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Job classifications, job descriptions, and job applications…oh my!

Getting your worker opportunities sorted into the correct job classifications, developing effective job descriptions, and processing job applications can be daunting. In the following sections, we cover important information on these three topics along with providing resources to help you navigate.

Job Classifications

As you think about worker opportunities, you may have questions about what qualifies as a volunteer, intern, employee, or independent contractor. It is important to properly identify the type of worker. For example, misclassifying employees as independent contractors can expose an employer to liabilities from unpaid minimum wages and overtime pay to federal, state, and local tax withholdings.

If you are recruiting a worker for a paid employee position, you will need to determine if the employee is classified as exempt or nonexempt. All employees are assumed to be covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (nonexempt employees) and Minimum Wage Act unless they meet a list of job duties requirements and a minimum salary threshold (exempt employees).

Exempt
Employees are exempt from all Minimum Wage Act protections including overtime and paid sick leave. The employees generally must be paid on a salary basis, meet a minimum salary threshold, and pass the job duties test as an executive, administrative, or professional employee to be exempt. Employees who do not meet the requirements to be classified as exempt are consider nonexempt.
Nonexempt
Employees must be provided with the protections outlined in the Minimum Wage Act. Nonexempt employees may be paid on an hourly, salary, or other basis. If an employee does not qualify for exemption, and is paid on a salary basis, they are considered salaried nonexempt. Most nonexempt employees, including salaried nonexempt employees, are eligible for overtime pay.

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Job classifications can be confusing. Fortunately, L&I has informative resources to help you better understand different classifications of workers. Explore the following resources from L&I, and then complete the Staffagories activity sheet. The Staffagories activity was originally created by Nonprofit Association of Washington and Communities Rise (formerly Wayfind) as part of the Let’s Go Legal toolkit, which includes information on employment law.

Nonexempt & Exempt
Nonexempt & Exempt
Nonexempt & Exempt
Nonexempt & Exempt
Fact Sheet
Case Study
Web Page
Guide
Internships, Apprenticeships, and Volunteers
Internships, Apprenticeships, and Volunteers
Internships, Apprenticeships, and Volunteers
Internships, Apprenticeships, and Volunteers
Fact Sheet
Case Study
Web Page
Guide
Independent Contractor
Independent Contractor
Independent Contractor
Independent Contractor
Fact Sheet
Case Study
Web Page
Guide

Staffagories – A Nonprofit Worker Sorting Activity

Instructions:

  • Think about each member of your team and sort the individual workers into a specific Staff or Non-Staff category.
  • Write down the worker’s name and at least one reason why this person is properly categorized.
    Refer to the L&I resources or Let’s Go Legal toolkit (linked above), if needed.

Staffagories Activity

Activity to sort your workers into the correct classifications

View Document

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are a key piece of the recruitment process. Crafting an effective job description can attract a wide range of qualified candidates and ensure great candidates are not self-selecting out before even applying. A job description should paint a general picture of the role available, needed skills, knowledge, and experiences, and share details specific to your nonprofit’s mission, values, and culture. Stating the salary range on the job announcement is a best practice as well. In addition, the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act states that upon request, employers (required only for employers with 15 or more employees) must provide applicants and current employees offered an internal transfer or promotion with the wage and salary information for the position.

Job Applications

On the job announcement, be sure to let interested candidates know how to apply for the job opportunity. Sometimes you may want candidates to submit a formal job application on a form you provide requesting relevant information such as: basic contact information and work history. Other times, you may request that applicants submit a cover letter, a resume, and even sample pieces of work. The kind of application process you use may vary based on the size of your organization, type of worker you are hiring, and type of work the worker will do. Consider including flexible closing dates in job postings with priority given to applicants who submit their applications by a specific date. This is helpful if you are not successful in securing your first-choice applicant.

Most employers with 15 or more employees are subject to anti-discrimination laws governed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Anti-discrimination laws make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on race, color, creed, religion, sex (including pregnancy-related discrimination), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, and military or veteran status. Washington’s laws protect the same characteristics as federal law and also extend protections based on veteran and marital status, sexual orientation, and political activities. Employers need to ensure there is no discrimination across all types of work situations – hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits. To do this, on a voluntary basis, employers should collect and analyze basic demographic information from applicants and employees.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Federal Law
Employers with 15 or more employees
State Law
Employers with eight or more employees
Did you know in Washington state, employers cannot request wage or salary history when people are applying for a job, and you cannot require a minimum previous salary to be considered for a position (see the following section on the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act)? This includes asking questions on your job application form about wage or salary history, even if the question is optional. However, as a worker, you may voluntarily disclose salary history information. After an employer negotiates and makes an offer of employment with compensation to an applicant, the employer may confirm an applicant’s salary history.

Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA)

The Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (RCW 49.58) prohibits gender pay discrimination and promotes fairness among workers by addressing business policies and practices that contribute to income disparities between genders. Both employees and job applicants have rights under this law.

For employees, the EPOA has provisions for equal pay, equal career advancement opportunities, open wage discussions, wage and salary range disclosure, and retaliation protections. For job applicants, the EPOA has provisions for wage and salary history privacy as well as wage and salary range disclosure. Beginning January 1, 2023, most employers (with 15 or more employees) must disclose in each posting for each job opening the wage scale or salary range, and a general description of all benefits and other compensation to be offered to the hired applicant (RCW 49.58.110). You can learn more by visiting http://www.Lni.wa.gov/EqualPay or call 1-888-219-7321.

Did you know that the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries offers free customized consultations to help employers understand the possible effects of the EPOA on their organization and employment practices? To request a consultation, send an email to [email protected] with “Equal Pay Consultation” in the subject line and provide your name, organization’s name, phone number, and preferred email address.

For more information, watch the following Equal Pay and Opportunities Act video.

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