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A question for any HR people/business owners

Old 05-30-2007, 10:20 AM
  #1  
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Default A question for any HR people/business owners

This question is relating to your workplace attendance policy:
Do you make any special concessions for an employee who is going through a divorce relating to additional time off?
In this particular case, the employee has missed numerous days or had to leave or come in late due to court dates, appointments with lawyers and having a sick child (employee is the dad, so I think the mom is asking him to watch the sick child since he is the reason for all of this). He currently is eligible for three weeks of vacation and if I count the days he has already used he has less than 5 days to last him till the end of the year. I know his child will be sick again, he will have additional court dates and related appointments between now and the end of the year, but yet he is asking for time off this summer to be with his child during his court assigned weeks (2 weeks). I do not have a policy relating to this circumstance, but need one fast!!
Any and all advice is welcome. For what it is worth, I am not a fan of personal days and therefor do not have them.

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Old 05-30-2007, 10:30 AM
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Default Re: A question for any HR people/business owners

I'm not a an HR person, but i am a manager. But if someone who is a good worker needs time off, i'll try and work with them to provide it. Most folks do have another life outside of work.

Now as a worker, I try not to mind what other folks are doing. Simply, it's not my business. I don't know their circumstances. But if I feel there I an inequity in my work and what someone else does, and the amouint of time they get off, I might bring it up in a conversation with my boss, citing specifics, but that's tricky, and can backfire in a number of ways.
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Old 05-30-2007, 11:07 AM
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Default Re: A question for any HR people/business owners

having been in your employee's shoes -

My old boss had a pretty firm position that I used up V days or S days. I did the same with my current boss. They both however allowed me to make up time (work late or weekend day w/o OT) where possible. That gets tricky depending on type of employee though (exempt, non-exempt, CBU, etc.).

The other thought is to sit down with him and discuss the child care situation - Unless a court has specifically ordered that HE take care of the child when sick, it should be a shared responsibility and the ex should be doing her share. Regardless of the reasons for the divorce, the responsibility for child care is shared.
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Old 05-30-2007, 11:17 AM
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I have 15 employees and use "flex" time, a generic term for both vacation and sick days. When an employee uses all they have earned, I still allow them time off; I just don't pay them for it. They know they're not going to be paid, and if you make that clear in advance, then it's their choice. Of course, if you don't want to retain that employee, you now have the reason for dismissal...
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Old 05-30-2007, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: A question for any HR people/business owners

Where I work, if you run out of leave, you take leave without pay, if approved. If I "gave" one of my employees extra time off, outside their accrued leave, I would be giving it to them all within a few weeks. If available, let him take some sick leave - I am sure this is making him sick.
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Old 05-30-2007, 11:43 AM
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Default Re: A question for any HR people/business owners

I wear the HR hat (along with several others) at the small company that employs me.

I would recommend that any discussion be based upon the employee's attendance (a work-related topic) and not stray into topics like the nature of agreements regarding who is to care for the sick child (a personal topic).

The key is that any policy you develop be a policy that you would willingly extend to other staff in similar circumstances--a request for excessive time away from work. Would you permit unpaid leave? Would you permit telecommuting, if the employee's job accommodates it, when he is home caring for a sick child? Would you permit "borrowing" from next year's vacation? Working longer workweeks to repay time (only works if the employee is exempt from overtime laws).

Here's one strategy: Tell your employee that his request for time off in the summer exceeds the time he has on the books and ask him if he has any thoughts on how to cover the time. He may have an idea worth hearing.

The number of employees you have and the state in which you live may be factors.
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Old 05-30-2007, 11:59 AM
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Default Re: A question for any HR people/business owners

I appreciate the responses and ask that you all keep them coming.
My main problem with this whole situation is that I don't know how many additional days will be missed in addition to the two weeks he is taking this summer. I don't want to be an a**hole about this, but he needs to know that there isn't an endless supply of days he can have off. The work will get done regardless if he is here or not.
Another dilemma:
He is paid a salary plus a commission on the dollar amount of work shipped. If I don't pay him for the extra time he is away as some have suggested, should I reduce the amount he gets paid commission on by the dollar amounts shipped each day he is out?
I may be over thinking this, but I need to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

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Old 05-30-2007, 12:06 PM
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If he has used up his vacation/sick time, FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid absences for the sick child. As for the divorce issues, I would say he is on his own. You're running a company- not a family. The divorce issue is something of his own making and should not affect your business. That's my opinion as a business owner anyway...
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:13 PM
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I'm not sure being out for a cold a day here and a day there would be covered under FMLA, but I will check it out.
If it does, then it would work for the mother as well.
Like TC says: I have not only the business to think about, but also the other employees as well as our customers! I understand now why employee issues is one of the top reasons for owners selling their companies. This is only one of many I am dealing with. UGHHHH!

