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Q&A

Specify if workers must stay to collect bonuses

06/01/2000

Q. Our company pays quarterly and annual bonuses (depending on the position). If an employee is here throughout the entire quarter/year, but leaves before the bonuses are paid out, is he still entitled to the bonus? Our company has no written documentation stating that you must be employed at the time the bonus is paid. —J.S., Colorado

Be careful when altering pregnant worker’s pay

05/01/2000

Q. If a pregnant employee is salaried and is missing two days of work a week, can we legally make her an hourly employee? When the employee was hired, her contract should have been hourly. Is it legal to change the basis of her pay now? —C.H., Michigan

Don’t ask reference things you wouldn’t ask candidate

05/01/2000

Q. I know that it’s illegal to ask applicants certain questions, like whether they are married. Are there any questions I can’t ask a previous employer or reference? —F.T., Maine

Employee car accident may spell liability for company

05/01/2000

Q. An employee injured on the job recently was transported to the hospital by a co-worker. On the way back to work, they were in a car accident and both employees tested positive for illegal substances. What is our total liability? What can companies do to protect against this scenario? —T.K., Ohio

Limits on comp time for exempt employees

05/01/2000

Q. One of my managers had to work on a holiday, and the hourly employee who worked with him got double time in addition to the holiday pay. When the salaried employee wanted to take time off shortly afterward, my boss said it was not legal to give him comp time—he would have to be paid for the holiday he worked. The employee would rather have time off. Is there no comp time for anyone? —J.W., North Carolina

Not everyone counts for COBRA threshold

04/01/2000

Q. This year our company may exceed 20 employees for the first time. Is it true that employers of 20 or more employees have to offer COBRA? Do part-time employees and independent contractors count toward that total? —M.K., Minnesota

You must pay for all work, even if it’s not authorized

04/01/2000

Q. In the October 1999 issue, you explained that nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime for all hours over 40, regardless of whether the overtime was authorized. Do we owe overtime if a nonexempt employee works more than his or her scheduled hours even if the total number of hours worked does not exceed 40? —J.P., Illinois

Check state law before asking about convictions

04/01/2000

Q. Our employment application asks whether the candidate has been convicted of a felony. Is it legal for us to ask this? If so, can we ask what the applicant has been convicted of and can that information be used as a basis for not hiring an individual? —C.H., Arizona

Poor performers still may collect unemployment

04/01/2000

Q. The job performance of one of our employees no longer meets our standards. While she used to be a good worker, she’s now making a lot of errors, coming in late from time to time and not getting along with her co-workers. We’ve talked to her about these issues, but her performance has not improved. If we fire her for poor performance—which we would consider termination for cause—will she be eligible to collect unemployment compensation? —W.T., District of Columbia

Don’t Ban Breast-Feeding if You Allow Baby at Work

04/01/2000

Q. Can we legally prohibit female workers from breast-feeding at work? —R.B., California