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ADA Job Aid #1



UCSF provides reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified employees who become disabled and need assistance to perform the essential functions of their positions. The first step in identifying reasonable accommodation is to examine the person’s ability to perform each of the “essential job functions” of the position in question. The purpose of this Job Aid is to provide managers and supervisors with the information they need in determining essential functions.

What Are Essential Job Functions?

Essential Job Functions are the fundamental duties of the job. A job function may be considered essential for any of several reasons, such as: 1. the job exists to perform that function 2. The function requires specialized skills or expertise and the person is hired for that expertise 3. There are only a limited number of employees to perform the function

Look at Every Job

Using materials like job descriptions and performance evaluations, examine each position in your area:

Evidence of Whether a Function is Essential Can Include:

  1. The employer’s judgment
  2. Written job description
  3. Amount of time spent performing the function
  4. Consequences of the function not being performed
  5. Terms of a collective bargaining agreement
  6. And other common sense indicators

Ask Yourself

Keep in mind the questions below as you analyze the jobs in your area. By accurately identifying essential job functions, you’ll make the accommodation process easier for everyone and disputes less likely.

Guidelines for Identifying Essential Job Functions


Separate the function from the person. Identify the job’s purpose and desired results—not the person who does the job. Here are two examples:


Determine what you want the person in the job to do. For Example:


Decide if the job must be done at the work site, or if it can be performed from a remote location:


When the work is performed is not always an essential part of the job. It may be essential that the function be performed, but assigning it to one particular shift may not be necessary.


If the intent of a job requirement isn’t clear, try modifying it to pose a lesser barrier to someone with a disability. You may even find it can be dropped from the job description altogether.

If you need help defining essential job functions or making reasonable accommodation decisions call:

Disability Management Services: (415) 476-2621
Staffing: (415) 476-3905