MONTANA SELF INSURERS’ ASSOCIATION - MSIA
Post Offer, Pre Hire Impairment Disclosure of Pre-existing Conditions
Currently, after an offer to hire is made and accepted, but before the person who was selected for the position starts work, employers are allowed to assess whether the new applicant can safely perform the essential functions of the job. This assessment often includes a written questionnaire the applicant fills out as well as a physical assessment. However, if an applicant is not forthcoming in responding to legally permissible questions about medical limitations:
- the employer is denied the opportunity to provide reasonable accommodations,
- increased safety risks are present in the workplace,
- unnecessary and avoidable injuries result from an employee trying to do more than he/she has been medically cleared to do,
- expenses are incurred: to the employee, the employer, and the worker’s compensation system.
On the other hand, when an employee provides accurate information about his/her limitations, workplace safety is enhanced and expensive claims are avoided. This is a question of safety for the new employee as well as other workers they will be with.
In this post-offer, pre-start period, the person is entitled to the position provided they can physically perform the job functions. If they cannot physically perform the job functions, the employer should be entitled to that information. It is unfair – and unsafe - to allow a person to accept a position when they know they cannot perform the functions of the job.
In situations where an applicant has misrepresented his/her physical ability/limitations, and that specific misrepresentation leads to an injury – all avoidable if the applicant had been truthful – benefits should not be awarded.
MSIA supports proposals to limit benefits that result from intentional misrepresentations. When workers and employers communicate openly and honestly, injuries can be prevented (both to the worker and potentially those around them) and expensive, unnecessary payments can be avoided.