Did you know that for most positions, there are no state or federal laws requiring you to have a job description? 

While there are no state or federal requirements to provide job descriptions for most positions, there are still job description requirements by law. That means that while you’re not always required to have one, legal job description requirements shape what you must include or exclude if your business does choose to supply one. 

Job Description Requirements by Law: What Are They?

There are multiple legal requirements to consider when writing the description for the position your business is looking to fill. Some of the most prominent are those imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) maintains that any job description provided must cover a complete list of essential functions as they pertain to the position itself.

Essential functions are typically defined as tasks or duties that the individual filling the position must complete fulfilling the position’s purpose. In other words, they are actions that must be met to complete the work assigned to the individual filling that job position. The University of Massachusetts has an excellent source for further understanding the ADA and its implications on job description requirements by law. 

Legal job description requirements are further impacted by other laws, as well:

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): The ADEA restricts employers from discriminating against people over 40 based on age. 
  • Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866: Enacted after the civil war, CRA 1866 ensures US Citizens certain inalienable rights. In addition, CRA 1866 prevents the prosecution of any individual who blows the whistle on those rights. The areas covered by CRA 1866 should be common sense for any business, but it has forever shaped what you can and cannot include in job descriptions- section 1981 prohibits discrimination based on race.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Similar to CRA 1866, Title VII prohibits discrimination by any employer based on race, sex, national origin, or religion.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA, among other things, sets the minimum wage and manages overtime. Therefore, hiring managers should provide salary and overtime information to provide clarity to readers and attract the candidates most suited for the job.

It’s essential to stay up-to-date regarding laws and regulations regarding what you can and cannot include in a job description. Read more to ensure you’re writing job descriptions compliant with federal and state laws.

Hiring Managers: Why You Should Supply a Job Description

With so many rules and regulations on job descriptions, you might ask yourself why you should even create one. Is it worth the extra effort to provide a description that satisfies legal job description requirements when it may not even be required by law that you post one in the first place? In short, yes.

One of the most tangible and vital reasons to prepare a thorough and detailed job description is to prevent potential issues that are likely to present when you do not provide one. 

Thorough is the key word here. When writing your job description, you must accurately describe what the position entails. This explanation should include essential duties and tasks, compensation, overtime, benefits, and any requirements, physical or otherwise, the position requires the new team member to complete in order to execute the role’s responsibilities in full. 

Thorough job descriptions also help your prospective new team member understand what will be expected and setting expectations early in the relationship is critically important. If the details of the related job description are vague or inaccurate and the new team member is asked to do something that was not included or alluded to in the job description, that team member may be legally able to claim they are not required to perform those duties and seek legal counsel to protect themselves.

Alternatively, providing a job description that is too detailed can be just as risky.  Detailed job descriptions can support a team member who files a wrongful termination suit if the detailed listing doesn’t accurately reflect what the team member was asked to do.

It is important to note, however, that job descriptions are not legally binding. Therefore, consider adding a statement to your job description such as ‘…and other duties as assigned.’ As long as those ‘other duty’ requests are reasonable, team members can be asked to perform other tasks…and should be expected to do them. 

Additionally, supplying thorough job descriptions ensures that anyone applying to your position will be more likely to understand what your position entails, thus ideally helping you find candidates best suited for the position. Read more about finding quality candidates to improve your search.

CRAs: Read the Job Description Requirements Carefully

When reading a job description, it’s essential to read the job description requirements carefully in order to optimize your application for the position.  There is important information stated in the job description requirements section that you should use to help tailor your resume. Said differently, if you meet those requirements, make sure your resume clearly reflects those capabilities. Make sure that you put your best foot forward when applying to positions by including your skills and experience that speak to the desired qualifications.

If hired for the position, you are committing to performing the duties outlined in the description. Therefore, it is critical to understand the expectations your hiring manager will have of you during your tenure with that organization. Additionally, maintaining a complete understanding of what is expected of you can help you determine if your manager is treating you fairly or not. It is important to note that the Hiring Manager can legally ask you to complete tasks not included in your job description. Still, if you are asked to do something you believe to be unfair, illegal, or unethical, you may want to seek professional counsel

A job description can also help discern the workplace culture for which the position was posted. Remember that the perfect job isn’t just the tasks and requirements.  The company’s culture is critically important because team members are much more likely to enjoy where they work when their values are consistent with their peers. 

And a final insight as to why reading the job description requirements carefully is important:  

The interview.  

Yes! When you are awarded the interview, utilize the job description while preparing for that interview. A well-laid out job description will list the essential skills required for that position, thus giving you helpful insights regarding talking points on each job description requirement, responsibility, or task you’d like to emphasize. See our blog post on the topic if you need tips to improve your interviewing skills.

Find the Right Match With craresources

If you’re having trouble finding the right CRAs, or are anxious about properly advertising your positions, craresources is here to help. We partner with a wide range of professional CRAs throughout the country to assist our clients in finding the right research assistants and finding them quickly.

All of our clients work with a seasoned CRA Recruitment Executive and receive complimentary services such as job description assistance, competitive compensation benchmarking, and more. Contact us to see if craresources is right for you.