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Penalty for Unpaid Time Off

We have employees who want more than their allotted 12 days of Paid Time Off. They will call out sick or request additional time off knowing it is unpaid. We are a small practice of 15 employees and cannot operate at maximum efficiency if employees are constantly out. How do we prevent staff from using up all paid time off and asking for unpaid time off?

Absenteeism is a problem for all employers in any industry. Small businesses are especially affected since one employee contributes to such a large percentage of the workload.

Since it sounds like exhausting PTO is a company-wide issue and not just one employee it’s best to start with editing the PTO policy to include the procedure and possible consequences for needing time off after the PTO bank is exhausted.
Being a small business, you’re not covered by the federal leave law, the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and most, if not all, state leave laws. Thus, offering a personal leave of absence once an employee has exhausted his PTO bank is completely up to you. Many companies offer employees a short unpaid personal leave of absence. So, once an employee’s bank is exhausted he could apply for such a leave.

If you prefer not to offer a leave of absence or the problem is really with the occasional extra day off, then you are within your rights to discipline an employee who takes an unapproved day off even if it’s due to an illness.

Consider adding a statement to your PTO policy such as “Employees who exhaust their PTO bank and take an unapproved day off will be subject to disciplinary action.” Send a memo or hold a staff meeting informing the employees of the update to the policy, the reason for the update, and the impact excessive absenteeism has on the business and all the workers.

Disciplinary action could include a written warning for first or second time offenders and, ultimately, termination.

Remember to enforce the new policy consistently to all employees. Once employees see that you’re enforcing the rules, the behavior is likely to stop.

February 25th, 2015, 8:41 PM |  Posted in: Attendance Management, Workplace Management |
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Penalties for Lateness

We have an employee who is constantly late to work. Are we allowed to install a penalty of loss of next holiday pay or loss of paid time off accrual that pay period if an employee has a set number of lateness infractions (we were going to use the number 5). We are located in Pennsylvania.

There is no law in Pennsylvania requiring employers to pay employees for time not worked, i.e. holiday, sick, or vacation time. Pennsylvania law is also absent on the matter of whether accrued paid time off is considered wages. Thus, paid time off policies are at the discretion of the employer. Given this, one could assume implementing a policy in which employees are docked paid time off for poor work performance, i.e. lateness, is permissible.

However, there is a better (and more common) way to manage poor performing employees.

Consider adopting a progressive discipline policy. Progressive discipline provides graduated responses to employee performance or misconduct. Generally, progressive discipline includes counseling or verbal warning then a written warning followed by a suspension or final written warning and, ultimately, termination. The employee must be informed of the specific behaviors that constitute the poor performance or misconduct as well as the actions/behaviors expected of him.

First, gather information on the behavior. Is there a trend to the employee’s lateness, i.e. every Monday? Document the specific dates and durations of the tardiness. Meet with the employee to discuss the information and issue him a verbal warning specifically the consequences of continued lateness. Explain the hardship he causes the business and his coworkers when he’s late.

Continued tardiness should result in a written warning. Reiterate the same information as above. If the employee is otherwise in good standing, praise him for other actions/behaviors that are above standard. State your continued concern over his lateness.

Depending upon the time frame of continued tardiness, suspension may be considered with the same information above reiterated. Ultimately, if the chronic tardiness continues termination may be warranted.

Remember to document every incident of tardiness and each disciplinary action taken.

Chronic tardiness can be detrimental to an employer. Once other employees believe tardiness is an accepted practice it can be difficult to put an end to it. Addressing the matter immediately and consistently applying a progressive discipline approach will reduce the likeliness of the behavior continuing.

February 25th, 2015, 8:13 PM |  Posted in: Attendance Management, Workplace Management |
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South Dakota Vacation Payout

Do you have to pay out unused accrued PTO at termination of employment?

There is no law in South Dakota requiring employers to payout accrued PTO upon termination of employment. PTO policies including payout of unused time are considered a matter of agreement between the employer and employee. Thus, employers are generally free to establish PTO policies of their choosing. Keep in mind, employers must adhere to an established practice or policy of paying out accrued PTO at termination of employment.

February 25th, 2015, 2:21 PM |  Posted in: Benefits, Labor Laws |
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WC/STD Simultaneously

Can an employee get both worker’s compensation and short term disability at the same time?

Worker’s compensation (WC) is a benefit for employees who suffer job related injuries or illnesses. Coverage generally includes partial wage replacement and medical costs. Each state has its own WC regulations.

Short term disability (STD) insurance is a benefit that provides partial wage replacement for employees who take leave due to an injury, illness, or childbirth. Only a few states require employers to provide STD coverage.

Whether an employee is eligible for both benefits simultaneously depends on the terms set forth in the STD policy. Some STD policies expressly prohibit the use of STD for job related injuries or illnesses. Of the policies that permit such conditions, it’s often required that any amount received from WC be disclosed and the STD benefit will most likely be reduced accordingly.

February 23rd, 2015, 9:16 PM |  Posted in: Benefits |
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Sick Time Calculation

How do I calculate sick time based on a 20 hour workweek when the full time sick hours allocated per employee are 90 hours annually? Helllppp!

Let’s assume a full time employee works 40 hours per week; thus, a full time employee works 2,080 hours per year (40 hours a week x 52 weeks a year = 2,080 hours per year).

An employee who receives 90 sick hours annually accrues 0.043 sick hours per hour worked (90 sick hours per year / 2,080 hours worked per year = 0.043 sick hours earned per hour worked).

So, a full time employee working 40 hours a week would earn 1.72 hours of sick time each week (0.043 accrued sick hours x 40 hours a week = 1.72 sick hours accrued per week).

Whereas, a part time employee working 20 hours a week would earn 0.86 hours of sick time each week (0.043 accrued sick hours x 20 hours a week = 0.86 sick hours accrued per week).


February 23rd, 2015, 8:53 PM |  Posted in: Benefits |
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