Q. I hand a brochure titled “Job Information and Requirements” to each new hire I bring on board to my construction company. With the addition of new positions, I need to draft new brochures with job descriptions, but am having trouble determining the essential job functions. Is there a specific method that I can use to decide whether a job function is essential?
A. When determining whether a job function is “essential,” a starting point and threshold requirement is that the employees in a certain position are required to perform the function in question. If employees do not need to perform that function in order to fulfill their duties, it may not be an essential function.
Both the ADA and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) identify the following three factors for determining whether a job function may be considered essential:
1. The position exists to perform the function. If the position exists to perform the function in question, that function may be essential.
2. Only a limited number of employees are available to perform the function. If only a small or limited number of employees can perform a certain job function, it may be essential.
3. The job function is highly specialized. If an applicant is hired to a position specifically for his or her expertise in performing a specific job function, that function may be essential. This factor is common in certain professions and highly skilled positions.
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