California HR

Your Job Descriptions: Who Gets Access?

Company policies vary widely, but in most firms, employees have access to their own job descriptions. This is certainly recommended — how else can employees determine whether they’re doing all that’s required in their job, unless they know exactly what the job entails?

It’s also standard procedure for managers and supervisors to have access to the descriptions for their subordinates. Beyond this, however, there is a tendency among the majority of employers to keep their description programs relatively “closed.”

Organizations that use descriptions primarily for salary administration tend to be less likely to allow all employees free access to them than companies who use them for other purposes. It’s very unusual to allow clerical and production workers to examine managerial descriptions unless they have a legitimate need to do so.


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Guidelines for Access

Based on widely accepted personnel practices, the following guidelines are reasonable for the majority of cases. While your company’s particular needs may demand some deviation from these guidelines, they can be used as a starting point for establishing company policy:

1. Employees should have access to, and preferably a copy of, their own description.

2. Supervisors, managers, and executives should have access to the descriptions of their subordinates.

3. Nonmanagerial employees should not have access to managerial descriptions.


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4. There may be instances when managers or executives (but usually not supervisors) should have access to the descriptions of employees who do not report to them. This may be appropriate during reorganizations, long-range development, or other situations. In addition, it might be appropriate for managers to view the job descriptions of employees from other departments vying for open positions in the manager’s department.

5. When employees are applying for internal transfers or promotions, it may be appropriate for them to receive copies of the description of the open job. If this procedure is abused, access could be limited to viewing only by final candidates for the open job.

6. HR staffers should have access on a “need-to-know” basis. This means that the HR vice president, director, or manager would generally have unrestricted access to any description. The same generally would be true for most professional and managerial compensation, employment, employee relations, training, and related personnel. Other HR staffers, such as benefits managers, as well as clerical and administrative staff not specifically designated to work in the job descriptions area, would have more restricted access.

Job descriptions are a never-ending battle for every HR manager. What’s the state of your job descriptions? Complete? Up to date? If not — or if you’ve never even written them — you’re not alone. Thousands of companies fall short in this area.

It’s easy to understand why. Job descriptions are not simple to do — what with updating and management and legal review, especially for the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) requirement of a split-off of essential functions from other functions in the description. Wouldn’t it be great if your job descriptions were available, already written?

Actually, they are. We have more than 2,400 ready to go, covering every common position in any organization, from receptionist right up to president. They’re ready to roll in an online BLR tool called the Job Description Manager.

The Job Description Manager tool provides you with:

  • More than 2,400 job titles — makes your work easy
  • A customizable program that fits your specific needs
  • 24/7 access from any computer, anywhere in the world
  • Online job description storage for easy access and updating — your latest copy is just clicks away.
  • The ability to easily download and print, or even email, your job descriptions

In just one click, you can produce a standardized, thorough job description:

  • Include relevant tasks, behaviors, and physical requirements for that job
  • Add, edit, delete or reorganize easily and quickly
  • Create your own personal job description library
  • View salary data
  • Produce PDFs and printed versions with a click of your mouse

Click here to give the Job Description Manager a test-drive, free of charge or obligation.  

Once you try it, you’ll be able to check “writing job descriptions” off your most-dreaded tasks list forever.

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