What Does Job Function Mean?

by E.M. Rawes; Updated September 26, 2017
Business solutions

Sometimes, a job title indicates your job functions. For example, if you are an accountant, accounting is your primary job function. Job functions describe your roles, duties and responsibilities in your workplace. Job functions can be essential or marginal.

Essential Job Functions

A job function is essential if one or more specific conditions apply. A job function is essential if a position exists solely for the purpose of performing that specific function. If there is only one person available to adequately perform a necessary job function, that function is considered essential. If the job function requires specialized expertise and only those with such expertise can complete the job function, it is an essential function.

Examples of Essential Job Functions

The position of chef exists solely for the purpose of cooking. In Restaurant XYZ, there is only one chef who prepares the French onion soup. Preparing French onion soup is an essential job function for that particular chef. The head chef in Restaurant XYZ has the expertise to manage food cost. Managing food cost is an essential job function for the head chef. A restaurant would not hire a chef who did not have the mental or physical capacity to cook.

Marginal Job Functions

Marginal job functions are incidental duties within a position, but a person could still adequately fill a position without these duties, according to the Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act website. These are duties that vary from company to company. The job title and description does not imply these marginal duties.An example marginal job function of a chef is to interact with customers or sweep and mop the floor. Examples of marginal duties for a receptionist include serving coffee and escorting clients to offices, according to the Portland Community College's Office for Students with Disabilities.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The primary reason for distinction between essential and marginal job functions is the Americans with Disabilities Act. To receive ADA coverage, a disabled employee must have the ability to complete a job's essential functions without assistance. If the employee is unable to complete all of the job's marginal functions, she is still protected by the act.

About the Author

E.M. Rawes is a professional writer specializing in business, finance, mathematical and social sciences topics. She completed her studies at the University of Maryland, where she earned her Bachelor of Science. During her time working in workforce management and as a financial analyst, she reinforced her business and financial know-how.

Photo Credits

  • shironosov/iStock/Getty Images