Pre-employment medical examination / medical check-up

Pre-employment medical examination / medical check-up

For HR Personnel

 Pre-employment medical check-up is one of the essential items in the Selection Process.

The majority of the HR staff are aware of the pre-employment medical check-up.  However, they do not know exactly what kind of tests & examinations are to be done.  It is likely that HR staff will exclude some lab tests, to reduce the cost of medical expenses.  

Therefore, it is essential that HR personnel should know the following facts:

  1. Why pre-employment medical check-up is necessary
  2. How the pre-employment medical check-up is to be done
  3. Which / what kind of examinations and lab tests are to be done

HR personnel should know for what purpose and what are the reasons for the medical check-up.

Why is a pre-employment medical check-up necessary?

It is basically for three main reasons:

  1. To be physically fit to carry out (perform) the assigned duties
  2. To create a healthy workplace free from communicable diseases
  3. To be able to join a Medical Insurance Program

Recently, drug test is also required for the pre-employment medical check-up.

It is suggested that employers and HR personnel should first discuss about the examinations and lab tests that they wish their employees to undergo for the medical check-up. Moreover, the employer and the HR personnel should draw up (set) a certain policy or a notification on the pre-employment medical check-up.  Otherwise, confusions are likely to take place at a later stage.

  1. If you wish to know the physical fitness before selecting a candidate, it is suggested that the candidate undergoes a medical fitness examination/test. A drug test can also be done to check if he/she is a drug user.  If the assigned duties are not performed at a normal workplace, further examinations & tests are necessary as per Doctor’s recommendations.

  1. To be physically fit and to have a healthy workplace environment free from communicable diseases, further tests are recommended.  For example, an employee having tuberculosis, an infectious disease at the workplace will surely transmit it to his/her co-workers.  That is the reason why a pre-employment medical check-up is necessary once the candidate is selected.  In case the candidate’s medical check-up results show that he/she is having TB, he/she will be denied.  

For a normal workplace, medical check-up for HIV/AIDS is not necessary as it is only transmitted through blood.  Those employees who are performing their duties in the kitchen (cooking or preparing food) do need to undergo for a hepatitis test.  

However, majority of the HR personnel make the employees to undergo unnecessary medical check-up.  If an employee is found to be having tuberculosis, he/she needs to undergo a periodic medical examination. It is also likely that employees can affect tuberculosis later at the workplace. What is the intention of asking employees to take a medical check-up? If it is to have a safe and healthy workplace, an environment free from all infectious diseases, new employees should undergo a pre-employment medical check-up.  

Without the pre-employment medical check-up, the actual health status of a candidate is unknown.  With the medical check-up results, a candidate may not be selected on account of his/her infectious disease.  Hence, for the employer and the HR personnel, that would not be a discrimination.  If a candidate is denied on account of his/her HIV/AIDS status, it is incorrect: HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted within the workplace. In case, such a candidate is strong & healthy (fit) to carry out his/her duties, he/she should be selected.  

Some companies ask selected candidates to undergo HIV/AIDS test and if a candidate is found positive, HR personnel do not know how to reveal this news to the candidate.  Hence, the HR personnel very easily tells the candidate ‘you do not pass the pre-employment medical examination and you are not selected”.  From the HR’s point of view, it is fine but from the social point of view, it is rather irresponsible for his/her family members.  A person suffering from HIV/AIDS should know his/her health status so as to avoid transmitting it to his/her spouse or partner.

  1. For those employees who have medical insurance, it is clear that medical examination or lab tests have to be done as required by the Insurance Company.  Upon completion of the medical examinations, these employees can submit the medical claims with relevant vouchers/bills for reimbursement.

The most important point is – a pre-employment medical check-up is a requisite for anyone who is recruited.  An agreement between the selected candidate and the employer should be made.  In other words, the employer should tell/explain the candidate the necessary examinations/tests that he/she should undergo.  Otherwise, the candidate may not like to take a certain examination/test.  It is therefore suggested to create a “Pre-employment Medical Check-up Form” and the selected candidate is to complete it. In this form the required lab tests/examinations should be listed and the candidate should agree to undergo those lab tests mentioned. The employer/HR personnel should not force the candidate in case he/she disagrees to undergo a certain lab test:  such an act is infringement.

Medical records of employees should be kept confidential and only HR personnel only should have access to these documents/files.  Moreover, HR personnel should not reveal the medical results of any employee/staff.  At an international organization where I had once worked, had an Occupational Health Unit [OCH] where employees’ medical records are kept and HR personnel had never read them; instead they handed over to the OHU.  After reviewing the results, OCH informed the HR personnel if the candidate was fit or unfit to perform his/her duties. And candidates were not asked to undergo lab tests related to HIV/AIDS.

Many international companies have policies and procedures set up systematically. However, Myanmar companies do not have standard policies nor procedures as yet and hence, this particular article will enable HR personnel to have a better understanding when handling pre-employment medical check-up of selected candidates.