A job description basically outlines for an employee what is required from them by the company, their employer. A job description is also a form of contract between the employer and the employee.

Every business and all persons who employ people and require them to perform certain tasks and duties, needs to have signed job descriptions for these employees. Job descriptions are also used for performance management as well as disciplinary and training matters.

When drawing up job descriptions it is important to take into cognizance the issues that are highlighted in the matter of SATAW/AUTO CARRIERS (EAST LONDON BRANCH (2-7)5 BALR 493 9P. 

What is a Job Description and why does it matter?

Firstly, let us understand the basics of a job description. A job description typically has a Job Title, Job Purpose, Duties and Responsibilities, and the person that the employee will report to. A job description should also be signed by the employee and the person that the employee will report to.

How to draw up a well written job description

In addition to the items stated above, employers should ensure that a job description specifically states that the list of duties and responsibilities is not exhaustive, and that the employer is entitled to instruct the employee at any time to carry out additional duties or responsibilities, which fall reasonably within the ambit of the job description or in accordance with operational requirements. It is also important to include in the Job Description, a clause that says “should a grievance be felt with an instruction issued, representation may be made to management by means of the grievance procedure, but in the first instance the instruction shall be followed. The job description must also state that the functions and responsibilities may change at any time depending on the operational requirements of the employer, and within the parameters of the position held by the employee. It is important to remember that things the employer must do things reasonably, lawfully and fairly by following the correct procedures.

The manner in which a job description is worded will have an impact in the relationship between the employer and the employee when an employer must instruct an employee to carry out an instruction which the employee might feel like it is outside of his duties. In a private arbitration in East London, in the matter of SATAWU/AUTO CARRIERS (EAST LONDON BRANCH) [2-7] 5 BALR 493 9P, the arbitrator found that it was reasonable to instruct an employee to perform tasks allegedly falling outside of his job description, depending on:

  • The terms and conditions of the employee’s contract
  • The nature of the tasks to be performed
  • The circumstances in which the instruction is given
  • The employers operational requirements 

Please click here to request a free Job Description template.

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Author: [Phumzile Msiza]
Published Date: [6 August 2019]

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