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Image for Dana Ball Legal ServicesWhile they’re not required by federal or state laws, your business needs good job descriptions for every position in the business. Not only do they clarify what’s expected of the employee, they can help at performance review time and protect both sides against legal action.

But job descriptions can also leave your business open to some serious legal action. That’s why it’s essential for all employers to know the language to use in job descriptions.

Benefits of job descriptions

Job descriptions can clarify expectations for the employee. And they can also help the employer develop a job ad, determine competitive compensation, and choose candidates to interview. A job description that’s clear to all can ease performance appraisal, as well.

Land Mines

If they’re not worded carefully, however, job descriptions can increase your risk of legal action. If you don’t list the essential functions of the job, you may not be able to say that the employee was not meeting expectations. Without a clear statement about the exempt status of the job, employees may not understand whether they’re entitled to overtime pay for hours in excess of 40 in one week.

Physical requirements, such as requirements for standing or sitting for periods of time, can be interpreted as discrimination, or in contravention of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Take special care with dress codes and required hours of work. Federal and state laws demand that employers make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s or job candidate’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices.

CTA buttonEssential elements

Start your job descriptions with a statement that your company is an equal-opportunity employer, committed to a harassment-free workplace. Then make certain your job descriptions include:

  • job title, level or code if applicable, pay grade and the title of the person the position reports to
  • classification, which describes whether the position is exempt from overtime pay requirements under federal and state regulations
  • whether the job is temporary, for a set period of time or at-will
  • whether it is full-time or part-time
  • hours and place of work
  • essential functions, including basic duties and expectations, expectations for performance or output
  • required skills and experience needed to do the job
  • education, professional or trade licenses or certifications needed
  • personal traits, such as attention to detail or the ability to work under time constraints or as part of a team
  • physical requirements: the need to sit or stand for extended periods, to lift heavy objects, and the physical work environment
  • additional information, such as requirements for travel or occasional overtime

Review your job descriptions today

Do they reflect the responsibilities and the requirements of the position? Do they include a statement about being an equal-opportunity employer and a harassment-free workplace? Is there vague wording?

We have resources to help you develop job descriptions that protect your business and your employees. You can contact us at Dana Ball Legal Services to make sure your job descriptions comply with all regulations in Utah.

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