Skip Navigation and Go To Content

Handbook of Operating Procedures

Fitness for Duty/Fitness for Participation (Employees)

Policy Number: 218


Procedures to evaluate employees’ fitness for duty/fitness for participation


All university employees. Medical residents, dental residents in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery as well as clinical fellows employed by The University of Texas Medical Foundation should refer to the Resident Impairment Policy found in The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical Foundation Graduate Medical Education Resident HandbookEvaluation processes for students are contained in HOOP 163.

Date Reviewed:
December 2015
Responsible Office:
Human Resources
Responsible Executive:
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) is committed to providing a safe environment for all employees, students and patients.  To provide a safe environment, all employees must be able to perform their job duties and/or participate in university activities in a safe, secure, productive and effective manner.  They must also remain able to do so through the entire time that they are working, on university property, on university business, or participating in university activities. Employees who are not fit for duty/participation may present a safety hazard to themselves, to other employees, to students, to the university, or to the public.

HOOP 173, Substance Abuse should be consulted as appropriate.


Fit for Duty/Participation: Physically and mentally capable of safely participating in university-related activities with or without reasonable accommodation.


Co-workers or others whose observations lead them to question an employee’s fitness for duty or participation must report their observations to the applicable supervisor. Whether questionable behavior while working or participating in a university activity is reported by an employee’s co-worker or others or through the supervisor’s personal awareness, the supervisor should investigate and document observations.   

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

A. The supervisor should call The University of Texas Police Department (“UTP-H”) (911) immediately if:

  • There is evidence a crime may have been committed;
  • The employee makes threats to harm him/herself or others;  
  • The employee is behaving in a way that is dangerous to him/herself or to those around him/her; or,
  • The employee appears otherwise medically or mentally unstable. 

UTP-H will investigate and take any necessary action.

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

  • Remove the employee from duty or participation in university activities, as appropriate;
  • Notify the employee of the observations made;
  • Allow the employee to explain his/her actions, or to correct any mistakes of fact contained in the description of those actions; and,
  • Document the employee’s response.

The supervisor must then contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 713-500-3327. The EAP will review the current behavior, documentation and employee response and will conduct an initial review.  The EAP will then, in consultation with Human Resources and/or department leadership, coordinate any required evaluations to determine fitness for duty/participation.  The EAP will also coordinate notification of any appropriate university departments and leadership.   

Individuals referred to EAP must sign a consent allowing  EAP to release information to the supervisor or designee related to whether the individual reported to EAP and whether the individual follows recommended treatment. Individuals who fail to report to EAP, who refuse to sign the required consent, or fail to follow any recommendations of EAP may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the appropriate disciplinary policy.

EAP will advise the supervisor regarding a course of action that may include:

  • immediate assessment;
  • further evaluation at a later time; and/or,
  • transporting the employee home. If transportation home is recommended, EAP will make the arrangements (e.g., with a relative of the employee). The employee must not drive; nor can any university employee (other than law enforcement) transport the employee.

EAP will coordinate any evaluation, which may include medical and/or psychiatric assessment and/or drug/alcohol assessment and/or testing.

EAP will notify Human Resources or department leadership whether the employee may or may not return to work or participate in university activities.  The employee will not return to work until all aspects of the fitness for duty/participation evaluation are completed. The employee must be fully medically released to return to work by UT Health Services or other physician designee. EAP will coordinate the return to work process and monitor compliance with any recommendations.  A request for accommodation due to a disability is processed as described in HOOP 101, Disability Accommodation.


    • Human Resources
    • 713-500-3130
    • Employee Assistance Program
    • 713-500-3327
    • The University of Texas Police - Houston
    • 713-792-2890