the employer. The handling of the information shall be related to the payment of the sick pay or other compensation. The information can also be used to determine whether there was a justified reason for absence from work.
The health information concerning an employee shall only be handled by persons who prepare decisions based on the information or implement them. The employer shall name the persons who handle the health information or determine the duties which involve handling of health information.
The persons who handle the employees’ health information are bound to professional secrecy and must not express the information to outside parties. The obligation to observe secrecy will continue after the end of the employment relationship. The employer can, however, submit a medical certificate given to them by the employer to the occupational health care for implementation of the duties of occupational health care, unless the employee has prohibited the submitting.
An employee’s health information shall be kept separately from the other personal details collected by the employer.