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We have had someone request an accommodation for a disability. Can you explain undue hardship?

Under the ADA, an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, so long as doing so does not create an undue hardship on the organization. Many state laws also use this standard with respect to accommodations for disability, pregnancy, and lactation, so it’s useful to understand. The basic definition is an action that creates a significant difficulty or expense.The cost of an accommodation could be an undue hardship on the employer, but so could an accommodation’s duration or disruption. An accommodation that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business would be an undue hardship, even if the cost was negligible. But if co

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How to Help Underperforming Employees

There are a lot of reasons why an employee or a team may be underperforming, and sometimes it takes a little digging to get at the root of the problem. Under-performance could be due to a skill gap, unclear expectations, or a lack of incentive to perform. It could be due to obstacles in your organization that prevent people from completing their assignments or getting their work done on time. There could be a combination of factors that would need to be addressed before employees could routinely do their best work.  Consequently, while your performance management process should have some consistency to avoid any discrimination, it also needs to be complex enough to account for a mul

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We received a wage garnishment for child support that the employee doesn’t want us to follow. What should we do?

Valid wage garnishments need to be followed regardless of the affected employee’s feelings on the matter. In this case, you should go ahead and follow the instructions from the garnishing agency, withholding and sending them the specified amounts. The instructions should tell you what kind of notice you need to provide to the employee and provide a contact number if you have questions about remitting the payments. You may want to have a separate conversation with the employee so you can explain your legal obligations and why you cannot refuse to withhold the required amounts. If the employee wishes to get the garnishment discontinued or altered, you can refer the employee to the garnishin

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How Employers Can Address Mental Health in the Workplace

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half the people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives, and one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. It’s therefore not surprising that mental health has a significant impact in the workplace. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions like depression and anxiety cost the global economy a trillion dollars per year in lost productivity.  Those who have never suffered from a mental illness often have a hard time understanding the depth of the problem or the inability of a person to “snap out

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What is an employee’s regular rate of pay? Is it just what they make per hour of work?

Not exactly. An employee’s “regular rate of pay” is the amount used to calculate their overtime rate for a given time period. You might think of it as an average, of sorts. An employee’s regular rate is determined by adding up the amount paid for their work, as well as earnings from non-discretionary bonuses (such as those tied to performance or retention), then dividing that amount by the total hours worked.    For example, let’s say Anna earns $10/hour for inside sales work and $15/hour for bookkeeping work. This week, she worked 24 hours in inside sales and 20 hours as a bookkeeper. She also received $50 in commissions that are attributable to this workweek. Her

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Can we discipline employees for complaining about the company on social media?

Probably not. Depending on what they said, and who responded to it, their speech may be protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Section 7 protects concerted activity by employees that relates to the terms on conditions of their employment. Concerted means “in concert,” so two or more employees must be involved, but this is easily achieved on social media if a co-worker even just “likes” the post. Terms and conditions could include pay, hours, work environment, treatment from managers, benefits, or violations of labor and employment laws. We understand that this sort of social media activity by employees can be frustrating. One way to reduce the likelihood t

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We received credible reports from several employees and witnesses concerning sexual harassment by a manager. I feel confident in proceeding with termination, but we have not interviewed the accused manager. Should we get “his side of the story” before terminating?

Yes, you’re on safer ground terminating the accused employee if you interview him as part of your investigation – and do the same for other employees accused of harassment. In this case, you might not learn anything that would change your mind about the termination, but it’s still a possibility. More importantly, if the terminated employee were to challenge your decision, you would be able to show that he wasn’t treated any differently than other accused employees.  If you were to skip the interview with him, while typically interviewing other employees who have been accused of harassment or misconduct, he could claim that your decision in his case was discriminatory. A cons

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Federal Law Alert

Reminder—New Minimum Salary for Exempt EmployeesStarting January 1, 2020, most employees who are classified as exempt under the executive, administrative, professional, and computer employee exemptions will need to be paid at least $684 per week or $35,568 per year. See our full report in the News Desk of the HR Support Center for more information.  Minimum Wage Increase for Federal ContractorsOn January 1, 2020, the minimum wage for employees doing work on or in connection with federal contracts will increase to $10.80 per hour. The minimum wage for covered tipped employees will increase to $7.55 per hour.  New W-4In the new year, employers will need to provide the redesi

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Can we send employees home early because there isn’t any work to do?

Yes, you can send employees home early due to a lack of work. Just keep in mind that exempt employees would need to be paid their entire salary for the day. Non-exempt employees would only need to be paid for actual hours worked, unless you operate in a state with reporting time pay requirements. If you do operate in a state with reporting time pay requirements, employees may be entitled to reporting time pay for a certain number of hours even if they just show up and do no (or very little) actual work. This pay requirement is intended to lessen wage loss that is not the fault of the employee, as well as encourage employers to not over-schedule, since overscheduling and then canceling sh

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DOL Releases Final Overtime Rule, Effective Jan 1, 2020

The Department of Labor has announced the final rule that will increase the minimum salary for certain exempt white collar employees. The final rule is very close to the proposed rule we reported on in March. The new minimums will take effect January 1, 2020. Exempt Executive, Administrative, Professional, and Computer Employees (EAP)Salaried exempt EAP employees must be paid at least $684 per week on a salary basis (an increase from the current minimum of $455 per week). This is the equivalent of $35,568 per year. Up to 10% of this minimum may come from non-discretionary bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions (collectively, “incent

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