HR Base Camp Roundup – January 16th

In this week’s edition of the HR Base Camp roundup, we answer an important question regarding the CROWN Act, which severely limits your ability as an employer to enforce dress code policies regarding an employee’s hairstyle. Also, we discuss how to handle a situation where one employees wants to “donate” their accrued time off to another employee. Read on to learn more!

Here are the HR Q&As from our HR Base Camp Facebook Group and HR Solution Center:

 

I want all of my front desk staff to wear their hair in a sleek ponytail. Is it okay to add this to our dress code policy?

This may seem like a harmless request, but we strongly advise against enforcing this kind of specific hairstyle requirement.

There’s a difference between simply requiring hair to be pulled back and requiring that hair be “sleek” or “smooth.” The truth is, some hair textures and features can make meeting those standards challenging and costly. Once you try to enforce these kinds of specific standards, not only can it make it harder for all employees to comply, but it also opens the door for those who can’t to potentially make a discrimination claim.

There’s no federal law that addresses hairstyles, but it’s still important that you consider whether the policy that you put in place has a legitimate job related health or safety reason. Using the same example as before, requiring employees to have their hair pulled back makes sense from a safety and health perspective – you don’t want hair getting onto work surfaces or in patients’ faces if the employee is treating them up close. But requiring that the updo be “sleek” doesn’t hold up the same way.

And while there’s no federal law, almost half of the country has enacted some version of the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race-related hairstyles. Even more states and cities are expected to pass it in the coming years. If you currently live somewhere where the CROWN Act is already in effect, enforcing a specific kind of hairstyle policy is even riskier.

Keep an eye out for a CEDR blog and an episode of ‘What the Hell Just Happened?!’ about this topic coming very soon!

 

Can employees “donate” accrued time off to other employees?

We get this question often. Typically it’s because there’s an employee struggling with an illness or caring for a loved one and they’ve quickly used up all their time. We love that so many of you have compassionate employees that offer up their own time to provide assistance to another team member.

Allowing employees to donate their time is allowed, but there’s a few things to consider before you make any changes to their time off banks. First, you need to check whether it’s compliant with any state sick leave laws you may be subject to. Some states have restrictions on how sick leave can be used. This step is extremely important, because violating sick leave laws can come with hefty fines.

You also want to make sure that you have a handbook policy that clearly details why and how time off can be shared. If this is an option that you want to offer your employees, we recommend adding the policy to your handbook right away. Ideally, it should be in place before any kind of “donation” happens.

And finally, make sure that any requests to donate time are put in writing by the employee that is giving up their hours. Don’t forget to let your timekeeping company know if you make any changes to your employees’ time off bank!

We recommend talking to an HR Expert if you receive this request from an employee or are considering adding it as a benefit so that they can check the applicable state laws and draft up a compliant policy for you.

 

At CEDR, we help employers protect their businesses and build stronger teams. Because stronger teams build better workplaces, and better workplaces make better lives.

Have an HR question you need to talk through with an HR expert? Reach out to the Solution Center for expert guidance, or get your questions answered in our private, professional Facebook Group, HR Base Camp.

Jan 16, 2023

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.
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