The HR Specialist

Recruiting and interviewing potential new hires can be time consuming, but for many employers the process is far from boring. In fact, given some of the wacky things candidates include on their résumés and blurt out during interviews, hiring may be the funniest part of an HR pro’s job.

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The unemployment rate is down again, and employees are saying they want more money to stay put. Maybe it’s time to brush off some of the low- or no-cost benefits we used back in the late 1990s to attract and keep good employees.

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In today’s litigious environment, it doesn’t take much for a disgruntled employee to launch a class-action overtime lawsuit. In fact, such litigation is sweeping the country—and costing employers millions of dollars. That’s why conscientious employers act fast to stamp out a dangerous and illegal practice: managers altering pay records to avoid paying overtime. If you catch managers cooking the payroll books, punish them promptly …

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Train everyone in your organization who might receive legal documents—from the mailroom clerk to the front-desk receptionist—to pass them on to management ASAP. Misplaced pleadings can mean an easy win for the person suing. What’s worse, if you miss important deadlines, you’ll lose any chance you might have had to get the case tossed out …

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If you have long-term employees whose performances are deteriorating, step carefully. Their long histories with the company could mean you’ll have a hard time justifying terminations even in light of poor performances. Instead of jumping the gun and firing immediately, take your time. In fact, it may be a good idea to allow more than one supervisor to witness each declining employee performance up close …

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When it comes to reverse discrimination, comments by senior managers may backfire if others perceive them as encouraging racial preferences. For example, when a high-level executive comments that the organization needs more black employees in management positions, hiring managers could construe it as authorization to bypass qualified white candidates in favor of black candidates with lesser qualifications …

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The FMLA provides employees with up to 12 weeks off to care for a child suffering from a serious health condition. But when the child is an adult, the rules change, making it much harder for employees to qualify for leave. Here’s why: FMLA regulations say that FMLA leave for children older than 18 is available only if the child is disabled under the definition in the ADA …

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Q. Our company has certain employees who we believe abuse our absentee policy. We use a “no fault” system, but we do excuse FMLA absences. Typically, when employees get close to discipline or termination, they begin the paperwork for an FMLA absence. Do you have any suggestions on how we could better police the FMLA process to limit abuse? …

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Q. Our company may be closing a small facility in which 25 regular employees and 50 additional temporary employees work. Do we include the temporary employees when we decide whether we must give a WARN Act plant-closing notice? …

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Q. We recently discovered a stack of I-9s dating back to 2002. The forms were signed by the employees and include copies of the employees’ driver’s licenses and Social Security cards. Unfortunately, a company official never signed the I-9s. Can we sign the forms and backdate them to 2002? If not, what should we do? …

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