Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. Read more at www.evilhrlady.org. On Twitter @RealEvilHRLady.
Dilemma of the Month: My business is quite seasonal. We have work year round, but in the off-season we don’t need the same number of employees. It’s just not profitable to keep everyone on the payroll 12 months out of the year. Can I drop hours? Can I lay people off and rehire? Are there things that make one option better than the other?
I’m a corporate recruiter. For candidates that progress to an HR phone screen, we ask their expected salary and share the range we have for the role. Is it appropriate to use someone’s low salary expectations as a reason for not moving forward? I’m concerned that a candidate who makes so much less won’t be a good fit. Is that the case?
I am the CFO for a 90-plus person firm and the head of human resources reports to me. Several employees have told me they feel uncomfortable going to the HR manager with complaints or concerns, because she’s really good friends with some of the people here and they’re afraid she’ll be biased. What do you think?
We are a small business with a staff of three: myself, my husband and one employee. As a seasonal business, we are sometimes very busy and sometimes have hardly any business at all. Recently, our employee asked to convert from a salary to hourly pay. He made this request during our busy season. My question is: Do we have to pay him during a month when we have no business at all?
We are a 30-agent real estate brokerage company with one administrative assistant, our lone employee. However, her professional abilities have not kept pace with the times. She has no technical skills and can’t keep up with her other tasks. She is 75 years old and we are at a loss regarding how to handle easing her into retirement.
Is after-hours employee fraternization between a co-founder and an intern inappropriate, or am I just being extra cautious?
A client recently threatened to quit working with us after seeing politically-charged posts she deemed offensive on one of my account manager’s social media accounts. I’ve asked the employee not to let this happen again, but he countered that we have no policy in place (which is true), and furthermore, these are his personal accounts and he is entitled to free speech. How can I deal with this situation?
I interviewed a job candidate who was severely overweight and had trouble walking. While the job is mostly a desk job (administrative assistant) the admins are expected to run things back and forth when needed. Could I have asked her about her health? I didn’t. I didn’t offer her the job, either, and now I’m feeling guilty. What should I have done?
We drug test new hires at my company. When a potential employee’s test comes back positive it’s easy enough to rescind the offer, but we had a candidate have a test returned “negative but diluted” and we rescinded the offer. The candidate had already given two weeks’ notice at his current company and they won’t take him back. Did we do the right thing?
I have an employee who hasn’t been performing well. Last week, she was out sick again and I needed a report. I tried to call her, but she didn’t answer. So, I asked IT if I could get the report from her email, and they gave me access to her inbox. I found the report, but curiosity overcame me, and I opened a few other emails. I feel totally guilty — I snooped. Is this legal? Is it moral? What do I do with this information?
My assistant “Jane” has a reduced work week, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. I agreed to this when she was hired. However, two years later, I now need her to work more hours. I don’t need or want to hire an additional person — I just need her to work an 8-hour day. But she doesn’t want to. What can I legally do?
I recently made an offer to a new director of communications for my company. However, I then found out this individual had posted to Facebook asking friends for feedback on two job offers — one for my company and another for a local competitor. I was horrified and I want to remove my offer. Any advice on how to tactfully prevent this from happening in the future?
We have a female employee who reported sexual harassment from a male coworker. The woman didn’t want to come forward, but once the CEO found out, he felt he had an obligation to handle the claim. We currently are without an HR manager. What is the proper way to handle this? Should an investigation be made?
I recently received a promotion, so two months ago I hired “Jane” to assume the role of my former position. Since she’s been here, Jane has constantly undermined me. She has told lies about my character and my productivity to other employees. It is quite obvious that she intends to do whatever she can to show that I am not fit for my new role. What is the best way for me to document her behavior?
Yesterday, I was an individual contributor who did technical work. This morning, a group of my coworkers and I found out that we are now expected to manage about 10 non-exempt staff each. Overnight! There’s no title change, no increase in salary — just added work and stress. We are told we have no choice and have to take on that extra work because the company’s success or failure depends on us. Can they just make us managers without asking? Do we have the right to turn down these positions?
I am an inside sales representative for a medical device company. I work hard to build relationships over the phone to sell and consult on products. When I was hired, the president specifically told me this was not a telemarketing job. Recently, I caught the president introducing our team as “the telemarketers.” Is this a sign I should go back to school asap or find another job?
