Development of an effective position description is an essential organisational tool.
A position description should provide the reader with an understanding of the role by providing information that clarifies and describes the job, its functions, environment and reporting relationships.
The following should be considered when writing the position description:
- the position description should reflect the needs of the work area and describe the position, not the incumbent
- the language and content must be correct, up-to-date and reflect the level of responsibility and outcomes expected
- gender specific language must not be used
- the position description should be in a concise and summarised format
- use of jargon and acronyms should be minimised
- the position description must include potential exposures and requirements for the role
- it must be consistent with the classification descriptors in the current ANU enterprise agreement
- the position description should list only the inherent requirements of the job.
Understanding the inherent job requirements
The development of clear and concise position descriptions is a fundamental first step in ensuring an effective and inclusive recruitment strategy is in place that will attract a diverse pool of candidates. To do this requires a good understanding of the inherent requirements of the job.
Inherent job requirements are the essential outcomes that must be achieved as part of a job. They are the tasks or skills that are a major part of the job; cannot be allocated elsewhere or done a different way, and have significant consequences if not performed. The inherent requirements of any position need to be determined with regard to the circumstances of each job.
It is important to remember that, in some cases, the activities, conditions and practices may not be inherent to the position if there are different ways of achieving the same outcome. You may need to explore these options before determining whether or not reasonable adjustments can be made that will accommodate an applicant (or staff member) with a disability.
A candidate with disability may well be able to demonstrate they can do the work if reasonable adjustments are made. For example, could a person with vision impairment perform a clerical job with voice-activated computer software? Most people with disability do not need any adjustments at all.
Examples of inherent requirements are provided below.
||NOT an inherent requirement
|The ability to produce professional standard reports within a set time-frame
Ability to type 50 words per minute
This is not an inherent requirement because a person with a dexterity impairment could use speech recognition software to produce reports without a keyboard.
Ability to move large pieces of equipment
This is not an inherent requirement because adaptive equipment could be used to move heavy objects without lifting them
Ability to communicate effectively with customers
Good telephone speaking manner
This is not an inherent requirement because a person who is deaf could utilise email, instant messaging or TTY to communicate effectively with customers
The Disability Discrimination Act states that in some circumstances it is not unlawful for an employer to refuse employment to a person who is unable to perform the inherent requirements of a position. This would usually occur in situations where:
- no appropriate or effective adjustments can be made; or
- where it is not reasonably practicable to amend the inherent requirements of the position.
Consider what tasks and skills are really 'inherent requirements' of the job, as well as any barriers involved in doing the job and how these might be overcome. It is important to concentrate on the outcomes required rather than how the tasks should be completed.
Once you have considered what tasks and skills are really 'inherent requirements' of the job, as well as any barriers involved in doing the job and how these might be overcome, developing key transparent selection criteria will be a lot easier. When doing this, always ask to yourself:
- do they relate to the skills and abilities needed to do the job?
- are they described in inclusive and non-discriminatory language?; and
- do they relate to the inherent requirements of the job?
If unsure, it is important to seek advice from your local HR Practitioner to clarify the inherent requirements of a particular position and ensure that the position description and key selection criteria do not discriminate unlawfully against people with disabilities.