Q. An ice storm recently knocked out power in 87 percent of the city. Our company had no power from Sunday until Wednesday. Some hourly employees showed up to work Monday because they live in surrounding counties and didn't know about the outage. Are we obligated to pay those who showed up but were unable to work? —D.K., Kentucky
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Q. We offer all employees two weeks' paid vacation a year. If an employee chooses a 100-percent, full-commission pay structure, how should we set her pay for vacation? The employee wants to take her annual pay divided by 52 weeks, but we feel that's unfair to the employees who are on salary plus commission, because their vacation pay is based on their base salary divided by 52 weeks. Is there a correct and legal way to figure this? —R.D., Florida
Q. The animal care officers who work for us spend 80 percent of their time driving and responding to rescue calls via cell phone. Requiring them to pull off the road while talking on their phones wouldn't work. Is there another way to limit our liability? —D.R., Florida
Q. Is it legal to ask applicants medical questions, specifically, if they have HIV? Does the law allow any legal exceptions to ask this question of people applying for food-handling positions?” —S.S., California
Q. Do you recommend mediation for resolving employment disputes? —N.B., Minnesota
Q. Can we legally prohibit female workers from breast-feeding at work? —R.B., California
The Texas Employee Confidence Index recently reached a high for 2006. The index, which measures adult workers' confidence in their personal employment situation, hit 62.7 in July, up from 60.7 in June and 58.4 in May ...
Q. We run a carry-out/catering kitchen. Can we legally tell all of our employees and customers that they can't smoke on the property? —L.D., Maryland
Q. We have a salaried employee who holds down a second job. Sometimes, she leaves early on Fridays and comes in late on Mondays because the second job overlaps with our office hours. Can we deduct anything from her pay after she has used up her vacation and leave time? Or do we have to pay her even though she leaves early and comes in late? —D.J., Virginia
In a move that is spurring big price competition among pharmacies, Wal-Mart expanded its low-cost prescription program nationwide. Target and other pharmacy chains say they’ll match the offer ...