Job Descriptions are the New Black

April 10th, 2015

This week, top designers met in Paris and New York for Fashion Week – a chance to tell the rest of us which colors and styles we must go buy and which ones we should shun. Which new color will be the chic of the season? The “go to” color for those who want to be in style? The one that fashion magazines and television shows will proclaim as the ‘new black’ – that everyone just has to have?

Even if you think HR is exciting, job descriptions could never been described as sexy or exotic documents! However – especially in 2015 – well-written, accurate job descriptions that are actively used are key to navigating upcoming regulatory changes. Job descriptions are definitely the new black – something every organization really needs to have.

One key regulation with proposed new rules is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is the regulation that determines which positions are entitled to overtime and the minimum amount a salaried person must make to be exempt from overtime. In March of 2014, President Obama requested that this regulation be updated to consider current wage levels and types of white collar positions – heralding the most dramatic changes to the law in 40 years. Regardless of your industry, it is likely that the results of these regulation changes will affect you and your business.

Your best preparation? To ensure you are doing no more or no less than you need to, it is crucial to document both the essential functions and the key results expected of a particular job, along with the approximate percentage of time spent in these essential functions and the physical requirements necessary to perform them.

What steps should you take?

1. Make sure you have a job description for each position and that it accurately reflects what someone performing that job does all day (or night).

2. Clearly define what kinds of decisions the job incumbent expected to make and what key results he or she must produce.

3. Revisit the number of hours it takes to perform the job correctly – especially if you currently do not pay overtime for this position. While the proposed new rules are not published at time of this writing, it is likely that more positions will be eligible for overtime, not fewer. If you are expecting a position to work more than 40 hours per week on a routine basis, you may be looking at significant overtime pay if you do not restructure the position.

4. Include physical requirements of the job including attendance. In an age where telecommuting and virtual work are common, if your position requires attendance during specific hours or at a specific place, be certain that those requirements are clearly defined and supported expected results.

5. Don’t procrastinate. Much like cleaning closets, fundamental HR tasks do not get easier when you put them off. Schedule time to dust off those job descriptions and get them into shape this spring. When the new proposed rulings come out, you’ll be able to relax and know that your HR style is completely compliant!