Fit For Duty


Definition - What does Fit For Duty mean?

“Fit for duty” is a term that describes an individual who is physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy enough to perform their job, or to perform a job they are applying for. As a job-specific term, whether or not an individual is “fit for duty” depends on their ability to perform the particular essential tasks that are associated with their specific job, as opposed to their ability to meet a general standard of fitness. The term “fit for work” may also be used.

Although fit for duty tests may include assessments of an employee’s mental and emotional capacity, most assessments focus on the employee’s ability to execute physical tasks. The primary purpose of a fit for duty test is to ensure that the employee can complete their work in a manner that does not threaten the safety or health of themselves, their co-workers, or the public, and does not increase the risk of damage to workplace equipment or infrastructure.

Safeopedia explains Fit For Duty

Fit for duty tests are primarily used in industries that are physically demanding and which feature elevated safety risks. Through the use of a “physical demands analysis” (PDA), an occupational medicine specialist can evaluate whether an employee’s physical capabilities are able to meet the specific demands of their job. Preventing employees from conducting tasks which they are not physically capable of can reduce the number of safety incidents in a workplace and reduce the number of injuries and lost-time compensation claims.


In most advanced jurisdictions, employers have the right to request a fit for duty test before placing a new employee in a specific job or role. Existing employees may also be tested if there is reason to suspect a decline in their physical capability or if they have taken an extended leave of absence from their job. These assessments are done by qualified medical professionals, not the employer. In Canada, the results of the assessment are kept confidential from employers, who only learn whether the employee is “fit,” “not fit,” or “fit subject to modifications.”


OSHA recommends the use of fit for duty examinations within a number of industries, such as those in which workers handle hazardous wastes. While these recommendations are not requirements, compliance with them is viewed by OSHA as evidence that the employer is taking steps to meet their general duty to provide employees with a safe workplace.


Due to anti-discrimination laws, an employee may generally only found to be unfit if it is not practicable for their employer to provide them with accommodations for their physical limitations.

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