Is it OK to dock a nonexempt's salary if the hours just aren't put in?

Q: “We have a nonexempt salaried employee who is required to work 40 hours a week. She rarely works overtime, but when she does she gets 1.5 times her hourly rate. My question is, if she works less than 40 hours in a week, does not have any PTO left and does not make the time up, can we dock her salary?” – Maria, West Virginia

Can we charge administrative fees when employees create a burden on payroll?

Q: “Can the company legally assess an administrative fee to employees who have been issued a corporate credit card and have been told in writing that the card is to be used for business purposes only, yet continue using it for personal purposes? It means the accounting department must adjust their regular paycheck to deduct the monies used for personal expenses.” – MK, Oklahoma

Which anti-discrimination laws apply to a company of our size?

Q: “We are a small company with 12-15 employees at any one time. I get very confused on all the agencies that put out employment requirements. Can you tell me if the ADA, EEOC, etc. apply to us?” – Judy, Alaska

How do I handle this tricky information exchange between my old and new employer?


Q: “I have a job offer and the employer wants to know the start date of my prior job. The problem is that my old job’s HR department determined my start date from the time I received benefits, while I was technically employed prior to receiving benefits as a trainee with a reduced salary. I sent my prospective employer an old email that documented the training start date from a former supervisor—is this sufficient to prove the earlier start date? Does my new employer have the right to contact my former supervisor regarding this matter without my permission? My old supervisor isn’t the easiest person to speak with, which is why I hope the email is fine.” – Fred, Massachusetts

Salesperson leaves the company owing money--is his draw fair game for a deduction?


Q: “We are considering changing our compensation plan for account managers. Scenario: Employee will receive a monthly set salary in advance and also earn a commission on sales. However, if the employee’s commission does not equal the set salary, the company will deduct the difference of the commission from the salary that is paid in advance. If the employee should leave employment while owing the company the difference mentioned above, are there any laws that would prevent the company from deducting the owed amount from the employee’s accrued but unused vacation time that would be paid out at the time of the resignation?” – M.J., Oklahoma

Must we pay employees for time spent filling out new hire paperwork?

Q: “Should employees completing new hire paperwork be paid for that time, even if it is before their official start date?” - Geri, Idaho

New job title, but same pay--could it be perceived as a demotion?

Q: “We are reviewing our job descriptions. If a title is changed from Assistant HR Director to HR Tech but there is no change in pay, might it be considered a demotion?” – Patricia, Florida

Employee may be using FMLA leave for years to come--how often can we request an updated certification?

Q: “If an employee has requested lifelong, intermittent FMLA leave (worked one year, and worked over 1,250 hours in preceding 12 months), can an employer make a request for updated medical certification once per year? The employee continues to work at least 1,250 hours in a rolling calendar period.” – Anne, Minnesota

Can we obligate staff to use direct deposit?

Q: “For employees who are paid hourly in the state of Massachusetts, can we ask them to enroll in direct deposit with a bank to cut down on the company expenses, or is that illegal?” – Diane, Massachusetts

Do we need to give employees travel pay if they cut their trip short?

Q: “I have employees that are required to be on long-term assignments two or three weeks at a time. To save money, I put employees up in a hotel (which is paid for) and they receive a per diem. In some cases, they are required to stay the weekend to save on travel costs. If I have a policy set up that an employee must stay in a hotel (paid for by the company) because the travel distance is too far (more than 250 miles) and the employee refuses to stay and drives home instead, am I required to pay them travel pay and mileage?” – Kristin, Pennsylvania

Can seasonal employees collect unemployment benefits?

Q: “Can seasonal employees collect unemployment benefits?” – Helen, New Jersey

Should we adopt a 'proof of marriage' rule at our workplace?


Q: “We just received our first request for a same-sex spouse to be covered under our insurance. We have no problem doing this as long as they are actually married because we don’t cover domestic partners on our policy. Are we permitted to ask for proof of marriage even if we don’t ask for proof from opposite-sex spouses? I would like to have a policy that states that if your last name is different than that of the spouse you wish to cover, we will need proof of marriage. Is that legal?” – Susie, Pennsylvania

Can we terminate for attendance problems despite a doctor's note?

Q: “Is there a circumstance when an employer can terminate an employee for attendance even if the time missed is usually for medical reasons with a doctor’s note to back it up? An employee told his supervisor this morning when his attendance problem was mentioned that he couldn’t be fired for his attendance issues when he is out for medical reasons. The medical issues are not work-related.” – Marchia, Oklahoma

How is 'bonding time' handled under the FMLA?


Q: “Does a new father have to take FMLA leave for the birth and bonding all at one time? Intermittent leave is not allowed?” – Carol, Iowa

How do we handle these two FMLA edge cases?

Q: “An employee requests permission to arrive 5-10 minutes late for work each morning because her spouse suffers from multiple sclerosis, and is so fatigued that he cannot get out of bed on his own in the morning to take his medicine. Is the employee considered eligible for intermittent FMLA? Is an employee asking to leave work on occasion to pick up her father, who suffers from dementia and sometimes wanders off, eligible for intermittent FMLA?” – April, Tennessee
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