The HR Specialist

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For key personnel, it’s customary to have employment contracts specifying the terms and conditions under which the employees will work, compensation terms and other details, such as a noncompete and trade secrets clause. Plus, the agreements may specify how much notice key employees must give before they leave for other jobs. Before the contract is signed, make sure it meets with Georgia contract law …

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While no employer should condone any form of workplace harassment, it isn’t always necessary to terminate the alleged harasser. After all, sometimes it may be a matter of “he said/she said,” making it tough to sort out what really happened. That’s likely if there are no witnesses. In those cases, the best move may be to separate the parties …

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Q. We are considering applicants for a management position, including several internal applicants. Our policy is to obtain background checks on all candidates from a consumer reporting agency. If the internal applicants signed consent forms when we originally hired them, do we need to get new consent forms from them? — J.P. …

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Q. We are getting ready to conduct an internal investigation into a series of thefts that have occurred within one of our offices. We would like to obtain background checks from some of the suspected employees, but are concerned that they may refuse to execute the necessary consent forms. Can we require them to do so? — A.K. …

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Q. I’ve always heard that Georgia does not require that background checks be conducted on employees, except for certain types of employees who work with children or the elderly. Our new HR director believes that background checks are required for other employees as well. Who’s right? — W.P. …

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Q. I’ve read a lot recently about a new whistle-blower law that went into effect this year. What requirements does it impose on companies doing business in Georgia? — B.N. …

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When an employee everyone considered loyal suddenly starts complaining to a regulatory agency about alleged workplace violations, it’s natural to be upset. But resist the temptation to send the employee a message by suddenly enforcing the work rules zealously …

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When you catch an employee red-handed breaking a rule and you have solid evidence on your side, it seems like a no-brainer to fire him. But when you do, keep this in mind: If you lose an incriminating tape, e-mail or handwritten note, expect to lose the case …

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Q. I run a small warehouse facility where the employees are represented by a union. The labor contract requires all employees to pay union dues or an equivalent fee. The union has contacted me and indicated that one of my laid-off employees is not in good standing for failing to pay union dues, and has requested that the employee be discharged. Even though he is laid off, the union still requires him to pay union dues. This is a good employee, and I do not want to terminate him. Am I required to do so? …

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