Frequently Asked Questions
Q: DO I NEED TO KEEP TIME RECORDS?
A: Yes, the U.S. Department of Labor requires time records to be kept for at least three years to verify employees have been compensated at least at the minimum wage. Ask us for a payroll worksheet, if needed to comply.
Q: I’M PAID ON SALARY. DOES THIS MEAN I AM EXEMPT FROM OVERTIME?
A: No. The manner in which an employee is paid does not determine exemption from overtime. The employee’s job description determines exemption status.
Q: DO I HAVE TO PAY OVERTIME IF I HAVE AN AGREEMENT WITH MY EMPLOYEES?
A: Yes. The Department of Labor does not recognize agreements that are contrary to the United States Fair Labor Standards Act. The law states that employees must be paid at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 hours in a seven day period regardless of the total hours worked in a bi-weekly, semi- monthly or monthly pay period. The employer may choose the seven-day period as long as it remains consistent.
Q: I PAY MY NON-EXEMPT EMPLOYEES COMMISSION OR PIECEWORK. DO I HAVE TO PAY OVERTIME?
A: Yes. Non-exempt employees paid on a basis other than hourly are entitled to overtime pay. Note that regular hours and overtime hours need to be reported as a part of payroll.
Q: CAN I HOLD AN EMPLOYEE’S PAYCHECK BECAUSE OF THEFT?
A: No. Wages cannot be held because an employee is suspected of theft. The law considers the suspected theft as a separate matter that must be pursued through the court system.
Q: CAN I TERMINATE AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS ON WORKERS’ COMPENSATION FOR AN ON-THE-JOB INJURY AND IS TAKING TIME OFF UNDER THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)?
A: No, termination under this circumstances is strictly prohibited by state & federal law. FMLA can take effect with as little as three-day absence.
Q: DO I HAVE TO PROVIDE BREAKS?
A: No. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not require employers to give breaks. However, if breaks are given, rest breaks of twenty (20) minutes or less must be compensated. Uninterrupted lunch breaks of at least thirty (30) minutes need not be compensated. Certain state laws may be more stringent. We encourage you to contact the Wage and Hour Board for specific state requirements.
Q: WHAT IS THE MINIMUM AGE FOR AN EMPLOYEE?
A: 14 years of age. Minors under the age of 18 can work in non-hazardous occupations, determined by the Secretary of Labor, with certain restrictions. These restrictions generally prohibit a minor from operating power driven machinery as part of their job duties. Many states also restrict the permissible hours of work for minors. Violations of child labor laws can result in fines of up to $10,000 per violation. Please contact the Wage and Hour Board for any clarifications you need.
Q: WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR INITIATES AN INVESTIGATION OF MY COMPANY?
A: You will be asked to supply each employee’s name, physical address, Social Security number, hire and termination dates, and I-9 and payroll records. Please contact our Human Resource Department for help with these matters.
Q: HOW DOES AN EMPLOYEE CHANGE HIS TAX FILING STATUS, NAME OR ADDRESS?
A: The employee must fill out a new W-4 and submit it to the UniqueHR’s Human Resources Department. A W-4 form may also be downloaded from the IRS website at www.irs.gov or from the UniqueHR website.
- A PAYCHECK HAS BEEN LOST OR STOLEN. WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR GETTING IT REPLACED?
A: Report the information to the Payroll Department on a Lost Check. It may take an additional three (3) business days to process the stop payment and reissue a check for the employee. We must pass on the charge of $25 from our bank on all stop payment orders.
- WHAT ARE AN EMPLOYEES RIGHTS UNDER THE TEXAS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SYSTEM?
A: 1. You may have the right to receive benefits.
You may receive benefits regardless of who caused, or helped cause, your injury. You may not receive benefits if your injury occurred while you were intoxicated, you injured yourself intentionally or while unlawfully attempting to injure someone else, you were injured by another person for personal reasons, you were injured while voluntarily participating in an off-work activity, you were injured by an act of God, or your injury occurred during horseplay.
- You have the right to receive the medical care reasonable and necessary to treat your work-related injury or illness for the rest of your life.
- You have the right to the initial choice of doctor.
