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Altered Dr’s Note

An employee called out for the week with a Dr’s note. When the employee texted me a picture of the note it had parts blacked out. I informed them I needed the hard copy when they return to work. If they return with the altered Dr.’s note, can I request an unaltered one?

An employer may request a Doctor’s note from employees as part of an attendance or sick leave policy as long as such policy/practice is uniformly applied. The purpose of the Doctor’s note is to confirm the employee’s visit and any period of partial or total incapacity to perform his job duties. The note shouldn’t include any diagnosis or treatment.

Consider what parts of the note are blocked out. Could they possibly be private medical information? Is the pertinent information available i.e. the date/time of the employee’s appointment and any job restrictions? If so, it’s best to accept the altered version. If you require the employee to submit the original note which may include private medical information, you risk violating a few federal laws, namely the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If parts of the note were blocked to alter the date of service or change the employee’s work restrictions in any way, then an unaltered note may be requested. If this is the case, be clear with the employee that you aren’t seeking a diagnosis or medical condition and that your focus is on confirming the date the employee was seen and any limitations to his work duties/schedule.


July 24th, 2017, 2:28 PM |  Posted in: Attendance Management |
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Timekeeping for Exempt Employees in Illinois

What is the industry practice for keeping a record of exempt employee’s work hours in the state of IL? We use ADP, for time and attendance. Should we have the exempt employee clock in/out each day?

Timekeeping for exempt employees is at the discretion of the employer under federal law, specifically the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, some states have adopted their own timekeeping laws and Illinois is one of them.

Illinois Administrative Code Section 300.630 requires employers to maintain accurate time records for all employees, regardless of an employee’s status as exempt. The records must include the employee’s name and address, hours worked each day in each workweek, rate of pay, copies of all notices provided to the employee, amount paid each pay period and all deductions made from wages or final compensation.

Though there is no specific timekeeping method required, clocking in/out each day is an acceptable (and safe) method of timekeeping, even for exempt employees.

Just be ready for some backlash from the exempt employees. Many exempt employees like not having to punch a clock. It makes them feel more “professional”. Consider sending a notice to all affected employees stating the law and the new timekeeping policy/procedure. Be open to questions and feedback.


July 24th, 2017, 2:10 PM |  Posted in: Attendance Management |
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Employer Contribution to Insurance Premiums

We are a small employer in Texas with 27 employees. We currently pay $400 towards each employee’s insurance premium monthly. What is the legality of us paying $400/mo for employees that have been here 1-2 years, $500/mo for employees 3-5 years, and so on?

There is neither federal nor Texas law requiring employers to provide the same benefit to all employees. Thus, employers generally have discretion when adopting benefits plans and choosing to differentiate benefits among employee populations. Such distinctions must be nondiscriminatory and business related. Common criteria to differentiate employee populations include full time vs part time, tenure (like you want to do), exempt vs non-exempt, and job groups. In choosing such distinctions, employers must also consider any adverse impact on protected groups and any unintentional discrimination that may result. Further, just to note, HIPAA prohibits employers from assessing health insurance premiums based on medical conditions.

The Texas Department of Insurance provides insight for small employers providing health insurance to their employees at

July 21st, 2017, 9:39 AM |  Posted in: Benefits |
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Some Employees Working Holiday

If a non exempt employee works on a holiday that is paid according to the employee handbook, can the employer state that the holiday pay covers the hours worked? Some employees will be working and some will not, but all will be paid.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

The FLSA requires employers to pay non-exempt employees only for time actually worked. So, when a non-exempt employee doesn’t work, like for a company recognized holiday, they are not entitled to pay for that day.

Many employers provide specified holidays off with/without pay, or provide additional pay or another day off to employees who work on a company recognized holiday. There is no requirement to do so. Such policies are at the discretion of the employer.

So, yes, the holiday pay can be counted as payment for the time worked on the holiday.

Often times when employers have some employees who must work the holiday while others have off, a policy either providing additional pay for time worked on the holiday or allowing employees to take another day off with pay ensures employees have equal opportunity to utilize the holiday benefit.

July 21st, 2017, 9:21 AM |  Posted in: Benefits, Compensation |
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Meal Breaks-Paid or Unpaid

Do we have to pay our employees to take their meal breaks? What if they don’t actually take the full meal break?

There is no federal law that requires private employers to provide meal periods or rest breaks to their employees. If an employer provides meal periods or rest breaks they must follow compensation requirements set forth under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the FLSA, short breaks lasting less than twenty minutes in duration must be compensated.

Meal periods lasting thirty minutes or more serve a different purpose than short breaks and are not time required to be compensated. Employees must be relieved of all work responsibilities during meal periods. If an employee does any work during his meal period the time must be compensated and counted towards the total number of hours worked in the workweek.

Some employers adopt meal period policies that require employees to take their full meal period. Such policies are usually put in place to encourage employees to take the time away from work to rest and relax. Employees who don’t follow the policy (i.e. take only a 20 minute break) may be disciplined accordingly but they’re pay still cannot be deducted. It’s best to consider your company culture and the need for such a policy before adopting one.

July 17th, 2017, 2:01 PM |  Posted in: Compensation |
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