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Difference Between Duties and Responsibilities (With Examples)

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In this blog post, we will discuss the difference between duties and responsibilities with examples so you can better understand what they mean and how they differ from one another!

A duty is something that you are legally obligated to do, such as paying taxes or providing for your family. Responsibility is an obligation that someone voluntarily accepts, such as taking care of your children or working extra hours at work when needed.

What are Duties?

Duties are the tasks that are performed by the employees of an organization. These include both administrative and operational functions. Duties are compulsory in nature, so if a person does not perform his duties he can be penalized for it or even lose his job.

For example, if an individual is appointed as the manager of a shop, then it becomes his duty to ensure that the store remains open for all working days and does not close early, or he may be penalized.

What are Responsibilities?

Responsibilities refer to those activities which have been entrusted upon us by virtue of our positions or roles. They may be either legal as well as moral obligations imposed on us with regard to certain things.

They are the things that a person is expected to do as part of his job. Unlike duties, which are specific tasks that need to be carried out, responsibilities can be more general in nature. For example, a salesperson might have the responsibility of increasing sales in a given area. A teacher might have the responsibility of improving his teaching skills or maintaining discipline among students.

Key Differences Between Duties & Responsibilities

The difference between the two is not clear-cut. Duties are things that must be done, whereas responsibilities are what you need to do or ought to do because of your position in an organization. When it comes down to it, duties and responsibilities often overlap with one another depending on how far up the ladder you go. For example, a CEO may have certain obligations as well as many different jobs they regularly perform for their company.

Difference in repercussions

The consequences for not performing one's duties can be serious, ranging from a warning or reprimand to being fired from the job. On the other hand, there may be no legal repercussions for not fulfilling responsibilities. However, it is likely that there will be some form of punishment or sanction by the organization if this occurs.

Duties are compulsory while responsibilities are optional

While both duties and responsibilities entail doing something, duties are compulsory whereas responsibilities are optional. One has to perform his duties as they have been assigned to him, but one can choose whether he wants to undertake his responsibilities or not.

The difference in scope of activities

The activities covered by duties tend to be narrower in scope than those included in responsibilities. Duties usually refer to specific tasks, whereas responsibilities can be more general in nature. Responsibilities are usually related to a person's job profile or position while duties may not always relate directly to one's role.

Duties refer to actions that happen in regular intervals or on a set schedule while responsibilities can be done any time without warning. Secondly, we work our way up through the ranks by taking on more and more responsibility but never adding new duties once we've achieved an elevated rank.

The difference with the help of examples

Duties are tasks that employees must complete in order to get paid. For example, if your job requires you to type for 8 hours a day, then typing is your duty. Responsibilities are what an employee has been entrusted with by their employer.

For example, if your boss tells you that they trust you enough to run the company when they're not around and gives you some authority over other employees in the process (like hiring and firing), then running the company when they aren't there becomes one of your responsibilities.

Duties refer to a specific task that needs to be performed. This could include, for example: filing paperwork, taking care of the office files and records, answering phones, etc…

Responsibilities are broader in meaning since it refers not only to tasks but also accountability. For instance, you may have more than one duty, but you only have one overall responsibility.

Duties and responsibilities are not interchangeable terms

Although duties can be regarded as a subset of responsibilities, they should never be used interchangeably since their meanings are quite different from each other. Duties and responsibilities should never be used interchangeably as their meanings differ from each other significantly. Duties refer to compulsory tasks whereas responsibilities are those activities entrusted upon us by virtue of our positions or roles.

Responsibilities may be moral obligations imposed on us with regard to certain things while duties usually pertain directly to our jobs (although they might). For example, Teachers have a number of legal and moral responsibilities towards students like maintaining discipline among them, teaching well, etc., but these are not duties but responsibilities.

Similarities Between Duties & Responsibilities

Duties and responsibilities both carry ethical implications as well.  Failing to perform one's duties can have serious consequences, while not fulfilling responsibilities may result in some form of punishment or sanction by the organization. Additionally, both duties and responsibilities usually entail doing something. Lastly, both terms are important for organizational functioning as they help employees know what is expected of them.


It is important to know the difference between duty and responsibility. Your duties will vary depending on your position, but it is often easiest for you to fulfill them if they are aligned with your responsibilities. We have outlined what makes up these two concepts in this blog post. Now that you know the difference, it will be easier to balance your workload and ensure that you are fulfilling your obligations.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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