You may not change doctors except with the approval of the Commission. You do not need to get approval to go to a different doctor for emergency treatment, if you or your doctor moves or if your doctor is unable to continue treating you.
- You have the right to hire an attorney to help you get benefits or to help you resolve disputes.
- You have the right to receive assistance from appropriate, qualified Commission staff and, in the event of a dispute resolution proceeding, from a Commission Ombudsman free of charge. To request assistance, contact the field office handling your claim, or call 1.800.252.7031.
You have the right to receive information and assistance regarding your claim. Commission staff will explain your rights and responsibilities under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, you have the right to be assisted by a Commission ombudsman in informal dispute resolutions and in administrative proceedings if you are not represented. However, an ombudsman cannot serve as a legal representative or attorney for you.
- You have the right to confidentiality.
Only people who need to know, such as your doctor, your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier, may see information in the Commission’s files. A prospective employer may get limited information from the Commission about your claims. If you wish someone who is assisting you to have access to your file, you must provide written approval for them to do so.
Q: WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE EMPLOYEE IN THE TEXAS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SYSTEM?
- You have the responsibility to tell your employer about your injury or illness.
You must tell your employer within 30 days of the date you were injured, or within 30 days of the date you first knew your illness might be work-related. You, or someone helping you, may either talk with or write your employer or any supervisor where you work.
If you do not tell your employer within 30 days of the date you were injured, you could possibly lose your right to receive benefits.
- You have the responsibility to fill out a claim form and send it to the Commission.
You must send a completed claim form, called a TWCC-41, to the Commission within one year of the date you were injured, or within one year of the date you first knew your illness might be work-related.
Send the completed claim form to the Commission even if you are already getting benefits.
If you do not send the form within one year, you could lose your right to get benefits. For a copy of the form, call the field office handling your claim, or call 1.800.252.7031.
- You have the responsibility to tell the Commission and the insurance carrier any time your income changes.
If you are not receiving benefits and you have changed employers since your injury, tell the Commission if your injury causes you to miss work or lose income. Call the Commission at 1.800.252.7031.
If you are getting benefits and you have changed employers since your injury, tell the Commission and the insurance carrier paying your benefits if your income changes. Tell the Commission and the insurance carrier regardless of whether your income went up or down.
If you have stopped working since your injury, tell the Commission and the insurance carrier if you start working again or if you have a job offer.
- You have the responsibility to tell your doctor how you were injured and if you believe it may be work-related.
If possible, tell the doctor before the doctor treats you.
- You have the responsibility to tell the Commission and the insurance carrier how to contact you.
You should contact the Commission and UniqueHR if your home address, work address, and/or phone number changes, so the Commission and UniqueHR will be able to contact you as necessary.
Q: WHAT ARE THE FEDERAL LAWS CONCERNING DISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY?
A: Employers must comply with decisions involving termination, promotion and refusal to hire under three main Federal laws. They are:
- Title VII 1964 Civil Rights Act
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991, which bars discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. You must enforce equal opportunity within your company. You must post and maintain an EEOC statement. You also must keep all procedures non- discriminatory. Included in the HR Appendix is UniqueHR EEO statement for you to use.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified people with disabilities from employment related discrimination. Qualified individuals must be treated fairly when being considered for hire, pay increases, promotions or any other condition of employment. Under certain circumstances, employers also must provide reasonable accommodations that permit a disabled employee or applicant to perform the essential functions of a job. An example of this might include in- stalling a telephone hearing assist device for a hearing-impaired employee.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination of applicants and employees who are 40 years old and older. Age-based discrimination in hiring, promotions, training, pay rates or any other condition of employment are all included under ADEA. Some states have their own laws that prohibit age-based discrimination at a much younger age. The best practice employers can have is to hire, promote, pay and train individuals based on their skills, abilities and work performance.
Since these are complex laws, whenever there is a question about an applicant or employee who may have a disability, please contact our HR Department at 361.852.6392. Please refer to the HR Appendix for laws governing Equal Employment Opportunity.
