I can’t pass the job-related fitness test (JRFT) due to my disability/injury – what are my options?

The following Q&A is provided by the College of Policing:

Some Forces offer different alternative tests to the 15m multi-stage fitness test (the ‘bleep test’), but only the Chester Treadmill Police Walking Test (CTPWT), and the Chester Treadmill Police Running Test (CTPRT) have been validated and approved by the College of Policing’s Professional Committee. These are treadmill tests, and involve officers walking (or running for the highest levels of the specialist posts) for proscribed periods of time. The duration of the test and incline of the treadmill is dependent on the aerobic level associated with the respective standard (matched to the aerobic standards of the 15m MSFT). The College of Policing has provided job-related fitness standards for standard roles and specialist posts.

Is it easier than the level 5.4 bleep test?
In terms of the aerobic standard required, no. Extensive research has been conducted to validate the CTPWT and CTPRT to ensure that they test officers to the same aerobic standard for recruitment, and all specialist roles. In addition to this, to improve the evidence base, the College of Policing is commissioning further research to ensure that the research that underpins the 15m MSFT is accurate.

Who is able to take the alternative test? How do they go about it?
Ultimately the decision as to how the alternative test is offered is a matter for individual Forces, but it is not expected that officers can choose which test to perform. The College of Policing advise that the decision to allow officers to perform the CTPWT or CTPRT lies with management, following referrals to and advice from Force Occupational Health Units. This is outlined in the College’s implementation guidance (see links above).

(It is important to recognise that the CTPWT and CTPRT are designed to mitigate the impact of the turning requirement of the 15m MSFT, not to enable officers to conduct the fitness test independently.)

If a disabled officer has lower limb or other issues that would prevent them from taking this test, what other options are open to them?
As of January 2018, the CTPWT and CTPRT remain the only validated tests endorsed by the College of Policing, although individual Forces may offer their own alternatives as above.

What happens if I can’t take, or fail either test?
Passing the fitness test is a requirement for all officers required to perform officer safety training (OST). Chief Officers have a duty of care to their officers to ensure that they are deployed safely, and as such, where officers cannot conduct OST, must be placed in adjusted roles. The nature and duration of the adjustments will be dependent on what reasonable adjustments can be implemented in-force.

I need time off work for medical treatment for my disability – what are my rights?

This is known as ‘disability leave’ and is classed as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act (see the FAQ on reasonable adjustments). It should be recorded separately to sick leave. Your Force must consider granting reasonable requests for disability leave – note that this includes recuperative therapies and medical check-ups if you’re otherwise well and able to work.

Unison have prepared a factsheet on disability leave – this is intended for union reps, but contains useful information for anyone needing to request disability leave for themselves.

I am a carer for someone with a disability – what rights do I have at work?

As a carer for a disabled family member or acquaintance, you are covered by the Equality Act, which states that you must not be directly discriminated against due to your association with a disability. Examples of this type of discrimination are being refused a job or otherwise being treated less favourably at work due to your caring responsibilities. Your Force should have a policy for allowing carers to apply for adjusted shifts, flexi-time or part-time working.

For more information, the Carers UK website has an information page on your rights. There is also a PDF prepared by the Government Equalities Office on how the Equality Act affects you as a carer.