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employee benefits

Can I switch a full time (40 hrs) employee to (16 Hrs)/week? If so, do their benefits change? (in Massachusetts)

Unless there is an employment contract to the contrary, employers are permitted to change work schedules, including reducing hours, as they see fit. As long as any changes are made due to business reasons and not based on discriminatory factors, it is perfectly legal for an employer to change an employee from full to part time employment.

Most benefits are provided at the discretion of the employer and as such, the determination of whether or not part-time employees are eligible for the benefits depends on the organization’s policies. The exceptions would be benefits that are mandated by law, such as leaves covered by FMLA and the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act, both of which are only provided to full-time employees.  Jury Leave, on the other hand, must also be provided to part-time employees as long as the days of jury service fall on the part-time employee’s scheduled work days.



In Kansas, can employer take away all earned sick leave hours when converting to PTO?

Neither federal nor Kansas state law requires employers to provide sick leave, vacation time, or PTO. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it is left up to the employer to establish policies regarding the use of these benefits. Unless the company sick leave policy states otherwise, sick leave is not considered a part of an employee’s wages, but is instead a benefit offered to provide income when the employee is sick, and thus unused sick time does not need to be paid out at termination, when converting to a PTO system, etc.

However, in the interest of employee relations, employers may choose to pay out some or all of the accrued and unused sick leave, add the unused leave hours to the employee’s PTO bank, or maintain the sick leave hours in a separate bank, to be used or forfeited by a specified date. In any case, employees should always be given adequate written notice of any upcoming changes to any benefit plans.


Earned vacation deductions

Can you advise which states allow employers to deduct excess vacation from an employee’s final paycheck? Thank you

By “deduct excess vacation” I assume you mean which states do not require the payout of accrued but unused vacation time upon termination. Most states do not mandate the payout of accrued and unused vacation, but leave it up to employers to establish and follow their own policies. In the absence of a written policy, it is advised that the employer err on the side of the employee.

Some states do specifically require that accrued but unused vacation time be paid out at termination. This includes California, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota (after 1 year of service), Nebraska, and Rhode Island (after 1 year of service).


Employee training

A job position requires that an employee be certified by New York state prior to doing any work, who pays for training? A refresher class is required by the state every year, who pays. The initial class and refresher class is offered by the company as well as other training locations. There are fees associated with the certification, who pays. Classes range from a half day to 5 days depending on certification. NYS notifies the employee prior to the expiration of the certification, so the employee has ample time to schedule a refresher course, either at our in-house training facility or any other available facility.

While an employer may choose to cover the cost of employee certifications, licenses, or mandatory continuing education, it is under no obligation to do so. As with many other issues, the employer may establish their own policies, which may range from paying the partial or full cost of any classes and licenses to not contributing to this expense at all.

Employers may also decide to pay for certain certifications but not for others. As long as the policy is applied consistently across a class of employees, this is perfectly acceptable. For example, the employer may elect to pay for any required certification fees for electricians but not for bus drivers. As long as all bus drivers and all electricians are treated the same, the employer’s policy is legal.


FLMA for pregnacy

What forms need to be filled out for maternity leave for the mother?

For an FMLA leave, the employee must provide adequate notice to the employer of the need for FMLA leave. The employer is then required to notify the employee of their eligibility and rights and responsibilities under the FMLA. Employers may, but are not required to, require medical certification from the employee’s healthcare provider, to support the need for FMLA leave. And finally, the employer must notify the employee of whether or not the absence will be designated as FMLA leave.

There are no requirements for specific forms to be used, but because employers are required to maintain records pertaining to their obligations under the FMLA, most do utilize standard forms for the request for FMLA leave; notification of employee’s eligibility, rights and responsibilities; medical certification; and FMLA leave designation.  Employers may develop their own forms or there are optional forms available on the Department of Labor website.

August 20th, 2014, 2:30 PM |  Posted in: Human Resources Management, Labor Laws |
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