Getting a new job is thrilling because you have a new opportunity. However, your company may require a pre-employment physical before your first day. This can feel like yet another hoop to jump through after a lengthy interview process.
For many jobs, it’s vital to ensure you’re physically and psychologically fit to handle your additional obligations and avoid work-related ailments. The law needs pre-employment physicals for some jobs, such as police, firefighters, and commercial drivers.
In this post, we’ll go over a pre-employment physical, what to expect during one, and how it differs from a human performance review.
Table of contents
- What is a pre-employment physical?
- What to expect during a pre-employment physical?
- Types of Pre-employment tests
- Pre-employment Physical vs. Human Performance Evaluation
- Legal Guidelines For Pre-employment Physical Exams
- How to Prepare for a Pre-employment physical
- Failing A Pre-employment Physical
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a pre-employment physical?
A pre-employment physical is a medical exam prospective hires may be required to pass to confirm that they are physically and psychologically capable of performing their duties.
Many firms include a pre-employment physical as part of the onboarding process to ensure that the employee can execute the job-related obligations. The pre-employment physical may be a quick or extensive process, depending on the role.
A pre-employment physical allows employers to assess potential employees’ overall health to make educated recruiting decisions. It also simplifies record-keeping by allowing the organization to track changes in employee health.
What to expect during a pre-employment physical?
Because the aim of the physical is to evaluate your qualifications for that specific work, what you should expect during a pre-employment physical varies in the position you were offered.
It’s critical for the individual conducting the examination to have a thorough understanding of the job’s requirements in order to assess whether you can safely fulfill the responsibilities and duties that come with the employment.
During the physical, expect to encounter:
- You’ll be questioned about your medical history, lifestyle, and any general health concerns.
- Take measurements of your weight, height, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
- You will be subjected to a physical examination.
- Check for drugs and alcohol, especially if the job needs you to drive or operate heavy machinery.
- Examine your vision and hearing.
Types of Pre-employment tests
Employers may require a variety of pre-employment tests in order to qualify for a position. They are:
General pre-employment Physical
Basic examinations, such as measuring the employee’s weight, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and other vital indicators, are included in this form of pre-employment physical.
A nurse or physician may also examine the candidate’s respiratory and cardiovascular health, vision, hearing, range of motion, and the doctor will also look for any unusual swelling or bruises in the applicant and, if possible, discover the source.
Besides evaluating the candidate’s physical health, the doctor may also inquire about the candidate’s stress tolerance, address any mood or behavioral changes, and inquire about any medications they’re taking.
Physical ability and stamina test
A candidate’s capacity to do specific jobs and overall fitness and stamina may be assessed through physical fitness tests.
The following are some examples of requirements and factors that are frequently tested:
- Stamina, strength, and flexibility
- Ability to lift a certain amount of weight
- Muscular tension, endurance, and cardiovascular health
- Balance and mental fortitude while performing physical labor
In employment-related legal fights, physical testing is frequently the source of contention. People with impairments or medical conditions are entitled to specific concessions during physical exams. The ADA covers health concerns like high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma in diverse ways.
Minorities, senior citizens, and women are frequently subjected to unfair testing. Employers may be held accountable for any bodily harm resulting from examinations if the conditions are unjust.
Look at some of the ADA’s criteria for employers performing physical ability tests:
- Any physical fitness or agility assessments must only include elements necessary to accomplish the job’s fundamental functions.
- The key job duties for which physical exams are administered must be included in the initial job description.
- If there isn’t a work description for the position, the applicant must be informed of the physical requirements before applying.
- Physical abilities are the only ones that can be tested. To check for physiological responses, tests should not be given.
- All test results must be kept private. Records must be kept separate from those relating to other jobs.
- The site of the testing must be easily accessible. Candidates with impairments must be allowed to take the test with reasonable accommodations.
Employers must remember that they are evaluating a candidate’s ability to execute the job, not their ability to pass the test.
If a candidate is deaf, for example, a test for a job that does not require hearing must provide a sign language interpreter. However, if the employment requires hearing, the employer is not required to use an interpreter at all times.
Alcohol And Drug Tests
Before employment, as well as at periodic intervals afterward, drug testing is frequently required. To boost productivity, reduce absenteeism, and protect themselves from liability, businesses may mandate drug tests.
These exams can take many forms, including:
- Sweat drug screening
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Saliva drug testing
- Urine drug testing
The ADA has several legal pitfalls that employers must avoid.
Pre-offer Alcohol And Drug Testing
The Americans with Disabilities Act forbids employers from requiring drug and alcohol tests before making a job offer. Employers are technically allowed to ask applicants if they drink alcohol, but they may not know certain pieces of illegal information.
The laws governing what qualifies as unlawful information are complex. As a result, employers would be wise to steer clear of the subject of alcohol.
Post-offer Alcohol And Drug Testing
Conditions relating to alcohol and drug use and the requirement of testing are permitted in job offers. However, there are also legal risks. Any drug and alcohol requirements and testing must apply to all applicants who get employment offers in the same job category. Employers must also show “job-related and commensurate with business necessity” grounds for requiring these tests.
