A Fitness for Duty (FFD) evaluation is an Independent Medical (Psychiatric) Examination carried out in order to determine a person’s capacity to safely and enduringly attend to the tasks inherent to their role. Dr Abeya has extensive experience in completing fitness for duty reports working with Sonic Healthplus (one of the largest Occupational health organisations in Australia) and Medibank Health solutions that evolved from the previous Healthquest and Government Medical Officer (GMO), She therefore has experience in Occupation health along with her qualifications in psychiatry as a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
Independent fitness for duty evaluations are at the employer’s discretion and are permitted because of an employer’s need to maintain a safe workplace and because of their duty of care towards their employees.
A psychiatric assessment of an employee could assist the employer and may be permissible in the following situations:
- The employee has been off work and their fitness to return needs to be evaluated.
- If the employer has reasonable belief that the employee is unable to perform the requirements of his/her role owing to emotional health reasons, despite currently being employed, an assessment would assist in defining such issues.
- The employee has a pattern of repetitive absences of poor work performance
- If the employee exhibits odd/ bizarre behaviour which cannot be explained or has threatening/ aggressive behaviour, an assessment could assist with clarification as to whether an illness could explain the behaviour and to define a plan of management or to have the go ahead to proceed with industrial processes necessary (e.g. disciplinary action).
- In a situation of a pre-employment check for an employee with a pre-existing condition or in a safety critical role which requires extra caution in recruiting.
- The employee has provided conflicting medical evidence about his fitness from treating practitioners OR his own assertions are different to the information from the treating practitioner; and this needs to be clarified.
- The employee does not wish for the employers to contact his/her treating team
A Psychiatric assessment for fitness for duty could yield the following information which could then be utilized by the employers to assist with managing the employee:
- Whether an employee has an illness condition and an accurate diagnosis and prognosis for the condition.
- A detailed and definitive assessment of the employee’s level of fitness/ capacity and adjustments to the role (in terms of duties and hours) which may be required to assist.
- A review of the current treatment plan and suggestions as to any further management options.
- Information about the effect of the illness and treatment on the employee and the workplace.
- A detailed plan of rehabilitation or other options to assist the employee in remaining at or returning to work.
- Suggestions and considerations for supervisors in managing the person in the workplace.
- Obtaining more information from the treating Psychiatrists or Psychologists as to the longer term wellbeing of the employee
Dr Abeya can also perform the following evaluations as part of fitness for duty assessments:
- Permanent impairment evaluations
- Pre- employment evaluations
- Comcare, Workcover related evaluations
- Superannuation related evaluations
Psychiatric fitness for duty assessments consist of the following components and are charged at an hourly rate:
- Reading case notes: around 30 minutes
- Interview & examination: around 90 minutes
- Discussions with treating Doctor and referrers
- Dictation and completing written report (may include a recommendation for a follow up assessment pending patient any treatment and/or stabilization of an issue)
In summary, these evaluations would be of benefit for employers in ensuring the ongoing welfare of their employees and maintaining a safe workplace in sometimes quite sensitive circumstances.