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Ask the Attorney Archives

What to do when a worker is suddenly sent to jail?

Q: “We have an employee who we just found out violated their probation and has been sent to jail. We don’t know what the violation was for. The employee’s first court appearance is this Monday. This employee has had some attendance issues and, prior to this information, was already being written up for an attendance issue. What should I as an HR rep be considering? – Lindsay, North Carolina  

Fitness for Duty tests: When and how do we use them?

Q: “We currently do not have a Fitness for Duty policy in our handbook, but believe one of our employees needs a Fitness for Duty test. Do we first add this policy in our handbook, before we approach the employee?” – Lyris, California

Should our office keep simple medicine out of staff’s hands?

Q: “Our office keeps several over-the-counter medications on hand if someone in the office should have a headache, indigestion, etc. But now I’m wondering if this is a good idea because of possible liability issues. Can you tell me if we’re safe in keeping a drawer of these meds if someone should ask for them?” – Linda, Oregon

How do we address, and prove, gender pay disparity?

Q: “How can someone prove they are being paid less because they are a woman? What would the steps be to get an increase in pay for a woman in order to more closely match a male co-worker?” – Dawn, Oklahoma

How can we save money by hiring directly as opposed to using a temp agency?

Q: “We use a contract temporary labor service. Due to the need to lift pay rates to attract employees, we are considering hiring temporary employees directly. In Texas, what is the maximum time we can hire someone for without providing full or partial benefits, or being responsible for an unemployment claim? What is the minimum time before an employee can be released, and then be rehired with the clock restarting?” – Jamie, Texas

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