You must also consider state laws. Most states, including Texas, mirror the federal laws regarding discrimination and leaves of absence associated with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Some municipalities provide protection of marital status, sexual preference, parental status or other categories. You must have basic knowledge of employment dis- crimination issues. Business owners cannot discriminate against any worker or job applicant on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.
Company owners must create a workplace free of harassment on the same basis. In the HR Appendix of this manual you will find our Harassment Policy. We can provide you a brochure for each employee that fully states this policy. Along with you as co- employers, we must be committed to a workplace free of harassment or discrimination of any kind. To protect your company from liability claims in this area you must distribute the Harassment Policy, enforce it, follow the complaint procedures, and provide training to your employees if possible. Recent Supreme Court Rulings have made two things very clear when a company faces an employee suit on these matters. First, you are liable for the actions of your supervisors and managers regarding discrimination and/or harassment. Second, the “good faith” effort you make in pro- viding a policy to the employees, enforcing it, taking action on claims, and training the employees will mitigate or reduce your exposure to liability. Our HR Department can provide training on the policy.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BEST TIPS FOR AVOIDING LEGAL ACTION BY EMPLOYEES?
- Document, Document and Document
Documentation is one of the best strategies to prevent or win employment lawsuits. A written employment record can help convince an opposing attorney not to file suit or convince a judge in your favor if a suit goes to trial.
- Honesty Does Pay and Timing is Everything
If an employee’s performance is below standard, you should promptly communicate that fact to them. Several things hap- pen when this is ignored. The employee can continue below standard performance or become angry when later told about the unacceptable performance after it was condoned. Nobody wins if feedback is not honest and timely.
- Take Action
Take action to deal with employee misconduct, unacceptable attendance, or unacceptable performance early. It is easier to correct if addressed before it becomes ingrained. This is particularly true of new hires who need feedback. You should closely monitor a new employee’s performance. Remember to provide the employee feedback in writing.
When you keep good records, it is easier to terminate or put an employee on notice. If employee performance does not improve, then the employee should be terminated. Your proper documentation will be important in protecting you from wrongful termination actions by a former employee.
- Train Your Staff and Enforce Your Policies Fairly, Consistently and Aggressively
You must tell employees the rules and what action will take place for violations. Regulatory agencies and courts ask if you have told the employees the rules. If you use an employee handbook, publish and distribute it. Hold employee meetings and post memos on bulletin boards to communicate your policies. Training cannot be over emphasized. With today’s volatile employment atmosphere, it is essential that all supervisors are aware of the fundamentals of discrimination and fair treatment. Management personnel are acting agents of the company and are never off work. You can pay a stiff penalty for inappropriate or unlawful actions by supervisors. You can be held liable for their actions.
- Changing Policies
You can face a lawsuit if you give in to an employee’s frequent demands for exceptions to the company rules, policies, or procedures. However, you can make exceptions to your policies when it makes good business sense. You must document that decision and explain the business rationale for doing so. A policy is also what you practice, not just what is written.
- Employment Law Attorneys
Employment Law Attorneys take cases based on a contingency fee; therefore an employee may only have to pay minimal court cost to file a lawsuit. As an employer, a key issue for you is providing a convincing rebuttal to any legal charge. Documentation is critical. If you have valid, documented business reasons for your actions, it is possible the employee’s attorney will drop the case.
- Your Communications Can Be Tested
When a suit is filed the employee’s attorney may seek discovery or any and all documents pertaining to the issue. You are obligated to provide any and all written information pertaining to the employment of your employee. Failure to disclose all information is illegal. You may be asked to explain the meaning of your documents under oath. Make sure documentation is written in a business like manner and includes only information that is believed to be true and factual. This includes e-mail documents, voice mail, notes, memos, formal counseling, warning letters, etc.
- Fair and Consistent Application of Policies
Fair and consistent application of employment policies is the key to success. Under Texas and Federal Law, in these matters of discrimination and harassment, you and UniqueHR are considered co-employers of the employees. We share the liability if a claim is filed. A key element to the limits of the liability is what happens at the work site. That is the place where you are in control, it is also the place where your supervisors and managers represent the company. Together we can ensure that a safe and harassment-free workplace is created. We can create a place where employees treat each other with respect and work as a team.
