Susan Lessack

As the winter months set in, some people may notice that they feel more tired, experience weight gain or struggle to get out of bed in the morning. While the majority of people who experience these symptoms have nothing more serious than the “winter blues,” others suffer from a potentially debilitating condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Be careful not to brush off employees who complain of SAD.

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Q. One of our employees was recently in jail for traffic and drug violations. Before he returns to work, what guidelines can we follow to ensure that he’s drug-free? Will we be discriminating if we require a drug test before allowing him back on site, even though we didn’t require such a test when he was hired?

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Q. We have a point system for absences and lateness. Our no-fault attendance policy states that if employees call in after the start of their shifts, they’ll receive two points. What if the reason for an absence is covered by the FMLA? Should the employee still receive the two points?

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Q. I’d like to know if our company needs a HIPAA form for employees to sign when we release personal information to others. Is HIPAA only for the medical field?

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Q. One of our employees recently got married. She’s informally going by her new last name, but she hasn’t changed her name on her Social Security card and doesn’t plan to. We submit all payroll information using her maiden name. Do we face any liability?

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Q. Can we require an employee to receive psychological counseling or treatment if his behavior has become a hindrance to his job performance?

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Q. Are there any legal issues regarding employee gift-giving during the holidays? What about giving or getting gifts from vendors?

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Q. An employee who is unable to work has been out on FMLA for the past few weeks. Our holiday party is coming up next week. Should I allow her to attend if she wants to?

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Q. Do we have to pay employees for the time they spend changing into their uniforms before work and out of their uniforms afterward? We’re a hospital and our operating-room personnel must change clothes.

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Q. One of our employees is out sick and has already used up all her sick leave hours. Can we legally subtract from her vacation time instead?

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