Susan Lessack — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Susan Lessack

Q. We try to be a flexible workplace and sometimes get requests from employees to work from home for a day or two during school breaks and so on. I don’t have a problem with this for exempt employees, but what about hourly ones? How do we track that time?

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Q. The FLSA requires that we pay the full salary for any week in which the exempt employee performs any work. We have a sick leave plan for all employees included in our paid time off—or PTO—plan. If an exempt employee calls off sick, we dock her PTO available, which includes sick or vacation. In other words, our PTO isn’t split into sick and vacation pay. Can we dock this bank until it’s gone before we pay her for nonwork days?

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The ADA only covers mental health conditions if they constitute disabilities, meaning they substantially limit a major life activity.

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The bill that prohibits employers from asking about a prospective employee’s wage and fringe benefits history is expected to become law, effective sometime in mid-2017.

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Q. Our maternity leave policy offers paid leave for female employees who plan to return to work after the birth of the child. If the employee quits before returning to work, she’s required to reimburse the company for the paid leave. Is this lawful?

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Q. Our company’s vacation policy says that terminated employees are not paid for vacation days that they accrued during their employment. Is that legal?

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Q. Our Pennsylvania company wants to begin screening applicants for illegal drugs. Can we make job offers conditional on the results of a drug test?

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Q. We give employees the choice of using two 10-minute breaks each day or combining them into one 20-minute lunch break. The employees are required to punch out and in for these breaks. Now, we have a policy that docks employees 15 minutes’ pay if they’re four or more minutes late returning from a break. Is this legal?

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A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management reported a sharp uptick in political volatility in their workplaces this year.

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Q. In recent months, a sharp decline in revenue has forced us to consider downsizing. What are the legal risks associated with a layoff, and how can we minimize them?

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Employee wellness programs have become increasingly popular in recent years and they are mainly regulated under two federal laws.

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PROBLEM: A small group of your employees gathers in an open area during their lunch break to have a group prayer. What would you do in this situation?

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Q. Many of our employees have reached the top of the current pay scale. We just instituted a salary cap. The only employees affected are those with many years of service and are well into their 50s and beyond. Some of the affected employees are angry and say this is age discrimination.

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Q. When, if ever, can our company legally ask an applicant about his or her religious affiliation?

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Q. One of our employees is over age 70 and has had a broken foot, memory problems and a recent car wreck that caused some residual problems. Should we allow him to work? What can we do to protect ourselves from potential workers’ comp claims should he injure himself?

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Q. We have a question regarding our crews that work out of town and stay out for about four days. Can we be held liable if they get sick on a meal that was paid for by the company? We are thinking about paying a per diem instead to resolve this issue. If an employee is working on a road crew and takes off sick and stays in motel room, are we required to supply him the meal per diem?

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Q. I recently read an article about employees who were attacked or harassed at work by other employees who never should have been hired in the first place. How can an employer reduce its risk of liability for negligent hiring?

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Q. Is it illegal for managers to change exempt or nonexempt employees’ time sheets if they neglect to indicate that they took a day off?

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Q. Before we could counsel an employee about ongoing attendance problems, she was approved for intermittent FMLA to care for her mother. However, she continues to have attendance problems unrelated to her FMLA leave. Can we proceed with counseling and possible disciplinary actions while she is under FMLA?

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Q. How should we go about determining how much we need to pay employees for travel time?

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