Q&A

Don't offer comp time to nonexempt employees

01/01/2005

Q. Can we offer our nonexempt employees comp time instead of overtime pay during a pay period? If we can, do we have to offer it at one and a half times, just like overtime is paid? For example, if an employee works one hour of overtime, do we have to give him one and a half hours of comp time? —J.C., Ohio

I-9s: Online or on paper?

01/01/2005

Q. Congress just gave employers the OK to maintain I-9 records electronically. I do payroll for a church. How can we make the switch from paper to electronic? —D.K., Arkansas

Workers' comp leave doesn't stop 'FMLA clock'

01/01/2005

Q. An employee took FMLA leave Sept. 1 due to job stress. In October, she had an operation for carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers' comp ruled that her absence was work-related and it dated her workers' comp claim back to Sept. 3. So, they're now saying that her FMLA leave won't start until she is officially released from workers' comp. Do we need to keep a job open for her indefinitely? —F.W., Nevada

All staff on payroll count toward FMLA threshold

01/01/2005

Q. We're a church with six full-time employees, three part-timers and six musicians who are paid per performance. Are we subject to FMLA? And who counts as an “employee” under the law: full-time, part-time and on-call workers, such as our musicians? —E.E., North Carolina

No need to give notice of demotion or pay cut

12/01/2004

Q. We're planning to demote an employee for performance reasons. He'd move from a supervisory job (salaried/exempt) to an hourly job, so we'd cut his pay by about $10,000 a year. What kind of notice must we give him regarding the pay cut and exemption status? —L.K., Missouri

Govt. Rarely Requires In-House 'Sick Area'

12/01/2004

Q. Is our company required to provide a couch or cot on the premises in the event that an employee becomes ill? Are there any laws that dictate safety or health reasons for doing this? —V.A., Ohio

All-Electronic HR Files? Your Call if State Law Agrees

12/01/2004

Q. You recently said that I-9 forms can now be stored electronically. To save on office space and filing time, our department is considering scanning and electronically filing all personnel files and documents. Is this OK? —S.S., California

Unemployment claim hangs on seasonal staff duration

12/01/2004

Q. If our company hires seasonal employees for the holidays and then releases them after the Christmas rush, are we responsible as the last employer that will have an unemployment insurance claim placed against it? —B.B., New York

Include indemnity statement in temp agency contracts

11/01/2004

Q. We're a surveying company and often use temporary workers on big projects. We recently rejected a candidate sent by the temp agency. Now, the candidate is threatening to sue, saying we discriminated against her because of her accent. Can she sue us even though she was employed by the temp agency, not by us? —M.L., Maryland

Skeptical of 'Spouse' on benefit plan? Ask for proof

11/01/2004

Q. A few of our employees have added their spouses to our health benefits plan. We've heard through the grapevine that some of these “couples” aren't actually married. Can we check on this without being discriminatory? —L.C., Illinois

Don't probe applicants about their HIV status

11/01/2004

Q. Is it legal to ask applicants medical questions, specifically, if they have HIV? Does the law allow any legal exceptions to ask this question of people applying for food-handling positions?” —S.S., California

Firing family members? If they're at will, it's your call

11/01/2004

Q. We may soon terminate an employee whose daughter also works here. We're uncomfortable with her daughter remaining as an employee. Can we legally terminate the daughter, as well? —R.M., Missouri

Calculating paid 'On-Call' time an art, not science

10/01/2004

Q. We have a maintenance employee who we will soon put “on call” for various shifts (occasionally at night) to fix equipment. How should we handle his on-call pay? —E.P., Rhode Island

Base Taking-Work-Home policy on security and job needs

10/01/2004

Q. Is there any legal precedent or other justification for not allowing public employees to create work-related documents on their home computers? —J.R., Alabama

Inquire about confidentiality agreements

10/01/2004

Q. If a job applicant doesn't mention that he or she is subject to a confidentiality agreement, should we ask? —L.M., Maryland