JOB DESCRIPTIONS – DO WE REALLY NEED THEM?
In today’s world up to date and accurate job descriptions are more important than ever. They form the basis for many important processes for a business. They can be one of the most useful tools for employers and employees. Some companies may think that job descriptions are not necessary, but there are numerous reasons, as discussed below, for why all companies should have job descriptions for every position and should put in the effort to keep them up to date.
Job descriptions help companies identify the right employees for a particular position. Job descriptions help applicants know if the position is a good fit for them, which in turn helps ensure employers have the most qualified applicant pool. The more detailed and descriptive a job description is regarding the position the higher the likelihood that the company will attract high-quality applicants and hire the right employees.
Job descriptions also state the minimum qualifications of the job. If a job requires a specific certification or professional designation, or a certain level of experience, it should always be included in the job description. An employer should also include things such as whether a negative drug test is required before staring work or whether the position requires effective communication, teamwork, and good attendance. By doing this, the employer has legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for rejecting an applicant if they do not possess the minimum qualifications for a position.
A job description that accurately reflects the duties of a specific position also help an employer justify classifying an employee as exempt versus non-exempt. A job description, by itself, is not the only determining factor in whether an individual is exempt or non-exempt. However, a job description can support an employer’s determination that a position is exempt if it contains elements of the applicable exemptions. For example, if an employer determines that a position is exempt under the administrative exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a job description which includes language that demonstrates that the employee regularly exercises independent judgment and discretion about matters of significance is useful.
Job descriptions are also useful communication tools. Job descriptions tell employees exactly what tasks they are expected to perform and in some cases may address quality and/or quantity of performance or work rules that apply to a particular position. With performance expectations clearly communicated in the job description, employees will have a better understanding of what is expected of them and can be held accountable to meeting those expectations. Job descriptions allow an employer to properly evaluate performance and can be used as a basis for discipline if an employee fails to perform up to those expectations.
Accurate and up to date job descriptions also help mitigate risk and limit liability for a company. Job descriptions can be helpful legal documentation if an employer has to defend itself against a claim or lawsuit filed by an employee. Many employers have used job descriptions to successfully defend themselves in such lawsuits. Conversely, job descriptions that have not been kept up to date and accurate have resulted in unfavorable outcomes.
Job descriptions help with the interactive process. Federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as some state laws require covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. A job description is a starting point for what the employer believes are the essential duties of each job. Once the essential duties are identified, the employer and applicant or employee with a disability can begin the interactive process about what reasonable accommodations may help the applicant or employee perform those duties without being an undue hardship on the employer or creating a direct threat to the applicant or employee or other employees.
As you can see, there are many reasons and benefits to having up to date and accurate job descriptions. If its been a while since you have reviewed and updated your job descriptions, now is a good time to start that process. If you have been operating without job descriptions, now is a good time to get those in place. Need assistance? We have a collection of sample job descriptions on our Member Portal to get you started. Don’t see something that is a good fit? Contact our team of experienced HR and legal professionals to assist you.
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