We service clients who are kids in the foster care system. We really value when our employees that resign give at least a three-weeks’ notice, so they can transition their clients — kids who have already had upheaval in their lives — to their team members before they leave. Is there any meat that we can put on the bones of a policy requiring a three-week notice, with some type of consequence for not providing this notice?
We are reorganizing and will be eliminating one position. We will have to lay this person off, and I have a few questions about how to handle it: Who needs to be in the room when we tell her? How much severance should we offer? What else do I need to do?
Last year, we hired someone to run our small business, and we paid him very well. However, he was always coming in late, taking Fridays off, calling in sick, having car trouble and dentist appointments, etc. He was an exempt employee, so we kept paying him as if he was there all the time. He quit and we don’t want to have the same problems with the new hire.
My boss is a gossiper. I’ve worked at this company for two years.The first year it wasn’t bad, but she gradually started to say negative things to me about my colleague. As I started to hear more, I couldn’t handle it. I told HR the truth and was advised to speak with my boss’s immediate boss. Our team includes only four people, and I feel my boss will know who complained.
I have been in my current job for about one year. I have been working in my industry for eight years and have an MBA. When I applied, the minimum experience was two years. I have more industry experience and more education. How am I not supposed to see this as gender discrimination?
My boss told me she is resigning. She has given a month’s notice, says she is leaving for a position that will help her grow professionally.Will my new boss be as transparent and flexible and interested in developing me professionally as my current boss? What will I do if we don’t work together well?
I was recently let go from a job due to accessing information on our system that I had been taught was allowed. HIPAA guidelines show no issue with getting this information because it was requested. I did break a policy (that I was unaware of), and the company did not wish to discuss the matter further.
I was fired for not meeting 100 percent or higher of my performance goals. I feel these goals are unattainable. People are fired if they are at 99 percent. Is an employer allowed to set those types of goals?
I’m a business owner in California and I’m worried about the impact of the new overtime wage rules in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. How can I best prepare my business for the changes caused by the regulations?
I’m a 27-year-old high school English teacher, but my long-term goal is to open a performing arts school. I’m torn between obtaining an MFA so that I may bring a strong creative background to my future students, and earning a business degree so that I may learn how to run the school. I worry the MBA will be too broad but that the MFA will be less valuable.
I recently developed a sensitivity to fragrances. I get headaches, suffer from vertigo and generally feel awful. My boss allowed me to post signs that say “Fragrance-Free Zone,” but some people persist in wearing fragrances. I’m non-exempt and can’t work from home: Part of my job is to take notes in meetings, and the biggest fragrance offenders are in these meetings. What can I do?
I have an hourly employee who I cannot get to stop working off the clock. I’ve asked him to only work while on the clock, but the problem persists. I think he’s trying to be helpful, but I’m worried about our liability on the matter and am unsure how to address it with my employee.
We are hiring for a new senior marketing position, and I decided to go with CMO for the title to help recruit a rock star from within our industry to potentially serve as my No 2. My director of fundraising, who I personally recruited four years ago, wants her title changed to Chief Advancement Officer for parity. She does good work but in my mind is not C-level material.
I am an exempt employee and have been working at my company for just under three years. I recently had a serious medical issue that required me to terminate a pregnancy for my own health. I’ve now had three doctor visits in comparatively short succession, and my supervisor is asking why. Since this is an incredibly personal matter, I’m wondering how much I am required to disclose?
I work at a marketing company and often work long hours. Sometimes issues come up outside of the office, and I frequently find myself using my cellphone (and personal computer) for work. Am I required to do this and if not, how can I respectfully set limitations?
I’m overseeing the hire of a new leadership position. We want to post the position online, but there are so many options, including up-sells to “featured posting” and the like. How do I write a compelling job description that will attract top-notch potential employees, and how do I best use my dollars — some of these sites are expensive!
I just started a new job where I am an exempt employee. When I started, I was asked to provide a “regular work schedule” that I selected as 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. When I inquired about coming in at 8:30 on Monday and Friday mornings, my employer said they didn’t favor that and as a new employee, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing back. As an exempt employee, what are the rules about standard hours?
I am currently handling a nasty investigation into bullying and harassment at my company. What do I do after the investigation if all parties remain with the company? The relationship has broken down — do we just have to move the employees? I think it’s too late for mediation.
