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January 2016 Client Newsletter
Is Reinstatement Necessary?

An employee failed to show up for work and failed to notify the company of his absence for three consecutive days. In accordance with Company policy, after the third day, the employee was notified via letter that because of his three consecutive "no-call/no-show" absences, the Company considers the employee to have abandoned his job, and views this as a voluntary resignation from employment.  

Three days after sending the letter, the Company receives a call from the employee's wife, advising the Company that the employee had been in the hospital for the past week and asking the Company to reinstate the employee and allow him to return to work. 

Should you reinstate the employee? 
  1. No, the employee has abandoned his job, which is a voluntary resignation. No matter the reason for the absence, the employee violated the attendance policy and the Company has no obligation to reinstate the employee.
  2. Maybe. The Company needs to determine if the reason for the employee's absence is protected under state or federal law and, after that determination is made, then choose an appropriate course of action.
  3. Yes, there was an extenuating circumstance (the employee's hospitalization) that prevented the employee from following Company procedure; therefore, the employee must be reinstated.
Scroll down to find the answer.
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The correct answer is B.


While there are several federal laws that potentially protect the employee's absence (i.e. the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act), at this point in time, the Company does not know if the employee's absence is protected. In order to make that determination, the Company needs to engage in the interactive process with the employee and find out why the employee was absent. Based on the information provided by the employee during the interactive process, the employer can determine whether the employee's absence is protected and then decide the course of action to take.

Practical application:

Many employers have a written No Call/No Show policy specifically stating "failing to call in or show up for work for ____ consecutive days is considered job abandonment and is a voluntary resignation from your position." While these policies are generally permissible, employers need to exercise caution when enforcing these policies. Not only must employers make sure they are consistently enforcing this policy, but employers need to be prepared to handle a situation where an extenuating circumstance rendered the employee unable to communicate with the employer about his/her absence.

In those cases, the employer should always engage in the interactive process with the employee and determine if the employee's absence is protected. Failing to engage in the interactive process can potentially expose the employer to a wrongful termination claim and/or a discrimination claim.

These decisions can be extremely complicated, it is recommended that employers consult with either an HR Professional or an attorney before deciding to refuse an employee's request for reinstatement when an extenuating circumstance may exist. 

Washing Your Hands In the Workplace Is Extremely Important This Season.  
Here Is a Link To A Handout For Proper Hand Washing Techniques:

Create A Bully Free Workplace.  Click Below To Download Our Manager Training Tips:

Use Ergonomics on the Job to Prevent Injury
  • Maintain a neutral body position while you work.
  • Alternate tasks whenever possible to provide relief from repetitive motions or awkward body positions.
  • Use proper lifting and carrying techniques, and get help when necessary.
  • Take advantage of mechanically assisted lifting and transporting devices whenever possible.
  • Be careful when pushing or pulling carts, gurneys, wheelchairs, hand trucks, and other heavy objects.
  • Adjust your workspace to fit your body and the tasks you perform in order to prevent awkward postures and excessive reaching, twisting, and bending.
  • Be sure to use the right tools and equipment for the job, use them correctly, and use the proper grip.
  • Take brief recovery pauses every so often to stretch and flex your neck, back, arm, hand, and leg muscles.
Be aware of the ergonomic risks of your job, and make sure to report any signs or symptoms of a possible problem to your supervisor right away so that you can correct the hazards and prevent further injury.

Do YOU want to fire the guy that brings a gun to work?
A-2-Z Resort is facing problems yet again - this time in its Housekeeping Department. Let's find out what issue is plaguing poor Judy, A-2-Z's HR Director, this time.

Judy has just finished a conversation with Tony, the Housekeeping Manager. Tony has caught one of his employees (Ryan) stealing and he wants to fire Ryan immediately.

While generally this would be a no-brainer and Ryan's employment with A-2-Z would be over, there are a couple of wrinkles that are causing Judy some concern.
  1. When Tony confronted Ryan about the theft, Ryan threatened Tony - telling him that he would happily resolve this situation in the parking lot; and
  2. Word around the water-cooler is that Ryan habitually brings a gun into work and several employees have seen a gun in Ryan's messenger bag on many different occasions.
While this conduct is clearly in violation of A-2-Z's Workplace Violence Policy, Judy is concerned that Ryan could potentially be a violent employee and might "go postal" if his termination is not handled carefully.

The Game Plan
After careful consideration, Judy decided the best course of action was to explain the situation to A-2-Z's Security Department and have two armed security officers present for the meeting with Ryan. Following the meeting, the security officers would then escort Ryan off A-2-Z's property. In addition, Ryan would be directed to leave his messenger bag outside of the meeting room and one of the security officers would give it back to him when they reached Ryan's car. That way Judy would best be able to ensure the safety of herself and the other A-2-Z employees.

The termination meeting occurred as planned with two security officers present. While upset by his termination, Ryan did not react violently and, after the meeting, he was escorted from the property without incident.

Employers can never be too careful when credible threats of violence are present. While it is impossible to determine with any certainty whether or not an employee will resort to violence in the workplace, in the event that tragedy did occur and the employer knew or should have known about the potential for a violent outcome, the employer could be held responsible for the harm caused by the violent employee.

In the above scenario, A-2-Z Resort had on-site security that was trained to handle this type of situation. However, most employers likely do not have that type of resource available. Instead, when faced with a legitimate suspicion that an employee has a weapon in the workplace and/or may become violent, those employers should address their concerns with local law enforcement before confronting the employee and, depending on the situation, request local law enforcement assist with handling the situation. By taking these preemptive measures, you may be able to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation before it occurs.

It is important for employers to adopt a Workplace Violence policy.   With respect to weapons in the workplace, please remember that some states have laws specifically addressing an individual's right to possess a firearm on his/her employer's property. To assist you with determining whether your state has such a law, we can help!

Remember, we have a new insurance company for dental and vision insurance. It is the same great price with some new features and benefits.  Reach out to us if you have any questions. toothbrush-girl.jpg

Also, we have some great insurance benefits and programs for you and your employees!  Check with us for the best plan for you!

Business, Medical and Moving Mileage Rates
The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
  • 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 23 cents for 2015
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
The business mileage rate decreased 3.5 cents per mile and the medical, and moving expense rates decrease 4 cents per mile from the 2015 rates. The charitable rate is based on statute.
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
These and other requirements for a taxpayer to use a standard mileage rate to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical or charitable expense are in  Rev. Proc. 2010-51 .   Notice 2016-01  contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.


If 2015 taught us just one thing about the hazards we face on the job, it was this: No business is immune to workplace violence . In fact, violence is the third-leading cause of workplace fatalities, behind only transportation accidents and slips, trips and falls. We encourage you to prepare your business:
  • Adopt a written, zero tolerance workplace violence policy.
  • Be aware of tenuous relationships among staff, as well as other workplace violence triggering events.
  • Make it easy for employees to recognize and report verbal abuse, threats, constant anger and other red flags.
  • Teach employees the three basic responses to violence: run, hide, fight. Click here for an active shooter wallet card to help employees overcome the panic that often sets in during an emergency.
  • Offer access to an employee assistance program that includes counseling on relationship problems, financial issues, legal matters, substance abuse and other difficult life circumstances.
  • Understand that early intervention is critical to diffusing violent situations.
  • Don't let your guard down. One of the most common mistakes companies make is terminating the person and believing that is the end of the matter, according to Randy Ferris, cofounder of Violence Prevention Strategies. Ferris recommends employers develop threat assessment procedures, maintain a security plan and monitor the person's online presence. 



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