The HR Specialist

Q. Is there a rule for docking someone’s pay if he punches in late, and if so, how many minutes of grace time does he get before you dock him 15 minutes? …

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Q. I recently read that the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) requires that we provide an employee who has been discharged as part of a “group” termination at least 45 days to consider the terms of a release waiving his or her rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. How many employees constitute a group? …

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Q. A recently discharged employee exceeded his monthly allotment of minutes for personal calls on his company-issued cell phone. Can we recoup the cost of these extra minutes by withholding the amount from his paycheck? …

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Q. We don’t usually require employees to provide notes when they take time off for doctors’ appointments. However, one of our employees is known for scheduling her “appointments” on the Friday before holiday weekends. Can we request verification from the doctor’s office on a case-by-case basis? …

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Q. Because of a human error in our payroll department, one of our part-time employees has been receiving a full-time salary for the past six months. Although we recently realized our mistake, the employee never came forward to let us know about the error. Aside from recouping the funds, what actions, if any, can we take against this employee for not being forthcoming? …

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 Q. I understand that it’s illegal to ask applicants certain personal questions. But are there any questions I can’t ask a reference or previous employer? …

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Violate the Fair Labor Standards Act at your peril. If you incorrectly classify an employee as exempt and refuse to pay overtime, you face a possible three-year willful violation statute of limitations—plus the possibility a court will double what you owe. Before you decide an employee is exempt, consult the U.S. Labor Department or a qualified employment law attorney …

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Does your company’s sexual harassment policy include a provision that tells employees they must promptly report alleged sexual harassment? If it doesn’t, consider adding such a clause. The wording may help if an employee waits to report that her supervisor was allegedly harassing her …

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Q. I know some states, such as South Carolina, require employers to insert disclaimers into employee handbooks to prevent the handbooks from affecting the employer’s status as an “at will” employer. Does Georgia have such a law? …

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