Making the Case for Good Job Descriptions

Now that we’re in the warmer months, human resources (HR) departments often have more time to tackle other projects. This summer, consider reviewing your job descriptions—making sure they are updated and accurately reflect the positions they are tied to.

Having an up-to-date, accurate job description for each position in your organization is extremely important. The job description is the basis for many important employment decisions, including necessary qualifications for new hires, compensation levels and the expectations that an employee’s performance will be measured against. In addition, a job description can become an employer’s defense against a claim of alleged disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities so they are able to perform the essential functions of the position. An ADA-compliant job description should describe what the essential job functions are. An employee or applicant who cannot perform an essential job function with or without a reasonable accommodation is not considered a qualified individual. However, listing everything as an essential function may weaken an employer’s case if challenged in court.

The job description is also the basis for determining compensation and the position’s exempt or nonexempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Recently, claims under the FLSA have risen dramatically, with many employee victories. In addition, the Department of Labor (DOL) has submitted its proposed changes to the FLSA overtime rules to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While any proposed changes may not be finalized for months, they are expected to be significant. Having accurate, up-to-date job descriptions in place when the final rules go into effect may help your organization immensely.

Job descriptions also come into play for training and development, coaching and discipline situations, and return to work programs.

Lastly, remember that an organization’s job description review should not be done solely by HR. Rather, HR should work with the managers who know what they need from the positions that report to them. HR should ensure managers understand the importance of identifying the essential job functions and facilitate best practices.

Do you have questions on this topic, or any others? Contact us today!

 

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