When an employer needs to determine if a particular employee is able to safely perform his or her work duties, they might require a fitness for duty evaluation. An employer might require a fitness for duty evaluation because of performance issues, an employee’s injuries, transfer to a new position, or safety concerns. Fitness for duty evaluations require input from the employer as well as from the health care professional who performs the exam.
Fitness for duty evaluations are performed by outside medical healthcare professionals to ensure an non-biased evaluation and final report. The evaluation will usually include an analysis of the employee’s job tasks and duties, an assessment of the employee’s physical abilities, and a psychological assessment of the employee. The medical healthcare professional performing the evaluation will prepare a final report, including recommendations, after the evaluation is finished. The recommendations might be whether the employee should return to work or continue his or her present duties. The report may also include recommendations for an employee recovering short-term or accommodations for an employee with long-term disabilities.
Employees absent from work for an extended period of time due to injury or illness may be required to submit to a fitness for duty evaluation prior to returning to work. The evaluation’s purpose is to protect the employer as well as the employee by evaluating the employee’s fitness for duty before allowing the employee to return to work. By requesting a fitness for duty evaluation, the employer is protected from high insurance costs, the company’s concern for employee health and safety is promoted, and the evaluation confirms there is minimal effect on employee productivity.
When safety concerns are raised about an employee’s behavior, employers must request a fitness for duty evaluation by following the process for submitting a referral based on observations that the employee might possibly be psychologically or physically not fit to perform his or her duties. Fitness for duty evaluation referrals protect the employee that has been referred as well as other employees. The final fitness for duty evaluation report includes medical records, test results, recommendations, and personnel documents. The final report helps employers to determine whether the employee is fit to return to work or to continue working based on the employee’s ability to perform duties that the job requires. Reports from fitness for duty evaluations might recommend accommodations for the employee, medical leave, or termination.
Aside from requesting a fitness for duty evaluation due to an employee’s behavior, there are many other circumstances when employers might request a fitness for duty evaluation. When an employee returns to work after illness or injury, when an employee enters a health insurance program, and when employment is dependent upon the employee passing the fitness for duty evaluation are all times that an employee might request a fitness for duty evaluation. An employer might also request a fitness for duty evaluation to reevaluate an employee’s work-related injury to determine if continuing disability compensation or workers’ compensation is necessary.