Q&A

Should we report suspected domestic abuse?

06/29/2015
Q. There is an employee within our company who repeatedly comes into work with injuries obviously suffered at the hand of her spouse. As an employer, do we have an obligation to alert authorities about at-home physical abuse of an employee?

Are we liable for food poisoning that employee suffers while working out of town?

06/29/2015
Q. We have a question regarding our crews that work out of town and stay out for about four days. Can we be held liable if they get sick on a meal that was paid for by the company? We are thinking about paying a per diem instead to resolve this issue. If an employee is working on a road crew and takes off sick and stays in motel room, are we required to supply him the meal per diem?

What rules does California mandate for employee meal breaks and rest periods?

06/26/2015
Q. I am in the process of drafting an employee handbook—specifically the section dealing with meal breaks and rest periods. What requirements or rules regarding meal and rest periods do I need to know about?

Does FMLA apply to same-sex spouses who don't live in states that recognize same-sex marriage?

06/18/2015
Q. We have operations in South Dakota, and one of our employees there has requested FMLA leave to care for his same-sex spouse for an FMLA-qualified reason. The couple was married in Minnesota, but South Dakota does not recognize same-sex marriage. Should we grant the FMLA leave request?

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

06/17/2015
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?

06/12/2015
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?

06/09/2015
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?

06/09/2015
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.

When an investigation is inevitable

06/05/2015
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?

05/29/2015
Q. What should I look for in a workplace wellness program for our company?

What are the 'off-the-clock work' trouble spots?

05/29/2015
Q. Some of my employees have been griping that a portion of their job duties involves “off-the-clock” work. What are the rules regarding off-the-clock work, and what are some examples?

How could pre-employment test be discriminatory?

05/29/2015
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?

05/28/2015
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?

05/20/2015
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?

05/20/2015
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.
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