Job Titles Can Be Dangerous

What’s in a name? From an employment context, a lot.  Careful consideration must be given when deciding on the title of a position, as the words you use can have meanings in employment law that you may not intend.

Why is this important? If a position is mis-classified, and the compensation package is based on that classification, the employee can sue for lost or missed earnings and/or challenge disciplinary actions.

A good way to avoid problems is to check the National Occupation Code (NOC) or the North American Industry Classification (NAICS).  Both sites have the formal classifications, along with duties and titles under each classification, that can be used to develop job descriptions and titles.

The NOC and NAICS are commonly referred to when there are legal challenges regarding workplace duties and in pay equity studies.

The most common mistake is “Manager”.  True managers are responsible for scheduling and monitoring staff, conducting performance reviews and have authority to discipline. They are not entitled to overtime and other exceptions under the Employment Standards Act.  A “Sales Manager” or “Account Manager”, or someone who looks after clients and customers but not staff, is an employee, not a manager under the ESA.  They ARE entitled to overtime and other benefits (even if paid by salary).

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