Do you have an HR question that has been keeping you up at night? The following questions were submitted to our HR Professionals. You can find all of the answers by visiting the link at the bottom!
We have an employee (Employee A) who is in a romantic relationship with another employee (Employee B). They do not work in the same department. Employee A reported to her supervisor that she was assaulted by Employee B. Employee A's supervisor told HR. What is the employer's duty in this situation?
We have an injured employee in Texas who was released from work for 30 days. This employee manages the store and one additional employee. We need to hire a new manager. What are our rights as an employer when the injured employee is released to return to work? We prefer to have the employee back to work at 100% capacity. We understand the employee should return at the same rate of pay. What happens if we no longer have a position for the injured employee? What about the new manager?
Is the FLSA Overtime Rule ever going to go into effect?
I have already given my exempt employees a salary increase to meet the salary requirement under the now-enjoined rule, can I reduce the employees' salaries back to the old levels, since the increase is no longer required?
I have informed my exempt employees that they will be receiving a salary increase to comply with the requirements under the now-enjoined rule, can I rescind the planned salary increase, as it is no longer necessary?
I have already reclassified some of my formerly exempt employees as non-exempt. Since the rule is not going into effect, can I reclassify them as exempt?
Dead Men Tell No Tales, But Do You Still Have to Pay Them?
Your Plant Engineer, Fred, has not reported back to work after calling in sick on Monday. On Thursday afternoon, you receive a voicemail from Fred's mother and you learn that Fred has, quite unexpectedly, passed away.
As you are placing the order for flowers, you receive a call from Fred's wife. She confirms that Fred is "no longer with us" and then asks for Fred's final paycheck. You are taken aback. While you are fairly certain you must still pay Fred, you are not sure about the process.
What are your Company's obligations when paying Fred's final wages?
- The Company should process Fred's final wages along with its regular payroll and follow its regular payroll procedures. If Fred had direct deposit, then process the direct deposit. Otherwise, mail the paycheck to Fred's last known address.
- Before paying Fred's final wages, you should look to your state's probate laws for guidance. The procedure for paying Fred's final wages is addressed there.
- The Company should ask Fred's wife to come in and pick up Fred's final paycheck because she is the "next of kin."
- The Company has no obligation to pay Fred after he has died.
Scroll down to find the answer.
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The Answer is B!
The death of someone in your organization is always a difficult thing to handle. This is further complicated if the employee dies unexpectedly and there are unpaid wages hanging in the balance.
Regardless of the circumstances, the deceased employee's final wages must be paid, and the procedure for how those wages are to be paid is usually set forth in your state's probate code. In the event an employee dies, you should review the probate code and pay the employee's wages in accordance with those laws.
When paying final wages to a deceased employee, you want to consider the following questions:
- Who may claim a deceased employee's final wages? Generally, the payment may be made to the employee's spouse, next of kin, or the employee's estate, but this varies depending on the state.
- Are there limits to the amount of money that can be paid? There may be a limit on wages that may be claimed without probate. Some states range from as little as $100 up to $40,000.
- Are taxes withheld from a deceased employee's final pay? Employers should follow IRS guidelines for a deceased employee's final wage payment. Refer to IRS's annual Tax Guide for more information.
- What forms are required so that the employer knows the employee is deceased? The employer would need to request a death certificate, as well as any other form required by the state.
- Is there a timeframe in which I must provide final wages? The payment must be made within a specific amount of time from the day of the employee's death.
- What happens if no one claims the employee's final wages? The probate code in your state will address this question. In most cases, monies may have to be sent to the state.
- What should I tell the employee's family? It is important to communicate with the employee's family and explain to them how the employee's final wages will be paid.
I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me
Due to advances in audio-visual technology in recent years, employers can install video surveillance systems in the workplace at an affordable price point. The installation of such systems enable employers to monitor their entire operations for security, employee safety, prevention of theft, supervision of employees and reducing the potential for liability.
However, if improperly implemented, an employer's use of such systems can potentially violate privacy rights. To avoid invasion of privacy claims from your employees, the following steps should be taken prior to using or installing video surveillance systems in your workplace:
- Notify employees that cameras have been installed (including the general locations), and obtain their acknowledgment of monitoring in writing.
