Joseph Beachboard

Q. Can I prohibit an employee from using the company’s e-mail system for union-organizing purposes?

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Q. While one of our employees was on workers’ compensation leave, she received disability payments. Due to a clerical error, we failed to take her off the payroll during that time, and she continued to receive her regular paychecks while on leave. The employee now refuses to sign an agreement to return the money on a payment schedule we were willing to set up. As a result, we would like to dock her pay for the overpayments. Are we allowed to do so?

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Q. Our vacation policy caps the amount of vacation employees can earn at 250 hours. Employees can’t earn any more until the vacation balance falls below that level. Does this violate California’s law on accruing vacation?

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Q. An employee has asked to work through his two daily 10-minute rest periods because he would like to leave work 20 minutes early. Are we permitted to implement this arrangement upon his request?

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Q. Sometimes our vendors provide modest gifts for our employees. How should we handle these?

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Q. I recently discovered that an employee who handles my company’s accounts receivable has filed for bankruptcy. Can I discharge this employee?

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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?

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Q. Should we require new employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement in order to protect our trade secrets, customer lists, etc.?

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Q. Many of our employees have children who will return to school this month. Are we required to grant these employees time off for school-related activities?

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Q. On the U.S. Department of Labor’s Form WH-381 (Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities), there is a line that asks if the worker is a “key employee” as defined in the FMLA. I don’t want to offend any of our employees, so I always check the “yes” box.  Am I doing the right thing?

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