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Employers: Do you have the "essentials"? (A Public Service of Davidson Law Firm).

I'm speaking of "essential functions" in your employee job descriptions. Why does it matter? Legally speaking, employers have several very good reasons for making certain that job descriptions include "essential functions." The ADA requires disabled individuals to possess an ability to perform the essential functions of available positions. Employers cannot expect to defend an ADA charge of failing to hire an applicant if they have not identified the essential functions of each position within their organization.

Another reason for making certain that your job descriptions contain the essential functions is for the purpose of properly analyzing positions for the purpose of "light duty" or "return-to-work" programs following a workers' compensation injury. If you haven't properly documented the "essential functions" of the injured employees position, you can find yourself bringing an employee back at full pay with less productivity. Workers' compensation claims can linger on for extended periods of time due to conflicts between the capability of the recuperating employee and the required or essential functions of the employee's job.

Where accurate and properly documented job descriptions are maintained by the employer, treating physicians can review the essential job functions and better inform both the employee and the employer as to when the employee will be ready to go back to work and what limitations, if any, should be followed. Job descriptions are effective in defining the minimum productivity standards and setting the quality and quantity of work that must be accomplished by a person performing the job.

Essential functions are fundamental job duties, not marginal functions. For example, typing 65 words per minute may be an essential function for a secretary while emptying the wastepaper basket would be a marginal function. Standing for long periods of time may be an essential function for a cashier while stocking inventory may be marginal. Your company's policy and procedures will play an important role in determining the essential and marginal functions of a position. Here are some starting points in reviewing your current job descriptions:

* Identification of Essential/Primary tasks and responsibilities of the employee

* Administrative Requirements (Certifications, degrees, licenses, etc.)

* Tools and Equipment Used (Computer, machinery, etc.)

* Physical Requirements (Lifting 20lbs., bending, twisting, standing in place, etc.)

* Mental/Cognitive Factors (Reading comprehension, problem solving, etc.)

* Productivity Requirements (Process, time, quantity, quality, etc.)

* Health & Safety Requirements (cold, heat, eye sight, depth perception, etc.)

As a company changes, job descriptions of its employees typically change as well. Therefore, the importance of revising job descriptions to list the essential functions of each job cannot be overemphasized. Contact the Davidson Law Firm for a complimentary checklist that may be used to review your current job descriptions.


Cantrell at State

Little Rock, Arkansas 72203

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Title Annotation:employee job descriptions
Comment:Employers: Do you have the "essentials"? (A Public Service of Davidson Law Firm).(employee job descriptions)
Author:Choate, Penny Collins
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 11, 2002
Previous Article:UALR economist predicts slow rebound for state. (Economic).
Next Article:Weyerhauser Co. (Business Briefs).

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