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COMPLIANCE

What does FMLA require of a law office employer?

One of the employment laws that affect how you manage your staff is the The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This is a federal law that requires certain employers to provide their employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for certain qualifying reasons. These reasons include the birth or adoption of a child, the care of a family member with a serious health condition, and the employee’s own serious health condition. In terms of what this means for a law office employer, you are required to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the reasons outlined above, without fear of retaliation or job loss. The employer would also be required to maintain the employee’s health benefits during… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Are you considering a pet-friendly office?

The working world is accustomed to seeing everyone’s pets on video meetings. And some physical offices also allow pets on the premises. Pets in the office workplace can be a controversial topic, as they may be seen as either a positive or negative influence on productivity and the work environment. Here are a few points to consider when it comes to pets in the office: Benefits of pets in the office: Increased morale: Pets in the office can help to improve morale and create a more positive and enjoyable work environment. Research has shown that interacting with pets can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Improved productivity: Some studies have suggested that pets in the office can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction. For example, having a… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

What does the Americans with Disabilities Act require of your office?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires law offices to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would create an undue burden or fundamentally alter the nature of the services provided. This includes ensuring that the facility is physically accessible to individuals with disabilities, as well as providing appropriate communication accommodations and assistive technology. Specifically, law offices must take the following steps to comply with the ADA: Physical accessibility: Law offices must ensure that their facilities are physically accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes installing ramps or chair lifts for individuals who use wheelchairs or mobility devices, providing designated parking spaces for individuals with disabilities, and ensuring that doorways and hallways are wide enough for individuals… . . . read more

HIRING

4 tips for safely searching social media when hiring

It is generally acceptable for employers to search social media as part of the hiring process, provided that they do so in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind when using social media in the hiring process: Relevant information only: It is important to only consider information that is relevant to the job in question. For example, if a candidate has posted inappropriate or offensive content on social media, this may be relevant to the employer if the job involves interacting with the public or representing the company in a professional manner. However, personal beliefs or opinions that are not directly related to the job may not be relevant. Privacy concerns: Employers should be aware of the privacy rights of candidates and should… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

10 tips for winter safety in your office parking lot

As extreme winter conditions continue in many parts of the country, remember to have your office parking lot maintained for the safety of your employees and clients. Here are some tips for promoting safety in your office parking lot this winter and being better prepared for future winters: Clear the parking lot of snow and ice regularly to improve traction and reduce the risk of slips and falls. This may involve hiring a contractor or having staff members take turns clearing the lot. Mark slippery areas with caution signs or cones to warn drivers and pedestrians of potential hazards. Install snow fences or berms around the perimeter of the parking lot to help prevent snow drifts from blocking entrances and exits. Stock up on supplies such as sand, salt, and… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

What to do when an employee uses FMLA to cover drinking

By Lynne Curry Question: We suspect one of our employees of using intermittent FMLA leave to cover her abuse of alcohol. We see a clear pattern. She takes leave two to three Mondays a month. Prior to her requesting FMLA leave, she claimed occasional sick days on Mondays. Other employees have noticed her leaving early on Fridays as well. With this fact pattern and given the rumors now circulating, may we start asking her to bring doctor’s notes each week to justify her need for Monday leave? Answer: While a Monday absence pattern may indicate alcoholism, you can wind up in legal hot water if you ask for weekly doctor’s notes from an employee using intermittent Family Medical Leave. In a landmark case, Oak Harbor Freight Lines v. Antti, the… . . . read more

TOOL

Office safety inspection checklist

The examples outlined below do not list all the possible items for office inspections. The best checklist for your workplace is one that has been developed for your specific needs. Whatever the format of the checklist, provide space for the inspectors’ signatures and the date. Inspectors: Date: (O) Satisfactory (X) Requires Action Location Condition Comments Bulletin Boards and Signs Are they clean and readable? Is the material changed frequently? Do items interfere with people walking by? Floors Is there loose material, debris, worn carpeting? Are the floors slippery, oily or wet? Stairways and Aisles Are they clear and unblocked? Are stairways well lighted? Are handrails, handholds in place? Are the aisles marked and visible? Equipment Are guards, screens and sound-dampening devices in place and effective? Is the furniture in good… . . . read more

TERMINATION

7 strategies for firing without backfiring

By Lynne Curry The final revenge of the difficult, fired employee. You’ve hesitated to fire him, you’ve given him chance after chance, but he’s not getting better. In fact, he’s getting worse, and so is the situation. You owe it to your other employees, who consider this employee toxic or carry his shirked workload burden, to bless this employee out the door. Unfortunately, you then make a critical mistake that results in a painful payout to this employee. If you want to fire without backfiring, you need to pay attention to: The doctrine of good faith and fair dealing; The guardrails of just cause, and Ask yourself 22 questions. If you’d like to fire an employee without backfire, you need to consider good faith and just cause, then ask yourself 22 questions. Good faith… . . . read more

HIRING & FIRING

The dreaded “you’re fired” interview

By Lynne Curry You dread what you’re about to do. Even though your employee deserves to be fired, you hate firing anyone. You also fear the damage a fired employee can create with false wrongful termination allegations. If you’d to fire without backfiring and in a way that leaves the fired employee with dignity, here’s what you need to know. Do your job right Have you done your job? Have you clearly let your employee know your expectations; and given your employee the resources, training and support needed to do their job, along with corrective feedback, and chances to improve? If you’re not sure you have, check out the suggestions in “Pressing Reset” (chapter 7 of Managing for Accountability, https://bit.ly/3T3vww8/. If you’ve done your job, you’ve minimized the risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit and can… . . . read more

TOOL

Love contracts: Help for hot messes

They arrive at work separately. They never touch each other in your presence. Then, as you chair a meeting, you see his gray eyes seek hers out across the conference table. She returns his gaze; her eyes linger. Suddenly you know. The senior manager, despite all the sexual harassment seminars he’s attended, appears romantically intertwined with an accounting clerk. If you’re in charge, how do you handle this hot mess?  The reality Some managers and supervisors would never have an affair with an employee they oversee or an employee in their company. Others consider the workplace a dating pond in which they fish. Still others fall into a relationship that makes them disregard risks. According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, one in three U.S…. . . . read more


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