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Write Compliant Job Descriptions with Fair Labor Standards Act

Write Compliant Job Descriptions with Fair Labor Standards Act

It seems like every company is hiring everywhere you look. 

But before you go and post a “now hiring” banner across your website and fill up job boards in hopes of recruiting talent to fill those vacancies at your business, there’s an important step you need to take to make sure you are compliant.

Your Human Resources department needs to make sure to update job descriptions to align with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

Background

According to the Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State and local governments.”

Covered nonexempt—hourly—employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek at a rate no less than one and a half times the regular rate of pay. 

The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees who are employed in a “bona fide executive, administrative, professional or outside sales capacity.” Certain computer employees may be exempt as well.

There are three requirements as the basis for exemption: salary, salary basis and job duties. So, each of these requirements needs to be met before a job can be classified as “exempt” from overtime pay.  

Job descriptions need to align with FLSA to help justify an employee’s exemption status. 

If a job is misclassified and the employee is not paid overtime, the Department of Labor will:

  • Require that your company pay an employee back wages for all positions that are misclassified

  • Assess fines and other penalties which can cost the employer thousands of dollars. 

Job responsibilities change from time to time, so a job description acts as a “living document,” and needs to be regularly reviewed to assure that they are up to date.


Why Do Job Descriptions Need to Align With FLSA? 

While there are no state or federal laws requiring job descriptions, they are useful tools for both practical and legal reasons. 

Employers can be penalized for not classifying or paying employees correctly based on their job duties and responsibilities. If an employee feels their wages are not paid correctly and believe they are owed overtime, they can file a complaint with the Department of Labor and this could lead to an audit. During a wage and hour audit, the DOL can inspect an employer’s payroll records from the previous two years and examine records of both current and former employees, and your job descriptions become the documentation of the duties and responsibilities of each employee. 

Wage hour audits can come at any time and without prior notice, and even though these are typically the result of an employee complaint, penalties can be hefty. 

What needs to be included in a job description?

Each job description has to include the following components: 

  • Job title: A brief description of the job, which should be consistent with other job titles of similar roles with the company. 


  • Job purposeProvides a high-level overview of the role, level and scope of responsibility.  It’s a concise summary of why the job exists.


  • Job duties and responsibilitiesOutline the core responsibilities of the position. This section describes the fundamental nature of the job which occupies a large portion of the employee’s time, also known as the essential functions of the job. This is where you should also address the supervisory responsibility that is expected from this role and detail the extent of the job’s authority to hire, discipline, terminate, assign work, train, and evaluate the performance of subordinates. 


  • Qualificationsshould include a list of hard and soft skills. This section lists the required level of job knowledge (i.e., education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities) required to do the job. 


  • Working conditionsIdentify the conditions and physical demands that directly relate to the essential job duties and responsibilities. They describe the type, intensity, frequency, and duration of physical or mental capabilities required to do the job.

Let the Experts Help You

CertiPay partners with employers to take the payroll and HR burden from your business. We want to help you. 

Our business experts can partner with employers from the start to prepare, review and evaluate job descriptions to ensure that FLSA classifications are correct based on the job’s purpose, responsibilities and duties. 

A well-prepared job description provided to a new hire sets the stage for good and FLSA-compliant relationships. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help your business stay compliant.