It’s not a party. It’s a meeting with barbecue and beer. Granted, nobody is (hopefully) going to show a Power Point or be called to the carpet for not meeting their Q2 goals, but it’s a meeting. Anytime you are with coworkers, you should consider yourself at work and treat it as such.
I work for a small, established company, and we don’t have policies in place for employee reviews. Actually, we don’t really do reviews at all. I find this odd. Is there a reason a company wouldn’t ask for or provide formal feedback? If I wanted to put a procedure in place for the people I manage in my department, what would I need?
Recently my boss went out of town. Upon her return, she called me and my co-worker into her office to tell us that our HR person emailed her while she was out and said someone in the office complained about us being too loud. Yes, we were joking and laughing, but no one came to me to complain or ask that we lower our voices. Still, my supervisor told me the incident is going on my record. I feel like I’m in kindergarten even asking for advice on this, but can I really be written up for talking loudly?
I am a new hire at a Fortune 100 tech company. It’s a sales position, and just days into the job I landed my first sale — a big one. I am about to close my second sale and was excited until I was told that because my compensation package had not yet been signed and finalized, I would not be receiving nearly $5,000 in commission for these deals. I’m angry, and I don’t know what to do to get paid and make sure this doesn’t happen again.
My supervisor assigned to me major new responsibilities at work. When I asked to discuss my compensation, he said it could only be addressed as part of my annual review. Now, my compensation will be discussed only after HR signs off on the raise he already proposed. How should I proceed if the pay increase feels too low or if back pay isn’t included?
Our small company is considering bringing on two or three summer interns. Half of me thinks this is a great way to get some help with projects, tap into the knowledge of a younger generation and give back to our local students. The other half of me thinks this is going to be a management nightmare that will suck my working hours dry. How can we ensure a successful summer for everyone involved?
I hired a new business development director because she promised she could bring a specific new client on board. It’s been six months, and it’s pretty clear that the client is not happening. She’s done a great job otherwise, but I feel duped. What can I do?
Last year, I paid someone to relocate for a position with our company. I had the person sign a contract requiring repayment if she left before one year. At one year and two weeks, she quit. Now it’s looking like I need to recruit from out of the area again. Are there any tips you can give me for making sure that the person doesn’t run out the door?
“I am an entry-level employee who just graduated from university. I am finding that most of the companies I am applying to rely on automated application systems and even impersonal Skype interviews, making it nearly impossible for me to use my references or get my resume to the top of the pile. What should I know about besting these systems?”
“We have a male employee whose shirt buttons pop open, leaving his skin exposed. We also have a female employee whose tight clothing reveals her undergarments. This is a horribly awkward and uncomfortable situation, but their attire is not appropriate for the office. How should HR address this?”
I know sitting all day is bad for me, even if I’m getting exercise, so I’d like to try a standing desk. Some of my coworkers would, too. How do I approach my boss about potentially making a change to the way his employees do their work? I have the same question for getting new chairs. I know they’re expensive, but many of us are uncomfortable. How can I convince him that it’s a good idea to spend the money?
I manage a group of about 13 people, and we communicate via instant messages. I have one employee who persistently bad-mouthed me in online conversations. I confirmed that he was aware that I could see his messages, and I told him I saw messages that concerned me. Since then, he’s disengaged from his job and is only doing the bare minimum. I feel I should address this with him, but I’m unsure of how to do so.
What items gathered during the recruitment process can I share with others? We require approval from several parties before making an employment offer, and I am concerned that we may be sharing confidential information when “check complete” should be enough.
About 70 percent of my team are introverts, and all of them were here when I came on board as a manager. They won’t come together to solve problems. In fact, one of my employees told me, “I like to figure things out on my own.” It’s like each one of them lives on an island, and it’s too hard to take their boat over to collaborate. Any advice?
I work at a small, privately owned company of 15 people. I am third in the chain of command. My direct boss has just put in his notice, and now I am in the odd position of having to hire myself a new boss. How do I make sure that the boss is the right fit?
I’m an accountant for a small start up in Sacramento — not an HR manager. But, as often happens, HR issues tend to fall on someone, and that someone is me. The current team has been here since the beginning; we started the place. But now we need to hire someone. A stranger. How do I start?