Fitness for Duty Evaluations

Dr. Crowley performs fitness for duty evaluations for corporations, universities, and government agencies on a regular basis.  A thorough evaluation is made of the problems the employee has manifested in the workplace, looking toward identifying problems in the individual and in the workplace and suggesting remedies where possible.

Fitness for Duty Evaluations, or FFDs, are performed for government agencies, military services, police departments and  private companies as the need arises. When an individual's capacity to function successfully as an employee is called into question, it is not only appropriate but necessary that the individual undergo a physical and/or psychological evaluation.

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FFDs are also performed once an individual has been offered a position to evaluate in advance the individual's capability of performing successfully on the job.

Reasons for FFD Evaluations

There are two basic situations in which an individual requires an FFD Evaluation. Either of them may be considered detrimental to the efficiency or general atmosphere of the workplace or deemed dangerous to the well-being of the staff or clients.

Problematic Behavioral Condition

This involves any physical or behavioral condition that seems to be interfering with an individual's ability to perform the job assigned. It may include apparent substance abuse, peculiar or dangerous behavior. It may also involve conduct found to be immoral or illegal.

Serious Medical Condition

This refers to either the evaluation of a medical condition that appears to be interfering with work or a medical clearance after an employee returns to work following a medical leave of absence. These evaluations must be made by health care providers.

Qualifications for FFD Evaluations

In order to perform a behavioral FFD evaluation, the examiner should be:

  • A psychiatrist or licensed psychologist
  • Familiar with the laws surrounding such inquiries

Methods of FFD Evaluations

It is important that FFD Evaluations be done as carefully, completely and specifically as possible. Every individual should be treated with respect.

Usage of Specific Information

It is always necessary for an evaluator to cite specific incidents. For example, an individual should not be psychologically assessed as "generally depressed" or "overly emotional." Rather, it might be noted that the individual has shown up late to work five times during a two-week period, has prompted seven customer complaints or has broken a piece of equipment during a tirade. Similarly, in terms of medical fitness for duty, an individual should not be called " too tired," but it might be observed that the individual becomes breathless and has to rest after lifting a ream of paper. Records must be kept to ensure that any incident cited may be independently corroborated.

Attempts at Remediation

In most situations, it is incumbent on an employer to make certain accommodations for a disability or medical condition. It is also necessary to direct an individual to get further medical treatment or counseling if either is deemed necessary. This is especially true when there is contract employment or when there are union stipulations involved. When it can be substantiated that counseling or other treatment has failed, the employee may be relieved of duties.

FFD Report

It is necessary that an FFD report be thorough and provide convincing evidence as to whether an employee should be dismissed. There are several parts to a FFD evaluation which may include:

  • Identifying data
  • Reasons for evaluation
  • Background information pertinent to employment
  • Clinical interview and observations
  • Results of psychiatric evaluation
  • Review of records
  • Conclusion and recommendations

The FFD final report will indicate the integrated findings of the psychiatrist. The facts will be presented in a condensed, readable fashion with emphasis on the results pertinent to the particular employment involved. Usually the results will be one of the following:

  • Fit for duty with treatment or behavioral change plan;
  • Fit for duty with workplace adjustments;
  • Unfit for duty: The individual has a physical, mental or emotional problem that will interfere with work performance for the foreseeable future. The recommendation is termination of employment.
  • Unfit now but treatable: The individual is presently unfit for duty, but is amenable to a treatment program that will, in all probability, have good results. Such a program might be, for example, participating in a 12-step program.
  • No psychiatric diagnosis: If the evaluator has found no evidence of psychiatric disturbance that would interfere with employment, the recommendation may be that the individual in question receive further training, education or coaching on the job. It is also possible for the psychiatrist  to recommend that disciplinary action be taken.

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