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Job Descriptions: Essential Functions

Essential functions are the basic job duties that an employee must be able to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation. You should carefully examine each job to determine which functions or tasks are essential to performance. (This is particularly important before taking an employment action such as recruiting, advertising, hiring, promoting or firing).

Factors to consider in determining if a function is essential include:

* whether the reason the position exists is to perform that function,
* the number of other employees available to perform the function or among whom the performance of the function can be distributed, and
* the degree of expertise or skill required to perform the function.

Your judgment as to which functions are essential, and a written job description prepared before advertising or interviewing for a job will be considered by EEOC as evidence of essential functions. Other kinds of evidence that EEOC will consider include:

* the actual work experience of present or past employees in the job,
* the time spent performing a function,
* the consequences of not requiring that an employee perform a function, and
* the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.

How Are Essential Functions Determined?
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Example Form: Essential Job Functions
Miami Dade County

Example Guide: The Supervisor’s Role: Determining Essential Job Functions
California Air Resources Board

Related Reading

Visit our related Express Request: Developing Job Descriptions

Four Circuits Agree: Regular and Reliable Attendance is an Essential Job Function
Polsinelli | Feb 2019

Accurate Job Description Foils Disability Bias Claim
SHRM | Jan 2019

Employers Asserting “Essential Job Function” Defense Need a Clear Job Description
Jackson Lewis | Nov 2018

Helpful Guidance in Determining a Position’s Essential Functions under the ADA
Smith Amundsen | Oct 2018

Job Description Didn’t Establish Essential Function
SHRM | Sep 2018

Must an employer accommodate an employee who cannot perform their essential job functions?

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