If employers don’t already have updated job descriptions for their team, this should be added to the top of their list of priorities. The pandemic and the new political administration are creating circumstances in which writing job descriptions will be key to staying in compliance and deciding on the best HR strategies to get through these upcoming challenges.
Here are three reasons to make updating job descriptions a top priority:
- Maintain ADA compliance through the pandemic. Many employers have workers making requests that exercise their rights under the ADA right now. Perhaps they have a disability that keeps them from getting vaccinated or from returning to work. Especially now, employees are likely to be making requests for accommodations at work because of ADA-eligible disabilities. This means employers need to be prepared to sit down to perform the interactive process with these employees, a process which requires an accurate and updated job description. Both parties can refer to this description when they’re discussing what essential job duties the worker needs to complete and how, or if, they need accommodations to complete them. HR providers like MP suggest updating job descriptions well before they’re needed for the interactive process. It will go much more smoothly if everyone is already on the same page about what the essential duties of the role in question are. This will be especially helpful when it comes to already fraught, stressful circumstances, like when a worker cannot get vaccinated or come back in-person to a pandemic workplace (because of an ADA-recognized disability).
- Streamline return to work plans. When employers are determining what employees will need to return to work, at what frequency, and when, updated job descriptions are key. MP’s HR experts suggest having updated job descriptions because, as mentioned before, they identify essential job duties. Employers can pinpoint what essential job duties must be done on-site (and at what frequency) and what can be done remotely. They can also help employers decide if they need to reassign duties for accommodations purposes. Besides identifying essential duties, updated job profiles can also simply help an employer see what their team does, then decide what tasks can be done remotely and what must be done on-site. Before looking at updated job descriptions, many employers might not realize that their team doesn’t need to return to the office or can operate on more of a hybrid plan. When managers focus on pre-determined lists of essential job duties, this will help to eliminate concerns about discrimination. It will also relieve some stress and tension, making the transition back to work easier.
- Ensure compliance with new labor regulations. Though it’s been brewing for a while, the Biden-Harris administration is pushing hard for stricter regulations on properly classifying workers as exempt, non-exempt, and contractors. Last year, before Biden was even elected, there was a scuffle (confined to the state of California) over properly classifying contractors. With this topic at the top of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s priorities, employers need to be prepared. To properly classify their staff, employers will need to ensure that they write accurate job descriptions (or update existing ones). Job descriptions can provide the information needed to properly identify how roles fit into the new regulations. Employers that don’t take the time to check that their workers are properly classified are risking some serious fines, lawsuits, backpay, and damage to their reputations as an employer of choice.
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