The HR Specialist: Employment Law

Employees who are out on unpaid FMLA leave are still entitled to health insurance benefits if they were covered before going out on leave. However, if the employee was required to pay part of the premium before taking leave, that obligation continues. If he skips any payments, the employer can terminate coverage without violating the FMLA.

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If you’re worried that an employee or ex-employee will break into your computer network and damage the company, a new court ruling gives you more teeth to enforce your policy. And it gives employees something to think about before they commit e-sabotage.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that employers do have the right to include class-action waivers in their arbitration agreements. The court said the Federal Arbitration Act pre-empts any state laws that would try to nullify an arbitration clause that bars class-wide arbitrations.

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Many employees spend time at home before or after their workday checking email. For nonexempt employees, that work could count as paid time if it amounts to a “substantial” amount of time. But now some hourly employees have begun to raise a related issue: If they start the day with a few work emails, shouldn’t they be paid for the time they spend commuting to work?

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Test your knowledge of recent trends in employment law, comp & benefits and other HR issues with our monthly mini-quiz.

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Employee theft is a big problem for some employers. Even so, don’t make the mistake of accusing someone unless you have solid evidence he or she is the culprit. Instead, document your suspicions and consider whether to call police or conduct your own investigation. Then, if possible, try to catch the thief in the act.

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A full 87% of employers say they plan to continue offering employee health benefits as a result of President Obama’s year-old health care reform law, says a survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

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A poorly written or overly broad handbook could result in unfair labor practices charges from the National Labor Relations Board. That’s true even if your workforce isn’t unionized. Review your handbook for policies relating to the following 10 “red flags” that attract the NLRB’s attention.

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Mexican food is great, but is it art? A cook sued his former em­­ployer, a Mexican restaurant, for un­­paid overtime. The owners put forth a creative defense: that the cook was exempt from the FLSA overtime requirements because he was a “creative professional.”

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The FMLA lets employees take up to 12 weeks off for their serious health conditions. If an employee gets a certification showing she has a serious health con­dition, you can request a second, independent assessment. But if the second opinion says the condition isn’t serious, that’s not the final word. FMLA regulations require a third opinion as the tiebreaker.

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