If we have a long term employee with health issues which could affect his and others safety on the job, are there any options other than termination?

Employee aged 52, very reliable, 11 years of service, drug /alcohol use not suspected, appears to be some type of early onset dementia or other medical issue which affects cognitive thinking/ problem solving abilities. Employee does not recognize any problems. Problem risks his and other employees safety on the job. Are there any ways to force the issue of seeing a doctor for this specific problem, can we send him to a company paid doctor appaointment? I understand we don’t have any rights to details about his health but can we assure that he is healthy enough to perform the job?

Asked on July 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your concern for your employee is laudable, but unfortunately, you can't necessarily force him to see to a doctor, though you can certainly facilitate him doing so (recommend a doctor, provide time off, etc.). You could even require him to provide some medical certification that he is fit to work if you have noticed problems at work, though if he refuses, your only option then would be to terminate him.

Basicially, if someone cannot safely do his/her job due to a medical condition which would qualify as a disability, you would be required to provide a "reasonable accomodation"--some not-too-expensive or disruptive change in duties or assistive technology/device which would let him do the job safely. But if there is no reasonable accomodation which would let him do the job safely (or effectively), then you could voluntarily transfer him to a different position he could do, but would not be required to; you would have the right to terminate him if he can't do the job he was hired for.

 


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