Q&A

Deduct Vacation Leave if Sick-Leave Bank Is Empty

06/01/2005

Q. If an employee is out sick but has already used up all her sick-leave hours, can we legally subtract from her vacation time instead? —K.P., Michigan

Promote staff volunteerism, but not for firm's benefit

06/01/2005

Q. Our CEO just implemented a new employee evaluation goal based on their volunteer work throughout the year. The more they volunteer, the higher the points they receive on their review, ultimately increasing their salary. Can we do this without risk? —T.M., Maine

Don't deduct training costs from ex-Employee's pay

05/01/2005

Q. As part of our new employees' noncompete contracts, we've started including a clause that requires employees to repay the company (through payroll deduction) for training costs if they quit or are fired within one year. Are we OK legally? —S.M., Kentucky

'Reasonable' Maternity Leave Doesn't Matter Under FMLA

05/01/2005

Q. Is there a law or reasonable standard regarding how many weeks maternity leave should be? And should we make that a written policy in our employee handbook? Even with FMLA, to which our employees are entitled, we thought maternity leave was either six or eight weeks, depending on type of delivery. —J.F., Pennsylvania

Pay Traveling Employees for Time Actually Worked

05/01/2005

Q. How should we compensate an hourly employee for an out-of-town, two-day (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) seminar? In particular, should we pay for the hours during the overnight hotel stay, since the employee must sleep there to be ready for the next day's session? —N.G., North Carolina

State law dictates employees' access to personnel file

05/01/2005

Q. An ex-employee whom we fired is now asking to take some documents from his personnel file. Is he legally allowed to do this? Do we have to give him the information just because he's asking for it? —L.B., North Carolina

Don't dock pay for time-Clock mistakes

05/01/2005

Q. We dock employees' pay by 15 minutes if they don't punch in or out on their timecards. If this happens more than twice over any 90-day period, we write up the employee. We've recently been told that we shouldn't have such a policy. Is that correct? If so, how can we make sure employees punch in? —K.K., Michigan

Shift assignment is your call, not the employee's

05/01/2005

Q. We're looking to switch an employee to a different shift, which will better serve the entire shift. Can we force an employee to change shifts even if he's not interested? —K.C., New York

Leave FMLA out of your handbook if it doesn't apply

04/01/2005

Q. Our company employs fewer than 50 people, so we don't have to comply with FMLA. Do we need to mention that fact in our employee handbook? —G.R., Michigan

Monthly pay is OK, but keep payday consistent

04/01/2005

Q. Doesn't federal law say employees must be paid within two weeks of completing their work, no matter the excuse (computer glitch, etc.)? —A.L., Virginia

How to nail down a flaky boss

04/01/2005

Q. Our CEO changes his mind constantly. After we agree on a project, he'll come back to me a day or two later with a different plan. How can I pin him down? —L.G., South Carolina

Normal commute isn't covered by workers' comp

04/01/2005

Q. One of our employees was hurt while driving in a company car on her morning commute to work. Would this be considered a workers' compensation claim? —K.S., Michigan

Office business manager: Exempt or nonexempt?

04/01/2005

Q. We're a nine-physician medical clinic, and we employ a salaried business manager. She makes less than $100,000 but more than $23,660 per year. Her duties include personnel, hiring and firing, and office work. We don't give her comp time or overtime pay. If she takes a partial day off, she must use vacation time (paid time off). In light of the new (FLSA, overtime) rules, are we handling this correctly? —B.B., Missouri

Continuing insurance isn't required by workers' comp

04/01/2005

Q. We have several employees out on workers' comp claims. Our policy is to pay for the employee but not dependents. How can we terminate the group insurance for employees who are out on workers' comp for more than three months? —M.O., Washington

Don't automatically fire after FMLA, STD leave expire

04/01/2005

Q. Our policy is to run FMLA and short-term disability (STD) concurrently. FMLA is for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. STD is for 26 weeks, with proper medical documentation. At what point can we terminate an employee, at the end of 12 weeks, when FMLA leave is exhausted? And, if so, do we end short-term disability payments, since the employee has been terminated? —E.A., Georgia