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Ask the Attorney Archives

Disciplining remotely: What are the best practices?

Q: “What is the recommendation for writing someone up when they work in the field and rarely visit the office? Is it a call then an email with the write-up?” – Quintila, California

Has our workplace policy promised too much paid time off?

Q: “Our policy states if you reach 1870 hours worked in a year (at your anniversary), you will receive PTO for the next year. If the employee leaves within the next year, are we required to pay out the PTO?” – Mark, Missouri

New York City Sick and Safe Leave: How do we calculate time?

Q:  When an employer implementing a paid sick leave policy to comply with the New York City Sick and Safe Leave law chooses to use the option of the “Front-Load” method (paid five days on the first of each year), what is the process for new hires during the year? Can the employer use the Front-Load method for all employees who have completed one year of employment and at the same time use the “Cumulative” method for new hires during the year? Or does the new hire receive five days’ credit as of their date of hire?” – Kenneth, New York

How do we pay nurses for quarantining?

Q: “When paying nurses to stay home and quarantine, do I pay them straight time for the shifts they are scheduled? Some of our nurses work three 12-hour shifts one week, then four 12-hour shifts the next week. And do they receive eight hours of overtime for the four-shift week? Is there a standard rule on how to pay them, or does it just need to max out at 80 hours for two weeks?” – Anonymous, Oklahoma

Must we change our drug policies in light of the legalization of marijuana use?

Q: “With proposition 207 that passed in Arizona for use of recreational marijuana, I was wondering as a construction company that’s safety-sensitive, will we also have to adjust our drug policies since it is legal for recreational use? Can I still deny employment to an applicant who failed to pass a drug test but has a medical marijuana card since all of the positions I have are safety-sensitive positions?” – Dafra, Arizona

How do we comply with New York’s new paid sick leave law?

Q: 1) “I work with employers in New York City who have more than 10 employees and less than 50. What are the PSSL (Paid Sick/Safety Leave) requirements? They presently give full-time employees five paid sick/safe leave days after 120 days of employment. It is my understanding that the 120 day term is no longer applicable?” 2) “New York has over 40 states on its restricted travel list. The state law requires anyone who has visited or come from those states must ‘self-quarantine’ for 14 days. Is the employer required to pay sick time for that quarantine period?” – Kenneth, New York

How do we save on exempt workers’ salaries during a time of diminished production?

Question: “If we have salaried employees that will be working from home, but cannot give us 40 hours worth of production in a week, can their salaries be docked? Should we make them contract employees during this period of time instead of keeping them as exempt salaried employees?” – Judy, Texas

Who calls the shots when an employee wants to self-isolate for coronavirus?

Q: “Can an employee simply state they are self-isolating, without a medical diagnosis, because they think they may have contracted COVID-19? Do we have to pay them while they self-isolate under the new rules?” – Anonymous, California

Does the EMFLA give us allowance to alter work schedules to save money?

Q: “If a remote worker cannot perform their job to full capacity because they have children at home, is it permissible to ask the employee to work shorter hours to accommodate their schedule, or are we required to pay them under the emergency FMLA (EMFLA) rules even though they don’t work a full day?” – Yvette, North Carolina

Covid self-isolation could break our business–do we have any recourse?

Q: “We are a small business of 35 employees, and every position is crucial. Can an employee simply state, ‘I think I have COVID, I will be self-isolating for 14 days?’ This is disruptive to us. Can we require a test and results before they take the 14 days?” – Q., California