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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about Occupational Health

A doctor who cares for employees

According to the French Labour Law, it is the employer’s duty to protect the health and safety of all employees at work. They must set up an occupational health service within their company, commonly referred to as “médecine du travail” (occupational health service).

What is the function of occupational health services? How do I join an organisation? How do medical check-ups proceed?

We answer all your questions in this article!


1 – Who should register with an occupational health organisation?

All employers under private law must either set up an internal occupational health and prevention service (SPST) within their company or join an occupational health organisation.

Individual employers must also join an occupational health and prevention service.

Occupational health services for agricultural businesses are governed by the Rural and Maritime Fishing Code.


2 – What is the function of occupational health?

Occupational health and prevention departments are made up of a team of doctors, risk prevention specialists and nurses.

Doctors work in the occupational health and prevention service (SPST), and their role is mainly preventive. They carry out occupational health initiatives to protect workers’ health throughout their careers.

They oversee supervising the state of health of workers, depending on their age, and the risks to their safety and health, as well as the difficulties they face at work.

They advise the employer, workers, and employee representatives on the necessary actions to be taken in the following areas:

  • Occupational risks (e.g. chemicals, working at height)
  • Improving quality of life and working conditions
  • Preventing the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace
  • Prevention of moral or sexual harassment
  • Exposure of employees to occupational risk factors and professional exclusion
  • Keeping workers in employment (disabled workers, for example)
  • Vaccination and screening campaigns (e.g. flu)

Doctors can carry out visits on their own motion, at the request of the employer or the social and economic committee (CSE).


3 – How do I find an occupational health organisation?

After hiring their first employee, employers should contact an occupational health service in their own region and follow the registration procedure set out by the service.

You can contact the DDETS to obtain the contact details of an occupational health organisation by visiting the following link:

Enrolment in a compulsory occupational health organisation is formalised by a membership contract between the company and the organisation.

From January 1st 2023, in line with the law (art. L.4622-6 of the Labour Code amended by the Law of August 2nd 2021), the contribution is based on the number of workers covered. Each employee counts as one.

This method of calculation, known as “per capita“, ensures equal treatment in terms of health follow-up, regardless of working hours (full-time or part-time) and the type of follow-up carried out (simple, advanced, adapted for disabled workers). The frequency of payment depends on the occupational health service, and membership fees may be annual or half-yearly.

New members are required to pay an initial fee when they join the occupational health service.


4 – My employee works remotely. Which occupational health organisation should I join?

Decree 2014-423 has proposed a new organisation of occupational health service for employees away from their company. This text makes it easier for employers to comply with their obligations regarding employees who work on a remote site or are travelling and only very occasionally come to the company’s area. Until now, the company representative had to organise for these employees to travel to the medical practice responsible for supervising employees at head office, and more often, it was not possible to carry out any on-site visits. Employers can now choose to join another health service to provide occupational health monitoring: both medical check-ups and interventions in the workplace.

As a result of the modernisation of occupational medicine, some organisations have switched to a new teleconsultation monitoring system.

Under this system, employees no longer need to travel and can carry out their occupational medicine visits by teleconsultation on their mobile phone or PC.


5 – Which company employees must be monitored by the occupational doctor?

All employees are required to have medical check-ups:

  • Permanent employment contract
  • Fixed-term contracts
  • Temporary employment contracts
  • Apprenticeship contracts
  • CESU or TPEE contracts

An information and prevention visit are compulsory for all new hires and must be carried out within 3 months of starting work.

Other medical examinations may be organised depending on the occupational risks and health of the workers.

This does not apply to young people on internships as part of their school or university education.

From March 31st 2022, company representatives can benefit from the occupational health service if they are enrolled with an occupational health organisation, but are not obliged to do so as they are not subject to the rules of employment law. If they choose to register with the occupational health organisation, they will have to be included in the calculation of the headcount and pay contributions in the same way as other employees.


6 – What about the medical check-up?

It is the employer who is responsible for organising the initial medical check-up when an employee is hired. The organisation will send a notification to the company, which must invite the employee to attend the appointment. Visits should take place as a priority during the employee’s working hours.

Employees may also contact the occupational health service directly to request a visit. They are not obliged to obtain their employer’s agreement.


7 – When are medical check-ups organised?

The frequency of medical check-ups in the workplace depends on a few different factors. Here are the main points to keep in mind:

Information and prevention visit (VIP)

Most employees must undergo an information and prevention medical examination within 3 months of being hired (unless it has already been carried out within the previous 5 years).

This visit is compulsory for all new recruits and is intended to check employees’ physical and mental fitness to exercise their position.

Adapted medical follow-up

Some employees are entitled to special medical supervision on account of their state of health, their age or the nature of their job.

In practice, the information and prevention visit must be repeated at least every 3 years (frequency set by the occupational doctor).

Risky jobs

When employees work in high-risk jobs, they must undergo a medical check-up within 2 years of the pre-recruitment medical examination.

Periodic check-ups

Periodic check-ups must take place every 5 years at the most (compared with 2 years previously).

The only exceptions concern night workers, disabled workers, and disability pensioners, who are subject to a check-up every 3 years.


8 – My employee was absent for a medical reason. Does he have to consult the occupational doctor on his return?

The medical check-up on returning to work is not systematic.

It is compulsory if the employee was off work for one of the following reasons:

  • After maternity leave;
  • After an absence due to occupational sickness;
  • After an absence of at least 30 days due to a work accident;
  • After an absence of at least 60 days due to sickness or non-work accident.

The medical check-up must take place within 8 calendar days from the date on which the employee returns to work.


To sum up, employers must ensure that they comply with these obligations and organise medical check-ups in accordance with the relevant legislation.

The absence of a compulsory medical examination is an inexcusable fault: it is immaterial whether the inexcusable fault committed by the employer was the determining cause of the accident occurring to the employee, but it is sufficient that it is a necessary cause for liability of the employer is committed.

If you have any further questions or would like more information on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help!

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