Holidays 2016: When will employers shut their doors?

While the federal government will shut down on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, only 35% of private employers plan to do the same, according to a new Society for Human Resource Management Holiday Schedules 2016 survey.

Nip harassment suits in the bud: Establish clear system for lodging complaints


Employers that create and implement clear, well-publicized policies for reporting sexual and other forms of harassment can defeat many co-worker harassment claims. The key is to come up with a specific process featuring more than one avenue through which employees can complain. Then let employees know it’s there for their use.

Set clear guidance for promotion applications

Employers can get in big trouble if they try to manipulate promotions so only certain individuals apply. That can happen when promotion opportunities aren’t listed or only a select few learn about them. The legal risk: Even employees who don’t formally apply can sue.

Tread lightly when talk turns to politics

The real action in the 2016 election is still months away, but political discord is already in mid-campaign form. If water-cooler chatter has been more heated than you would like, you may be tempted to put a gag order on political speech. That’s not a smart move.

Craft smart policy on use of smartphones

Smartphone technology has simply changed too quickly for many employee handbooks to keep up. What should your strategy be?

AG investigates retailers for unpredictable scheduling

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has requested scheduling information from some of the nation’s largest retailers to determine if they are abiding by New York’s “reporting time” law.

OK to reference handbook in employment contract


Employee handbooks aren’t contracts. In fact, to preserve at-will employment status, we usually recommend including a disclaimer that specifically states: “This handbook does not constitute a contract.” But some key employees do work under the terms of employment contracts, and occasionally it may make sense to incorporate your employee handbook rules into those agreements. Referring to the handbook makes its terms and conditions binding on your contracted workers.

Policies are worthless if they're not communicated

An accountant for the state Depart­­ment of Health will get his job back after Commonwealth Court determined that, contrary to the given reason for his firing, his e-mail was not “combative”, “antagonistic”, or “accusatory.”

15 questions to ask when auditing your handbook

It’s good business to review your handbook once a year and revise it as necessary. Answer these questions to gauge its thoroughness and reliability.

How to limit damage from an employee-turned-competitor

It happens more often than you might think: You find out that one of your employees is preparing to go out on her own or jump ship to join a competitor. Your fear: There go our trade secrets. Here’s how to prevent the problem, or respond to it if it happens.

Provide clear rules on promotions to prevent failure-to-promote lawsuits


Employers that provide clear rules on what employees must do before being considered for promotions can reduce the possibility of failure-to-promote lawsuits. That’s because employees who don’t follow those clear rules can’t argue they weren’t promoted on account of their membership in a protected class. They lost out because they didn’t follow the rules.

Workers: Don't monitor me!

More than half of working people polled don’t want their bosses snooping on them. Asked how important they considered not being monitored at work, here's what respondents said.

Recipe for a lawsuit: No reporting policy, name-calling

You’re risking trouble if you don’t have an anti-harassment and discrimination policy that allows employees to report discrimination and harassment.

Do nonexempts really need noncompetes?

In recent years, a few employers have begun requiring even nonexempt employees to sign noncompete agreements. It may well be a short-lived trend.

What constitutes an essential job function?

Q. I hand a brochure titled “Job Information and Requirements” to each new hire I bring on board to my construction company. With the addition of new positions, I need to draft new brochures with job descriptions, but am having trouble determining the essential job functions. Is there a specific method that I can use to decide whether a job function is essential?
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