The law that created Job demands is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Title 1: Employment. The ADA established guidelines for employers to use to describe what an employee’s job duties and responsibilities are within a company.

Job demands are those physical, psychological, social, or organizational aspects of the job that require sustained physical and/or psychological (i.e., cognitive or emotional) effort and are therefore associated with certain physiological and/or psychological costs. These demands are classified as “essential” or “marginal” functions. Only those functions that are “essential” should be the basis for determining if a job can be done. The reason the job exists is to perform this function. If this function is removed, then the position would be fundamentally changed.

“Essential job functions are the main line of defense against claims of discrimination, by clarifying just what is expected of any employee. Whether it’s an unemployment compensation claim involving unsatisfactory performance of essential position functions or a claim under the ADA involving a worker’s ability to meet the physical demands of the position, an essential functions duty statement is one piece of evidence that can settle key issues with certainty. Essential functions duty statements provide the only genuinely reliable foundation for position evaluation”. (EF Manual 10-05 Rev)

When an employee is evaluated for return to work, the Essential Job Functions are used for this evaluation. When Job Demands are not clear or prevents an IW from returning his/her original position, your case manager will be working with you and the employer to clarify the actual essential job function. Being knowledgeable of how these duties and responsibilities evolved, will guide you through sorting out what the employee is actually physically and mentally doing at work and have the most accurate opinion of the IW work status.

Author: Deborah Goza, MS, RN, CCM, COHNS
Editor: D. Perry