Brief Updates

The Department of Labor has released new notification forms to be used with Family and Medical Leave. If you have more than 50 employees (names on the payroll, whether full or part time), you should have an FMLA policy in your handbook and the FMLA poster on your employee bulletin board. Once an employee has requested any absence from work that might qualify as family or medical leave, then it is up to the employer to notify the employee of the employee’s eligibility for federally mandated family and medical leave, to ask for medical certification of the condition necessitating the leave and to make a final determination of eligibility. Also the employer must provide leave to military families under certain circumstances. The necessary forms to use for all of these determinations are available on the Department of Labor’s website, which you can access by clicking here.

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The wage discrimination laws that I discussed in my January 6 blog post were unsurprisingly passed by the U. S. House of Representatives last week. If they clear the Senate, you can be assured that President Obama will promptly sign them. As I stated in that post, you can get ready for this law by deleting any policy still in your employee manual that prohibits employees from discussing their salaries. You can also review the salaries of any employees performing the same jobs and make sure that you have a rock-solid (meaning something in writing from the time the salary was determined) explanation relating to tenure or extra educational or licensing qualifications to explain why a male employee is making more than a female employee.

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The Texas Legislature started its biennial circus last week in Austin. Once the drama of the Texas Speaker’s race subsided, it was time to look at the proposed legislation that could affect employers. Some of the ones I will be watching include a bill to require all employers to pay an employee her regular wages while she serves on jury duty, lots of bills penalizing employers who don’t carry worker’s compensation insurance, and family leave bills to allow parents time off to attend school activities involving their children. If any of these or other employment-related bills pass during this legislative session, I’ll keep you posted.

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Somehow, the last tidbit on giving time off to parents for school activities reminded me of this joke about an employer’s reply to an employee’s request for time off:

“So you want a day off? Let’s take a look at what you are asking for!

There are 365 days this year.

There are 52 weeks per year in which you already have 2 days off per week, leaving 261 days available for work.

Since you spend 16 hours each day away from work, you have used up 170 days, leaving only 91 days available.

You spend 30 minutes each day on coffee break. That accounts for 23 days each year, leaving only 68 days available.

With a one hour lunch period each day, you have used up another 46 days, leaving only 22 days available for work.

You normally spend 2 days per year on sick leave. This leaves you only 20 days available for work.

We are off for 5 holidays per year, so your available working time is down to 15 days.

We generously give you 14 days vacation per year which leaves only one day available for work and I’ll be damned if you’re going to take that day off!”

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