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
Employers must determine which tasks or functions are truly essential to the job and describe them, including the amount of physical and mental effort required to do them, as well as the working environment in which they are performed. This How To provides guidelines for employers to determine essential job tasks.
Job analysis is a process by which the employer gathers, analyzes and synthesizes information about the work performed by its people for various purposes, including hiring, pay equity and competitiveness, workflow, performance management, training and development, and legal compliance. Employers can follow this How To for conducting a job analysis.
Job analysis is essential to legal and effective administration of employment, compensation, performance management, training and other HR programs or functional domains. This section assists HR in understanding the purposes of job analysis; knowing when to rely on their own staff and when to use outside, expert consultants; and knowing why appropriate documentation of analysis is needed and how each type of job analysis should be documented.
HR considerations in writing legal and effective job descriptions.