Employee failed to tell us about the unsafe condition that led to her injury--can we discipline?

Q: “I have an employee who told me on Monday that she was hurt on the prior Thursday. While we will certainly take care of the injury and report it and offer care, we would like to write up a disciplinary notice for her not immediately reporting both the unsafe condition that caused the injury as well as the injury itself. May we do this?” – Kary, Maryland

Swapping benefits for pay: Is it legal?

Q. Is it acceptable for a company to negotiate with employees (on a case-by-case basis) to provide higher salary in exchange for the employee not taking certain benefits that the company pays 100% for (such as life insurance, AD&D, STD and LTD)? — Ed, Virginia

Are employer's verbal promises binding?

Q. Can I rely on verbal promises made by my em­­ployer during my interview, or during my employment as forming part of my contract of employment?

After exempt employee uses up paid leave, what do we do when he misses work again?

Q. I have a salaried employee who used all his vacation and sick time. He is allowed a total of 21 days and has used 22. He wants to take more vacation in Novem­­ber and is always sick (so he’ll probably be out more). Can I deduct from his pay if he’s out more? Or can I take days from next year? This may be an ongoing thing every year.

An investigation is inevitable: Now what?

At some point the question becomes not whether you need to dig deep into a case of workplace misconduct, but who you're going to get for the task. Here are some guidelines.

What kinds of wellness programs exist?

Q. What should I look for in a workplace wellness program for our company?

How could pre-employment test be discriminatory?

Q. I am looking to hire new employees. Some applicants who did not qualify for the open positions are now threatening to sue, claiming that my pre-employment tests are discriminatory. What should I know about pre-employment tests?

When can we terminate during medical leave?

Q. We have an employee who has been on workers’ comp for nine months. He’s not planning to have his fractured ankle operated on. HR wants to terminate him on the grounds that (after the operation) he will have been on FMLA for over a year. We realize the employee would still be carried by our insurer. Can we legally terminate an employee on workers’ comp after a year’s medical leave? — Vincent, Louisiana

Is it legal to make employees pay us back when their cash drawers come up short?

Q. One of our employees recently had a shortage in his register at the end of her shift. Are we permitted to deduct the shortage from his wages? If not, is there anything we can do?

How does the Paid Sick Leave Law affect the information that must appear on paystubs?

Q. We are trying to comply with California’s new paid sick leave law, but we are not sure what exactly needs to be included on the paystub.

Is it OK to simply refuse to hire sex offenders?

Q. After narrowing our search to one candidate, we learned that the applicant may be listed as a registered sex offender. We would just rather not hire this applicant. Can we legally do that?

Can we require English-only on the job?

Q. We want to require our employees to read, speak and write English at work. Is such a policy legal?

Must we pay for time spent preparing to work?

Q. We have an employee who regularly comes into work a half-hour or more before her scheduled shift in order to get her work station ready and otherwise get herself set up for the day. This preparation time is important to the employee because she does not believe that she can meet the production requirements of her job without it. The employee has been told that she cannot start performing her actual job tasks until the start of her scheduled shift. Our new HR manager has advised that we must pay the employee for the time that she spends preparing for her shift, even though she had no approval to work during that time. Is that right?

May we remove a restaurant server from shifts because of sores on her face?

Q. We have a server at one of our restaurants who has open sores on her face. She claims she can’t get a bandage to stick to her chin, leaving the sore uncovered. As a result, we have received a few customer complaints. May we remove the server from her shifts so that we do not lose business?

How can we structure a policy that lets us search employees' belongings?

Q. I am worried that some of my employees are storing illicit or illegal items at work. Is there a way for me to legally search their belongings?
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