I am often asked to produce reports for employers assessing an individual worker, whether that worker has the capacity to do a particular job.
Obviously, it is important to understand what medical condition the worker has, but it is also very important to understand the job itself.
Not just the actual physical demands of the job, but also the legislation surrounding the job. These are generally known as ‘Fitness for Duty’ assessments and they are covered by two important pieces of legislation. Firstly, the Occupational Health and Safety Act – the duty of the employer to provide a safe working environment, but also the Disability Discrimination Act – this protects a worker from discrimination due to a physical or a mental disability. The challenge is maintaining a balance between these two responsibilities to an individual worker.
Ultimately, the decision as to whether a worker is fit to work must be based on the evidence, the history and the examination, but also the understanding of the work and the work environment and understanding the legislation. Over the last 25 years, I have worked with cases where these two pieces of legislation conflict and my role was to find a pathway through that protected, both, the worker and the employer.