Fitness for Duty Exams: Ins and Outs

Don’t put the wrong worker to work. That worker may be someone who isn’t physically able to perform essential job functions. Fitness for duty exams can help you identify this person so that he or she won’t be injured on the job. These exams also protect you from your next work comp claim.

Various types of fitness for duty tests exist

Many different types of exams are considered fitness for duty exams, including the following tests:

Returning to Work:  Or Conducted when an employer is not sure that a worker is ready to come back after an injury, even though the worker’s doctor has given the all clear.

Job Performance: If you’re concerned that an employee cannot perform the essential functions of a job, or meet the standards of other workers, a performance appraisal can be useful.

Post-offer physical examinations: Pre-placement exams, sometimes called “New Hire Exams”. This type of exam includes an extensive questionnaire for employees to complete, a musculoskeletal assessment (which checks for signs of current or past injuries or disease), a drug screen, and medical surveillance (a complete physical).

An employer might also hear about functional capacity evaluations (FCEs), which are often interchangeable with fitness for duty examinations. Enhanced physicals may also be discussed when employer health screenings are the topic of conversation. Regardless of their name or acronym, taking steps to head off a workers’ compensation claim is always smart risk management.

Exams for fitness for duty are legal?

Employers have a legal right to require medical exams of prospective employees. For example, in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act states that you cannot discriminate against hiring a disabled worker — but his disability cannot prevent him from doing the essential functions of the job. If he’s applying for a desk job or an office position, however, the candidate may not need to meet this requirement. The applicant is only required to provide medical information relevant to the actual duties of the position for which he is applying.

Fitness for duty exams rely on two principles from the Americans with Disabilities Act:

1) Are the essential functions of the worker performed?

2) Is the worker suffering from a health condition that directly threatens his safety or the health of his colleagues?

These questions can help you decide whether an employee is ready for work. As well, you should know your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This applies to job tasks that are only partially related to the main duties of a job. For example, if someone is short, then a platform to increase height would be a reasonable accommodation if they can do most essential job functions but are held up on some because of their height. Reasonable accommodations cannot be overlooked in fitness-for-duty exams.

Both the Family and Medical Leave Act and work comp laws allow employers to request an independent medical opinion about a worker’s fitness for duty. This means, simply put, that employers are allowed to screen employees in this way.

Who offers Fit for Duty Test for employees

PCP Works offers the service of the Fit for Duty Test and their purpose are to perform a full evaluation of an employee’s capabilities before allowing that employee to return to work because employees who are not physically or mentally fit for work can endanger themselves and the other people in their workplace.

Christophe Rude
Christophe Rude
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