Fit for Duty vs. Return to Work

17 August 2012 / California Workers Compensation, Impairment Physical Exam / Comments Off on Fit for Duty vs. Return to Work

Fit for duty is an exam when the employer has a suspicion that the employee may be exhibiting abnormal behavior such as under the influence of a substance, or injured (non industrially) in a way that may impair their ability to perform the job safely. Examples may include slurring speech, balance difficulty or limping. Are they "fit" for work?

Return to work implies the employee has been absent from the workplace on a non-industrial basis and now need an evaluation to see if they can be safely re-integrated into the workplace. Examples include having missed work with an excused physician note due to an auto accident, an elective surgery, or an orthopedic fracture. Are they able to "Return to work"?

It is critical that the employer has a very clear and consistent policy about how each exam is referred to the clinic, and it is always my recommendation that consultation is carried out with an attorney well-studied in the applicable labor codes and laws when considering a policy to exercise.

These exams are in place to prevent further injury to employees and protect co-workers. The exams need to detailed, and multiple consents for exam and information must be obtained prior to the examination which explains the scope and extent of the information requested, and to whom it will be disclosed. 

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