Position or Job descriptions are a practical tool to help an employee understand the tasks and responsibilities of the position and also provide an indication of where the role fits within the bigger picture of the organisation.

A good position description will help an employee understand the expectations associated with the position and provides a benchmark for reviewing their performance review.

Where this simple document has real value for the employer though is from a legal standpoint.

Job descriptions, when well drafted can assist in:

Demonstrating compliance with applicable laws

Depending on the industry, there will be specific laws that apply, in addition to the Fair Work Act. For example, it may be a legal requirement for certain roles to be First Aid qualified, and as another example, in the hospitality industry, under the liquor control act, licensed venues must have CCTV security cameras operating to open their doors. Including these requirements or associated tasks, and having employees sign off demonstrates the business is complying with these regulations.

Establishing the physical requirements of the role

If there is there a requirement for lifting, unloading, packing, even if only occasionally, this should be included in your position descriptions and may assist in cases where an employee is injured, either at work or outside of work. Having clarity around the physical requirements of the role will help provide favourable options to the employer in the event an employee is not fit to work, and can also support return to work plans for employees who may have been injured at work.

Providing markers for determining pay rates

Particularly for roles covered under a Modern Award, the job description can be instrumental in classifying the role and its appropriate pay level. Where any pay disputes may arise, referring back to the essential requirements of the role as noted and agreed to on the position description will be an important reference point.

What is included in a position description?

Many general requirements may already be included in the employment contract, however as positions do change, its more practical to have the details of the role documented in a position description. These are the important aspect of the role to include:

  • Job Summary or purpose
  • Reporting relationships
  • Essential duties and responsibilities
  • General KPIs
  • Job specifications (i.e., education requirements, other skills required)
  • Physical demands, work environment
  • Signature and date section for the employee and supervisor

When the role changes

Its important to keep job descriptions updated and reflecting the businesses current operational requirements and aligned to strategic goals. A practical way of keeping job descriptions updated is to have managers confirm that the job description is up-to-date as part of their performance review process.

The Position Description can be referred to during pay disputes, unfair dismissal claims or other claims, so if you haven’t updated the job description and are in a position where your employee can not perform the role, for example, and you want to terminate, this could present a risk to the business if the PD hasn’t been updated to include these requirements.

If the business needs change and you need your employees to take on different responsibilities, be careful to manage this in consultation with the employee, ensure the position description is updated together with any pay or entitlements that may now apply and have their written agreement of the changes.

If you need assistance in creating or updating your position descriptions in your business, get in touch with our team today.