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Job Description Purposes:

The benefits of a well-written job description span multiple HR functions, including but not limited to:

  • Hiring: Job descriptions can help identify the essential functions of the job and the necessary qualifications. This can save valuable time when recruiting for the role by helping you weed out candidates who do not meet the minimum job requirements.
  • Orientation/onboarding: Job descriptions can set clear expectations with new hires pertaining to their role and responsibilities.
  • Compensation: Job descriptions make it possible to evaluate one job in relation to others and group jobs into families, grades, or classes for wage and salary administration purposes.
  • Employment classifications: Accurate and up to date job descriptions can help to make determinations regarding exempt or non-exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    Essential FunctionsEssential functions are the job duties that an employee must be able to perform with or without a reasonable accommodation. Evaluate the following when considering which functions are essential:

    • Whether the job was created to perform that function
    • How often the employee is expected to perform the function
    • The number of other employees available to perform the function
    • The degree of expertise or skill required

    Indicate what needs to be done, not necessarily how it must be done. For example, if it is an essential function for someone in a loading dock position to load four tractor trailers in two hours, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it must be done manually. Use of hand trucks or forklifts might be appropriate, allowing persons who cannot lift heavy loads for long periods of time to be able to do the job.

    Non-essential Functions:

    If there are additional marginal functions, include them in your job description. It’s a best practice to list these responsibilities separately from the essential functions

    When listing job duties, consider the following guidelines:

    • Use brief sentences or phrases, beginning with an action verb
    • Use the present tense
    • Use either a bulleted outline or paragraph format
    • Include a statement that your company reserves the right to change job duties at any time and that the job description is not designed to cover every job requirement
  • Reasonable accommodations: The Americans with Disabilities Act generally requires employers to make reasonable accommodations so that an employee with a disability can perform the essential functions of the job. Using job descriptions to clearly define essential job functions can help make appropriate accommodations, when necessary.


Physical Demands & Work Environment

Physical Demands

The physical demands are the movements and actions that the worker performs during the course of their job. Include physical demands if they are essential to the job. However, focus on the task that needs to be done, rather than how it should be done. For example, say that the position requires “moving” 50 pounds, instead of “lifting” 50 pounds. Employees with disabilities may be able to perform the essential functions of the job with accommodation, such as using a cart, dolly, or mobility aid.

Below are examples of physical demands:

  • Remaining stationary at the workstation
  • Moving through tight spaces
  • Reaching
  • Ascending or descending ladders or ramps
  • Moving, raising, or lowering various weights

You may choose to indicate the frequency with which the job incumbent is expected to perform each of the physical demands.

Work Environment

The work environment should describe the conditions under which the job incumbent must perform their duties. For example, exposure to:

  • Extreme heat or cold
  • Wet and/or humid conditions
  • Outside weather conditions
  • Moving mechanical parts
  • High or precarious places
  • Fumes, toxic chemicals, or airborne particles
  • Sounds or a pitch that may cause marked distraction

This portion of the job description can also include any protective or other kinds of equipment needed, such as:

  • Protective clothing: gloves, steel-toed boots, etc.
  • Protective equipment: protective eyewear, respirators, etc.
  • Hand tools: hammer, shovel, screwdriver, etc.
  • Power tools: radial saw, reciprocating saw, drill, etc.
  • Vehicles: automobile, truck, tractor, lift, etc.


ADA Considerations

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, employers may not discriminate against (including refusing to hire) an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, as long as that individual can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential functions are those duties that an individual must be able to perform.

The ADA does not require employers to develop or maintain job descriptions. However, an accurate job description prepared prior to advertising or interviewing for a job will be considered, along with other relevant factors, when evaluating essential functions and possible accommodations. Review job descriptions regularly to ensure that they accurately reflect the actual functions of the job.