The HR Specialist

Q. Our company is considering hiring student interns this summer. Are we required to pay them under California law? …

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Q. Our existing employee handbook includes a probationary period for newly hired employees. In revising the handbook, should we consider omitting this provision due to the possibility that we could be altering the at-will employment relationship? …

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Do you require some employees to live on the premises so they can be on call to provide emergency or other services? If so, you can structure the compensation system to pay only for actual time worked. You don’t have to compensate them for the time spent waiting to deal with some work-related matter …

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Welcome another set of employees to those covered by the ADA: employees who have bladder problems and can’t be far from a restroom at any given time. An employer will have to decide whether a particular employee’s need for bathroom breaks means she can’t perform the essential functions of her job or should be reasonably accommodated …

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to compensate employees for any time spent on the job that benefits the employer. There are, however, some exceptions. For example, if employees use their own time to study materials that will qualify them for promotions, that time generally doesn’t have to be paid.

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There’s no law that says employers must use a progressive discipline system—but that’s no reason not to. In fact, using progressive discipline is one of the best ways to fight frivolous discrimination claims …

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One of the most popular litigation tactics these days starts with an employee filing a discrimination complaint. Then the employee—and her attorneys—sit back and wait to see what happens. If the employer somehow punishes the employee, the attorneys add a second count to the lawsuit: retaliation …

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Words are easy to misconstrue. Depending on who’s listening, the same sentence could mean at least two different things. This is one of the things that keeps lawyers employed. It’s also the reason it’s crucial to prepare accurate notes about any meeting in which managers are discussing whether to terminate …

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 Q. We have a question regarding FMLA leave following the birth of a child. One of our employees is pregnant. She has recently immigrated to the United States. She has informed us that she expects to take eight weeks of FMLA leave immediately after the child is born. Then after a few months, she would like to return to her home country to visit with family for a month. In other words, she wants to split up FMLA leave into an eight-week period and a four-week period. Can FMLA leave for a new child be split up in this fashion? …

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