Job Descriptions: Are they that important?
Job descriptions are more than an overview of a particular position. A well-written job description offers a variety of benefits to both the employee and the employer. However, a poorly written job description can offer employers a lot of problems.
Job Descriptions and Liability Protection
Two recent cases do a good job of highlighting the importance of accurate job descriptions. In the first case, a sales representative for a beverage distribution company was granted FMLA leave following an auto accident. In anticipation of his returning to work, the company sent his job description to his doctor for advice on any restrictions. Unfortunately, the job description made no mention of any required physical skills like walking, standing, pushing, or pulling. When he returned to work with medical documentation saying he “should refrain from prolonged walking, standing, running or jumping,” the employer advised him that his previous position was no longer available. Under the FMLA regulations, the employer failed to provide a list of the essential functions of the job and lost the case.
A well-written job description in the case Green v. BakeMark USA, LLC made clear that the employee could not perform the essential functions of the job. In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it failed to accommodate his disability by allowing him to work only four hours a day. However, the job description made it clear that the job required 50 hours a week at a minimum. The court ruled in favor of the employer.
Both cases highlight the importance of keeping current, accurate, and thorough job descriptions. Not only do well-written job descriptions offer a list of essential job functions, but they can protect the employer in cases of litigation.
Job Descriptions and Management
Well-written job descriptions are also important in ensuring employee performance management, development, discipline, and rewards. A thorough job description can be used to set measurable performance goals for each employee. It, along with job descriptions of potential job promotions, can be used as incentives for employees to seek professional development, such as taking classes.
When it comes to recognizing and rewarding your employees, a job description can be used as a baseline for performance. In addition, it can be used in discipline when illustrating how an employee is not adequately performing his or her job functions.
Anatomy of a Good Job Description
A well-written job description will include the following:
- Organizational Information – The job title, department name, reporting relationships, if job is regular or temporary, and full-time or part-time.
- Job Summary – Brief overview.
- Duties/Responsibilities – A thorough and current list of the major duties and responsibilities of the position organized from most important to least important.
- Working Conditions – Details about the physical, mental, and environmental conditions in which the work is performed.
- Job Specifications – The minimum education, work experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities requirements.
- Salary – Though not necessary, you can include a specific number or a range.
If you need help writing or revising your job descriptions, be sure to contact the HR experts at Optimum Employer Solutions.