Essential Job Function - Meaning & Definition

Published in Human Resources Terms by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: December 16, 2015

What is Essential Job Function?

Essential functions are the basic and important job duties performed in a position. They do not include marginal functions which are extra duties. A job function may be essential because:

1. There exists a position to perform that function.

2. The number of employees are limited to perform that function.

3. The function is highly specialized and an incumbent Is hired for his/her expertise.

Essential function must be identified for each position. It must be based on the work performed rather than the capabilities of an individual. A job analysis can help an employer to find out which function an employee can actually perform. An essential function is a complete task rather than how a task can be completed. For example, an essential function may be to relocate 50 kgs of box.

The essential function is the primary reason for which a position was created. For example, a floating supervisor job exists to provide an alternate when regular supervisors are not present.

If an essential function is removed then the need for that particular position will not exist. For example, removing the essential function “provide guidance and resources to clients” from a customer service position would fundamentally change the job position and ask the need for it.

To identify the need for an essential functions:

• When a position is empty, established or reallocated

• Before interviewing a candidate for a particular position

• Before conducting any conditional offer medical exam

The best time to identify essential function is when a position is established. An employer can take help from those functions if it engages in the reasonable accommodation process.

Why we need to identify an essential function:

• To avoid any inconsistence or unfair employment decisions

• Name a position and make sure that employees understand their expectation form that position


Hence, this concludes the definition of Essential Job Function along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

Browse the definition and meaning of more similar terms. The Management Dictionary covers over 1800 business concepts from 5 categories.

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