Hiring 101: Avoiding Legal Liability When Writing Job Descriptions

Did you know that your job description could be a liability? It’s true. Many employers write job descriptions that could cause them to get sued when hiring or firing employees. Whether you fail to include proper information or leave out educational requirements, you could be setting yourself up for legal trouble. The following are tips on how to avoid legal liability when writing job descriptions.

Give a Through Description of the Job and the Duties

You need to be thorough in the job description. Leaving duties out of the description can become a liability. For example, if you leave out heavy lifting and then hire someone who can’t do heavy lifting and try to fire them, the employee could sue. A good job description will give a general overview in paragraph form and then list the individual duties that will need to be done.

Include Tasks That the Employee May Be Asked to Do

It’s also important to include tasks that will need to be done occasionally, but aren’t part of the every day job. For example, the employee may be required to write quarterly reports. While these tasks aren’t part of the daily work, they still need to be part of the description.

Detail the Skills and Knowledge Required

Another area that could get you in serious trouble is not listing the skills and education needed. If you turn someone down because they didn’t have the proper education, and you didn’t state the requirements in the description, there could be legal issues. If an employee needs a bachelor’s degree, you need to note that when writing the description. This also includes skills. For example, if the employee needs to know programming this needs to be mentioned.

Describe the Work Environment

It’s important to discuss the type of environment a person will be expected to work in. For example, if the work will be done in an office, say so. If the work will be done in a factory type setting or in a noisy environment, you also need to mention this.

Add a Disclaimer

Last, but not least, include a disclaimer in your job description that states that the description can change at any time as needed.

A job description needs to give employees a realistic vision of what to expect when working for your company. This means you need to be honest and thorough when writing the description. Basically, you want to take precautions to cover your backside so that your job description doesn’t become a legal liability. If you’re unsure of the description, you can always ask for legal advice to make sure there is nothing that could cause trouble for you in the future.

Looking to hire? There are tons of places you can place job ads. Try the free job ads on www.smartrecruiters.com, Craigslist, and other newspaper-type sites.


Author: Carolyn McConnell

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