A Practical Approach to Behavioral Job Duties
By Les Kertay, PhD, ABPP, LP
Chief Medical Officer
“Job demands” are a critical but often overlooked aspect of managing compliance under leave laws and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA). In sedentary and knowledge-based workforces, it is especially critical to understand behavioral demands — cognitive, emotional, and social. Unfortunately, employers have few clear resources to help. So how do we determine which duties are essential and/or what accommodations might make those duties possible?
Resources are available to help define essential duties of physically intensive jobs. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)1 and the Occupational Network Database (O-NET),2 both by the U.S. Department of Labor, provide good detail on the physical requirements of many jobs. With respect to behavioral demands, however, the DOT is practically silent and the O-NET selections remain limited. The O-NET includes basic skills such as active learning, listening, critical thinking, speaking, and writing, but it is silent on most of the complex emotional and attentional demands of modern, high-stress positions.
Nevertheless, even when more definitive guidance is not available, an employer is still required to document job descriptions as benchmarks for judging compliance. Here is a step-by-step process for documenting essential job requirements:
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