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Functional Job Descriptions or Physical demands analysis (PDA's)

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was passed to ensure that people with disabilities would have a better chance of being hired to perform meaningful work in order to make a living.

The ADA precludes an employer from discriminating against a "qualified person with a disability" (rejecting an applicant with a disability) who can "perform the essential functions of the job" with or without reasonable accommodations.

A person who cannot "perform the essential job functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations" need not otherwise be hired, promoted, or retained. Accommodation refers to any type of assistance, device, tool, administrative changes, etc., to help the applicant do the essential job functions.

Thus the ADA does not require employers to make anything other than good business decisions about hiring persons with disabilities.  The EEOC does not require US employers to complete ADA style job descriptions. However, well designed ADA style-job descriptions can help to protect employers from unfounded lawsuits by accurately identifying and documenting essential job functions. This process not only assist HR personnel during the hiring process, but ADA-style job descriptions also benefit employers when an injured employee is ready to return to work.

Protection for Employers

Evidence of a good faith effort to comply with the ADA reduces the possibility of a punitive damages award in the event of litigation. More importantly, employers are not required to hire individuals who cannot perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation.

Job descriptions are an employer's best tool for identifying "essential" job functions and the physical job demands. This information plays key roles in stay-at-work/return-to-work efforts, including communication with the healthcare provider and evaluating possible job accommodations. Job descriptions should also include information such as job qualifications, environmental conditions, and what supervision is given and received. In doing so, these descriptions will assist with:

Properly developed and well-maintained job descriptions are a valuable management tool and will assist employers and employees in a wide range of critical employment decisions.

Assist Human Resource personnel with:

  •  Hiring practices
  •  Match worker's abilities to job demands
  •  Development of Physical Ability Tests
  •  Return to work of injured employees
  •  Physicians understanding of job demands
  •  Assist with identifying restrictions

  •  Legal and regulatory requirements


Contact ECI today to learn more about Functional Job Descriptions!