At Work

Evaluating An Employee’s Fitness: An Essential Requirement

Are you an employer looking to make an informed decision regarding who you hire onto your team? Or are you an employee required to pass a fitness for duty test to acquire your job? Either way, you need not fret about the technicalities of it anymore—this article endeavors to erase any trace of confusion and answer all of your questions.

What Are Fitness For Duty Evaluations?

Fitness for duty evaluations or exams consists of a medical or psychological evaluation of an employee. This is to assess if they’re fit for a certain job or field. A physician or mental health professional is appointed to collect data about an employee’s physical and mental health. All of the accumulated data is in regards to the employee’s job-related duties or tasks. 

The aim of this test is to see if the employee has any pre-existing problems that may hinder or complicate their duties. The fitness for duty tests are not just done for potential employees, but for existing employees as well. If an employer feels like an employee’s performance hasn’t been up to standards, then they can demand a test.

Are Fitness For Duty Evaluations Legal? 

Some people might believe this test to be ableist or discriminatory against disabled people. However, that isn’t the case. These evaluations or tests rely heavily on the Americans Disabilities Act for guidance. According to the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA), an employee cannot and should not be discriminated against on the basis of their disability. However, they must be able to fulfill the necessary tasks required for the job. For example, a person in a wheelchair could sufficiently work as a salesperson or an office assistant. But they wouldn’t be able to work as a construction worker, no matter how much they’re accommodated. 

Therefore, it is definitely legal to carry out fitness for duty evaluations. In fact, they’re even proven beneficial for the employee. This is because they consider the capabilities and security of the employee in contrast to their surroundings. Not to mention, it’s the lawful right of the employer to ask to get one done. 

While keeping in mind individual situations, there are a lot of tests that may count as fitness for duty evaluations. 

What Kind Of Fitness For Duty Evaluations Are there? 

Some of the fitness evaluations usually carried out are as follows:

1- The Return: These evaluations take place when the employee has faced an injury, and the employer isn’t sure if they’re prepared to be back on the job yet. A thorough report of their health will help determine if they’re equipped to come back or if they should take more time. 

2- Productivity and Fulfilment Of Tasks: These fitness for duty evaluations take place when the employer notices a decrease in the standard of work of the employee. If you’re worried that your employee won’t be able to carry out their tasks properly, then it’s advisable to get an examination done. 

3- After The Job Proposal: If a certain job has a higher demand for physical abilities, then a comprehensive physical examination takes place before the employee can start working. These are incredibly thorough and detailed and cover everything from heart screenings to drug tests. 

4-Mental Soundness: Mental health is often underestimated and shoved to the side. However, fitness tests require a check of an employee’s mental well-being as well. This is essential for them to work efficiently and excel at what they do. A mental health examination is especially necessary if the employee’s job is in the field of psychology, and they have to deal with other mentally disturbed patients. These jobs can have a drastic effect on a person’s mind, and everyone isn’t equipped to deal with them. 

Why Are Fitness For Duty Evaluations So Important? 

These tests save the employer and even the worker from losing precious time. As hard it is to find work in this economy, it’s equally harder to find a suitable candidate for a job. These tests let the worker know if their skills would be better suited for something else. This is extremely beneficial in the long run because it stops them from putting their time and energy somewhere that wouldn’t have succeeded. Not to mention, employers tend to be more generous if they find the right candidate at the right time. With the help of the test, they’ll feel more secure in their decision. They won’t have to worry about the worker not being capable enough or the right choice. However, there are still external factors to consider while evaluating an individual. 

Are Fitness For Duty Evaluations Always Accurate? 

In terms of facts and data, an individual’s evaluation report is surely accurate. They’re carried out by experts and professionals. However, there are still multiple factors that employers have to consider along with the physical and mental health reports. 

You can’t forget that each person’s case varies, and we can’t generalize so easily. For example, you might be reluctant to hire someone with a history of heart issues or cancer for a tough, hands-on job. But in many instances, these people are better suited and actually stronger because fighting these conditions has made them more mindful of their health. 

Another huge example would be someone dealing with depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness in the past. If you’re an employer looking to hire someone in the mental health field, you might find yourself gravitating away from these people. That would be a wrong move, of course. It has been often stated that people who’ve dealt with mental disorders themselves are actually more empathetic and better at connecting to their patients. In these cases, an employee’s history should be compared with their present accomplishments and recovery.  

How Do You Ensure That You’ve Reaped All The Benefits Of The Fitness Evaluations? 

To ensure you don’t turn away a good candidate, you really have to evaluate and consider every single aspect of the report. Go through their present medical records along with their past records. Interact with the employee adequately, and make sure their answers match up with the reports you have. Additionally, you should converse with the doctor carrying out the tests and let them know what you’re seeking for in an applicant as well. This will aid them in making the report detail-oriented and specifically helpful according to your needs.

The end-goal is to hire somebody who’d excel at their tasks and won’t be putting themselves or their co-workers at risk. 


In conclusion, fitness for duty evaluations are an incredibly valuable asset for employers and employees both. If utilized correctly, it can prove to be an effective risk management technique.

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