Job Descriptions, "Collateral Duties" and Compensation

Article excerpt

Byline: Joan Lloyd

"Companies want to promote people who reach for new responsibilities willingly. Companies don't want to promote people who constantly complain they aren't compensated whenever they are asked to do a new "duty as assigned."

Dear Joan:

I am currently employed with what I think is a good company. I am currently a systems operator and my experience and expertise has taken me into setting up new systems and applications over the Internet for our users to use.

I am not getting compensated for the duty of setting up the rest of the systems or applications. In fact, my boss says it's only a collateral duty. I don't understand what he means by that. There are times I spend more than a day setting up some of this stuff because I have to make sure that it's all secure before displaying it on the Internet.

To pacify me, he has given me the position of Senior Systems Operator. I currently have been in this field for nine total years, with the last two in AS400/series environment. Everything beyond that was in Microsoft.

I have told him that my title should be either Websphere Administrator or Network Administrator but for some reason he doesn't agree with me because he calls it a collateral duty. My question is what is a collateral duty and what does it entail?


Your boss is probably referring to your job description when he tells you some tasks are collateral duties. Job descriptions are designed to describe the bulk of your job. There are always those "other duties as assigned."

The reason that job descriptions aren't a detailed list of every single thing a person does is because it would be too cumbersome. If everything had to be included on the job description it would be too long. As job duties changed it would have to be rewritten constantly.

As it stands now, in most companies, job descriptions are rewritten when a person's job increases in scope and authority by about 20 percent. At that point, the job needs to be given a fresh look and the pay needs to be examined so it fits the bigger job. It's important to point out that job descriptions and pay levels (or "bands") need to take into account what the marketplace is paying for similar jobs. In other words, most HR departments have to make sure their job levels and titles are in sync with other companies in their size range and in their industry. …