The HR Specialist

When an employee goes on FMLA leave, someone has to do the work. What if that someone easily assumes the employee’s duties and does a great job? Can you use that fortuitous realization as the basis for firing the leave-taker when he returns? Perhaps, but there’s a risk. The employee may sue, alleging the real reason he was let go was retaliation for taking leave, and not that you figured out the company could get along just fine without him …

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Q. May an employer fire an employee and then ask the employee to sign a waiver of claims or severance agreement? …

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Q. An employee of ours has attendance problems. Before we could counsel her on the attendance problems, she was approved for intermittent FMLA to care for her elderly mother. While she has taken FMLA days for her mother, she also continues to have attendance problems unrelated to her FMLA leave. Can we proceed with counseling and possible disciplinary actions while she is under FMLA? …

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Q. If an employee believes he has been terminated unfairly, does he have a legal right to challenge the termination? …

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Q. What may an employer say about why an employee left or was fired? …

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Q. I think one of our employees is stealing. What are the proper steps to take to handle this situation? …

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Q. An employee in our office regularly asks co-workers for small amounts of money and then never pays them back. We’ve all stopped giving him money, but he continues to ask, which makes many people feel uncomfortable. How do we get him to stop? …

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Mishandled confidential information can lead to lawsuits, hurt the morale of employees, damage their reputations in the workplace and threaten their jobs. That’s why you need a clear policy for handling off-the-record conversations …

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You’re the entire HR department and barely have time to keep up with basic daily duties. There’s precious little time to think strategically, develop new initiatives and stay current on HR trends. Plus, you feel professionally isolated because you spend so little time talking to other HR professionals. Here’s one way to come out of the HR wilderness: Find an HR mentor who will offer advice in areas where you need the most help …

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A participant in the Forum section of our HR Weekly e-letter posed this question: “One of our employees is nearing 80 and his performance is slipping badly. Is there an alternative to harsh evaluations and termination? We’d like him to depart with dignity.” Here’s how some HR professionals replied …

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