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And All Other Duties As Assigned

"And all other duties as assigned” – how many times have you seen that phrase on a job description? It’s a wonderful catch all item many organizations use on a job description as a “free pass” to allow them to assign whatever duties they want to, to various jobs.

These days every organization is downsizing and right sizing and trying to be as lean as possible. One of the ways they are doing this is by restructuring jobs which may include adding duties, merging responsibilities or changing employee driven processes. This means that the duties and responsibilities listed on position “x’s” current job description may not be an accurate description of the actual work they are doing.
There are a lot of reasons to have job descriptions. Job descriptions help in recruiting and retaining qualified and competent employees, they help in performance management and evaluating the work of your employees, and they assist you in treating employees fairly and consistently. Finally, if you are ever misfortunate enough to have a Department of Labor audit or a law suit filed against you – a detailed, up to date job description may just keep you out of hot water.

I recently had a client tell me “we don’t need job descriptions; we’re not a big corporation.” No matter how large or small your company is, I say “oh yes you do.” There is no specific law that requires job descriptions, but I believe in the rule of “if it’s not documented, it wasn’t done.” So if you don’t have the essential job functions and responsibilities of each job position written down, how do you know for sure it gets done? If you don’t have a written job description and want to re-assign duties, how do you know that the new duties are something the people in the position getting the new duties have the knowledge or skill to accomplish? And can they do it at an acceptable level of performance? And by changing the job duties, does that change the title, the exempt or non-exempt status, or the salary range for that job? There are lots of things to consider when trying to go “lean”.

The Department of Labor’s Career One stop website can help you develop a new job description or revise an out of date one. It’s free and is a fairly easy tool to use. Before you get started, you will want to have a general idea of the job tasks, work activities and experience and skill required for each job. When you are finished, you can save it as a Word document so that you can have the manager or supervisor and/or your HR expert review to make sure all essential items were included and the knowledge, skill and abilities as well as educational and experience requirements are listed as minimum requirements and not embellished. When it is finalized, be sure to review it with the effected employees.

Because one person’s definition of “other duties as assigned” can vary, make your job descriptions as specific as is practical. Get the employees doing the job involved either through a questionnaire or face to face meeting, so you get a true picture of the work tasks that are performed by that job class. Don’t go overboard with a 5 page job description, but do more than just scribble a couple of bullet points on the back of a napkin.

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About the Author

Jude Williams, Oceans of Opportunities
Chandler, AZ 85249

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