How Vital Are Job Descriptions?

Well written job descriptions are an essential tool in today’s workplace.  They help define job expectations, are used as references in making employment decisions and very often can be relied upon in defending employment-related claims.

Additionally, in order to be compliant with the American’s with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), or when responding to a request for a reasonable accommodation, companies can rely on job descriptions to determine the essential job components and assess what, if any, type of accommodation could be considered.  It is critical for all job descriptions to include the physical requirements of the position, even if you consider the job to be sedentary.  When an accommodation is requested or for purposes of certifying an employee’s return to work following leave, providing the employee’s physician with a job description to determine whether the employee can perform the essential job functions is a good business practice.

Government contractors and subcontractors now have an additional reason to review and update their job descriptions.  The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, (“OFCCP”) has recently revised its audit letter.  This new letter requires contractors to state when they last reviewed the physical and mental qualifications of each job and when they expect to review the job description again.

PMP recommends that companies assure that their job descriptions include the following information:

o    Reporting relationship
o    FLSA status
o    Position summary
o    Knowledge/skills
o    Competencies
o    Physical components
o    Working conditions
o    Minimum qualifications

Job descriptions are often relied upon during a Department of Labor wage and hour audit or in employment litigation to assist in defending a company’s determination of a job’s non-exempt or exempt status.  Companies should review the main functions of the position, and carefully review with an HR Professional or labor counsel whether the job meets a particular exemption: administrative, executive or professional.

Job descriptions are not intended to contain a laundry list of every task you expect or might like an employee to perform in the future, rather, they should clearly define the primary duties of the position.

This article is intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice.



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