- Place signs in conspicuous areas around your office and work areas to remind employees that they are being monitored by surveillance camera video.
- The cameras should be installed in open work areas only. Have the cameras plainly visible and consider posting signs next to the cameras stating "recording in progress."
- Limit video camera use to the "common" areas of the workplace (e.g. a shop floor, common hallways, parking lots, etc.)
- Implement a clear, well written workplace video surveillance policy.
- Review your state's laws concerning employee privacy rights before installing any cameras in the workplace.
- Place any cameras in an area where employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy, such as restrooms, locker rooms, changing areas, or private offices.
- Install cameras that have audio taping capabilities.
- Install "secret" video cameras without first consulting with legal counsel about the intended purpose of installing secret cameras.
- Use cameras to monitor employees who are participating in union organizing activity.
Workplace surveillance is an area in which employers must balance between their right to run a business productively and efficiently and their employees' rights to privacy. Employers should familiarize themselves with the various laws that impact workplace surveillance, and implement clear, well written policies.
The Employee Rumor Mill Spares No One - Not Even the Company Owner
The employee rumor mill...Every workplace has one and, at any point, any unsuspecting employee can become the topic of watercooler conversation. How should you handle it when the owner of the company plays the leading role in the latest workplace gossip - especially when the latest story involves potential sexual harassment. Read ahead to learn how one HR Director handled this sticky situation. Here is the story:
After speaking separately to two different store managers, Ellen, the HR Director for A2Z Market, has quite the dilemma. Both managers told her that a third store manager, Jessica, told them that she has been having an affair with Fred, the (married) owner of A2Z Market.
The managers assured Ellen that they did not believe Jessica's story and thought she was lying. They just wanted to bring the rumor to Ellen's attention because the stories Jessica was telling were quite elaborate and could cause a lot of trouble between Fred and his wife.
Ellen privately met with Fred to let him know what had been said. Fred vehemently denied the rumors and was incredibly hurt and distraught by the story. Prior to this discussion, he considered Jessica a friend. In fact, he and his wife had recently helped Jessica out when she was having problems. Fred then asked Ellen to please speak with Jessica and ask her to stop spreading these false rumors immediately.
After speaking with Fred, Ellen believed that the rumors Jessica was circulating were false, but she was unsure how to proceed. So, she called an HR Professional for guidance.
The HR Professional explained to Ellen that despite the suspicion that the rumors are untrue, the best
course of action is to treat the rumors as a potential complaint regarding sexual harassment and to conduct an immediate investigation into the complaint. However, since the complaint involved the owner of the Company, the HR Professional further recommended that Ellen hire an independent third party to conduct the investigation and avoid the appearance of bias. After speaking to the HR Professional, Ellen contacted an independent investigator to conduct the investigation.
The investigator, Robert, began his investigation the next day. Robert started by interviewing Jessica. During the interview, Jessica admitted that nothing ever happened between her and Fred and that she made the whole thing up to get attention. Jessica also signed a statement to that effect. Embarrassed by her behavior, Jessica resigned from her employment at A2Z Market.
Take Home Message For Employers
This is not the first time a business owner has been accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior and it certainly will not be the last. In these cases, an investigation should be conducted immediately. Since the complaint involves the owner, the best practice is to have an independent third party conduct the investigation. This will enable you to demonstrate that the investigation was unbiased. In addition, given the nature of the complaint, employees will likely be more comfortable speaking with an independent investigator because the perception that the owner is "controlling" or "manipulating" the investigation will be eliminated.
2016's Top 7 Most Interesting Terminable Incidents
During a daily review of video surveillance, a manager was observed vandalizing an elevator wall with a sharp object. When the manager was shown the video, her response was
I do not remember.
The manager was shown the video a second time and, even though the person in the video was unquestionably the manager, the manager continued her claim of
I do not remember.
The manager was terminated for vandalism and for her dishonesty.
An employee told his manager that a machine had been damaged because
an object had dropped on it.
The manager conducted a workplace investigation, which included a review of video surveillance. The video showed the employee punching the machine with his fist, causing it to shatter. The employee was confronted with the video. He admitted that he had punched the machine, along with the excuse,
I was angry.
