A Functional Capacity Evaluation (Physical Ability Assessment/Work Capability Assessment) is performed to determine a worker’s current physical capability to perform physically active work duties.
This assessment establishes what job tasks they can perform, to know if 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.
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 Evaluation 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, if there is a need for time to view the work tasks before the assessment (or if a questionnaire detailing the work tasks and postures is sufficient) 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 seeing the worker perform all the postures that the job requires. Also, tasks will be performed to further test their physical abilities. eg use of hand tools whilst in the posture the jobs requires – eg an electrician has to perform low level (floor) and higher level (reaching/ladders) work, in a range of postures.
- The assessment will focus on answering the referrer’s questions, and supplying them with the following information, for example:
- What are their physical abilities and limitations?
- Which job tasks can they do?
- Are reasonable adjustments required?
- Can the individual perform a specific role or not?
- Could they do another job?
- Can you recommend further rehabilitation requirements?
- Can you recommend a suitable graduated return-to-work plan of hours?
- What are their physical abilities and limitations for alternative work roles or when job searching?
- The assessor’s clinical and observation skills with researched ‘norm’ tested tools (in relation to the working population) are used. Also test the worker’s abilities, effort and consistency alongside their reported view of their abilities and difficulties.
- Following the Functional Capacity Evaluation, a detailed report with the outcome and recommendations for future action will be prepared. 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.
What are the benefits of having this assessment?
- Speeds up the return-to-work process and helps to reduce the length of time the individual is absent from an existing job.
- Helps 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.
- 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.
- Can match individual’s looking for employment with suitable job options, appropriate for their physical abilities.
When is this assessment suitable?
- Suitable for a worker who is still working but having difficulties performing physically active job tasks. Or for those 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.
- What 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 wanting to begin employment, to collect information about their physical abilities. This assessment, delivered before a Career Redirection Assessment can help to identify their physical abilities (and difficulties – with possible adaptations and adjustments). Alongside their interests, aptitudes, work profile and skills, to succeed back into employment. Identify what re-training they require and which employment avenues they should pursue.
What are the costs of a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
Prices are provided on a case by case basis. For guidance, a face to face (as this assessment cannot be delivered on video call) FCE estimate is in the region of £990 plus a travel fee, depending on location and complexity of health issues & job tasks.
(In our 20 year experience of delivering Occupational Health input, we estimate 11 hours of professional input is required for this type of assessment. We keep a time sheet of our actual input. If the input required is of a longer or shorter duration, we would adjust the fee accordingly).