Extent of Use and Application of Fitness-for-Duty Examinations by Federal Agencies

FPCD-77-38: Published: May 13, 1977. Publicly Released: May 13, 1977.

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Information was obtained from 32 federal agencies and the Postal Service regarding 2,518 cases in which employees were requested to take fitness-for-duty examinations since July 1, 1973, in order to determine the extent to which federal agencies have required employees to be examined and the ways this practice has been applied.

No statute or Executive Order specifically authorizes a federal agency to require that an employee take an examination to determine his or her fitness for duty. Authority is implied, however, in laws which require that a person being removed from the competitive service be given a notice and letter of charges and which authorize an agency to apply for the retirement of employees for disability. The Civil Service Commission has published regulations and guidelines in the Federal Personnel Manual which not only recognize the authority of the agencies to require employees to take fitness-for-duty examinations, but also are intended to protect the employees. Most agency replies indicated that the primary purposes of fitness-for-duty examinations are to ensure that the agency's goals and objectives are carried out and to aid the employee who may be ill or troubled. Many agencies require periodic examinations for certain positions. Most agencies provide assistance to employees who do not perform adequately because of physical or mental problems.

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