Handbook of Operating Procedures

Fitness for Duty/Fitness for Participation

Policy Number: 163

Subject:

Handling potential physical issue or impairment of employee or student

Scope:

All university employees and students. Employees and students taking prescription medications that impair their ability to work or to participate safely in university activities are subject to the conditions of this policy. Medical school residents and clinical fellows should refer to the Resident Impairment Policy found in The University of Texas Medical Foundation Graduate Medical Education Resident Handbook.

Date Reviewed:
April 2009
Responsible Office:
Human Resources; Applicable school's Student Affairs Office
Responsible Executive:
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer; Applicable Associate/Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

All employees must report to work in a condition to perform their duties safely. All students must be able to participate safely in activities of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”). All students and employees must be free of illegal drugs or alcohol and not be impaired or unable to perform job duties or unable to participate in university activities because of physical or mental impairment while on university property, while on university business, or while participating in university activities.

University community members should also consult Policy 173 Substance Abuse when substance abuse situations arise.

II. PROCEDURE

Co-workers or others whose observations lead them to question an employee’s fitness for duty must report their observations to the applicable supervisor. Students or others whose observations lead them to question a student’s fitness for participation in university activities must report their observations to the applicable school’s Student Affairs office.

Whether questionable on-duty behavior is reported by an employee’s co-worker or through the supervisor’s personal awareness, the supervisor will investigate and document observations. The applicable Associate/Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (or designee) (“associate dean”) will investigate and document reported observations pertaining to students.

If the employee/student appears to be unfit for duty/unfit for participation in university activities:

A. The supervisor/associate dean should call The University of Texas Police - Houston ("UTP-H") immediately if:

  • there is evidence a crime may have been committed;
  • the employee/student makes threats to harm himself or others; or
  • the employee/student is behaving in a way that is dangerous to himself or to those around him.

UTP-H will investigate and take any necessary action.

B. If UTP-H involvement is unnecessary, the supervisor/associate dean should:

  • Remove the employee from duty or remove the student from participation in university activities;
  • Notify the employee/student of the observations made;
  • Ask the employee/student to explain the appearance of impairment; and,
  • Document the employee’s/student’s response.
  • For employees, the supervisor should contact UT Health Services and follow the guidance of UT Health Services regarding actions to be taken. For students, the associate dean should contact Student Health Services and follow the guidance of Student Health Services regarding actions to be taken.

Individuals referred to UT Health Services/Student Health Services must sign a consent allowing UT Health Services/Student Health Services to release information related to whether the individual reported to UT Health Services/Student Health Services and whether the individual attends recommended treatment to the supervisor or appropriate associate dean or designee. Individuals who fail to report to UT Health Services/Student Health Services may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the appropriate disciplinary policy.

UT Health Services/Student Health Services will advise the supervisor/associate dean regarding a course of action that may include:

  • immediate assessment;
  • further evaluation at a later time by UT Health Services/Student Health Services or other appropriately licensed personnel; or,
  • transporting the employee/student home. If transportation home is recommended, the supervisor/associate dean will make the arrangements (e.g., a relative of the employee). If such transportation is not possible, or if the employee/student refuses assistance, the supervisor/associate dean contacts UTP-H. The employee/student must not drive, nor can a co-worker, supervisor, or fellow student transport the employee/student.

UT Health Services/Student Health Services will arrange for any evaluation that may include medical assessment, psychiatric, and/or drug/alcohol testing.

The supervisor/associate dean will determine any disciplinary action called for in accordance with the appropriate disciplinary policy.

The employee will not return to work until all aspects of the fitness for duty evaluation are completed. The Director of UT Health Services (or designee) must medically release the employee prior to a return to work.

The student will not return for participation in university activities until all aspects of the fitness for participation evaluation are completed. The Medical Director of Student Health Services (or designee) must medically release the student prior to a return to participation in university activities.

III. CONTACTS

ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Human Resources (employees with questions) 713-500-3130 https://www.uth.edu/hr/department/employee-relations/index.htm