Working Time Regulations Guide

Health Assessments For Night Workers

  • If you are an employer you must offer night workers a free health assessment before they start working nights and on a regular basis while they are working nights. In many cases it will be appropriate to do this once a year, though employers can offer a health assessment more than once a year if they feel it is necessary.
  • Workers do not have to take the opportunity to have a health assessment (but it must be offered by the employer).
  • A health assessment can be made up of two parts: a questionnaire and a medical examination. The latter is only necessary if the employer has doubts about the worker’s fitness for night work.
  • Employers should get help from a suitably qualified health professional when devising and assessing the questionnaire. This could be from a doctor or nurse who understands how night working might affect health.
  • The health assessment should take into account the type of work that will be done and the restrictions on the worker’s working time under the regulations.
  • If a worker suffers from problems which are caused or made worse by night work, the employer should transfer him or her to day work if possible.
  • New and expectant mothers should be given special consideration.
  • Special consideration should be given to young workers’ suitability for night work, taking account of their physique, maturity and experience.

Employers must check:

  • How to conduct the health assessment.
  • How often health checks should be carried out.
  • Whether any workers should be transferred to day work.
  • What records need to be kept.

More detailed information

To be sure workers are fit for night work, employers must offer a free health assessment to anyone who is about to start working nights and to all night workers on a regular basis.

Health and working at night

Every employer should regularly assess the health and safety risks to which their workers are exposed. They should identify hazards, assess how harmful they could be and take steps to reduce any risks.

It is rare that someone cannot work at night at all because of a medical condition. However, some workers may be more at risk working at night if they suffer from certain medical conditions.

Mobile workers and workers subject to the Road Transport Directive

Although excluded from the night work limit in the Working Time Regulations, mobile workers and workers subject to the Road Transport Directive who are ‘night workers’ are entitled to health assessments under the Regulations.

How employers should assess workers’ health

As an employer it is suggested you take two steps to be sure workers are fit to work nights.

  • Step 1: You ask workers to fill in a questionnaire which asks specific questions about their health which are relevant to the type of night work they will be doing.

  • Step 2: If you are not certain they are fit for night work following the questionnaire results, you ask them to have a medical examination.

Health assessments must be offered before someone starts working nights. They should then be repeated on a regular basis afterwards.

Click here for a sample health questionnaire

When the questionnaire has been answered by the night worker, it should be checked. Please remember that some people may not want to say they have a medical condition in case it affects their chances to work. If there are any doubts as to whether someone is fit for night work, the employer should ask the worker to have a medical examination.

When asking for a medical examination to be carried out, employers should explain to the doctor or nurse what type of work is involved.

The medical examination may produce two types of information:

  • A simple fitness-for-work statement which will be given to the employer.
  • Clinical information which is confidential and can only be released to an employer (or any other third party) with the worker’s written consent.

What to do if a worker is unfit for night work?

If a qualified health professional advises that a night worker is suffering from health problems caused by or made worse by working at night, the worker has a right to be transferred, if possible, to suitable day work.

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