Q&A

New exemption definitions aren't retroactive

06/01/2004

Q. If, according to the revised Labor Department regulations, we've been improperly classifying certain employees, would we need to go back and reimburse them? At that time, we thought they were properly classified. —Becky, Texas

Commissions count in tallying highly compensated exemption

06/01/2004

Q. I have a question about the new highly compensated exemption. I have inside salespeople and their base salary is about $40,000, but their commissions net them over $130,000 a year. Could I classify them as exempt? —Michelle, California

Look at big picture to determine 'Primary Duty'

06/01/2004

Q. The duties test under the Labor Department's overtime regulations talks about determining the employee's “primary duty.” How do we determine that? —Marie, Pennsylvania

Return pregnant employee to equivalent job

05/01/2004

Q. When an employee returns from maternity leave, do we have to give her the very same job she had or can she be put to work in a different type of position? —J.B., North Carolina

Even 'Optional' company events carry risks

05/01/2004

Q. Awhile back you suggested that we provide transportation home for employees who suffer an illness that could be work-related. Would that apply to company parties for which employees' attendance is voluntary? —C.K, Illinois

Job openings: No duty to notify employees on leave

05/01/2004

Q. One of our employees is on leave after giving birth. She may qualify for a position that recently opened up. Do we have an obligation to notify her of that opening? —R.D., Ohio

Don't dock employees for time worked

05/01/2004

Q. We give employees the choice of using two 10-minute breaks each day or combining them into one 20-minute lunch break. The employees are required to punch out and in for these breaks. Now, we have a policy that docks employees 15 minutes if they're four or more minutes late returning from a break. Is this legal? —J.B., Texas

You're free to set paid-Holiday policy

04/01/2004

Q. Can our company freely change its paid-holiday policy? Are we bound by certain federal or state laws on holiday pay, for instance? —D.C., Oklahoma

Can you fire a poor performer who's on FMLA leave?

04/01/2004

Q. Our office receptionist has a history of being late for work and taking unexcused absences. She's out on FMLA leave to care for her sick mother. Her temporary replacement is doing an outstanding job and always shows up on time. Our CEO has asked if we can keep the new receptionist and tell the other one not to return. Can we? —J.M., New York

Interview the hiring manager before the candidates

04/01/2004

Q. I constantly run into this problem: I pre-screen a candidate who seems like a perfect fit for the job description. But when I send the person to the hiring manager for an interview, I'm told to keep looking for someone better. This is frustrating to the managers, the applicants and me. Any suggestions on how I can improve my pre-screening? —P.B., New Jersey

Carefully Craft Policy to Avoid Paid-Leave 'Stacking'

04/01/2004

Q. A pregnant employee eligible for FMLA wants to take the 12 weeks of leave. Our leave policy says an employee on FMLA must first use his or her sick, vacation and personal leave, in that order, before the leave is unpaid. In this case, the employee has enough sick leave for the 12 weeks. But should she be allowed to use sick leave for the entire 12 weeks? Is this in our best interest? —M.P., Texas

Don't count on total immunity from references

04/01/2004

Q. I have a question about providing honest feedback during reference requests. Is it better to defend the fact that I provided a truthful (negative) assessment, rather than trying to explain why I can't give any reference at all? Aren't we protected by negligent referral and reference immunity laws? —M.R., Utah

Worker's FMLA time expired? Check ADA obligation, too

03/01/2004

Q. An employee's been on FMLA leave for pregnancy for about 17 weeks. Now that the 16 weeks (12 under FMLA, plus four additional in our state) have expired, we plan to terminate her and let her know that she is eligible for rehire when and if she returns to work. Are we legally safe? —C.A., California

Avoid arbitrary policy on reinstating job titles

03/01/2004

Q. An assistant manager has been out on disability leave for four months, and she's requested another two months. I want to eliminate the position. How long do I have to keep the position closed before reactivating the job title and responsibilities? —K.J., Mississippi

Be consistent when you discipline and terminate

03/01/2004

Q. We fired one of our truck drivers after giving him a written warning about continued lateness in completing weekly logs. Should we have taken any other action prior to his termination? —R.W., California