What is a functional abilities assessment?

A functional abilities assessment is an assessment of what an employee can and can’t do. A functional abilities assessment covers:

    • Physical limitations like walking, standing, sitting, and so on; and

    • Mental or cognitive limitations like ability to concentrate, ability to work with the public, ability to speak, and so on.

Employers use a functional abilities form to ask specific questions about these limitations relevant to an employee’s role. They then use the answers to understand what accommodations the employee may require in order to perform the essential elements of their role.

What is a functional abilities form (FAF)? 

A functional abilities form (FAF) is a form that outlines an employee’s ability to perform, or not, certain tasks relevant to their role. This form is often required when the employee has been injured, discloses a disability, or is otherwise unable to complete elements of their role. The form is filled in by a healthcare professional who is familiar with the employee’s condition and limitations and the expected duration of those limitations. The employer uses the completed form to discuss what accommodations they can implement to help the employee fulfil the essential elements of their role.

When should I use a functional abilities form?

You should use a functional abilities form when an employee is injured at work and you’re trying to facilitate their return. You should also use an FAF when an employee discloses they require an accommodation for a disability.

What should I do once I receive a completed functional abilities form?

Once you have a completed functional abilities form, it’s time to review the information in the form and consider what elements of the role need to be modified, and for how long, to support the employee. The information in the form is personal health information, so it should be kept confidential, but you may need to discuss elements of it with the employee’s manager in order to facilitate the return to work or set up the accommodation. Share only what is necessary to facilitate the accommodation, and inform all those who receive the information that it must be treated as confidential.

If you’re still uncertain about workplace accommodations and functional abilities assessments, HRdownloads can help! Learn more about an employers duty to accommodate as governed by human rights legislation in our blog, How to Request Medical Information to Accommodate Employees.

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