Q: WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE FOR INTERVIEWING APPLICANTS?
When interviewing, you should get answers to three questions:
- Is the applicant capable of performing the job? (Is the applicant at least capable of learning to carry out the essential responsibilities of the job after receiving training for a reasonable length of time?)
- Can the applicant be trusted with the responsibilities associated with the job?
- Is the applicant the best candidate for the position?
When interviewing, be tactful and careful. Under State and Federal laws, individuals are protected from discrimination at the application and interview stage of pre-employment. You only need enough information about an applicant to satisfy the requirements of the position. You must be careful not to ask any possible discriminatory questions.
Become familiar with the tips and questions in this section. Have them ready for quick review during the actual interview.
- Prepare for the interview. Become familiar with the job requirements and the applicants resume or application.
- Always verify past employment history
- All questions should be job related
- Look for signs of achievement. Generally, the best indicator of future performance is past performance.
Consider using these, or similar interview questions. Ask open-ended questions which let the applicant do the talking, such as:
- Tell me about your favorite job.
- Tell me about your last job
- What new skill have you developed over the past few years?
- Tell me about a problem you overcame in your last job?
Probes, which clarify facts and attitudes. Examples are:
- Do you enjoy talking to people on the phone?
- How well do you react to direction from supervisors?
- Would you object to wearing a uniform?
- How would you feel if your supervisor asked you to do additional tasks?
- How would you react to being asked to work overtime or on weekends?
Close-ended questions, which pin down an applicant’s response. These might include:
- Are you able to work overtime whenever necessary?
- Would you be able to accommodate a change in your work shift?
- Does driving in inclement weather bother you?
- Have ever punched a time clock before?
Assessment questions evaluate and applicant’s ability to manage themselves or others. Examples are:
- Have you been given two jobs to do at once by different supervisors? How did you accomplish this?
- Has a co-worker’s lack of skills ever interfered with your accomplishing a job?
- What situation in your career made you the angriest at the time it occurred? Describe the situation and how you handled it?
Q: WHAT TYPES OF QUESTIONS ARE CONSIDERED DISCRIMINATORY ON A JOB INTERVIEW?
Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, disability, marital status, religion, and age when interviewing and selecting job applicants. Questions must be relevant to the position that is the subject of the interview. The following table displays several interview questions that are appropriate (legal) and those that are inappropriate (discriminatory).
|TOPIC||LEGAL QUESTIONS||DISCRIMINATORY QUESTIONS|
Do you have any responsibilities that conflict with the job attendance or travel requirements?
Are you married?
What is your spouse’s name? What is your maiden name? Do you have any children?
Are you pregnant?
What are your child care arrangements?
What is your race?
|Any inquiries about complexion or color of skin.|
What is your Religion? What church do you attend?
What are your religious holidays?
What is your address?
Do you rent or own your home?
|Who resides with you?|
Are you male or female?
If hired can you offer proof that
you are at least 18 years old?
How old are you?
What is your date of birth?
Are you between the ages of and _?
Have you ever been convicted of
Have you ever been arrested?
Can you show proof of your eligibility
to work in the U.S.?
Are you fluent in any other languages other than English?
Are you a U.S. citizen? Where were you born?
Inquiries about: lineage, ancestry, national origin, parentage, nationality of family,
primary language/mother tongue.
|TOPIC||LEGAL QUESTIONS||DISCRIMINATORY QUESTIONS|
|Are you married?
Where does your spouse work?
How old are your children, if any?
Is this the correct pronunciation or spelling of your name?
Have you ever worked for this company under a different name?
Is any additional information relative to change of name, use of an assumed name, or nickname necessary to enable a check on your work record?
If yes please explain.
|Original name of applicant whose name has been changed by court order or otherwise.
Maiden name of married woman.
Whether the applicant has ever worked under another name, and if so where and when?
|Applicants birthplace or birthplace of applicant’s parents, spouse, or other close relative.|
What foreign language(s) do you read or speak fluently?
|May not inquire how applicant acquired the ability to read, write, or speak a foreign language.|
Questions about academic, vocational, or
professional education of an applicant.
