EMPLOYEES MAY NO LONGER BE OBLIGATED TO UNDERGO HEALTH
ASSESSMENTS IN THE WORKFORCE
Have you asked your employees to undergo a compulsory health
If your answer is yes to the question above, then you need to be
aware of a recent decision made by the Fair Work Commission.
As businesses increasingly face rising costs and competition,
many employers have implemented comprehensive workplace health
programs as a strategy for assessing employee health and
productivity and, in turn, increasing their business'
These workplace health programs have included employers
directing their workers to undergo compulsory health assessments to
assess functional capacity, physical ability and identify practical
measures to reduce risks.
In the case of TWU v Cement Australia Pty Ltd  FWC 158,
Cement Australia introduced a compulsory risk review program for
its employees as a response to the frequency of injuries reported
in the workplace. The 45 minute assessment was to be carried out
bi-yearly and the results were to go on the employees' health
file with suggestions of programs the employees could join to
benefit their health. Cement Australia also enforced that if an
employee refused to participate in a health assessment they could
be subject to disciplinary action.
However, TWU (the union) disputed the company's right to
have its employees participate in these compulsory assessments and
argued that there were privacy concerns about the storing of
medical information. Further, that there was insufficient evidence
to suggest a genuine need to direct its employees to undertake
The Fair Work Commission ruled that it was unreasonable for an
employer to direct workers to attend compulsory health
In light of the above case, employers can no longer direct an
employee to undertake a medical assessment unless it has a
particular concern that the employee is unable to perform the
inherent requirements of its job. Whilst workplace health and
safety is of huge importance in the workplace, the Fair Work
Commission found that it was not lawful to invade the personal life
of your employees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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