What is a Duty Statement?
Every position in State government has a duty statement. It's a description of tasks, functions, and responsibilities of a position to which an employee is assigned. Specifically, the duty statement is a personnel management tool which describes the overall intent or purpose of a position, the tasks being performed by that position, the purpose of why those tasks are performed, and the manner in which they are performed. Duty statements are essential to ensuring the success of the employee in a position.
Why Do We Need Duty Statements?
Duty statements are required by the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) and ensure we are in compliance with Government Code sections 12926-12926.1 and 12940. They help prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities through the Americans with Disabilities Act and discrimination in general through the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Finally, duty statements set clear expectations for both the employee and the supervisor/manager.
Benefits of a Well-Written Duty Statement
The duty statement helps staff understand their responsibilities and how their work contributes to the overall mission of the department.
It serves as a useful tool for training purposes because it lists the specific tasks that make up the job.
Clear duty statements promote an understanding between the employer and the prospective employee. You are more likely to hire the right person if both of you clearly understand the job.
The employer and employee can compare actual job performance to the expectations outlined in the duty statement. This helps you recognize a job well done or a need for retraining or discipline.
In the unfortunate event that you must discipline or terminate an employee for poor performance, the duty statement gives you a basis for defending your decision.
Duty Statement Elements
Standard Administrative Information
This is the identifying information at the very top of the duty statement. It includes the facts of the position including the reporting unit, current position number, proposed position, shift, and more. This section seems very simple, however because it is so simple, there are a lot of errors. Make sure you double check the accuracy of this section before you submit the duty statement.
It's DGS policy to state the core values on every duty statement. On the DGS OHR 907, there are five check boxes to select the appropriate core values statement. Check the box that fits your position and the core value statement will automatically populate.
The position concept is a brief description of the position. It should include the degree of supervision received, any supervision exercised, and the overall purpose of the position in your organization. For supervision received, consult the classification specification. This section should not be more than 4 sentences. Just because this box is at the beginning of the duty statement template, don't feel like you need to write it first. Sometimes it's best to write it last, especially if you're making a duty statement from scratch, in order to have a firm grasp of the position's duties.
This section is utilized when a position is designated under the Conflict of Interest (COI) Code, requires a medical, or requires a background check. When you check the appropriate box, the language for that item will automatically appear. For more about these sections, see below:
Conflict of Interest
If a position is designated under the COI Code, the COI statement must be included on the duty statement. The latest revision of the duty statement automatically applies the COI language when you check the appropriate box. View which positions are classified under the COI.
This box is available for positions requiring a medical due to a physical portion of the position.
- Background Evaluation
If the position requires the candidate to submit to and pass a background check or Live Scan, this box must be checked. View the list of buildings in FMD which require background checks.
Essential and Marginal Functions
Essential Functions are the duties the position exists solely to perform. There are a limited number of employees available to perform these functions and they're typically highly specialized.
Marginal Functions are duties that could easily be reassigned. The nature of the job won't change if the duty is not performed and failure to perform the duty would only have a minor or negligible consequence.
A task statement is a statement that clearly illustrates work assigned and performed by an employee as part of his/her duties. Task statements should be descriptive, yet straight to the point. This is what you'll put in the 'Description' section under Essential or Marginal functions.
To write a task statement, make a list of all the core functions the position will perform. Then, for each function, answer these questions:
- The position performs what actions?
- For whom or for what purpose are those actions performed? What is produced?
- What aids, equipment, software, or tools would they use?
- With what supervisory oversight?
Once you have all your tasks, you want to group task statements that are similar. For example, tasks such as greeting visitors, answering phones, and taking messages could be grouped as one. Receiving and date stamping mail, logging correspondence and distributing them appropriately could be grouped as another. Then you'd assign a percentage, read more below.
Task Statements always start with an action verb which should be concrete and behaviorally specific. You don't need to say, "the incumbent" or any word identifying the subject as the subject is always implied. Next, answer the other questions; it doesn't have to be in this order:
- The immediate object that answers the question who? or what? is receiving the action.
- The expected output of product starting with a phrase such as "in order to" supplies the reason for the action.
- How the work is being done, clarify this by outlining the tools, equipment, work aids, methods, or processes followed to ensure work is completed.
- With what direction describes the source and amount of instruction given to the worker.
Once you've identified the groups of similar duties through clear task statements, you'll need to assign a percentage to each one. This shows the percentage of time the employee will be performing that task. An easy way to do this is to convert percentages into hours (actual time) per week.
Once you've determined how many hours per day, or per week, you can use this chart to gauge what percentage that should be:
Some percentage guidelines include:
- Each group of tasks should be no more than 35% (there may be exceptions)
- Each group of tasks should not be less than 5%
- Marginal tasks should be no more than 5%
- The total percentage must total 100%
Ensuring Equal Opportunity
The duties and even the language within the duty statement are extremely important and we must be careful not to unknowingly discriminate against anyone. Think about the action words you use, for example, instead of listing "walk the perimeter of the building" use "patrol the building and surrounding area." Not only is it more descriptive, it doesn't discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities.
The incumbent must be able to perform the essential functions listed on the duty statement with or without reasonable accommodation.