Questions pertaining to public or private schools attended.
|Questions pertaining to dates of attendance or year of graduation.|
|EXPERIENCE||Questions pertaining to work experience and foreign travel pertinent to work experience.|
Have you ever been convicted Or had a conviction adjudicated? If so, when, where, and disposition of offense.
|Have you ever been arrested? (an employer’s use of an individual’s arrest record to deny employment would be in the absence of business necessity and constitute a violation of the human rights laws)-|
|TOPIC||LEGAL QUESTIONS||DISCRIMINATORY QUESTIONS|
May ask the names of any relatives working for the company
|May not inquire about the names, addresses, age, number or other information concerning the applicant’s children or other relatives not employed by the company.|
Have you ever been a member of the U.S. armed forces or state militia? If so, did your military experience have any relationship to the position for which you have applied?
|May not inquire into an applicant’s general military experience.|
Are you a member of any clubs, organizations, etc?
|Exclude specific discussion with reference to clubs that indicate race, color, creed or national origin of it’s members.
|DO NOT require an applicant to affix a photograph to the employment format any time before hiring, or at the applicant’s option.|
Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job as I have just described to you (or after applicant has reviewed job description) with or without reasonable accommodation?
|Are you disabled?
What is the nature and/or severity of your disability?
Have you ever been treated for any of the following diseases? (list diseases) Has any member of your family ever had any of the following diseases? (list diseases)
Q: IF TEXAS IS AN “AT WILL” STATE, CAN’T AN EMPLOYER DO WHATEVER HE WANTS?
Although Texas is an “at will” state, you cannot terminate employees “whenever you feel like doing it.” The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and its associated laws were established to protect the employee, not the employer. Terminated employees can file claims against you via the Texas Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These claims can end up in court with you paying your former employee more than the cost of taking the time to establish documentation to justify the termination.
Typically, the TWC will disqualify a terminated employee from benefits only if the employer show s that the employee was fired for a specific act of misconduct connected with the work and that he either knew or should have known he could lose his job for that reason. The employer bears the burden of proof . This can be accomplished by having established policies in place that treat all employees in the same manner. In conjunction with these policies, you must use the discipline process which has been explained earlier in this manual, and use the appropriate forms to document the employees actions and all ensuing disciplinary action. The TWC will investigate to determine if the employee was adequately warned and given an opportunity to correct performance or conduct to keep his/her job. The real issue is did the employer provide reasonable warning. Using the progressive discipline process with the proper forms to document it can often show that the employer reasonably acted.
You bear additional cost when terminating an employee without documented justification through the cost passed on to you through Texas Unemployment Insurance. Typically, the terminated employee will go to the TWC to apply for unemployment benefits and often claim they were wrongfully terminated. The TWC will send an inquiry to you and/or UniqueHR which will request the justification for termination. If you receive such a request, please immediately contact UniqueHR and fax a copy of the document the TWC sends you. If we cannot provide a satisfactory justification, the TWC will approve benefits. According to Texas House Bill 1939, the employee must receive written notice of their obligation to contact UniqueHR if they are interested in being considered for a new job assignment. If the employee fails to then contact UniqueHR Staff within two business days for a new assignment, they may lose their right to collect unemployment insurance benefits. Two things that you can do to hold down unemployment costs are:
- Document and terminate employees with justification and
- Fax a Termination of Employment Status Change Form (signed by the employee) to the UniqueHR HR Department.
A final word of advice concerns your supervisors. They are the key to the documentation process. They must understand the process and execute it. In doing so you will save money and will most likely have employees who comply with your company goals and expectations.
Q: WHAT IS FMLA AND WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
FMLA is the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA generally provides for up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job protected leave to eligible employees for certain specified and medical reasons. It also maintains eligible employees’ pre-existing group health insurance coverage during periods of FMLA leave.
UniqueHR’s Human Resources Department, in conjunction with our co-employer’s (the client company) management, has the responsibility to administer, grant, and otherwise act on valid request of our employees for leave under the provisions of this law.
- FMLA eligible – an employee with at least 12-months of continuous service and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the preceding 12-month period. Must work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed within 75 miles.
