Q. In a previous issue you said employers “must keep certain records separate from personnel files.” What, specifically, does “separate” mean—in separate drawers of the same file cabinet? In separate offices? How far apart do they need to be? —T.S., Illinois
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Q. I've just joined a new company, and our HR people give out employees' information (wage data, demographic info, etc.) to anyone who calls to request it. Is that right? —P.L., Virginia
Q. We had a full-time RN request time off to be with her husband who experienced a heart attack. We’re a small medical center with 25 employees. Administration was very upset and wouldn’t let her take any paid time off and wouldn’t guarantee her position. She had lots of sick time and vacation time in the bank. Can the company do that? —D.B., Pennsylvania
If an employee is suffering from performance problems and wants a transfer to another supervisor or position, be careful which details in the person’s history you share with the new manager. That’s especially true if the employee has a history of filing legal complaints ...
Don't open an employee's' personal mail If you know that a letter or package sent to that person at work is personal (not business related). A recent court ruling shows that you may be opening up a legal mess along with the letter ...
Q. I have a question about the partial-day deduction rule. I don’t understand how we can deduct from salaried employees’ paid-leave bank when they are gone for an hour or two during the day since we don’t pay them anything extra when they work 50 hours in a week. For example, if an employee works 10-hour days on a regular basis, is it OK to charge her vacation time when she leaves an hour or two early? —J.H., Minnesota
Q. What should we keep in personnel files? —G.T., Missouri
Q. If an employee is out sick but has already used up all her sick-leave hours, can we legally subtract from her vacation time instead? —K.P., Michigan
Q. I keep on file each employee's application, résumé, performance evaluations and any other praise or disciplinary records. Do I need to provide my employees with access to their files? And, if so, do I have to show them everything? —S.K., New Hampshire
Q. We recently received a subpoena to produce the contents of an employee's personnel file in connection with a lawsuit. The employee is a party to the lawsuit, but the company is not. Do we have to comply with the subpoena? Should we tell the employee about the subpoena? —K.H., District of Columbia