September 1, 2022

The Importance of Up-to-Date Job Descriptions

Even though there are no state or federal requirements for job descriptions, employers can avoid many legal issues if postings are current and properly drafted. Some legal issues include requests for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations and employee classification.

Under state and federal ADA laws, there are requirements for reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. Job descriptions serve an important purpose when it comes to determining the essential functions of the job. Physicians can use the descriptions to determine whether the employee can perform the essential job functions. If the employee or applicant cannot perform the essential functions, the employer must decide whether they can provide a reasonable accommodation. If the employee or applicant files a complaint against the employer based on the denial of accommodation, the courts will review the job description and other pertinent information to determine whether the employer was correct in the denial.

In addition to ADA accommodations, job descriptions can assist in determining whether a position of employment should be exempt or nonexempt pursuant to Kentucky and federal law. A job description must accurately reflect the position’s duties and include the applicable exemptions that show the employee in the position qualifies as being exempt from overtime. For more information on the requirements for exemptions, contact the KLC Municipal Law Department. As with ADA complaints, if an employee makes a complaint based on misclassification, one of the items that will be reviewed is the job description.

On the practical side, employers should use job descriptions when creating advertisements for hiring new employees. A current job description will make it easier to craft the job advertisement, serve as a platform for interview questions, and be an educational tool for interested candidates.

For employees already on the job, this document is an excellent communication tool on the required aspects of their position. Job descriptions can include performance standards and work rules, such as specific safety requirements that apply to the position. Supervisors can use them as a backup for any disciplinary action that results from not meeting expectations set out in the description, especially if the employee has signed the document.

Lastly, many employee positions require specific licenses, certifications, degrees, and annual training that employers should include in the description. This is a great place to reiterate that the position requires a valid driver’s license; is subject to an annual motor vehicle check, physical exam, and/or drug testing as set out in your policies; or that those in the position are considered essential in the event of inclement weather or a natural disaster. Make sure to include other important internal qualifications such as attendance requirements, customer service, and working well with a team.

A current job description can assist the employer in creating a more productive, legally compliant workplace. But if allowed to become out-of-date or poorly drafted, the job description can be a major liability for the employer.

For questions on creating job descriptions, sample job descriptions, or other personnel matters, contact KLC Personnel Services Manager Andrea Shindlebower Main.