- Disability – an impairment, which substantially affects you or your family member in major life activity.
- Serious health condition – an injury, illness, impairment, or physical or mental condition which involves any or all of the following:
- A period of incapacity or treatment in connection with, or consequent to in-patient care at a medical facility.
- A period of incapacity involving continuing treatment by a health care provider and requiring absence from work, school, or other regular daily activities for more than three calendar days.
- Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for parental care.
- A chronic or serious health condition, which requires periodic treatment by a health care provider, continues over an extended time or causes episodic periods of incapacity.
- Spouse – employee’s married partner legally recognized in the state in which the employee works for UniqueHR. Un- married domestic partners are specifically excluded from the definition.
- Child – employee’s dependent child by birth, adoption, or committed foster care, who is under 18 years of age or 18 or older and who is incapable of self-care because of physical or mental disability.
- Parent – employee’s birth or adoptive parent. Parents-in-law are specifically excluded from this definition.
- Rolling 12 months – the 12-month period preceding the date a FMLA eligible leave is to commence.
- Intermittent or reduced leave schedule – leave taken in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason or leave schedule that reduces an employee’s working hours per week or day.
Q: WHAT IS UNIQUEHR’S POLICY CONCERNING FMLA?
UniqueHR will use the “rolling 12 month method” to determine the maximum leave available under FMLA. If the need for leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth, placement for adoption or foster care, or for a planned medical treatment for a serious health condition for yourself or family member, you must provide at least 30 days advance notice before FMLA leave is to begin. If a 30-day notice is not practical because of unforeseen circumstances, notice must be given as soon as practical. Employees must use any accumulated leave time to the extent available during the leave period. Absences in excess of these accumulated days will be treated as leave without pay.
You may take leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule only where medically necessary. In addition, while you are on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule, you may be temporarily transferred to an available alternative position, which has equivalent pay and benefits and which better accommodates your recurring leave. If leave is unpaid, UniqueHR will reduce your salary based on the amount of time actually worked.
A husband and wife who are both employed by the company, and are both FMLA eligible, will be afforded a combined total of 12 weeks leave during any 12 month period in cases other than the employee’s own serious health condition.
Q: HOW IS LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR PERSONAL ILLNESS OR INJURY HANDLED?
This leave is for your own serious health condition. All periods of qualifying absence will be documented as FMLA in order to determine leave eligibility in the future. To request a personal illness or injury leave, you should submit a Request for Family and Medical Leave Form and a Certification of Health Care Provider Form indicating that you have a serious health condition. If you do not provide medical certification within 15 days of the request for leave, the company may deny leave until such certification is submitted.
Q: WHEN SHOULD AN EMPLOYEE USE THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)?
A leave of absence may be granted to you if you request FMLA to care for your spouse, child, or your parent, if such spouse, child, or parent has a serious health condition. All periods of absence will be documented so as to be able to determine leave eligibility in the future. You must be “FMLA eligible” and furnish medical certification to justify the re- quest. Medical certification should be provided on the Certification of Health Care Provider Form given to you when requesting the leave. If you do not provide medical certification within 15 days of the request for leave, the company may deny leave until such certification is submitted. For purposes of confirmation of a family relationship, you may be required to provide reasonable documentation of such family relationship.
Q: CAN AN EMPLOYEE TAKE LEAVE OF ABSENCE BECAUSE HE OR SHE HAS A NEW CHILD?
A leave of absence may be granted for the birth of a child or to care for a child within the first 12 months after birth. This leave is also available for the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care within the first 12 months of placement.
Q: WHAT ARE THE ENTITLEMENTS FOR MILITARY AND FAMILY LEAVE OF ABSENCE?
Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.
FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list.
Q: WHAT DOES AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS CURRENTLY ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE NEED TO DO TO RETURN TO WORK?
If you take leave because of your own serious health condition, you are required to provide medical certification that you are fit to resume work. You may obtain a Return to Work Medical Certification Form from your management or from Unique’s HR Department. Employees failing to provide a Return to Work Medical Certification Form will not be permit- ted to resume work until one is provided.
