We recently talked about the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees and the importance of being in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act both now and when the revised regulation goes into effect on December 1, 2016. There are multiple factors for determining exempt vs. non-exempt status, including salary and where the position fits in the organizational structure, but job duties are a critical distinction that many companies overlook. Not the job title or the job description, but the actual job duties the person performs each day. What percent of the time is an employee on the phone? What percent of time is spent using particular software? What level of responsibility do they have in business operations?
The best way to determine an employee’s daily job duties is to ask them directly, often by using a tracking form for a designated period of time. Let’s take a look at how this might play out in a company. Laura and Daniel both hold the title of administrative assistant and have similar job descriptions on file. Daniel reports to a mid-level manager and also serves as the main receptionist for the company, whereas Laura reports to the chief financial officer. When asked to record the time spent on daily tasks for one week, Daniel’s tasks primarily include answering the phone, monitoring and routing emails and postal mail, and scheduling meetings. Laura’s tasks primarily include preparing weekly financial reports for the CFO, participating in monthly budget meetings, and processing budget requests for all departments.
Clearly, while their current job titles and job descriptions may be the same, their daily tasks are significantly different. The company may have categorized both employees as non-exempt based on job title alone, but when evaluated based on job duties according to the FLSA criteria, Daniel is non-exempt and Laura could be exempt based on job duties. More importantly, Daniel and Laura really aren’t in the same position with the same job title, because their job duties are different.
So what happens next, now that the company realizes Laura and Daniel aren’t in the same job position? When the job analysis and job description don’t match, companies have two options: change the job description to fit what the employee actually does or change the employee’s duties to fit the current job description. Our recommendation is generally to define each position as it looks today (change the job description to fit), but also to consider what each position might look like in a year as the company and the employees grow together.
At WhyHR, we recommend that companies perform an annual job analysis for all employees to ensure that job descriptions and job duties continue to align. This not only helps the company stay in compliance with FLSA standards for exempt and non-exempt employee classifications, but it also helps employees and their supervisors have open conversations about job duties that may not align with their current job description. The annual practice also helps identify any gaps in the organization that can then be filled by updating an existing employee’s job description or creating a job description for a new hire.
Struggling to align job duties and job descriptions for the vision in your company? WhyHR can help. Give us a call today at 405.627.6326 to discuss your current needs.