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Essential and non-essential tasks

An important part of deciding whether an employee is ready to return to work is identifying the essential duties of the job where they are returning. In other words, which tasks do they have to do themselves? These are tasks that cannot be given to others. The employer’s, healthcare provider’s and employee’s knowledge of the job’s essential duties will help decide whether the employee is ready to return to work. It will also help the employer decide if the employee can come back sooner, with some of their duties modified or given to others.

Identify essential tasks: To decide which duties are essential and which are non-essential, think about:

  • Could the task be given to another employee or contracted to another organization?
  • How much time is spent doing the task?
  • How does the task affect getting the job done?
  • Do the tasks exist to get the job done?
  • How does finishing this task affect the performance of other employees?
  • Is the job highly specialized?
  • If the employee is unable to do the tasks, what will happen?
  • Which tasks do you think are essential?

For more information, see the section on essential and non-essential tasks in the task analysis worksheet.