Can a former employee demand access to her personnel file?

Q. A former employee called HR asking to review her personnel file. We already let her review her file following termination last year, and nothing has changed in the personnel file since she reviewed it. Can we just tell the former employee “No”? Or can we ask her to pay for a copy of the file for her own records? Our HR manager is going on vacation next week. Can we wait to deal with the former employee’s request until after the human resources manager gets back from vacation?

How to make your best decisions: 4 steps


Employees at the highest and lowest levels of the organization chart often make the boldest decisions. Most folks in the middle cling to conventional behavior. Where does that leave you?

Must we have a smoking section onsite?

Q. Our smoking area is outside our building, but the smoke seems to be drifting into the ventilation system. An employee who is super-sensitive to smells has complained. Can we move smokers to their vehicles? Do we even need to provide a place for smokers onsite?

Flying solo: 5 steps to control an HR department of one

Sole HR practitioners can rely on these tips to get the job done.

Drug tests: What to do about 'watered down' results?

Q. We have a couple of workers who keep getting “negative dilute” results of drug tests. Our policy is to not accept the result and to retest. Can we require the retest to be an observed collection?

HR affects the parts of work that are least satisfying

HR pros, take note: The things that make workers grumble all have something to do with your job.

Employee isn't enthusiastic about training his replacement?

To convince a worker to help with grooming the next in line, send this message.

Overcome the pitfalls that could derail your next committee


Too much talk, too much posturing, not enough action. Too often, that’s what defines committees. They can be time-sapping excuses for big egos to engage in paralysis by analysis without accomplishing much. Next time you convene a committee, beware these pitfalls that can keep you from achieving your goal.

Employees' personal data could transform HR

Privacy advocates may squirm when big data is used to profile workers—but many of those workers may not mind.

Politics at work: 3 tips to limit election-year distractions

Some employers try to quell this distraction by putting a gag order on political speech. That’s not a smart move. No-political-talk policies are almost impossible to enforce, plus they can choke morale and could expose you to a lawsuit.

If a new employee leaves in short order, is there a way to recoup training costs?

Q. Can we require employees to repay the company (through payroll deduction) for training costs if they quit or are fired within one year?

Bring Your Own Device policies: Risks and rewards

Employees are increasingly using their personal electronic devices—laptops, smartphones and tablets—for work purposes. The trend, dubbed “Bring Your Own Device” or “BYOD,” has redefined what it means to be “at work.” Employers jumping on the BYOD bandwagon face several challenges.

The HR I.Q. Test: September '14

Test your knowledge of recent trends in employment law, comp & benefits and other HR issues with our monthly mini-quiz.

How long to retain employment records?

Q. I recently discharged some of my employees. How long must I retain their employment records? Are there different rules for electronic records versus paper ones?

Annual EEO-1 survey data due back to EEOC by Sept. 30

It’s time to file your annual EEO-1 survey with the EEOC. If you received a letter in July indicating that you must file an EEO-1 report, you have until Sept. 30 to do so.
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