By Kevin Bartsch, Assistant Director Workers’ Compensation Pool Operations and Harry Cheff, Risk Management Associate
Hiring the right custodial, food service, or maintenance staff person can be a tricky endeavor. Due to low unemployment rates, many schools are competing with local businesses to hire the best candidate for job openings. These HR situations associated with high demands and scarce supplies lead to certain challenges and, in turn, certain temptations, most notably among them the temptation to simply “fill the position.” To avoid this and other similarly short-sited practices, one must take the critical first of building a healthy workforce, which entails determining via sound data and reasonable evaluation whether or not an applicant is physically able and thus well matched to perform the duties laid out in the job description. For that very reason, MSGIA started the Pre-Employment Physical (PEP) program years ago.
Here’s how the program works. As soon as there is an employment vacancy, the district customizes the Functional Job Description to reflect accurately the physical demands of the position. After the interview process is completed—and after the district extends a conditional offer of employment to the most qualified candidate—the district provides the contact information for the nearest MSGIA PEP program medical provider. The candidate then schedules a P.E.P. screening. Following the screening, the providers send the results directly to the district. Charges for the evaluation will be sent directly to MSGIA. The cost for the screening is paid for by MSGIA Workers’ Compensation Pool. This represents just a small part of MSGIA’s commitment to assisting school districts in hiring an employee who is a good match for the specific job.
Keep in mind that this program is for new hires. Current staff are grandfathered in and need not be screened. However, the District should screen individuals brought before the board for hire as substitutes in the maintenance department, custodial, and food service areas. If any of the individuals will be performing the same tasks as the regular employee, then the applicants should be screened in order to protect the district.
If the District wishes to participate in the MSGIA Pre-Employment Physical program, there are several components that must be in place. They are as follows:
- Adopt a policy, such as the MTSBA Model Policy 5130 – Pre-Employment Screening
- Provide the potential hire with the MSGIA Functional Pre-Work Screening Program and Procedural Manual
- Make available the MSGIA Pre-Work Screen Consent form as well as MSGIA Contingent Offer Letter explaining the conditional offer of employment
In addition to these conditional components, please be sure that all the letters and policies can be obtained by contacting MSGIA; and, in the event you do not have a local provider—or if you have any questions regarding this valuable program—please contact Kevin Bartsch, Assistant Director Workers Compensation Pool Operations, at 406-457-4419 or 406 475-5069.
In sum, when an employee cannot functionally perform the job duties of his/her position, an injury is much more likely to occur, especially if an employee’s physical abilities weren’t a good match for the job in the first place. MSGIA wants to assist the District in hiring the best possible candidate. The MSGIA Pre-Employment Program is a step in that direction. Return to newsletter