When you return from leave, not exceeding 12 weeks, you are entitled to your former position, if available. If your position is not available, you will be reinstated to a position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. Refusal of an offer of reinstatement will be treated as a voluntary resignation.
If your leave of absence exceeds 12 weeks, you will be restored to an available position for which you are qualified. If no such position is available, a personal leave may be granted for up to 30 days. If, at the end of the 30-day period, no position has become available for which you are qualified, you will be terminated.
Absent extenuating circumstances, if you do not return from a leave of absence within three work days of when the leave expires or you do not provide a physician’s note along with a request to extend the leave, you will be considered to have voluntarily resigned. If you give unequivocal notice of intent not to return to work, your employment will terminate and your protections under the FMLA will cease.
Q: WHAT ARE AN EMPLOYEE’S BENEFITS WHILE ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE?
Continued coverage on UniqueHR’s or the worksite employer’s health care plan is the responsibility of the employee. While on FMLA, health care benefits for the employee will be maintained, but the employee is responsible for paying their nor- mal monthly contribution. Your health care coverage will cease if your premium payment is more than thirty (30) days late.
Q: CAN AN EMPLOYEE WORK AT ANOTHER JOB WHILE ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE?
No. The taking of another job while on FMLA or any other authorized leave is grounds for immediate termination.
Q: WHAT IS UNIQUEHR’S HARASSMENT POLICY?
UniqueHR and our Clients (your work site company) will not tolerate any kind of harassment at the workplace. Harassment in the workplace encompasses a broad range of behavior, including conduct that relates to an employee’s gender, race, religion, color, national origin, age, or disability unrelated to a person’s ability to perform essential job functions. UniqueHR seeks to maintain a working environment in which every employee is treated with dignity and mutual respect. UniqueHR also seeks
to provide a workplace free of verbal and physical harassment or intimidation of any kind including, but not limited to, sexual, sex-based, religious, racial, national origin, age or disability. Harassment is inconsistent with our philosophy. Harassment undermines employee morale, creates suspicion and hostility between coworkers, and interferes with productivity. Harassment, including sexual, sex-based, religious, racial, national origin, age or disability harassment, is a serious
matter and is prohibited in the workplace by any person and in any form. UniqueHR and/or our Client will promptly investigate alleged harassment and will take prompt and appropriate action.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute harassment when one or more of the following apply:
- submission to such conduct is made in explicit or implicit terms or conditions of an employee’s employment.
- submission to or rejection of such conduct by an employee is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting the employee.
- such conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
“Verbal or physical conduct” includes, but is not limited to sexually-related comments, telling off-color jokes, commenting on physical attributes, sexually suggestive pictures, notes or signs, unseemly gestures or sounds, touching, use of de- meaning or inappropriate terms or names, crude or offensive language, discussing sexual activity about or around others, engaging in hostile physical conduct, sabotaging work, and/or granting job favors to those who participate in consensual sexual activity.
Unwelcome comments or conduct directed towards an individual because of their sex (gender) or said about a particular sex (gender) which unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment may constitute sex-based harassment. In contrast to sexual harassment, these comments or conduct do not have to be of a sexual nature. Examples of sex-based harassment are:
- repeatedly demeaning or criticizing an individual because of their sex (gender), e.g., comments such as “you’re a woman, (or man) what do you know,” or “we’d be better off if women would just stay home and mind the kids.”
- repeated comments which, although not directly made to a particular individual, demean or criticize members of that sex (gender) e.g., “women/men are so stupid they can’t get anything right.”
- threatening or intimidating an individual because of their sex (gender) through the use of hostile or threatening words and/or behavior.
Religious, Racial, National Origin, Age and Disability Harassment
Derogatory slurs and other verbal or physical conduct relating to an individual’s religion, race, national origin, age or dis- ability constitute harassment when this conduct:
- has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
- has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance.
- adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.
UniqueHR strictly prohibits retaliation against an employee for filing a complaint or for assisting in the investigation of one, even if the investigation does not find that the alleged harassment occurred. Examples of retaliation include, but are not limited to, changes in terms and conditions of employment, sabotaging work, filing counter complaints and talking negatively about the employee to others.