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Nov13

Bathroom Usage

We have two sets of bathrooms in our office. One of the bathrooms is in our office while the other set is closer to where our line staff works. For some reason the line staff like to come in to the main office to use that bathroom. Can we prohibit them from using the office bathroom and tell them they must use the other bathroom? The bathroom in the office gets crowded and by the afternoon it’s filthy from everyone using it.

 

The federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes standards to ensure safe and healthful working conditions. Just about all private employers are covered under the federal OSHA while many public employees are covered under OSHA approved state programs.

OSHA requires restrooms to be readily available when employees need to use them. Employers may impose restrictions on employee access to restrooms, like requiring employees to use specified restrooms or requiring a key for access to the restroom. However, the restrictions must be reasonable and may not cause extended delays. “Reasonable” is not defined by OSHA. Thus, employers must carefully consider if bathroom restrictions prevent employees from promptly using the facilities when needed.

In this case, consider the distance employees must walk to access the restrooms near the line staff work stations and the restrooms in the office. Is one restroom closer than the other for them? Is the restroom that you say is closer to the line staff sufficient for the number of employees who need to use them? Also, consider if there is a problem with the other restroom. Do the toilets back up often? Is it clean? Are there any safety concerns?

It’s advisable to determine why the line employees prefer the restroom in the office. There may legitimate problems that need to be addressed.

HTH!

Nov13

PTO Giveaway in Texas

We are in Texas and usually have a “free stuff Friday” every now and then for our employees where they can enter into a drawing for usually gift cards or items like that. Is it legal to offer company PTO in these give aways?

First off, kudos to you for having such an awesome event for your employees.

There is nothing illegal about offering a day of PTO as an award to employees. But, there are few things to consider.

Like with any giveaway, make sure it’s fair and that it’s actually perceived as being fair. Meaning, even if you have a truly random selection process but the same employee is still winning every Friday then consider adopting a rule that an employee can only win one time a month.

Also like with any giveaway, consider the employees eligible to participate. Allowing administrators (i.e. executives, directors) to partake in the freebies may cause some resentment if they end up winning.

Lastly, if you choose to use a day of PTO as an award then make sure you have any necessary guidelines figured out beforehand. For example, does the day have to be used within a certain timeframe, will the day be subject to management approval etc…

HTH!

November 13th, 2017, 10:11 AM |  Posted in: Benefits |
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Nov13

Paid Sick Time in California

In California, is paid sick time considered ‘earned income’ like accrued vacation time? Does unused sick time have to be paid upon termination of employment?

Employees who work in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of their employment are entitled to paid sick time. Employees earn at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Though paid sick time is accrued, it’s not considered earned wages like vacation time under California law. Unused sick time is not required to be paid out upon separation of employment. But, if an employee leaves his/her job and is rehired within one year of separation, the employer must reinstate any previously accrued and unused paid sick time.

Keep in mind employers are required to post a notice in the workplace informing employees of their rights under the paid sick leave law.

November 13th, 2017, 9:46 AM |  Posted in: Benefits, Labor Laws |
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Nov09

Work Schedule Change under FMLA

Is an employer required to change an employee’s schedule to care for a child under FMLA? The employee’s doctor completed medical certification stating that the employee is required to work a 9-6 pm shift Monday-Friday with weekends off.

The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for certain family and medical reasons, including to care for a qualified family member with a serious health condition.

FMLA leave can be taken in one continuous block or intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule under certain circumstances. Intermittent leave is leave taken in separate blocks of time while a reduced schedule leave is a temporary change in the employee’s schedule.

In order for intermittent leave or leave on a reduced schedule to be taken to care for a covered family member with a serious health condition, there must be a medical need for the leave and such medical need is best accommodated by intermittent or reduced schedule leave. Leave may be taken when medically necessary for the treatment, recovery and psychological comfort from a covered family member’s serious health condition. However, employees are expected to plan treatments in a manner that doesn’t unduly disrupt business operation (i.e. they must make a reasonable attempt to schedule the treatments during non working hours).

Whether the employee’s request to change his schedule must be complied with under the FMLA depends on the circumstances. Let’s assume the employee is covered under the FMLA and the employee’s child has a serious health condition qualifying the employee for FMLA leave. Then, it must then be determined if the doctor’s recommended schedule is in fact medically necessary to care for the child. It may very well be. The medical certification from the child’s doctor must state that the employee’s intermittent or reduced leave schedule is necessary for the care of the child and the expected duration of the necessary leave. If not, the appropriate employer representative should contact the doctor for clarity.

HTH!

November 9th, 2017, 2:43 PM |  Posted in: Labor Laws |
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Nov09

Employee Filling Out Time Cards in Advance

Can an employee who is working 3 half shifts a week fill out their time card in advance of the days actually worked? I have an employee who will fill in her days for the entire pay period, and it’s making me a bit upset. How can she predict the future, as if she knows she won’t be late or fall ill during that period. At the least, it messes up those shifts on the time sheet so nobody else could sign in if she did miss a shift (or get fired).

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes recordkeeping standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. Under the FLSA, employers must keep certain records for each non-exempt employee. Such records include the hours worked each day and the total hours worked each workweek. Employers are permitted to use any timekeeping method to accomplish this recordkeeping requirement (i.e. time cards). Any method is acceptable as long as it’s complete and accurate.

Employers are ultimately responsible in ensuring employees’ time records are accurate. So, many employers adopt timekeeping policies for this purpose.

Whether employees can fill out their time cards in advance is completely at the employer’s discretion. Doing so is generally frowned upon for the reasons you mention, the employee can be late, leave early, call out sick etc… Some employers may leave it up to the employee to complete their time cards as and when they wish as long as the time cards are complete and accurate once submitted to the employer. But, this practice can get messy if the employee fails to submit his/her “official” time card.

It’s best to speak with the employee directly and let her know that you prefer for her to complete her time card on a daily basis. Be clear that she is not to enter any future time that she is scheduled to work and that she may only complete her time card on each day worked. Follow up with a reminder notice if need be. And, if the employee continues to disobey your instructions then the appropriate disciplinary action should be taken.

November 9th, 2017, 2:06 PM |  Posted in: Attendance Management |
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