HR Management & Compliance

5 Laws That Job Descriptions Can Violate

In yesterday’s CED, consultant Mary Anne Kennedy offered tips for making job descriptions a valuable tool; today, her take on legal issues related to job descriptions.

Which Laws Are Involved?

A number of federal laws and regulations are involved as you complete your job descriptions and work with them, says Kennedy, including:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (proper classification as exempt or nonexempt)
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 (comparing job values, pay values, and gender)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (comparing pay levels and protected group status)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (again, pay levels and protected status)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (working conditions, work environment—lifting, climbing ladders, etc.)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (delineating the essential functions of the job)

(Note that the California state-law counterparts of these laws can be implicated, as well.)

Kennedy is the principal consultant of MAKHR Consulting, LLC, and author of the career coaching book Finding the Right Job; A Step-By-Step Approach. She made her suggestions at a recent webinar sponsored by Business & Legal Resources, CER’s parent company.

Vague, Inaccurate Job Descriptions Are Dangerous

Vague, inaccurate, or incomplete job descriptions will trip you up, says Kennedy.

For example, she says, performance appraisals can create problems when the manager gives low marks to someone for something that isn’t on the job description. (“You fired me for something that wasn’t even important enough to be on the job description that lists 10 essential functions but not this one?”)

The right people won’t stay in the right job if the pay is wrong. And you won’t stay long in your job if you make errors in the tricky area of California wage and hour law. Get all the facts you need with the complete California wage and hour desk reference—now fully updated for 2014. Learn more.

What Gets Left Out?

What gets left out of the job description? Some of the key items that Kennedy has seen left out of job descriptions include:

  • Part-time
  • Temporary
  • Bilingual Spanish/English
  • Keywords for your industry—like HRIS, ADP, ATS
  • Mandatory licenses, degrees, professional certifications

Leaving key phrases out is a double whammy when recruiting, Kennedy says. First, you’ll attract thousands of unqualified people, and, second, they’ll all leave angry because of the “hidden” qualification.

In fact, one of Kennedy’s clients had a lawsuit in which the applicant claimed that she met all listed qualifications and wasn’t interviewed. The candidate claimed it was because she was in a protected class. It was true that the applicant was superbly qualified to do all the tasks outlined in the job description. Unfortunately, the person was clearly unqualified based on an unmentioned requirement.

A more specific job description would have helped, Kennedy noted.

It’s Complicated …

Job descriptions interact with wage and hour law in a number of complicated ways—as do many other parts of your work as a California HR professional.

Unfortunately, wage and hour is just never as simple as we wish it were, particularly here in California, where there’s a complex overlay of state laws and rules on top of the federal FLSA (nearly all of them even more employee-friendly).

We think the best weapon out there for California employers is the newly updated 2014 edition of our HR Management & Compliance Report How To Comply with California Wage & Hour Law.

This information-packed guide, written by an experienced California employment lawyer, features in-depth coverage of all the topics you need to know about in an easy-read, quick-reference style:

  • The California Labor Code vs. the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Who the California wage and hour laws apply to
  • The Wage Orders that cover your organization
  • Hours of work—including travel time, make-up time, meal and rest periods, and the definition of “hours worked”
  • The rules for hourly, salary, and piece-rate pay
  • Bonuses, profit-sharing plans, and tips
  • Overtime and double-time wages
  • Alternative workweeks
  • Tools and equipment, uniforms, and work-related expenses and losses
  • Paid time off—vacation, PTO, holidays, and sick leave
  • Unpaid time off
  • When and how employees must be paid
  • Payment of final wages upon termination
  • Deductions from pay
  • Recordkeeping requirements
  • Pay-related discrimination
  • A new appendix of key cases you need to know about
  • And much more!

New for the 2014 Edition:

  • State appellate court decision affecting timekeeping and the practice of rounding employees’ time up or down
  • Information on calculating overtime when a nonexempt employee has a fixed salary
  • Information on providing accurate wage statements to avoid penalties
  • Changes in state minimum wage rates (which take effect starting in July 2014)

Order your copy now and try it out risk-free for 30 days. If you’re dissatisfied in any way, just return it within 30 days for a full refund.
Now’s the perfect time to get yourself prepared for 2014. Order your copy of the newly updated edition of How To Comply with California Wage & Hour Law today.

Download your copy of Job Descriptions in California: How To Handle Tricky Drafting Hurdles today!

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