In a previous Advisor, we featured the California Employment Law Letter’s take on the importance of a good job description. Today, we look at the key components every job description must contain.
The California Employment Law Letter (CELL) is written by Mark I. Schickman, and Cathleen S. Yonahara, both attorneys at the law firm of Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP. In San Francisco.
A job description need not account for every task that might ever be done, says the CELL. Here are the most critical components of a good job description.
- Heading information. This should include job title, pay grade or range, reporting relationship (by position, not individual), hours or shifts, and the likelihood of overtime or weekend work.
- Summary objective of the job. List the general responsibilities and descriptions of key tasks and their purpose, relationships with customers, coworkers, and others, and the results expected of incumbent employees.
- Qualifications. State the education, experience, training, and technical skills necessary for entry into this job.
- Special demands. This should include any extraordinary conditions applicable to the job (for example, heavy lifting, exposure to temperature extremes, prolonged standing, or travel).
- Job duties and responsibilities. Only two features of job responsibility are important: identifying tasks that comprise about 90 to 95 percent of the work done and listing tasks in order of the time consumed (or, sometimes, in order of importance).
- The first task listed should be the most important or time-consuming one, and so on.
- Employers can cover 90 to 95 percent or more of most tasks and responsibilities in a few statements.
- It’s more important to list what must be performed and accomplished than how, if there is more than one way to do it. Being too specific on how to accomplish a duty could lead to ADA issues when an employee asks for an accommodation.
Creating and maintaining job descriptions isn’t difficult. In fact, sometimes businesses use the development of job descriptions as a means of opening new lines of communication with employees. Employees want to be heard, and the development of job descriptions is a perfect opportunity to increase employee involvement.
If employers approach the process correctly, it can even be fun! The reward for management is a useful tool that helps guide many critical employment decisions and serves as an important consideration in the defense of administrative actions and lawsuits.