Under federal and state WorkSafe laws an employer has a duty of care to protect the health and safety and welfare of their employees. This is particularly important when the employee is involved in physical activities requiring a high level of fitness.
A pre-employment medical can help mitigate risks in the workplace. It may discover a pre-existing illness or injury that may be exacerbated by the activities the employee is expected to perform as an inherent requirement of the job.
“Inherent” requirements are the essential activities of the job: the core duties that must be carried out in order to fulfil the purpose of a position.
Can you require a candidate undergo an assessment?
If you want to compel an applicant to undergo a pre-employment medical as a requirement of getting the job you may be required to prove that the medical evidence is necessary to determine whether the applicant can perform the inherent requirements of their role, with or without reasonable adjustments.
In those circumstances anti-discrimination laws allow employers to refuse to employ applicants who do not submit to a medical examination.
Some candidates may be reluctant to agree to a pre-employment medical. Before deciding that the medical is essential, ensure that the medical is necessary and will not be a breach of anti-discrimination laws.
• Scope out the job and identify what are the inherent requirements that may be identified in a medical assessment;
• Where practical have the medical practitioner visit the workplace to observe the work first hand. Also provide a position description and a detailed list of tasks to be performed on the job.
• Only assess those things that directly relate to the inherent requirements of the job;
• Discuss and explain clearly to candidates and ask (both on the application for employment form and at the interview) if they are aware of any pre-existing injury or illness that might affect the performance of the inherent duties; and
• advise the candidate of the test outcome and ensure strict confidentiality.