A Functional Capacity Evaluation / Physical Ability Assessment is performed to determine a worker’s current physical capability to perform physically active work duties, in order to establish what job tasks they can perform, to know they can conduct their job safely, return to work, or even gain new employment. Using an standardised activity-based approach (Matheson System) and focusing on abilities rather than limitations, this assessment identifies if the worker is able to match the demands of the job, in areas such as mobility, fitness, stamina, strength, agility, co-ordination and dexterity. For further details about the assessment system used, also see the following power point presentation notes: The Matheson Functional Capacity System by Alison Biggs.
This assessment allows implementation of reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 (replaced the DDA 1995).
Now that the Med3 ‘sick note’ is a ‘fit note‘ (since April 2010) this type of assessment can assist in the process to get the individual back to work after a period of illness, if a GP considers an individual ‘may be fit for work’.
How a Functional Capacity Assessment Works
- 2 – 4 hours are required to assess the worker, depending on the tasks involved. The assessment is conducted in a clinic/meeting room location, at the workplace or sometimes in the worker’s home. The assessor will advise on the most suitable location, depending on the tasks to be conducted and the information about the employee to be collected.
- The assessment will collect background medical information, including past medical history, current symptoms and treatments, current daily activity performance and work role details.
- The assessment will focus on answering the referrer’s questions, and supplying them with the following information, for example:
- Can the individual perform a specific job or not?
- Which job tasks can they do?
- Are adjustments required for certain roles or occupations?
- Could they do another job?
- What are their physical abilities and limitations?
- What are their physical abilities and limitations for alternative work roles or when job searching?
- Can you recommend further rehabilitation requirements?
- The assessor’s clinical and observation skills alongside relevant researched medical ‘norm’ tested tools (eg in relation to the working population) are used to test the worker’s abilities, effort and consistency, alongside the individual’s reported view of their abilities.
- Following the assessment, a detailed report with the outcome and recommendations for future action will be prepared within 48 hours and sent via email. This valuable document provides comprehensive answers to any questions raised by the referrer and discusses the current ability of the worker to perform a work role or obtain employment.
- Speeds up the return-to-work process and helps to reduce the length of time the individual is absent from an existing job.
- Helps to match individual’s looking for employment with suitable job options, appropriate for their physical abilities.
- Helps to identify any barriers to employment, such as medical issues, physical, mental health, social, financial, psychological and emotional issues that may arise and need to be addressed.
- Saves the employer money on work days lost and minimises the sickness absence management costs.
- Early resolution and addressing issues reduces the negative impact of longer-term absenteeism and pressure on other employees.
- Gives clear guidance on how to manage employees.
- Sends a positive message about the employer’s active management of sickness absence.
- Suitable for a worker who is still working but having difficulties performing physically active job tasks or who is currently on sick leave. The assessment will help the employer decide:
- What to do to help the employee return to full productivity.
- How to make suitable adaptations/reasonable adjustments to the work tasks.
- How to look at alternative job roles they can perform.
- How to fulfil their responsibilities to accommodate workers under the Equality Act 2010.
- Suitable for an individual who is not in work, but is looking to begin employment, where more information about their physical abilities is required. This assessment, delivered with a Vocational Assessment can help to identify their physical abilities (and difficulties – with possible adaptations and adjustments) alongside their interests, aptitudes, work profile and skills in order for them to succeed back into employment. Therefore it can help to identify what re-training they require and which employment avenues they should pursue.
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