THE AlASKA Better Business Blog
THE AlASKA Better Business Blog
While federal law does not require job descriptions, the utility of carefully drafted job descriptions cannot be overstated. From hiring to compensation to managing employee performance and beyond, a poorly drafted job description (or the absence of a job...
description) can expose employers to litigation risk by undermining the employer’s position in employment related lawsuits. The existence of and content of written job descriptions are often in issue in lawsuits related to religious and disability accommodation disputes, disputes over whether an employee was properly classified, leave disputes, discrimination cases, and immigration cases.
The elements of a great job description include the following:
Job Title. The document should include a clear and concise job title.
Job Code. If the employer has an internal job code that is applicable to the position and relates to the employer’s internal operations, the job code should be listed in the job description. Internal job codes usually relate to issues such as pay grade, internal reporting relationships, and benefits.
Job Classification. A great job description should state specifically whether the position is (1) exempt or nonexempt from minimum wage and overtime pay requirements under the applicable federal, state, or local laws; (2) full-time or part-time; and (3) a temporary, seasonal, contract, or regular position. This is important because, if an employer incorrectly classifies an employee as holding a status he or she does not, that employer may be liable to pay the employee back pay and overtime compensation.
Duties. A great job description describes the duties and responsibilities of the job including the essential functions of the job. A function may be essential if the position exists to perform the function or the function is highly specialized. Where the position includes essential functions and non-essential functions, functions should be listed according to whether they are essential or non-essential. The main benefit of listing duties and responsibilities is the help the employer identify whether an employee can preform the essential functions. A list of critical functions can also help employers defend against lawsuits where the employer’s ability to preform the functions of a position are in issue, such as a disability discrimination case.
Better practice tip: a disclaimer should be included if the job description is not intended to be a comprehensive list of the duties and responsibilities of the position and that the duties and responsibilities may change without notice.
Qualifications. A job description should also include any required qualifications of the position. The best practice is to list preferred and required qualifications separately. Job qualifications might include, for example, educational or trade requirements; professional licensure or certification requirements; prior work experience; language, math, and technology proficiency requirements; and traits, such as the ability to multitask or work in a stressful and face paced environment. With limited exceptions, employers are prohibited from expressing a preference or requirement based on a protected class, such as religion, sex, or national origin.
Physical Requirements and Workplace Conditions. Job descriptions should specify the physical requirements of the position, such as bending, standing, and sitting, as well as physical workplace conditions, such as hazardous or potentially harmful conditions.
Additional Information. The job description may also include working hours, work locations, and travel obligations. This helps employers communicate to current and prospective employees.
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