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The changing job description


Job descriptions are important as they define the person’s status, responsibility and the associated personal attributes (personal attributes are usually described in the section of the JD called the person specification). The importance of a job description is that it is an accurate reflection of the work and type of personal attributes associated, it is important to the employer and the employee for many different reasons. Any job description is subject to change. This change can occur as a matter of natural development and growth within the business, which creates a need for additional skills associated with a particular role or as part of intentional structural change, such as technology or mechanisation or reorganisation this change can either be within a department or across the business.

Job descriptions are usually reviewed when an appraisal takes place, unless a review is requested independently. Review as part of the appraisal process is an ideal opportunity to discuss any changes because the job, the role and the relationship to any changes can be discussed between the current post holder and line manager directly.

A healthy relationship between the company and the employee is essential to the on-going wellbeing of continual employment and healthy employment relations. In legal terms, the employer has a duty of care to the employee, which identifies certain areas of responsibility. The duty of the employee is implied as being mutual in the area of trust and confidence. The psychological contract between both the employer and the employee is a condition that requires maintenance by both parties. These terms and conditions can be implied conditions, not necessarily written into a contract of employment.

A job description is not something that is written and never expected to change, there are often good valid reasons for job changes, technological advancement and the necessity for additional skills associated with growth, process or production in addition to service or customer changes that can create a need for further training or personal development.

Job evaluation is a method that evaluates the demand upon the different elements between the job role and function. It examines the physical, psychological and emotional requirements of the role (not the person) by a range of different measurements. Job evaluation is not an exact science.

Job evaluation methods differ depending upon what system or method is adopted, however, the main function of the job evaluation process is to define certain aspects of the job and rate that job into a category. Once categorised the job can then be associated with a salary scale and other terms and conditions associated with the salary scale.

What to do when the job you get isn’t the one you thought you signed up for?

If the job description that you have is outdated or unrelated to the actual job that you are doing you need to arrange to discuss this with your line manager. Before you do this it could be worthwhile to check for a date of revision on the job description or on the system and then enquire with the Human Resources Department that the version you have is the latest on the system for your role. If there is a job evaluation system used, an evaluation on your job could also affect the roles that are directly related to your job role and function. There could be elements of those roles that will also need to be re-evaluated as part of the process.

In legal terms if you are working to a contract of employment and are in receipt of payment for the work you are doing then the implied terms are that you are doing that job. If there are details on the job description that are irrelevant or outdated, or no longer apply this could affect the pay and associated terms and conditions that you receive, resulting in either an increase or a reduction in salary. Therefore, consider carefully any evidence associated with changes in your job before you decide to take this issue forward formerly. You might want to consider discussing the details and your concerns with a staff representative, colleague and Human Resources.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I believe the job is outdated, if so why?
  • Do you believe there is difference or sufficient difference in comparison to the work of the job above you and/or below you in the current organisational structure? If you believe that there is, what is the difference?
  • Has your work changed due to, technology, reorganisation, restructure, or has it evolved over time?
  • Is it a training or instruction issue you have identified?
  • Last and certainly not least, ask yourself what are you wanting to achieve by examining your job description?
  • Was this Job description produced at a time of change or has it been written in broad terms to reflect potential growth within what might have been a temporary or new role?


If you decide to have your job description examined further, request a formal meeting make sure you are prepared. Gather as much information and evidence to support your case as possible. Ensure that the meeting is documented and consider a staff representative or colleague being present with you at the meeting.


Your job description has a relationship to the job you do, it is a description of the role and the functional elements of that job.

The main legal terms and conditions associated to a job are within the contract of employment, this is usually signed within the first eight weeks of being appointment to a company. This is a legally binding agreement between the employer and employee, worth checking at the start of any employment period with the job description. If you feel the job is not right for you despite attending to all the points above, then visit our new job eBook for a step by step guide to best prepare yourself for potential new opportunities in the job market. Sign up now to access videos, a community, eBooks and many tools on developing yourself in the workplace.


Hazel Rowell Peverley

Hazel’s coaching expertise is grounded in 20 years of experience and a National, Business and Life coaching client base. She works with solution focused techniques, and by exploring the challenges, sensitivities and tensions we develop and progress to achieve results. It is important for a relationship to know and trust that there is change and shift in progress. Shared session summaries, record progress and demonstrate evidence based track record, valued by both the individual and commercial business contracts. Her qualifications include specific counselling and coaching qualifications, and professional recognition from HR & coaching bodies. She quotes her client’s success as her real achievements.


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