It is a simple little line, buried at the bottom of many a job description (and sometimes it may not be written in but let's face it--it is always there). But if it is true (as it often is) that the devil is in the details than this one little line tends to cover a wide range of devilish details.
Other duties as required.
It means that there is always the chance tat you find yourself doing something you never expected.
Like working in the kitchen at summer camp and getting drafted into helping put the dock in.
Or being called to ministry and having to wet vac the hall floor every spring so the water doesn't start popping off the tiles. Or dealing with the plugged toilet. Or calling and chairing a meeting of the committee that is currently without a chair. Or setting up chairs for the funeral while running upstairs now and then to check on the bulletins coming out of the photocopier (followed by folding said bulletins), not to mention sweeping and spot-mopping the floor first. Or renning down to find out why the furnace is not working. Or vacuuming the sanctuary (and other "light housekeeping" -- another term that is deceptive if you ever find it in a position description) on the Friday after Christmas in preparation for the wedding on Saturday. Or helping clean out the clothing and drug paraphernalia from the bushes in front of the church.
Why do we do them, the other duties as required? Sometimes because we know that they are time sensitive. Sometimes because it is a volunteers role and the volunteer is away. Sometimes because it is just easier and faster than finding someone else to do it. And sometimes (though we may not like to admit it) because that way we know it is done [and/or done "properly"].
Many of us also just do them because they need to be done and we want to help out. In the end (though I may grumble from time to time about other duties as required) I am not, in my heart of hearts, a work to rule type of person. Which is good since I am not really in a work to rule type of profession. The challenge though is not to do too many of them. The job description is there for a purpose, to focus one's energies and time. And sometimes, though it can be REALLY hard, we need to leave the other duties for someone else. In a voluntary organization that is sometimes the best way to find out how really required they may be.
And just for fun, a story.
One place I worked the Board had an honourary chair. Apparently one day this person was looking at position descriptions and found this line in all of them. As it happened all employees there signed their position description. The honourary chair looked at "Other Duties as Required" and said something to the effect of "who in their right mind would agree to that?" Which was both wise and naive. Wise as she clearly saw the openendness of the line and how it could be misused. But naive to think that it is not a reality in so so many positions.