Essential Job Functions

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Determining Essential Job Functions

 

To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, your first step in the hiring process will be to determine the job position's essential job functions.  The following two-step guide will hopefully provide helpful information and guidance.  An  Essential Job Functions Worksheet  is provided to assist you as well.

Contents:

Step 1:  How to Identify Essential Job Functions

Step 2:  Describing the Physical and Mental Performing Elements

Essential Job Functions Worksheet

Resources and Assistance

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Step 1:    How to Identify Essential Job Functions

Before creating a job description announcement and beginning the hiring process, you'll need to determine the  essential job functions  and  marginal functions  (non-essential functions) of the job position.  The essential job functions will need to be included in the job description.  This information will be important for determining if an applicant can perform the essential duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

For example, let's look at the essential and marginal job functions of a receptionist position in a professional office.

 

Receptionist Position

Essential job functions might include:

Answering the telephone and assisting callers.

Recording messages for department personnel.

Greeting clients and customers.

Marginal job functions might include:

Serving coffee to clients and customers.

Escorting clients to staff offices.

 

For this receptionist position, an applicant would need to be able to perform the essential job functions (duties) of this position with or without reasonable accommodation.  The marginal or non-essential job functions are those that could be redesigned or reassigned to other employees, if necessary. 

Whether or not a particular duty is considered marginal will depend on:

  1. The importance of the duty to your company's operation;

  2. It's frequency;

  3. If there's sufficient staff to reassign the marginal duty to other employees; 

  4. If the marginal duty can be redesigned or performed in another way.

 

In other words, if the duty is viewed as important to your company's operation, the duty is performed with frequency, there isn't sufficient staff to reassign the marginal duty, and the duty can't be redesigned or performed in another way, the duty would be considered an  essential  function of the position.

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Step 2:    Describe the Physical and Mental Performing Elements

When describing the essential function requirements of the position, you should also identify and describe the physical and mental performing elements that are a necessary and integral part of the position.  Try to be as specific as possible.

For example, specific physical and mental performing elements might be described as follows:

Physical Elements

Lifting and carrying 40 - 60 pounds;

Frequent bending, kneeling, and reaching;

Standing for long periods of time;

Climbing ladders;

Handling and assembling small parts, and so on....

 

Mental Performing Elements

Organizing and coordinating schedules;

Analyzing and interpreting data;

Calibrating precise measurements;

Problem-solving;

Communicating with the public;

Creating written communication;

Completing written work orders, and so on....

 

In addition to the physical and mental performing elements, equipment use and working conditions (and the frequency) should be identified as well.  Examples might be as follows:

Equipment Use

Telephone -  frequently

Small hand tools -  occasionally

Forklift -  rarely

Copier -  occasionally

Van -  rarely

Computer -  frequently

And so on....

 

Working Conditions

Indoor -  frequently

Outdoor -  rarely

Loud noise -  occasionally

Cool temperatures -  frequently

Exhaust fumes -  occasionally

And so on....

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Essential Job Functions Worksheet

The following worksheet is designed to help you determine the essential and marginal functions of each job, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This worksheet should be completed before preparing the job description and initiating the hiring process.

Essential function descriptions should contain the physical and mental elements of performing them.  Qualifications and standards must be job-related and consistent with operating necessity.  

When completing the Worksheet, consider these important questions:

Does the job exist to do this function?

How much time per week is spent doing this function?

What are the minimum qualifications and job standards?

What critical skills, experience, training, education, and/or license are needed?

What equipment is used to do this function?  How frequently is the equipment used?

What are the physical elements of this function?

What are the mental elements of this function?

Can other current employees do this function if necessary?

Would taking this function from the job significantly change the job?

Would there be significant consequences if this function were not performed?

Could this function be redesigned or performed in another way?

Did the previous employee do this function?

Do people in similar positions elsewhere do this function?

Is this function essential, as opposed to marginal? 

 

 

Essential Job Functions Worksheet

Position:  _________________________________ Location:  ____________________
General purpose of this position:
Functions determined to be essential: (Fill in after completing worksheet)


 

 

 

 

 

 Completed by: _______________________ Position: _____________________ Date: ___________
An Essential Job Function must meet at least one of the following criteria:

1.  The reason the position exists is to perform this duty. Removing this function would fundamentally 
     change this position.
2.  A limited number of employees are available to do the function.
3.  The person must have expertise to perform this duty.

List each function of the position and indicate whether it is an essential or marginal function.

  E        M                                                   Functions

___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________
___     ___     ______________________________________________________________________

 

Equipment Use and Frequency:   Rarely (0-15%)   Occasionally (16-45%)  Frequently (46-100%)

___  telephone        R  O  F                                 ___ other:  _____________________     R  O  F
___  copier             R  O  F                                 ___ other:  _____________________     R  O  F
___  computer        R  O  F                                 ___ other:  _____________________     R  O  F
___  fax machine    R  O  F                                 ___ other:  _____________________     R  O  F
___  other:  _________________   R  O  F            ___ other:  _____________________     R  O  F
___  other:  _________________   R  O  F            ___ other:  _____________________     R  O  F          

 

Physical Demands:

___  standing               R   O   F                         ___ other:  ______________________   R   O   F
___  sitting                  R   O   F                          ___ other: ______________________   R   O   F
___  lifting  ____ lbs.    R   O   F                          ___ other: ______________________   R   O   F
___  carrying               R   O   F                          ___ other: ______________________   R   O   F
___  walking                R   O   F                          ___ other: ______________________   R   O   F
___  driving                  R   O   F                          ___ other: ______________________   R   O   F 

 

Mental Demands:

___  problem-solve          R   O   F             other:  _______________________________  R   O   F
___  make decisions       R   O   F                       _______________________________  R   O   F
___  supervise                R   O   F                       _______________________________  R   O   F
___  interpret data          R   O   F                        _______________________________  R   O   F
___  organize                 R   O   F                       _______________________________  R   O   F
___  write                       R   O   F                       _______________________________  R   O   F
___  plan                        R   O   F                       _______________________________  R   O   F 

 

Working Conditions:

___  indoor                                R   O   F     other: ______________________________  R   O   F
___  outdoor                              R   O   F              ______________________________  R   O   F
___  high temperatures               R   O   F              ______________________________  R   O   F
___  cold temperatures               R   O   F              ______________________________  R   O   F
___  loud noise                           R   O   F             ______________________________  R   O   F
___  fumes                                 R   O   F             ______________________________  R   O   F
___  exposure to VDT screen       R   O   F             ______________________________  R   O   F

 

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Resources and Assistance

Do you need help writing a job description and identifying the essential job functions and requirements?  For questions and assistance, contact:

 

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) - A Service of the ODEP, U.S. DOL
1-800-526-7234 (Voice/TTY)

Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers
1-800-949-4232 (Voice/TTY)

 

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