As we discuss in our Absence, Leave Abuse & Medical Issues Week, OPM restricts an agency’s authority to order an employee to undergo a medical exam (they don’t call it a Fitness For Duty anymore) to just three situations:
1. Periodic screening due to hazardous work (e.g., x-ray techs get an annual bone scan);
2. Established physical standards (e.g., police officers have to run a mile in 9 minutes); or
3. There are physical requirements in the employee’s Position Description (e.g., must be able to lift 20 pounds).
You can find these at 5 CFR 339.104 and 5 CFR 339.302. Under the regulations an agency may offer a medical exam to an employee but cannot require the employee to go. And MSPB will whack us hard if we fire someone for refusing to undergo a medical exam ordered outside of these limited authorities. See Doe v. PBGC, 2012 MSPB 42. (Note: if the employee is receiving OWCP benefits, medical exams are also permitted. We’ll tackle that in a future Ask FELTG column.)
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