ASK THE ATTORNEY

Casual drinking when entertaining clients: What should our policy be?

01/25/2016

Q: “What is a good policy on allowing alcohol to be consumed when entertaining a client or a prospective client? Does this put the company at risk if an accident should occur during or immediately following the meeting/dinner? Right now our policy is ‘no alcohol.’ However, this has created some issues for our salespeople.” – Marchia, Oklahoma

How do we pay for travel time and mileage when assignment sites and lengths vary?

01/25/2016
Q: “We have security guards who are sent to assignments at different locations. They do not report to our office; they go directly to the assigned location. Sometimes it is a one-day assignment and other times it could be one-month or longer. Are we required to pay travel time and mileage?” – Linda, California

Employee removes dependent from health plan in error--can it be fixed?

01/25/2016

Q: “Regarding a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA): Under what circumstances may a correction be made if an employee removed a dependent from a medical plan in error? For example, with an HDHP, the employee or a spouse may also be covered by Medicare, but may not contribute to the HSA, per IRS regulations. Our employee received a letter from the company stating this after the spouse became eligible for Medicare. The employee interpreted this information to mean the spouse must be removed from the HDHP medical plan. During open enrollment, the employee removed the spouse from medical insurance. After the fact, the employee realized this error/misunderstanding. Changes like this may call into question the Section 125 plan. What are the options for a situation like this—can the spouse be added back to the insurance?” - Patty, Washington

Are we paying these commissioned employees properly, or are they owed overtime?

01/25/2016

Q: “The Department of Labor’s website says: ‘Employees of a retail or service establishment who are paid more than half their total earnings on a commission basis may be exempt from the overtime pay requirements of the FLSA.’ I understand that this exemption from overtime would apply to employers who are paying commission only for employees who paint cars and get paid a percentage of the sale for each car they paint. I further understand that they also must pay the employee at least one and one-half times the minimum wage and be able to prove they’ve done so by maintaining time records. Is there anything I have missed, or that I am misunderstanding?” – Cristy, North Carolina

Are we always obligated to provide ex-employees with copies of personnel records?

01/04/2016

Q: “An employee who was let go after 30 days for non-compliance and falsification issues is now requesting a copy of her personnel record after two years. Are we legally required to give it?” – Judy, Alaska

What do we do when a resigning employee files for workers' comp on his way out?

01/04/2016

Q: “I have an employee who gave two weeks’ notice, but filed a workers’ compensation claim five days before his last day, stating that he had been hit on the head by a door, causing head and neck injuries. Does his resignation stand even though there is a workers’ compensation claim pending? And if so, do we have the right to ask the employee not to come back to work for the rest of his two weeks?” – Jenny, Kansas

How often must we pay pieceworkers?

01/04/2016

Q: “How often must employees who work piecemeal in a factory be paid? Can they receive payment on the regularly scheduled pay date or must they be paid at the end of each job?” – Helen, New Jersey

How do we know when state law applies to employees working elsewhere?

01/04/2016
Q: “My company’s corporate office is in Florida, where we have about seven employees. We have other employees in other states. Some laws clearly state that the law applies to remote employees no matter how many employees are at the remote location. When this is not stated, must my Florida employer comply with the other state laws?” – Mary, Florida

Are we required by law to offer a light-duty accommodation?

11/16/2015
Q: “We have a policy that states if an employee gets injured away from work not on company time, we will not accommodate their injuries. We do not allow them to work light duty; they have to meet all requirements of the job before returning. Is this legal?” – Connie, Kansas

Short-term disability: Does paid time off still accrue?

11/16/2015
Q: “An employee went on maternity leave and will use paid time off until the short term benefit kicks in. Does she continue to accrue PTO while on short-term disability?” – Anne, Texas

How do we protect ourselves from injury liability when a recovering worker returns?

11/16/2015
Q: “We have an employee who is going to be having hip replacement surgery in a few weeks. We have not received anything from her doctor with any kind of restrictions or accommodations that we need to make before her surgery. She came in today using a cane. We are concerned that she might fall. We have no problem making some minor accommodations for her, but I am concerned that if she falls it will then become a workers’ comp claim. What can we do to protect ourselves?” – Pattie, Indiana

How best to scale our employee handbook across several states?

11/16/2015
Q: “My company’s corporate office is in Florida. We also employ workers in New York, California, Nevada and Massachusetts. I was considering creating a general employee handbook and doing tabs, per state, to include specific-state compliance. How do I efficiently find differences and which ones should I make sure I include?” – Mary, Florida

A common FMLA question: Intermittent leave for a spouse's care?

11/15/2015
Q: “An employee has requested intermittent leave so she can call out to stay with her husband if he has an asthma attack. Do we have to grant it?” – Vernon, Alabama

Should we keep track of an employee's disability payments even after he's left the company?

11/09/2015

Q: “We had an employee who went on long-term disability before his employment was terminated, which happened in February 2015. He is still receiving long-term disability payments. Should we be maintaining a copy of the documentation of his payments? He is no longer an employee, but if he files for unemployment compensation once his disability payments stop, will we need that documentation?” – Joanne, Oklahoma

Are we mixing employee files inappropriately?

11/02/2015
Q: “I've discovered that at our publishing company of 75 people, each employee has a single personnel file into which all documents go—everything from their new-hire paperwork to performance reviews to doctor’s notes. How must we separate this information going forward to keep legally compliant? We’re supposed to split off certain medical information so that each employee will have different sorts of files, correct?” – Theo, Maryland
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