Q&A

You (not the employee) determine FMLA leave

05/01/2007

Q. At a recent FMLA seminar I attended, the speaker said that employers have the responsibility to ask employees if they want their absences applied to their 12 weeks of available FMLA leave. I understand that we can run FMLA leave concurrent with paid sick leave, but what if an employee doesn’t want to use up his FMLA leave and has other paid or unpaid leave available under our company leave policy?—J.G., Ohio

Should we give reviews to independent contractors?

05/01/2007

Q. We have several independent contractors working at our company, as well as many regular employees. We give performance reviews to regular employees, but not the independent contractors. Should we?—M.L., California

Complying with the no-Docking rules

05/01/2007

Q. We are a small company with fewer than 20 employees. While I understand the issue of paying exempt employees full salary and docking from the PTO banks when they’re absent, is there someplace that I can go to get an example of a company policy to support a 40-hour-per-week effort from each employee?—E.R., Virginia

Employee can't take FMLA leave for jail time

05/01/2007

Q. Does the FMLA apply to employees who are in jail, too?—A.B., Texas

Can we ban dating among co-workers?

04/01/2007

Q. We recently defended a workplace harassment lawsuit against our company involving two co-workers who broke up. To avoid future problems, can we impose prohibitions against co-workers dating to avoid future problems? ...

Accommodating a driver who can't drive

04/01/2007

Q. One of our drivers is not medically able to drive company trucks. Should we offer alternative employment? Should we adopt a formal policy covering disabled drivers?

How to draft a telecommuting policy

04/01/2007

Q. More employees are asking to telecommute, as are prospective hires for difficult-to-fill positions. If we have such a policy, what should be included to ensure there isn’t any favoritism among workers?

Punishing a worker for personal blog post

04/01/2007

Q. One of my staff showed me an Internet link to another employee’s personal blog, which included racial and offensive comments about our company and employees. Can we reprimand the employee for the racial slurs?

Termination for excessive absenteeism

04/01/2007

Q. Our handbook states that employees will be terminated if they are absent more than 10 days in 12 consecutive months. An employee has been absent for seven days so far this year, three of which were due to the flu. He called out sick four days ago. When he returns, he will have exceeded the 10-day limit. Can we terminate him?

How long to retain applications and résumés?

04/01/2007

Q. How long do we have to keep applications and résumés? — L.P., Kansas

Must we pay hourly worker for drive to conference?

04/01/2007

Q. Recently a nonexempt employee left from work to attend a two-day conference. She left at 2:30 p.m. and arrived at the location at 5:00 p.m. I interpret that we should pay for eight hours since her travel was from the work location and within normal work hours. The next day, she left the conference at 4:15 p.m. and arrived back in town at 7 p.m., but she didn’t stop at the office. Since travel time is outside of normal (8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) work hours, is she paid for travel time or just for work hours attending conference? —M.B., Georgia

Worker fails to give FMLA proof? Cut 'Em loose

04/01/2007

Q. One of our employees had been out sick for two months. We’ve received a doctor’s note that just says he’s unable to work and that a return date is undetermined. We faxed and mailed FMLA paperwork, but it hasn’t been returned. Meanwhile, the employee is receiving disability benefits through our short-term disability plan. How do we calculate the start of FMLA leave? From the date the disability payment began? And if we never get the FMLA paperwork back, can we terminate him? T.B., Tennessee

More clarity on the partial-Day deduction rule

04/01/2007

Q. I have a question about deducting leave for salaried staff. I don’t understand how we can deduct from employees’ paid-leave bank when they are gone for an hour or two during the day, when we don’t pay them anything extra when they work 50 hours in a week. For example, if an employee works 10-hour days on a regular basis, is it OK to charge her vacation time when she leaves an hour or two early? — J.H., Minnesota

Are certain industries exempt from the FMLA?

04/01/2007

Q. I’ve heard that not all industries are covered by the FMLA. Are trucking companies exempt? If so, we have several employees out on workers’ compensation and FMLA leave. Can we fire them? —T.Z., New York

Obtain approval to give out employees' info

04/01/2007

Q. I've just joined a new company, and our HR people give out employees' information (wage data, demographic info, etc.) to anyone who calls to request it. Is that right? —P.L., Virginia