Just what are 'other duties as assigned'?

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in Human Resources,The HR Specialist Forum

In my view, the term "other duties as assigned" means duties not in the position description, but within the usual framework of the position, such as type of job, one's regular department and so forth. My boss insists that the term defines all duties, either within the individual's department or outside, basically anything anywhere in the company. Who is correct?—Randi, California



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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert May 11, 2013 at 8:29 am

BM do u intend to answer the question of are you staying with the current management style of evasiveness ?

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Holly April 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I assume it to mean literally anything else you may be asked to do, as long as it’s not unsafe, illegal, or unethical. For example, if you’ve never been trained on ladder safety, and you’re being asked to change ceiling bulbs that require a tall ladder, you could say no. If you’re being asked to lie, you could say no. I worked in a hotel as a Front Desk Agent, and if the restaurant got super busy I’d be asked to go assist bussing tables. Likewise, when the Front Desk got busy and needed extra help delivering luggage to rooms, the Bussers would be asked to come help us. “Other duties as assigned” can mean anything. However, if it’s a major essential function you are asked to perform regularly, it should be listed/added under “Essential Functions” on the job description, to be fair.

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Brandy Al December 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Randi, while I don’t know of a court ruling, and certainly wish there was one, there are at least a few decent humans who who understand the spirit of it and do not abuse the letter of it. Your boss, sadly, falls into the latter category, as does mine.

This may be of little comfort, but that particular phrase was intended to cover the incidental or collateral duties one in a particular position might expect to do. A job description would be prohibitively long if it had to list every last task you’re likely to encounter, like everything that might happen to the copier, from loading paper before it’s empty, when it’s empty, order the paper, order the toner, replace the toner when it’s empty, blah, blah. That’s when “whatever they ask” is reasonable under that heading.

What is not cool and what totally violates the spirit, is adding what one would consider “essential functions” that increase your workload and responsibilities, require particular education, experience, and for which the market pays more. For instance, as in my case, being hired to support two people and your boss later increasing it to four claiming “other duties as assigned.” Supporting two additional individuals is not a collateral task. Filling and taking care of them while some is sick or on vacation is, but bearing responsibility for them as a major component of your position is not.

It’s sounds like your boss is wrong and needs to go back to boss school. Good luck with that.

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Mesquite May 20, 2011 at 11:43 am

I suspect there have been court opinions on that issue already. I don’t know of any, but I suspect an insubordination charge against an employee that refuses to do something like make coffee or perform a job that he/she feels he/she was not hired to do or is not qualified to do, would not hold much water in court.

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Vic Oarrish March 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I have always taken the position that you should do whatever the supervisor asks of you unless it’s illegal or unethical.

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ntx November 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I dunno Randi. In these times, I’d be inclined to adopt the boss’s view. I never really envisioned “other duties” being limited to a narrow slice of the org chart. That would be nice, but I’m not sure it’s realistic.

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