The employee was terminated for vandalism and for his initial dishonesty.
On Shift Happy Hour
A fast food employer received a complaint from an employee that five team members and the shift manager had been drinking while on the clock. According to the complaint, the six employees had
their sodas with vodka and were drinking their cocktails throughout the entire shift. A review of video surveillance from that evening showed that all six employees were drinking something, but there was no video evidence of al- cohol being added to drinks.
The employer questioned the six employees about the incident. Four of the five team members admitted that they were drinking vodka during work time. The fifth crew member and the shift manager both denied drink- ing on the job. However, the other four crew members told the employer that all six employees were guilty of consuming alcohol during their shift.
Despite denials from two of the employees, based on the statements of the other four employees the employ- er determined that all five of the crew members and the shift manager violated company policy by drinking alcoholic beverages on the job. All six employees were terminated.
After conducting a recent audit, an employer discovered over $19,500 in missing deposits. The employer reviewed all transactional history and determined that the missing deposits occurred only when a certain manager was on duty. When questioned about the missing deposits, the manager stated that he was having
and admitted to taking the money. He offered to replace the missing money as soon as he possibly could. The employee was terminated for theft.
An employee returned from her meal period smelling of marijuana. When questioned by her supervisor, she admitted to smoking marijuana during her break. She apologized, along with the claim,
I thought that I had put on enough perfume to cover up the smell.
The employee was terminated for violating the company
s drug policy.
A hotel manager was scheduled to work the night shift from 10pm
7am on Valentine
s Day. He did not arrive at the hotel until 11:45pm.
When he arrived, he was not in his uniform and was accompanied by a female companion. Over the proceeding 2 hours, the manager and his companion sat together in the lobby, eating food and at times kissing and caressing each other. At one point, the manager went to the hotel bar and prepared a drink for his companion (without paying for the cocktail). At 1:45am, the companion left the hotel and the manager went into the back office. The manager then left the hotel property at 4:30am (2.5 hours before the scheduled end of his shift).
These misdeeds were uncovered upon a review of surveillance video by the hotel owner. The manager was terminated for violating numerous company policies.
The common factor in the above stories - the employees engaged in outrageous behavior which warranted immediate termination (following the employers
investigations into the misconduct).
In most cases, the termination decision will not be as
as those depicted above. As such, it is important to approach the termination decision carefully. Investigate the misconduct, identify the exact policy violation, and determine whether termination is warranted based on the identified circumstances and the company
s past practices.
In addition, before terminating any employee, it is critical that you conduct an analysis of any potential
(e.g. protected class, possible retaliation, recent workers
compensation injury, recent leave of absence, etc.) relating to this employee that can potentially expose you company to a lawsuit.
Just a reminder of our new changes to our benefits line-up in 2017!
New Medical Plans:
REI has a new group medical plan with multiple options ranging from different deductibles and co-pays. We have two MEC plans to choose from as well. Whether it is our medical plan or one that you bring with you, we can administer your plan with your broker or our plan. All of our plans are accompanied by the following value added benefits:
- Healthy Rewards Wellness program and incentives
- 100% DirectHealth Lab benefits through LabCorp
- 100% benefits for diabetic supplies
- 24/7/365 telemed consultants
- Access to patient care coordination
- Access to employer sponsored life rewards plus incentive program
New Dental: We have enhanced benefits at no change in premiums with MetLife. We have increased the maximum paid under the plan to accommodate your growing needs.
New Vision: VSP is the largest provider of vision services. With a much stronger network, increased benefits and no change in premiums!
IRS EXTENDS ACA DEADLINES
The IRS announced significant updates to the filing guidelines for ACA forms:
- Extend the deadline for furnishing employees with 1095-B or 1095-C forms from January 31, 2017 to March 2, 2017.
- Extend the good faith compliance standard used during 2015. Incomplete or inaccurate forms will not be subject to a penalty, so long as they were filed on time and the filer was operating in good faith.
- The employer filing deadline remains the same. The deadline is still February 28 (paper) and March 31 (electronic).
With the good faith compliance standard extended, it's crucial to distribute and file your forms on time. We can help!