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Old 05-30-2007, 12:20 PM
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Great advice given above...I'll only add, don't try and be a marriage counselor this would be putting yourself in a position I don't think you want to be.

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Old 05-30-2007, 12:29 PM
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Hey Motivator,

You sound like a nice guy. The statement you made "...the work will get done regardless if he is here or not..." says alot to me. He must not be an integral part of your operation. Let him use up any paid days off for his personal reasons, and after that, assess it on a weekly basis. Keep in mind that any variance to written company policy you allow him to use you will probably have to allow for the rest of your employees to use at some point. Thats the way employees see it anyway. Like what another said earlier, I don't care why someone wants off. It's not my business, or my concern. My concern is turning a dollar, and if this person can't be at work and help me turn it, I will have to find someone who can. If it makes you feel any better, your typical employee normally don't give a crap about you, so why worry too much about them? Sound rough and tough? Blame it on the employees I've been dealing with for years....the work force in my area has stunk for a long time.
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:31 PM
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It seems pretty simple to me when you use all your time you don't get paid for any further days off. He should realize this. Do you expect to get paid when you don't go to work?. Your not a charity you are a business looking to survive, and nice guys finish last. As you stated you don't know how much time he will use. When you continue to allow this you have set a precedent and now what do you do with the other employees that need time off?. You can't do for one and not the others. You could easily find yourself with a federal lawsuit for harassment. The EEOC is free to employees, but you will incur legal expenses to defend yourself. If he needs time off and needs the money maybe he can work late or on weekends if this works for you, if not tell him that he has used his time and any further days will not be paid. You could even offer him to take a leave of absence. Let me ask you this if you used up all your time would you expect your employer to give you an additional two weeks paid vacation? I might sound stern but I control over three hundred union employees I have seen it all. Good luck and remember you have to pay the bills.
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:34 PM
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Motivator

The FMLA is a Federal Unpaid leave. So this option would help you but not the employee.
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:35 PM
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Tuna Colada well said.
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Old 05-30-2007, 01:39 PM
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Onejacker,
The work will get done because it has to; regardless of who is absent any given day. The commitments I make to our customers have to be fulfilled. As far as not being an integral part of the business, he is responsible for 50+ employees on the manufacturing side of the business. So when he is not here either I have to rearrange my day or I have to rely on someone else to do the same. My work can be done any time, his has to be done while production is running; thus eliminating any chance of him being able to work a flexible schedule. This is the reason why I want a written policy. Everyone needs to know what the limits are, otherwise it will be neverending.

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Old 05-30-2007, 01:52 PM
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I was assuming that the child had a chronic illness. If the child only has a cold, FMLA will not apply. I don't know about your state but in MA, there is something called the Small Necessities Act which provides an additional 24 hours of unpaid leave for something like this. As these acts are for the benefit of the employee not the employer, it really just defines what he is legally entitled to. Once he has used this up however, you should be free to fire him and hire a more reliable replacement. Also, FMLA does not require that you pay a bonus/commission for the time that he is on leave unless that bonus is directly tied to attendance.
The lesson learned from all this? The best company is one that doesn't require employees...
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Old 05-30-2007, 01:55 PM
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"The best company is one that doesn't require employees..."

Amen Brother!
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Old 05-30-2007, 02:55 PM
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I manage a small manufacturing company and battle with the same issues. Our policy is you have x number of days to use for sick or personal time that accrue annually. After this time you may have time off with a valid excuse but we do not pay you for these days off.

I would make it very clear that after all paid sick/vacation time is used, time off will be unpaid. I would also not pay him the commision for the days he is not there. When a principle employee is out it is a burden for everyone else.

I think once all of this time off starts to effect his wallet he may not miss days so easily.

Good luck!
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Old 05-30-2007, 04:52 PM
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Tuna Colada - 5/30/2007 12:06 PM

If he has used up his vacation/sick time, FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid absences for the sick child. As for the divorce issues, I would say he is on his own. You're running a company- not a family. The divorce issue is something of his own making and should not affect your business. That's my opinion as a business owner anyway...
What he said.

You can not allow him to have "out of policy" paid leave without creating a precedent that will apply to all of your employees...especially the protected classes. Moreover, by establishing the "no-pay for excess absences" you are motivating him to take care of his family business on his family time......not on your nickel.
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Old 05-30-2007, 05:23 PM
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We had a guy that wanted to come back to work while still on light duty connected to a personal injury. Although I recommended he not be allowed, because we don't have any light duty work in my shop. My supervisor over ruled me, so I was short one guy for 4 months while he was enjoying light duty doing an office job instead of getting healthy at home without pay.
Now whenever another person gets injured and wants to be on light duty, we have to allow it, if he has a doctors excuse and you know how easy that is to get. Our most recent one will be next week while a guy recovers from eye surgery for as long as he can ride it out. The last one was a guy with a broken leg.
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