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New Employee on Salary

Our payroll runs one week behind so the payroll checks I give out on Friday are from the hours worked the previous week. I informed our new manager that he would get his first check next week for this pay period. He was surprised and upset stating that he’d never worked in a place where a check was held for salaried employees. I find that hard to believe. Am I missing something?

Since salaried employees receive the same amount each pay period, many salaried employees assume that there is no reason to hold up their check and they should get paid immediately. However, it’s not that common to have exempt and non-exempt employees paid on different days. So, if it’s your practice to run payroll a week behind then the new employee needs to accept your practice. Make it clear to him that all employees are treated in the same manner with regards to payroll processing.

It’s a good practice to inform new hires about pay periods and pay dates on their first day of work. This way all new hires know when to expect their first paycheck and the pay periods for subsequent paychecks.

May 23rd, 2016, 8:29 PM |  Posted in: Compensation |
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Former Employee Left Tangible Property

I have a former employee that left tangible property at my office. We are moving offices and I have asked him to come retrieve them several times. What do I do with his items?

It’s best practice to attempt to contact the employee via phone, email, and mail to retrieve his personal belongings. It sounds like you’ve talked to him a few times. Try sending him an email or written letter. The point is to make every reasonable attempt to inform the individual that you’re in possession of his property.

If the individual is unresponsive it’s best to send the property to his last known mailing address. You can even include a statement in the email/letter that if the individual doesn’t retrieve his items by a specified date then the items will be shipped to him at his last known mailing address.

If, for some reason, shipping the items is not feasible it’s important to be aware of state laws regarding abandoned property. Some states require the current holders of unclaimed property to secure such items for a specified time frame. Only once the time frame has expired would you be able to discard the property.

Make sure to document your contacts with the individual, retain copies of any notices sent, and obtain a shipping confirmation if you decide to mail the items. Even though the individual has yet to claim his property, it’s still under your care and you can be held liable for anything that happens to it in some states.

May 23rd, 2016, 8:06 PM |  Posted in: Human Resources Management |
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Illinois Meal Period Law

Further to the May 4th post regarding meal periods in Illinois, my question relates to the timing of the meal period. We provide a 60-minutes meal period to employees. Illinois law requires that the meal period be given to an employee no later than 5 hours after beginning work. For employees who begin work at 8 a.m., the 5 hour point would be 1 p.m. Does this mean that the meal period has to START or CONCLUDE by the 5 hour point? We have employees who like to take a late lunch (start at 1 pm or later for 60 minutes). I’m trying to determine what the latest point is that they can take their meal period while still keeping the company compliant with the requirements of the law. Thank you!

Under Illinois law, an employee who is to work 7 1/2 continuous hours or more shall be provided a meal period of at least 20 minutes. The meal period must be given to an employee no later than 5 hours after beginning work, as you state. The meal period can be given anytime during the 5 hour period.

The law states, “Every employer shall permit its employees who are to work for 7 1/2 continuous hours or longer, except those specified in this Section, at least 20 minutes for a meal period beginning no later than 5 hours after the start of the work period.”

So, employees who start work at 8:00 A.M. must start their meal period by 1:00 P.M. latest.

May 23rd, 2016, 7:51 PM |  Posted in: Labor Laws |
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Rest Breaks & Meal Periods in WA

We have a policy of one 10 minute paid morning break, one 10 minute paid afternoon break and a 30 minute unpaid lunch. I have an employee who would like to skip lunch and combine her two paid breaks instead. Is this legal in the state of WA?

Though federal law doesn’t require employers to provide employees with rest breaks or meal periods, Washington state law does.

According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries:

Workers must be allowed a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes for each 4 hours worked. The rest break must be allowed no later than the end of the third hour of the shift.

Employees working more than 5 hours must be allowed at least a 30-minute       meal period. Workers must be at least 2 hours into the shift before the meal period can start. The meal period cannot start more than 5 hours after the beginning of the shift.

Rest breaks cannot be waived; however, employees are able to take several mini breaks in each 4 hours of working time. Employees are able to waive their right to a meal period as long as both parties agree to it. The DLI recommends employers obtain a written statement from an employee who wishes to give up their meal period.

So, even though the employee may give up her 30-minute meal period, she still must take two separate 10-minute rest breaks for each 4 hour block of time worked. Thus, combining her two paid breaks, assuming she works at least 8 hours, would be unlawful.

Rest break and meal period claims are fairly common in Washington State. Adopting a policy, like you have, that clearly states the required rest breaks and meal periods is the best way to avoid these claims. Even better, make sure your policy includes a statement that employees must immediately communicate any issues to the employer.

May 21st, 2016, 6:59 PM |  Posted in: Labor Laws |
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Internal Application Process

Our company has a management position that has been open for several weeks. One of our employees submitted an application and was called away to assist her ill mother before she was able to interview. She has been out for 2 weeks now and is expected to return. A qualified candidate has been selected. Do we need to wait until the internal candidate returns and interview her before making a decision on the external hire? The internal staff member is not on FMLA, and is not FMLA eligible. Thank you for your assistance!

An internal application policy/process is generally at the discretion of the employer. Just like with recruiting outside the company, the internal recruiting process should be fair, consistently applied, and, of course, non-discriminatory.

It’s important to be respectful and considerate of internal applicants; however, employers are not obligated to interview an internal applicant prior to hiring an external one unless an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement states otherwise. So, there is no need to wait for the internal applicant to return from leave before making a hiring decision. Once the employee returns to work, it’s best to inform her that the position she applied for has been filled.

It’s worth mentioning that even if the employee was on FMLA leave, there is still no requirement to wait for her to return to work to make a hiring decision. Though an employer is prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee for having exercised or attempted to exercise any FMLA right, an employer is not expected to hold other positions open until an employee on FMLA leave returns to work.

Having a clear internal recruitment policy reduces the risk of a discrimination claim. Make sure your policy doesn’t state or even imply that every internal applicant will be interviewed or receive more consideration than external candidates. It’s also best to have the same internal and external process to keep the focus on finding the best candidate.


May 18th, 2016, 1:56 PM |  Posted in: Hiring and Staffing |
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