Respected Seniors, This is Ramu working as Manager-HR. My query is that one of the senior workman working in the Maintenance department and he underwent heart surgery 5 years back. Since then he is frequently taking leaves on ill health and also refusing when we assign any height works, critical job works. Can we ask him to submit a physical fitness certificate and terminate if he is not fit? Kindly advise me.
From India, Vijayawada

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Dear Ramu,

You can issue the notice for his inability to carry out the work as per the Job Description (JD) of the position for which has been working. Ask him to provide a medical fitness certificate to do the critical jobs or work at height. If the worker fails to provide the medical certificate then issue him a second notice. If no reply is received or if the reply is not satisfactory then conduct the domestic enquiry and let the management take appropriate action.

Nevertheless, right now we are passing through the COVID-19 pandemic and it is not advisable to make movements. In spite of his physical infirmity, since you have given him a chance to work for the five years, I strongly recommend to wait for a few more months. Let the pandemic subside and then you initiate this work.

However, this case needs to be handled compassionately also.

If he is a senior workman and has undergone heart surgery five years ago then find out whether he can be given an alternate job. Is it necessary to give him a job that requires climbing a height?

Train him for other jobs. Otherwise, find out can he be a trainer? He is a senior workman then his children must be in their teens. Against this backdrop, snatching someone's livelihood is not good.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

If you want to ascertain the Medical Fitness of an employee, it is better to form a Medical Board and submit the full medical history of the employee for its considered opinion on the suitability of the employee for his job profile.
If we ask the employee to submit a medical certificate, he will produce one before you from any doctor without any conclusive opinion on the utility of the employee for the type of job he handles. You may as well heed to the advice of Learned Dinesh Sir.
Thereafter, in case he is found unfit, you may issue him a show-cause notice and terminate service.

From India, Mumbai
Dear Ramu, Please think it, Mr.Dinesh Divakar Sir - points mentioned in his last paragraph. Regards P.Senthil CBE.
From India, Coimbatore
Dear Ramu,

The refusal to work is considered as misconduct. So you ask his department head to report in writing to the factory manager that the person is reluctant to carry out the work allotted to him from time to time.

On basis of that you can issue notice for explanation for not carrying out the allotted work and not attending the work of his Job Description for which he has been in employment.

You should not ask him to provide a medical fitness certificate. Let the employee come out with explanation that owing to his physical condition he could not cope up with the work allotted to him at different times.

Then, you ask the employee to provide a medical fitness certificate from the Surgeon of a Govt Hospital, that the person is Fit/Un-fit to carry all types of work at height. You issue another notice to submit medical fitness certificate within next 3 days failing which the management considered as your reluctance to work. You move as per the wish of the management for an appropriate action.

Further, the person may not be fit for critical work at height but can do some other light work or other works matching his skill at shop floor to be considered apart before considering for termination, as per law employer should consider for alternative work. The termination can only be done if the employee does not agree to new assignment.

From India, Mumbai
Thank you very much sir all your valuable advices
From India, Vijayawada

Dear Mr. Ramu -HR,

As an HR Manager, you need to be a facilitator also. Consider his length of service in your company. If his current physical health does not permit him to do the specified work, allot some other work which he can carry out easily. Or think of an alternative and transfer him to some other department where physical job shall be less (e.g. Stores, GR&D, Mail despatch section etc)

Also demand a physical fitness certificate from a Government doctor, not less than the rank of an Asst. Civil Surgeon, which should also be endorsed by your Company doctor, if available.

From India, Aizawl
Dear Colleague,

What needs to be weighed in mind the fact that he is a senior workman and had heart surgery five years ago. Ever since during last five years, he has been performing his job duties. His problem is he is refusing to work at heights and do some ctritical jobs. He is also availing leaves somewhat frequently because of his health.

I am raising a basic question , is this a fit case for disciplinary action as some senior colleagues are inclined to including the poster. The poster has tolerated him for five years and perhaps has put up with his refusal/ inability to work at heights . Then what has changed now.

He is availing leaves to his account. So it does not amount to any misconduct.

This case, in my strong opinion, is for showing leniency because of his ill health, and explore providing alternate work best suited to his abilities. To think of this as a discipline issue without utilizing his abilities for suitable job first, would be very insensitive to genuine human concerns.


Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

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