Q&A

Know the 'Cooling Off' Period for Age-Bias Waivers

01/01/2006

Q. Can you tell me if there’s a law that says a 45-day waiting period must exist from the time employees are told they’ll be laid off until they receive the severance payment? Supposedly, this is called a cooling-off period. Is this a federal law? —T.M., Pennsylvania

Obtain OK to share background-Check info with clients

12/01/2005

Q. Our company routinely runs background checks on all people to whom we offer positions. Can we legally disclose an employee’s background information to a customer who requests it? (The employee is working on the customer’s job site.) —L.B., North Carolina

Hiring relatives is legal, but keep them separated

12/01/2005

Q. Are there any legal restrictions on whether we can interview and hire a relative of one of our current employees? —J.D., North Carolina

Set clear rules on employee credit card use

12/01/2005

Q. I work for a nonprofit agency, and we plan to start using an agency credit card. But we also need a policy that covers who can use the card and when, plus some other things I haven’t thought of yet. What should the policy include? —M.M., Pennsylvania

Cell-Phone Policies: Be Safe, Not Sorry

12/01/2005

Q. We’re considering giving cell phones to our field employees, rather than desk phones. What kind of policies should we have in place for personal cell calls on those phones? —J.B., Florida

Denying leave may be legal, but unwise, for small firms

11/01/2005

Q. We had a full-time RN request time off to be with her husband who experienced a heart attack. We’re a small medical center with 25 employees. Administration was very upset and wouldn’t let her take any paid time off and wouldn’t guarantee her position. She had lots of sick time and vacation time in the bank. Can the company do that? —D.B., Pennsylvania

How to deal with a disrespectful employee

11/01/2005

Q. One of our employees constantly twists everything I say around to make the situation seem worse than it is. For example, when I put her paycheck on the counter because she was doing something, she told others that I threw it at her. She has lied about many incidents. I have spoken with her several times and indicated that her actions are unprofessional and disrespectful. This is not good for my reputation. I need a solution. —S.W., Texas

Correct errors found in 'Old' I-9 forms

11/01/2005

Q. Soon after I started in a new HR department, I reviewed the files and found that some of the employees’ I-9 forms don’t have dates or signatures, or they’ve been completed using outdated forms. Can I go back to employees and redo the forms, collecting current documentation? Or should I just make sure the right forms are used from now on? —J.M., Ohio

Involve all relevant managers in employee reviews

10/01/2005

Q. We have an employee who works for two different departments, under two different supervisors. Which supervisor should conduct the review, the one with the most seniority? —D.F., Illinois

You can track hours for exempt and nonexempt staff

10/01/2005

Q. We have mechanics who work on a straight commission basis. Do we need to track their hours? —E.D., Nevada

Don't play 'Name game' with newly wed employees

10/01/2005

Q. One of our employees recently got married. She’s informally going by her new last name, but she hasn’t changed her name on her Social Security card to her married name and doesn’t plan to. We submit all payroll information using her maiden name. Do we face any liability? —L.K., Missouri

Drug testing is perfectly legal ... if done properly

10/01/2005

Q. I have an employee who says that our drug-testing program is a violation of his constitutional rights. What can I tell him (or show him) to prove that we’re well within the law? —S.H., Texas

You can use surveillance to spot workers' comp fraud

09/01/2005

Q. How far can we go to make sure that employees aren’t taking advantage of our company while they’re out on workers’ comp leave? Can we, for example, call them at home to make sure they are resting and not out working another job or abusing the system? —D.V., Illinois

What to include in a camera-Phone policy

09/01/2005

Q. I’m looking to create a company policy regarding cell phones with photographic capabilities. Any suggestions? —L.B., California

Don't make ex-Employees pay training costs

09/01/2005

Q. We’ve started requiring 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