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Can we require employees to get flu shots?


Approximately 3 million doses of the vaccines designed to prevent the H1N1 flu virus—swine flu—shipped last week. Local health authorities are preparing to offer vaccines as early as this week. Can you—should you?—demand that your employees get flu shots?

A HITECH world: New law expands HIPAA enforcement power


The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009, was designed to advance the use of health information technology, such as electronic health records. Among other important aspects, the HITECH Act expands the scope and enforcement power of HIPAA, with greater penalties for noncompliance.

Attorney-client privilege: It does apply when e-mailing from work


The rise of electronic communication has forced employers and courts to take a fresh look at many issues that used to be considered routine. The age-old concept of attorney-client privilege is the latest one to whipsaw through the courts.

6 steps HR must take to prevent identity theft


Employers have a duty to protect their employees from identity theft. The federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) of 2003 says employers that negligently or purposely let employees’ personally identifiable data fall into the wrong hands can face fines of up to $2,500 per infraction. Here are six tips on developing a data security strategy.

Warn employees: We’re monitoring your e-mail


California employees have a constitutional right to privacy. That doesn’t mean, however, that employers can’t monitor e-mail sent to and from company computers and servers. The key: a policy that makes it clear that transmittals are not private.

Review privacy and surveillance policies in light of new California Supreme Court ruling


The California Supreme Court has ruled in a case involving video camera surveillance and employee privacy rights. The court said employees do indeed have a right to considerable privacy at work, but that in this particular case the employer had acted reasonably and limited the surveillance to what was necessary under the circumstances.

Do e-mail confidentiality notices provide protection?


You see them all the time. The paragraph of legalese at the bottom of e-mails that attempts to provide protection from misdirected e-mails. Do they do any good?

Preparing your workplace for a possible swine flu pandemic


The United States is facing a swine flu outbreak that has caused the government to declare a public health emergency. Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new guidelines to help employers prepare for flu season and prevent the rapid spread of the H1N1 influenza. Here are the CDC’s suggestions, plus insight on your risks and obligations as an employer …

Can we open all mail delivered to our address?


Q. Our company’s mailroom routinely opens all mail before distributing it. Some employees say they sometimes get personal mail delivered to them at the office, and the company has no right to open it. Should we change our mailroom practices?

What should we do before we start taping employees’ phone conversations?


Q. For quality-control purposes and to ensure that workers are not making personal telephone calls, we would like to tape-record the calls employees make on company phones. Would that be legal?