- One of our new employees has unfortunately missed multiple days in the two months that they’ve been here. Is it okay to extend their getting acquainted period?
- Am I required to get a photo release form from my employees if we use their pictures on our website or social media?
- I received a request for reference from a former employee’s new office. Am I required to answer their long list of questions?
One of our new employees has unfortunately missed multiple days in the two months that they’ve been here. Is it okay to extend their getting acquainted period?
Extending the getting acquainted period (GAP), or what many employers mistakenly refer to as a “probationary” period, can be done when you feel the need for more time to truly evaluate a new hire’s performance.
This sometimes arises when the employee has had some initial struggles with the job but you believe they have the ability to improve. In other cases, it’s because you simply didn’t end up with enough time to fully evaluate their work.
Be sure to document your concerns and provide the employee with a clear explanation of why the GAP is being extended. You can do this with a letter communicating your decision. The letter doesn’t need to be a corrective coaching document, it’s just to inform the employee of your concerns and the administrative decision to extend the GAP.
Don’t leave the extension open ended. It’s important to have an end date set so the employee understands that they need to improve by that time. Your handbook should have a policy that explains this and it should also be included in the letter you give the employee.
One last thing to note – extending the GAP doesn’t usually delay the timeline for certain benefits. Many benefits have eligibility criteria that are outside of your control, such as a group health insurance plan or a state law requirement of providing paid sick days. Do not try to touch those legally protected benefits when extending their GAP.
Am I required to get a photo release form from my employees if we use their pictures on our website or social media?
It’s always a good idea to get new employees permission to use their images online or in any marketing materials. The easiest way to do this is to have them sign a multimedia release form as part of their new hire paperwork.
Make sure to include specifics on the form such as the kinds of materials their photo may be used for and for how long. Length of time is especially important if you’re going to continue using their photo even if they no longer work there. As an extra layer of protection, you might want to have local counsel review the form that you use to make sure it’s in line with your state’s privacy laws.
This might not seem like a big deal when it comes to something like a social media post which can easily be deleted, but it could be a huge pain if you have to reprint hundreds of flyers because there’s a photo of an ex-employee on them and you never received permission.
Need a multimedia release form? CEDR members can get one through the Solution Center.
I received a request for reference from a former employee’s new office. Am I required to answer their long list of questions?
You’re actually not required to provide any information to another company about their new employees, whatsoever. This means you can use your own discretion in what you do and don’t answer.
CEDR’s advice, however, is to be consistent each time in only confirming basic factual employment information such as position and dates of employment. That way you’re helping another employer, who would hopefully do the same for you, in checking whether their resume lists accurate information. By limiting what questions you answer, you are being consistent and limiting how much time you spend providing additional information to another employer.
Importantly, you’re also keeping yourself from speaking in a way that may make your former employee believe you’re actively trying to stop them from getting a job, whether by stating something the former employee believes to be untrue (even if it is your own opinion) or by holding something against them in some way where they could claim ongoing retaliation (such as disclosing the employee had a lot of work injuries).
If your former employee really wants you to answer any and all questions, you can ask them to sign a consent form that releases you from liability from speaking openly to their prospective employer. To be extra safe, however, even with a signed consent form in hand, we recommend only disclosing objective performance information related to their former role.
Recruiters and hiring managers trying to gather information can sometimes get pushy or repeat questions, but you can stand firm in that the practice policy is to only release basic simple employment details.
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.