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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 and clinical fellows should refer to the Resident Impairment Policy found in The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical Foundation Graduate Medical Education Resident Handbook.  Evaluation processes for students and student employees (HOOP 167, Student Employment Appointments) are contained in HOOP 163, Fitness for Participation (Students).

Date Reviewed:
October 2021
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.

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures by which the University will evaluate an employee’s fitness for duty when an employee is:

  1. Having observable difficulty performing work duties in a manner that is safe for the employee, for the employee’s coworkers, for the University, for patients, or for the public; or
  2. Posing an imminent and serious safety threat to self or others.


Fit for Duty/Participation means physically and mentally capable of safely participating in University-related activities with or without reasonable accommodation.

EAP means the University’s confidential Employee Assistance Program, which is physically located at the university’s UCT building at 7000 Fannin, Suite 150, Houston, Texas 77030 and may be contacted directly at 713-500-3327.


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.   

When a supervisor/manager has a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that an 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 is experiencing a medical emergency.

UTP-H will investigate and take any necessary action and will notify Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 713-500-3327, which will determine the next steps and notify Human Resources or the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development (“OFAD”), and department leadership as needed.

B. In all other circumstances, the supervisor should:

  • Take appropriate action, including contacting Human Resources or OFAD, and department leadership to discuss observations and next steps; 
  • 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; 
  • Document the employee’s response; and
  • Contact EAP at 713-500-3327.

EAP will determine whether the employee is required to undergo a fitness for duty evaluation. This evaluation is to be performed by a licensed provider selected by EAP and may include drug, alcohol, and/or medical or psychiatric testing. Employees referred to EAP must sign a consent allowing EAP to release information to the supervisor or designee, Human Resources or OFAD, and department leadership. Refusal to report to a fitness for duty examination as scheduled, or refusal to submit to any test requested by the health care provider as part of the fitness for duty process, will be considered grounds for discipline, up to and including termination of employment.

During the evaluation process, EAP may advise the supervisor regarding a course of action that may include completing an assessment immediately, completing an evaluation at a later time, or making the necessary arrangements to transport an employee home.

At the conclusion of the evaluation process, EAP will notify Human Resources or OFAD, and department leadership regarding whether the employee may or may not return to work or participate in University activities, or the conditions required prior to the employee returning to work.

Application of this policy is not intended as a substitute for other University policies or procedures related to performance, nor is it intended as a substitute for discipline. Situations involving violations of University policies or practices may result in disciplinary action being taken.


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