Q&A

Contesting Unemployment for Drunk Ex-Employee

12/01/2006

Q. We sent an employee home because he came to work clearly intoxicated. The police later picked him up wandering around, and he missed work because he was in jail sobering up. We fired him, and he filed for unemployment. Can we use the police report to challenge his unemployment claim?—R.H. Florida

'Not accepting applications' sign is legal

11/01/2006

Q. If we don't have a job opening, are we required to hand out applications to anyone who asks? Or can we just say that we're not taking applications at this time? —J. I., Washington

Workers' comp liability for aging employees

11/01/2006

Q. One of our employees is over age 70 and has had a broken foot, memory problems and a recent car wreck that caused some residual problems. Should we allow her to work? What can we do (if anything) to protect ourselves from potential workers' comp claims should she injure herself?

Tracking time off for salaried employees

11/01/2006

Q. If a company tracks employees' vacation, sick and personal time off, can we make deductions from accumulated time for everyone who takes time off, including salaried employees? I'm talking about deducting it from the accrual, not the pay. I've heard that I can't deduct vacation, sick leave or personal time if the salaried employee worked at least four hours during that day. —S.W., Florida

Must we report employees' domestic abuse?

11/01/2006

Q. As an employer, do we have an obligation to alert authorities about at-home physical abuse of an employee? We have an employee who has been open about abuse at the hands of a spouse, so we know it's going on. —S. R., Wisconsin

Commute isn't on the clock, Even 100+ miles

10/01/2006

Q. Should we pay for travel time if the employee's drive from home to the first job site is a very long distance (example: Los Angeles to San Diego)? —L.S., California

Can you tell an HR assistant whom to socialize with?

10/01/2006

Q. I'm the HR director of a 45-employee company and have one assistant. Due to the firm's growth, I'm considering giving my assistant more responsibility. My concern: The assistant is very friendly with about 10 other employees. Two are her roommates. What's to stop her from divulging information to her friends? I have said nothing to her about my concerns yet. What can I express to her without overstepping her legal rights? —M.I., New York

Must you rehire a disabled former employee?

10/01/2006

Q. One of our employees went on disability after a motorcycle accident. We terminated him at his request, as he wanted to cash out his 401(k). His doctor recently released him from disability, and he's seeking re-employment for a different position. Our owner is concerned that if he doesn't offer the ex-employee a job, we may face legal retribution. And he's concerned that if we do bring him back, we'll end up with a workers' comp claim from a slip/fall injury. Do we have any obligation to rehire this employee? —B.O., Pennsylvania

No comp time for private firms; Flex time is OK

10/01/2006

Q. Can you please clarify if and when we can offer comp time to our employees? I'm confused. —S.L., West Virginia

Drafting new I-9s after merger isn't required

10/01/2006

Q. Our company merged with another company. Are we required to complete a new I-9 form for each employee who worked for the other company, or are these employees "grandfathered" in? —J.M.

Run FMLA time concurrently with sick leave

09/01/2006

Q. We have an employee who is going to be out eight weeks for a qualifying serious health condition. The employee isn't requesting to use FMLA leave because she has enough paid sick leave. Can employees choose not to use FMLA leave even though they meet the qualifications? —C.T., Georgia

Don't push an employee toward disability leave

09/01/2006

Q. We have an employee (an officer at the bank) who was out six months with a heart condition. He has had performance problems on and off since then. He was hospitalized again with pneumonia and returned looking very bad, but his doctor says he's fine to return to work.  We approached him about taking disability and SSI benefits, but he refuses. Now we face a morale issue because he constantly talks about his illness and his co-workers feel he isn't performing. If we terminate him, what is the best approach? —C.T., N.J.

Obtain written OK for wage deductions

09/01/2006

Q. Our company allows employees to purchase products on an installment basis. When employees quit and haven't yet paid the full amount, can we deduct the remainder due from their last paycheck?—K.M., Pennsylvania

Rein in Rogue 'Early-Clockers'

09/01/2006

Q. We've repeatedly warned a part-time employee about clocking in earlier than he's supposed to, sometimes more than an hour early. We know that we have to pay him for any hours worked, but what can we legally do to get him to work only the hours set for his position? —L.K., Missouri

Does FMLA cover leave after relative dies?

09/01/2006

Q. One of my employees has been out on FMLA leave for seven weeks taking care of his sick father in another state. The leave was approved for a full 12 weeks. I received a voice mail from him saying that his father died. He also said that he had to clear up a lot of things with his father's estate, but that he would be back by the end of his scheduled leave. Can he do that or can I tell him he needs to come back sooner? —V.S.