Many job descriptions have a sentence added at the end of specified tasks and responsibilities. It is: "…to perform other tasks and responsibilities as assigned". This boilerplate language covers assigned projects and added tasks that can be added legally to your job description. Not only will you learn new skills and grow in your present position, it can lead to a higher level and/or a promotion.
Employees who question "It’s not in my job description" are sometimes negated for shirking the additional responsibilities or opportunity for advancement this language provides. It’s better for your career advancement to use the opportunity of new avenues to explore to give more depth and breadth to your present position or perhaps to advance to the next level.
Some companies no longer maintain job descriptions. Proponents for discarding job descriptions altogether say they are not complete - there are always responsibilities added on that are not part of the original one when hired. They contend that descriptions are usually obsolete within 6 months of hiring as jobs constantly change; by the time they are updated, they need to be changed again.
It is time consuming to write them and don’t aid anyone in their daily work. However, many companies still use them as they tie into the job market and salary data . Position or job descriptions do serve distinct, important factors in job hiring and career development. For hiring, they are the vehicle through which salary levels and pay are determined. For career development, they aid in job progressions and new skills.
Salary surveys from most companies are examined and analyzed to compete with market data for the same positions. Variables used are the number of organizations participating in the survey, the number of incumbents in each position, and the level of detail provided in the job description matching process.
How important are job descriptions? While laws does not require them, job descriptions are critical in supporting practically every employment action, such as hiring, compensation, promotion, discipline, and termination.
They also aid in:
- employees understanding exactly what their jobs’ tasks require of them in order of importance;
- giving managers hiring guidelines and effective promotion and supervision tools;
- aiding employers with compliance of many and growing list of employment laws and regulations. If there is an employee/employer dispute, the job description may play a decisive part.
- upholding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many state workers’ compensation laws, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) for essential job requirements and physical demands/work environment. A well written, thorough job description can help you make the critical decisions necessary to comply with these challenges.
- ensuring compliance with federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which impact almost every employee in the United States.
- ensuring compliance with other laws, such as federal discrimination statutes which prohibit discrimination against various protected classes (EEO). Some states have enacted discrimination laws that protect classes not covered by federal legislation.
- protecting the employer to support why one applicant is more qualified than another or why you pay one employee more than another. It also can protect why they terminate an employee for poor performance.
Since job duties and technology can out date a job description, it is crucial to upgrade job descriptions timely to keep them accurate and current. Performance reviews are based upon completion of job responsibilities and tasks outlined. Promotions can be based on superior performance and/or additional responsibilities or tasks undertaken again as outlined in the job description.
Marie Coppola February 2014