Workforce.com

HR's 10 Top Concerns

May 10, 2011
The Employers Resource Association's membership of more than 1,300 companies in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio generates more than 8,000 calls each year to its human resources hot line. Following are members' leading concerns in 2010:
1. Family and Medical Leave Act. Questions center on who is covered, what is deemed a serious health condition and how to control intermittent leave.
2. Advice and counsel for taking such adverse actions as termination, suspension and discipline. Commonly requested information includes documentation needed to fire someone, if a recent workers' compensation claim or how an FMLA request can affect the decision and can the employee sue for termination?
3. Performance management strategies. Strategies for dealing with a problem employee such as: Is it safe to ramp up the heat on a new hire that may not be working out or on a protected-class employee that isn't responding to counseling? Also, group performance issues concurrent with culture changes or business-cycle needs.
4. Fair Labor Standards Act issues. Concerns center on correctly classifying a position as exempt, calculating overtime for multiple rates, what travel hours must be paid for an hourly employee, and federal and state child labor rules.
5. Immigration. I-9 documentation and procedural questions such as “What do we do when the Social Security number comes back a no-match?” and “We're considering employing an H1-B [visa] employee. How complicated is that?”
6. Lunch hour and breaks. Questions about giving breaks and how many per day. Is a lunch period required? What has to be paid vs. nonpaid time? Can an employee work through a break and leave early?
7. Employee access to personnel files. Does the law require an employer to allow an employee to see or copy his file? What are the pros and cons of allowing it? What are the rules about sending information to lawyers?
8. Independent contractor vs. employee. What's the difference between an independent contractor and an employee? Why can't the employer pay a person as a contractor and issue a 1099? What constitutes a legal independent contractor status? Who makes the rules?
9. Employee privacy. Can an employer read employee emails or monitor Internet usage? Is the use of surveillance cameras legal? Can employers search employees, their belongings or cars?
10. Drug and alcohol issues. Under what conditions can employees be tested? If the employee tests positive, can we discharge? How can a drug test procedure be set up?
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