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education.vic.gov.au

Human resources

Fitness for Duty

Overview

Where a manager has concerns about an employee’s fitness for duty, ability to fulfil the duties reasonably required of them, or capacity to perform the inherent requirements of their role, the manager may require the employee to undergo a medical assessment by a medical practitioner.

For the purpose of this policy, ‘manager’ includes principal or any other person who has delegated authority.

An examination by a medical practitioner may be required where:

  • an employee has been continuously absent due to illness or injury for 13 weeks or longer with respect to a teaching service employee, or 6 weeks or longer with respect to a public service employee, to assess whether the employee is fit to resume work or should be granted further personal leave — illness or injury (refer to Personal Leave — Teaching Service)
  • an employee resumes or intends to resume duty following an absence due to illness or injury, and the manager is of the opinion the employee is not fit to resume duty (refer to Personal Leave — Teaching Service)
  • the manager has reason to believe an employee’s state of health may make the person a risk to the health, safety or welfare of other employees, themselves, or other persons at the workplace including students (refer to Personal Leave — Teaching Service)
  • the manager considers it prudent to independently confirm a person’s medical fitness for employment (refer to medical requirements for employment)
  • an employee is the subject of an inquiry into their physical or mental capacity (refer to mental and physical incapacity section below).

There may be circumstances where the treating practitioner’s assessment of an employee is not sufficient to satisfy the manager in relation to an employee’s fitness or otherwise. Where this is the case, the manager may seek an independent medical assessment. The Department’s Medical Advisory Service is available to provide advice to managers where there are concerns about an employee’s fitness for duty. 

If the concerns relate to an employee’s conduct or performance, the Department's Employee Conduct Branch should be contacted on 03 7022 0005 or employee.conduct@education.vic.gov.au

Medical assessment

Where the manager determines that a medical assessment is required to establish fitness for duty, the manager should contact the Medical Advisory Service who can provide advice regarding the selection of an appropriate medical practitioner, assist in the preparation of a referral letter and provide advice on appropriate action following the medical assessment.

The manager must advise the employee of the name of the nominated medical practitioner, the reason for the referral and advise the employee of the details of the medical appointment. 

When referring an employee to a medical practitioner for a medical assessment, the manager must prepare a referral letter for the medical practitioner covering the following:

  • reason for the referral
  • details of previous absences due to illness or injury (if applicable)
  • instances of inappropriate behaviour (if applicable)
  • a position description or a description of the employee’s specific duties and responsibilities
  • specific questions to which the manager requires an answer
  • any other documentation that may assist the medical practitioner with the assessment
  • a request that the medical practitioner provides advice as to whether the information provided in the fitness for duty report could be provided to the employee without posing a serious threat to the employee’s life or health
  • a statement that 'the information in this referral letter is provided in confidence and is not to be made available to the person the information is about'

When managing fitness for duty medical assessments, it is important that the manager take account of the employee’s right to access health information (refer to Access to Health Information — Employees). 

Following the medical assessment, the medical practitioner will provide the manager with a report indicating whether the employee is fit or unfit for their designated duties. The manager will advise the employee of the outcome of the medical assessment and initiate appropriate action consistent with any recommendations made in the report, taking into consideration the needs of the workplace, the rights of the employee and the legal obligations of the employer. Such action may include, but is not limited to, the approval of personal leave, return to work or modification of duties on a temporary or permanent basis. Subject to advice from the medical practitioner, the employee may be provided with a copy of the report. The Medical Advisory Service can provide advice on appropriate action.

Mental or physical incapacity

If an employee is incapable of performing the duties of their position on account of physical or mental incapacity, the Secretary (or delegate) may commence an inquiry. 

For comprehensive information concerning the mental and physical incapacity procedures for teaching service employees, refer to the Guidelines for Mental or Physical Incapacity — Teaching Service on the Policy and Guidelines tab.

Relevant legislation

Fitness for Duty Overview

Reviewed 18 October 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

People Division Employee Conduct Branch

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