Job analysis, job modification and job accommodation

CCMC Glossary of Terms 

Reasonable Accommodation: Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities. This may include job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Job Analysis

A functional job analysis is not an exam, but rather a process of collecting data to define a persons job requirements and essential and nonessential job duties. This data can be collected from interviews with workers and supervisors, on-site observations, as well as analysis of company job descriptions. It provides detailed information related to major tasks, and the physical, cognitive and behavioural capacities required to perform the job. Along with specific tasks, the job analysis also includes details regarding scheduling, location, equipment needed and required competencies. 

In rehabilitation, the goal of the job analysis is to identify essential job functions and requirements to satisfactorily perform the work. It is important that job requirements are the focus, and not individual workers skills, as these will be considered later in the rehabilitation process.

Essential Job Functions

Essential job functions are basic duties that are fundamental to the integrity of the job and the employee must be able to perform them with or without reasonable accommodations. The most obvious are the ones the position exists to perform. For example, an obvious job function for a  cashier is to exchanges money with customers. Other points to consider in determining if a function is essential include referring to the written job description, the amount of time spent performing the function and the consequences if this employee is not required to perform the function.

Who Performs a Job Analysis?

The job analysis may be performed by one discipline or an interdisciplinary rehabilitation team. Disciplines that often perform rehabilitation job analysis include:

  • Physical Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists
  • Ergonomists

Job Modifications and Job Accommodation

The terms job modification and job accommodation are often used interchangeably. To differentiate, a  job modification is an across the board change to the job description, targeting skills. Examples would be restructuring the job, eliminating marginal job functions, sharing job duties or modifying company policy. Job accommodations are more individual and focus on access. These may include voice recognition software or an adjustable height desk to accommodate a wheelchair. Because most most of the literature as well as most Case Managers use either accommodation or modification to mean both, I will use the term accommodation for the remainder of this section.

Accommodation Process

Requesting Accommodation: The person with the disability is responsible for requesting the accommodation. 

Identify Functional Limitations: Determine where the functional limitations intersect with the job duties, so that the person can not perform that task or tasks without an accommodation. 

Identify Accommodations: Begin by discussing options with the employee. Often the accommodation is obvious or something the employee has used before successfully, but at times creative collaboration, extensive investigation or outside assistance is needed. 

J.A.N., Job Accommodations Network, is a consulting service providing free information on job accommodations. Per their website, “Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.”

Accommodations are not limited to adjustment to physical equipment or modifications. The Americans with Disabilities Act list these six categories.

  1. Job Restructuring- Adjustments to work procedures
  2. Assistive Devices- Equipment that helps the employee complete the task
  3. Training- Help an employee to learn or relearn job duties
  4. Personal Assistant- Person who helps an employee with job duties
  5. Building Modification- Alterations to the physical environment that allow equal access to the facility
  6. Job Reassignment- Temporary or permanent transfer of task assignment, or sharing jobs with other employees

Determine Reasonable Solutions: The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants or employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause undue hardship. In addition to  financial difficulty, undue hardship can also be accommodations that would be disruptive to the work place or fundamentally change the operation of the business. 

Make Accommodation: The employees preferences should be taken into account, but ultimately the employer will determine which accommodation is put into effect based on cost, business feasibility and effectiveness. 

Monitor Effectiveness: If the desired outcome is not achieved, the employee and employer should start the process again.