Defendable PES

If you’re an employer, you are responsible for the safety of your employees. Besides ensuring you have a safe workplace and your employees have everything they need to get their tasks done safely, you should also think about their physical fitness.

Here in Canada, a growing number of employers are considering Physical Employment Standards (PES).

Physical Employment Standards (PES)

Over the years, PES assessments are used for various occupations in different industries.

With the help of PES, employers can help reduce the risk of workplace accidents. Therefore, many employers implement PES to ensure workers go through critical tasks at an agreed-upon and acceptable minimum standard of performance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that PES isn’t a substitute for an Employment Medical.

PES is the “duty of care” on the employer’s side as it mitigates the risk of injuries at work. The implementation of PES also affects the hiring and recruitment processes by ensuring that it is fair and unbiased based on minimum essential ability.

Should a PES be implemented, the hiring and recruitment process involves a physical appraisal. It takes place before employment or in a “return-to-work” situation that helps employers evaluate a person’s physical fitness for duty. PES will help determine if employees have the baseline physical capability to meet essential minimum job demands and/or if modification of duties is required for accommodation.

Is It Defendable?

PES assessments, as mentioned, have been developed for many jobs across industries. However, a lot of employers don’t realize that most of the published employment standards are not legally defendable. In turn, should an existing employee fail to meet these standards, no legal action based on the employer’s employment standards can be taken.

For a PES to be legally defendable, it needs to be scientifically valid to prevent unfair employment-related discrimination. If an employer makes their PES legally defendable based on these standards, that is only when they can refuse, exclude, or suspend employees.

What makes it complicated is that many employers tend to develop employment standards based on pre-existing standards or information acquired by poorly documented Job Demands Analysis. In turn, most of the physical occupational demand evaluations are not enough to be used to develop a defendable PES.

Another issue that concerns most employers today is the legalization of marijuana and how it will affect workplace safety and productivity. Since it’s still challenging to measure the physical impairment brought by marijuana, an employer’s only means of defense is a defendable PES combined with an up-to-date Drug and Alcohol policy inclusive of testing protocols and the organizations expectations.


A defendable PES is important for your company. Using a defendable PES can help reduce injuries and health benefit costs; at the same time, it will help increase work productivity and workplace safety standards. Therefore, developing a defendable PES is crucial to your company. Understandably, this can be challenging.

The good news is, you can always reach out to professionals to help you develop a defendable PES that will work best for your company. After all, there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution here.

Let us help you with your employment standards in Alberta here at Involvi. We understand your employees are your most important asset. Contact us today for more information!