Q&A

Use payroll deduction to collect unpaid premiums

07/01/2006

Q. An employee went on FMLA leave, but we failed to specify the method in which he would pay his share of health insurance premiums. It’s now three months later, the employee has returned to work and he hasn’t paid a dime. We want to collect the premium. What can we do? —D.T., Texas

Don't tolerate employees' abuse of union rights

07/01/2006

Q. One of our employees (a bus driver) also serves as a committee member for a labor union. The driver uses his union position to protect himself from our company’s policy on insubordination. Does management have a right to ban this employee from the property when he conducts labor business because of his combative, disrespectful and intimidating manner? What rights does management have under this circumstance? —S. G., Florida

Capping Salaries Won't Violate Age-Bias Law

06/01/2006

Q. I have a question about capping employees’ salaries when they reach the top of the pay scale. I’m concerned because the only employees affected are those with many years of service and who happen to be over age 40. Have we made a legal error? Some of the affected employees are angry and have mentioned discrimination based on the residual effect of the cap. —M.M., California

Paying for driving time depends on departure point

06/01/2006

Q. We have a sports reporter (an hourly employee) who is being sent to cover a state tournament. Should we pay for the time it takes her to drive to the event and back? —D.L., Washington

Apply good judgment to legal considerations

06/01/2006

Q. An employee left work on a Monday due to an illness. She called in sick Tuesday and Wednesday, but we heard nothing on Thursday or Friday. Our policy calls for termination if the employee doesn't contact us within three days. We posted her job on Friday and decided to terminate her. On Monday, her fiancé called to tell us she was pregnant and had complications that led to a hospital visit. We got a note from her OB-GYN saying she'd been seen, but not indicating when she could return. What should we do to avoid any legal fall out? —K.A., New York

Must We Give Time Off for 'Witness Duty'?

06/01/2006

Q. We have an employee who has been subpoenaed to appear as a witness in a criminal case. She obviously has no choice but to go. Are we required to pay her while she is off, or can we have her take vacation time or an unpaid leave of absence? —C.S., Pennsylvania

FMLA absence shouldn't trigger attendance penalty

06/01/2006

Q. We have a point system for absences and lateness. Our no-fault attendance policy states that if employees call off after the start of their shift, they’ll receive two points. What if the reason for the absence is covered by the FMLA? Should the employee still receive the two points? —C.S., Florida

Fire employee for positive cocaine test

06/01/2006

Q. We are a small but growing construction company, and we don’t have formal policies in place. Recently, one of our employees was involved in an accident at a construction site. This is his third accident. After the second time, we had him sign a warning notice that said he’d be terminated if it happened again. We sent him for drug testing after this third accident and he came back positive for cocaine. We want to terminate him. But we suspended another worker who tested positive for marijuana. Can we fire him? —B.O., Pennsylvania

Make note if using translator to complete I-9

06/01/2006

Q. Is there any way to obtain I-9 forms pre-printed in Spanish? —A.B., California

New I-9, W-4 needed when employee changes name?

05/01/2006

Q. When employees get married, do we need new W-4s to show the new name? And do we need new I-9s (which, I assume, would require supporting documentation in the new name)? — M.G., Washington

Part of Sarbanes-Oxley law applies to all employers

05/01/2006

Q. I work for a nonprofit social service organization. Do such organizations have to comply with SOX rules? —J.M., New Jersey

Can you search employee lockers, purses, desks?

05/01/2006

Q. Can we open an employee’s personal things, like her locker, purse or desk drawer, if we suspect her of stealing? —A.G., Connecticut

How Long to Tolerate a 'Disappearing' Employee?

05/01/2006

Q. We’re a small business with eight employees. One employee frequently takes off for six to eight weeks with medical problems. She’s done this each year for the past three years. It’s a huge burden because very few people have her training, so we can’t hire a temp. How long do we have to allow her to disappear for months at a time? —M.S., Ohio

Solving the Case of the 'Stinky Staffer'

04/01/2006

Q. We have a “stinky employee” problem. How do I go about telling this person that she has a horrible smell and it's now affecting some of my other staff? —S.H., Washington

Accruing sick leave during workers' comp leave

04/01/2006

Q. One of our employees is out on workers’ comp. Our contract says “no sick time will be lost or deducted” while employees are out on workers’ comp. But now he wants to know if he continues to accrue sick time and holiday pay while not working. Does he? —J.S., Michigan