Q&A

Accommodating a driver who can't drive

04/01/2007

Q. One of our drivers is not medically able to drive company trucks. Should we offer alternative employment? Should we adopt a formal policy covering disabled drivers?

How to draft a telecommuting policy

04/01/2007

Q. More employees are asking to telecommute, as are prospective hires for difficult-to-fill positions. If we have such a policy, what should be included to ensure there isn’t any favoritism among workers?

Punishing a worker for personal blog post

04/01/2007

Q. One of my staff showed me an Internet link to another employee’s personal blog, which included racial and offensive comments about our company and employees. Can we reprimand the employee for the racial slurs?

Termination for excessive absenteeism

04/01/2007

Q. Our handbook states that employees will be terminated if they are absent more than 10 days in 12 consecutive months. An employee has been absent for seven days so far this year, three of which were due to the flu. He called out sick four days ago. When he returns, he will have exceeded the 10-day limit. Can we terminate him?

How long to retain applications and résumés?

04/01/2007

Q. How long do we have to keep applications and résumés? — L.P., Kansas

Must we pay hourly worker for drive to conference?

04/01/2007

Q. Recently a nonexempt employee left from work to attend a two-day conference. She left at 2:30 p.m. and arrived at the location at 5:00 p.m. I interpret that we should pay for eight hours since her travel was from the work location and within normal work hours. The next day, she left the conference at 4:15 p.m. and arrived back in town at 7 p.m., but she didn’t stop at the office. Since travel time is outside of normal (8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) work hours, is she paid for travel time or just for work hours attending conference? —M.B., Georgia

Worker fails to give FMLA proof? Cut 'Em loose

04/01/2007

Q. One of our employees had been out sick for two months. We’ve received a doctor’s note that just says he’s unable to work and that a return date is undetermined. We faxed and mailed FMLA paperwork, but it hasn’t been returned. Meanwhile, the employee is receiving disability benefits through our short-term disability plan. How do we calculate the start of FMLA leave? From the date the disability payment began? And if we never get the FMLA paperwork back, can we terminate him? T.B., Tennessee

More clarity on the partial-Day deduction rule

04/01/2007

Q. I have a question about deducting leave for salaried staff. I don’t understand how we can deduct from employees’ paid-leave bank when they are gone for an hour or two during the day, when we don’t pay them anything extra when they work 50 hours in a week. For example, if an employee works 10-hour days on a regular basis, is it OK to charge her vacation time when she leaves an hour or two early? — J.H., Minnesota

Are certain industries exempt from the FMLA?

04/01/2007

Q. I’ve heard that not all industries are covered by the FMLA. Are trucking companies exempt? If so, we have several employees out on workers’ compensation and FMLA leave. Can we fire them? —T.Z., New York

Obtain approval to give out employees' info

04/01/2007

Q. I've just joined a new company, and our HR people give out employees' information (wage data, demographic info, etc.) to anyone who calls to request it. Is that right? —P.L., Virginia

Workers fail to give FMLA proof? Cut 'Em loose

04/01/2007

Q. One of our employees had been out sick for two months. We’ve received a doctor’s note that just says he’s unable to work and that a return date is undetermined. We faxed and mailed FMLA paperwork, but it hasn’t been returned. Meanwhile, the employee is receiving disability benefits through our short-term disability plan. How do we calculate the start of FMLA leave? From the date the disability payment began? And if we never get the FMLA paperwork back, can we terminate him? —T.B., Tennessee

Clarifying the partial-Day deduction rule

04/01/2007

Q. I have a question about the partial-day deduction rule. I don’t understand how we can deduct from salaried employees’ paid-leave bank when they are gone for an hour or two during the day since we don’t pay them anything extra when they work 50 hours in a week. For example, if an employee works 10-hour days on a regular basis, is it OK to charge her vacation time when she leaves an hour or two early? —J.H., Minnesota

After merger, must we hire worker who's on FMLA?

04/01/2007

Q. We bought a company and agreed to consider hiring the seller’s employees. We interviewed and hired some of them. One of the employees was out on FMLA leave and is telling us that we have to hire him. We looked at his work record and we would never hire him. Do we have a potential problem? —R.L.B.

Can we offer wage hike to head off union campaign?

04/01/2007

Q. We are a nonunion company and obviously would like to stay that way. We gave a very modest wage increase six months ago, and we just learned that another company in the same industrial park got hit with a union organizing campaign. I think we should be proactive. Normally we review wages every 12 months, but I want to recommend to my management team that we break that cycle and do a wage increase now. Can we get in any trouble by going ahead with a wage increase now, even though it’s not in keeping with our regular practice? —C.O.

Quick fix can help avoid harassment liability

04/01/2007

Q. One of our male supervisors fired what we in HR thought was a poor-performing female employee. During the exit interview, the terminated employee told us that her supervisor fired her because he was sexually harassing her and she threatened to report him if it didn’t stop. It turned out that her claim was legitimate. We immediately called her back to work.

We thought we had dodged a bullet but, unfortunately, we’ve been contacted by her attorney, who threatened a lawsuit unless we agree to settle her claim for a lot of money. We will contact an attorney to represent us, but we want to know if the fact that we brought her right back to work is going to make a difference? —L.W.