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Job Descriptions – how to write them

Producing a job description can be quite a challenge and some considerable care is needed to ensure that the description doesn’t infringe any discrimination laws and provides a proper basis for the job at hand. A huge number of companies don’t have adequate job descriptions for their roles and whether the reason for this is simply a lack of time, or an unawareness of the form a good job description should take, this is where job description templates can come in very useful. Not having proper job descriptions can present significant problems down the line, both in terms of giving an employee the best chance of fulfilling the requirements of his or her job, and making sure that employers have a reference point for future appraisals and any necessary disciplinary action.

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Job descriptions and employment law

In terms of job descriptions and employment law, one of the most important areas to grasp is the potential that job descriptions open up for a discrimination claim. The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of a number of factors, such as race, sex, age, religion and sexual orientation and it is quite easy for a job description to fall foul of this if job descriptions and employment law have not been taken into account together. The situation that should be avoided is one where a job description provides someone with the opportunity for making a claim against an employer in an Employment Tribunal – for example by stating in a job description that (for no good reason) the role must be filled by a man – as these claims can result in unlimited amounts of compensation.

The content of a job description

When writing a job description, there are a number of areas that it should cover:

1. Providing a comprehensive description of the role of the employee, without going into the kind of detail that might need to be changed at a later date when an employment policy is changed.

2. Providing a solid structure on which an employer can build an appraisal scheme, disciplinary procedures, career development, pay and promotion systems, grading structures and training.

3. Ensuring that, in the event of any disputes in the future, there is a clear and objective job description which can be referred back to as a way of establishing what was required of an employee under the circumstances.

Job description samples

It can be very difficult to achieve a balance between these various factors, but job description templates tend to be drafted with these issues already taken into account, which makes them a great basis from which to begin. Job description samples can also save a lot of time for companies that don’t have their own HR departments, or that simply want to have the option of selecting a pre-drafted template.

For companies looking to update their systems for producing job descriptions or to save time and money on doing the drafting internally, job description templates are a useful way to ensure that all the bases are covered. Using a website that provides job description samples makes certain that everything, from job descriptions and employment law issues to making sure that a description has the correct wording to allow disputes to be correctly handled in future, is in place from the word ‘go.’

A Warning

I know that some people have at least considered ‘borrowing’ job description documents from websites based in the US.  This is, generally, a bad idea simply because employment legislation in America is so different to that in the UK.  You may unwittingly fall foul of UK legislation as a result of including something that might seem perfectly reasonable.