Job Descriptions and Employment Contracts

Job descriptions – the law, employment contract significance and the sign of a good start to any new employee

Job descriptions for key roles are incredibly important – whatever the industry – as they provide a basis on which employment can be entered into and on which an employee can be held accountable in the event that he or she ends up not doing their job properly. They are also a great way to introduce a new employee to a new role and to give them the best start in terms of making headway at a new company.

Human Resource Managers

A job description should

A good job description can be used as a way of measuring how well an employee is doing, it enables a company to introduce fair pay and promotion structures on the basis of those job descriptions, it is essential in the event that any disciplinary problems arise and it provides an overview of a job that is neutral and objective, that can be used both by an employee to measure his or her own progress, as well as by an employer in terms of appraisals and judging performance.

Detailed but not too detailed

Whilst a job description should be filled with relevant information, it should not contain too much detail on the day-to-day processes involved in the job, which may be overly restrictive when it comes to interpreting the job description. Keeping the job descriptions free of anything that might go out of date quickly and using the phrase ‘according to company policy’, or something along those lines instead, is a key way for businesses to avoid having to keep drafting and redrafting job descriptions.

The law

In terms of the legal requirements in job descriptions for key roles, the most important thing for an employer to avoid is compromising the provisions of the Equality Act 2010. This piece of legislation consolidates all previous legislation on discrimination and covers everything from race discrimination through to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Because of the Equality Act, employers writing job descriptions must be careful to avoid specifying that a person of a certain race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or physical ability is required – or not required – for a certain role. Job description content that falls foul of this legislation could be something as simple as a sentence requiring someone to be ‘lively,’ which could potentially discriminate against those of an older generation.

Employment contracts

The terms of an employment contract can be affected by any job description that is provided separately to an employee or potential employee so it is important to ensure that job descriptions for key roles are properly worded and contain all the relevant requirements.