Guidelines for Physical and Mental Job Requirements

Physical and Mental Job Requirements

Job descriptions should only include the physical or mental requirements that are essential to the performance of the job in order to be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Avoid including physical or mental demands that are not essential to the position, as those requirements may unnecessarily or unfairly exclude individuals with disabilities who would otherwise be capable of performing these functions with or without a reasonable accommodation. 

Tips For Physical and Mental Job Requirements

There are typically multiple ways a task can be completed. Therefore, the position description should focus on the desired outcome, and not how a task is completed.

  • All physical or mental requirements included in a position description must be needed to complete an essential function of the job. Essential functions are the functions routinely performed in the job and the removal of these functions would fundamentally change the position.

  • To determine whether a function is essential, consider:

    • whether the position exists to perform that function

    • whether there are other employees available to share that function

    • the degree of expertise required to perform the function
      the actual work experience of present/past employees in the job

    • terms of the collective bargaining agreement

    • time spent performing the particular function

    • consequences of failing to require the employee to perform the function

Physical Requirements

The level and duration of physical exertion that is generally required to perform essential job functions.

Examples of physical requirements

Bending, crawling, stooping, standing, vision, lifting, walking

Mental Requirements

The cognitive skills needed to complete tasks, including abilities such as learning, remembering, focusing, categorizing, and integrating information for decision making, problem-solving, and comprehending.

Examples of mental requirements:

Learn new tasks, remember processes, maintain focus, complete tasks independently, make timely decisions in the context of a workflow, ability to communicate with visitors, ability to complete tasks in situations that have a speed or productivity quota.

Summary for Compliant and Inclusive Physical and Mental Requirements

  • Must be required to complete an essential function

  • Focusing on the outcome can eliminate many if not all physical and mental requirements. 

  • The section may be blank and that’s ok! Not all positions require physical and mental requirements.

  • If physical and/or mental requirements are included in a position description, they should be reviewed annually to ensure accuracy.

Potentially Discriminatory Language

More Inclusive Language

Must be able to lift 50 pounds

Moves equipment weighing up to 50 pounds

Seeking able-bodied individual

No replacement. Avoid completely.

Bending and crouching under desks to install equipment

Positions self to install equipment, including under desks

Must be able to stand for an entire shift

Must be able to remain in a stationary position during shift

Talks to students about their financial concerns

Communicates with students about their financial concerns

Walks throughout the building to access files

Moves throughout the building to access files

This role requires visually inspecting sites for safety

This role requires inspection of sites to detect safety concerns

Must be able to think and apply information in a noisy environment

Must be able to complete tasks in a noisy environment

Must be able to remember and follow process protocol

Must be able to adhere to process protocol

Must be able to think rationally and apply logic during high-stress situations

Must be able to apply established protocols in a timely manner

For additional information on physical and mental requirements contact the ADA Coordinators Office at:

Phone: 614-292-6207