Overview: Clarity is the key when it comes to job descriptions. The employer should not mislead potential job applicants or employees, not to mention managers, with unclear or inaccurate job descriptions.
A job description ideally should be a summary and have enough pertinent information about the work to reveal the essential functions of the job. The minimum qualifications required to do the job; desired licenses or certifications if any; the job title; exempt vs. nonexempt status for overtime pay; and the working conditions also are among the factors that usually are included.
As is the case with other areas of job analysis, employers should review all job descriptions on a regular basis. At a minimum, descriptions should be reviewed whenever a job is filled since recruitment is an ideal time for managers to assess organizational needs and rework job duties if a modification is needed.
Employers also should ensure that job descriptions exclude nonessential functions so that otherwise qualified applicants are not discouraged from applying for open positions. For instance, a lifting requirement that is minor or nonessential might deter individuals with disabilities from applying and could create liability under the ADA as a result.
Author: David B. Weisenfeld, JD, Legal Editor
An employer can use this checklist to ensure it develops legally compliant job descriptions to find the best candidates while avoiding discrimination risks.
This How To outlines the steps that an employer should take to determine which job tasks are truly essential.
HR considerations in writing legal and effective job descriptions.