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Susan Lessack

Q. Can we open an employee’s personal space or belongings—such as her locker, purse or desk drawer—if we suspect she is stealing?

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Q. We have a nonexempt salaried employee who normally works Monday through Friday. We pay her biweekly. She took a weeklong vacation, which normally would come out of her paid time off (PTO) bank. We had a customer emergency and called her into work on the Saturday of her vacation week. How should we pay her? …

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Q. Once a year, we have employees show a picture ID and provide a signature that allows them to authorize someone else to pick up their paychecks for them. If an employee doesn’t provide ID and a signature, we will mail the check or hold it until he or she personally picks it up. Is this legal?

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Q. When employees get married, do we need new W-4s to show the new name? And do we need new I-9s?

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Q. Can we legally reduce the hours of full-time employees in one of our divisions because it needs to cut overhead?

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Q. If an employee constantly calls in sick because of migraine headaches, how can we verify the real reason for the absences? Can we ask for information each time the employee is absent?

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Q. I’m the HR director, and our discipline policy is very complicated and has several categories of offenses. It says that if employees commit offenses that may result in suspensions of more than three days, employees are allowed a pre-disciplinary counseling conference. My boss thinks we should skip that conference if the employee has already been counseled for a prior offense within the past 12 months. I’m concerned that this deviates from our policy. Can we do this?

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Q. We’re a small business (just eight employees) and haven’t laid anyone off. But business is slow and we need to restructure. We have an employee who has worked here part time (12 hours per week) for 25 years. She is 65 years old. We have one other part-timer (10 hours per week) who has worked here just one year. We’d like to lay off both part-time employees and keep the full-time employees. Can we do that?

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Q. Is it wrong to ask new hires to sign job-offer letters? We ask for a signed copy as part of documenting that they were informed that employment was “at will.” Is this inadvisable?

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Q. If a company tracks employees’ vacation, sick and personal time off, can we make deductions from accumulated time for everyone who takes time off, including salaried employees? I’m talking about deducting it from the accrual, not the pay. I’ve heard that I can’t deduct vacation, sick leave or personal time if the salaried employee worked at least four hours during that day.

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