An executive assistant who spends the day at their desk, for example, should not be forced to lift enormous weights. Employers must be able to prove one of the following objectively if a job offer is canceled because of the results of an alcohol test:
- Because of their alcohol test results, the applicant could not execute the job’s essential tasks.
- Based on the alcohol test findings, the applicant posed a direct threat (a serious risk of substantial injury) to himself or others. No reasonable concessions could be made to eliminate or decrease the threat.
Some occupations can be physically demanding, but they can also be mentally demanding. As a result, it may include psychological testing in pre-employment screenings. Simple tests, such as an online Myer-Briggs personality test, can determine an applicant’s personality profile.
A psychologist may conduct others in person. Employees are frequently quizzed on their history of depression or mood swings. Consider the following suggestions for how to act during a psychological pre-employment screening:
- Expect the unexpected. It is not the psychologist’s responsibility to pass judgment on you because of your personality faults. These exams are typically used to weed out candidates manifestly unsuitable for the position.
- Be truthful. It’s pointless to lie or try to conceal anything. It’s better to find out if a position is right for you sooner rather than later.
- Pose inquiries. If you don’t understand how to answer a question presented by an evaluator or on a written test, don’t be hesitant to speak up. They’ll gladly respond to any valid query posed to them.
Pre-employment Physical vs. Human Performance Evaluation
There are some fundamental differences between a physical and a human performance evaluation (HPE), although they are both designed to evaluate an employee’s abilities.
Professional conducting exam
Licensed healthcare professionals often perform physical examinations at health care facilities. A licensed therapist usually does an HPE. In both circumstances, the medical expert must have a thorough understanding of the company’s requirements and expectations in order to determine if the candidate can meet them.
Focus of evaluation
The focus on the assessment is another critical distinction between HPEs and pre-employment physicals. A pre-employment physical evaluates a candidate’s overall health, but an HPE focuses on the talents you’ll need daily and the role’s unique tasks. Employers can also use a performance evaluation to help them decrease or eliminate some of the risk factors that could lead to on-the-job injuries.
Legal Guidelines For Pre-employment Physical Exams
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) covers most pre-employment physical examination standards. These regulations apply to private businesses with 15 or more employees. They apply to government entities and labor unions.
Employers may not require a physical examination before making a job offer under the ADA. They are, however, permitted to require a test following the acceptance of a conditional job offer.
These pre-employment screenings usually include a physical check and questions about your health. Psychological exams, drug tests, and mental health evaluations may be used in these investigations.
Employers might also set job-related fitness and health criteria. Physically demanding jobs, such as firefighters, construction workers, and police officers, are prone to this.
One important consideration is that any physical examination needed by a corporation must be administered to all applicants for the same employment. They also offer “reasonable accommodations” for any disabled candidates.
How to Prepare for a Pre-employment physical
While you can’t change your health in order to pass a pre-employment physical, you can take actions to prepare for the exam, such as:
- Getting the documentation from the employer that outlines the information they require.
- Get any test aids you might need, such as glasses.
- Having a legitimate form of identification, such as a driver’s license or a badge issued by your employer.
- Make a list of any previous operations, drugs, medical issues, or allergies.
Failing A Pre-employment Physical
If candidates fail their pre-employment physical test, it may cancel contingent job offers. There are a few legal requirements:
- Unless the candidate poses a direct threat to their own or others’ health and safety, all components of the physical test are commensurate with the essential functions of the position.
- The employer cannot make any reasonable concessions to allow the candidate to fulfill the duties.
- Providing the accommodations would place an unreasonable burden on the employer.
Under the ADA, what makes up a “direct threat to health and safety” is very clearly stated. An employer might be requested to specify the following issues in a legal dispute:
- The length of the danger
- The seriousness and nature of the potential harm
- The likelihood of potential harm occurring
- The threat of impending damage
Employment offers cannot be lawfully revoked because of concerns about a candidate’s usage of benefits or attendance in the future.
A pre-employment physical check ensures that potential employees are physically and intellectually capable of taking on job obligations. The test checks a candidate’s vital signs, weight, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure.
Specific tests, such as drug and alcohol testing, physical ability and stamina testing, and psychological testing, may also be included.
Frequently Asked Questions
To your pre-employment physical, dress comfortably. If you’ve been asked to have a pre-employment physical, you’ve already been offered the job, so there’s no need to dress up to create a good impression.
Instead, dress as you would for a doctor’s appointment. Make sure you’re dressed comfortably.
A drug test, psychological tests, and health screenings may all be part of a pre-employment physical exam. What is covered in your exam and legally permissible varies depending on where you live and the job you’re applying for.
No, a pre-employment physical is unlikely to be covered by your insurance. However, if you’re asking if you’ll lose money, the answer is almost always no. Typically, the employer pays for any pre-employment test that is required.
Yes, a pre-employment physical can be failed. If you can’t execute particular duties or lift a certain amount of weight because of a job requirement, you’ll fail the physical and the contingent job offer will be revoked.