The HR Specialist: Employment Law

With tornados, floods and fires topping the news in recent months, a question arises: What’s an employer’s obligation to give FMLA leave when the disaster affects employees or their families?

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Make room for another poster on your breakroom wall. The National Labor Relations Board announced last month that most private employers will have to display a new poster in their workplaces that notifies employees of their right to form or join a union. The poster is available now for download on the NLRB website.

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Federal religious discrimination law (Title VII) says employers are obligated to “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s religious belief and practices, unless doing so would cause an “undue hardship” to the organization. In this case, accommodating an employee’s request for every Sabbath day off could effectively invalidate a collective-bargaining seniority system and create a real hardship for the other employees who would have to work instead.

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A DOL ruling last year that clarified the definition of “son or daughter” under the FMLA opens up the potential for employees to take leave to care for siblings or other family and nonfamily members. If the employee is serving in the parental role for a sick child, he or she may be eligible.

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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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Employers operate in an increasingly complex legal environment, made all the more difficult by the tough economy. Hiring has emerged as a particular trouble spot. Here are the key liability hot spots you must watch out for in the hiring process:

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After an injury occurs at work, do you know how (or even if) you should keep a record? OSHA recently unveiled a new online tool, the OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor, that uses a Q&A format to help you decide.

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As work becomes more technologically driven, employees are seeing their job responsibilities change. Be aware that technological advancements in a job can also change an em­­ployee’s status under the Fair Labor Standards Act from an exempt to a nonexempt worker—or vice versa.

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Beyond choosing the right positions for telework, employers must address important legal issues before adopting a telecommuting policy. Be prepared to consider how such a policy will be affected by the Fair Labor Stand­­ards Act, OSHA, the ADA, workers’ compensation rules, privacy concerns and tax laws.

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More employers are offering to let ­workers collect their pay on reloadable, prepaid bank cards. But make sure you know your state law: Most states prohibit employers from mandating that workers receive pay electronically.

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