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Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act No. 75 of 1997)

Codes of Good Practice

Code of Good Practice on the Arrangement of Working Time

8. Health Assessment and Counselling


8.1 In terms of section 17(3)(b) of BCEA an employer, if requested by an employee who is performing regular night work, must make arrangements for the employee to undergo a medical examination. An employee is entitled to have such an examination at the time of commencing regular night work and thereafter at regular intervals while he or she continues to work regularly at night.


8.2 The examination should be performed by a medical practitioner or by a health professional who could refer employees to a medical practitioner in appropriate cases. This could include qualified staff employed in a workplace clinic. The cost of the examination is for the account of the employer although arrangements could be made for the cost to be covered through medical aid.


8.3 The timing of these examinations should be determined by individual or collective agreement in the light of the employee's health status, the nature of the work the employee performs and the employee's working hours.


8.4 The examination should cover
8.4.1 any difficulties the employee may be having in adapting to night-work routines;
8.4.2 any health problems that the employee is manifesting;'
8.4.3 any psychological, emotional and social stresses experienced by the employee, strategies that may help the employee cope with night work and educational input on the risks of shift work;
8.4.4 insomnia and symptoms of sleep deprivation such as irritability and chronic fatigue;
8.4.5 use of medication, the effectiveness of which depends upon circadian (daily body) rhythms;
8.4.6 diet and use of caffeinated drinks, alcohol, sleeping pills, and cigarettes.


8.5 In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to advise certain individuals against shift work. These circumstances include where the effectiveness of medication is fundamentally affected by circadian (daily body) rhythms, workers with gastro-intestinal or cardiovascular disorders, and epileptics.


8.6 The examination should also include educational input on the health risks that may be associated with the employee's work schedule and as coping strategies that may assist the employee.