HR Base Camp Roundup – October 12th, 2022

In this week’s edition of the HR Base Camp roundup, we address questions from employers dealing with former employees who seem intent on hanging around the office after they’ve left, how maternity leave actually works, and how much break time nursing employees should be provided when they return to work. (Spoiler – The last question’s answer is our favorite one to give: “It depends”)

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

 

What to do about a former employee that keeps coming to visit the office and is contacting your employees via social media?

Help! A former employee keeps stopping by the office and reaching out to my staff on social media. I’m worried they’re going to try to poach my employees. What can I do?

Sigh. The dreaded “disgruntled ex-employee.” As business owners, we know that this is part of the job and will likely happen at one time or another. There’s a broad range of actions that a disgruntled ex-employee can take against a business. Luckily, this is on the mild end of that range.

In terms of contact via social media, there’s not much you can do. If your employees feel that this former staff member is bothering them, they can unfriend or block them on their own accord, but there’s nothing you can do to require that or enforce it.

When it comes to this individual showing up to your office, you’ve got a little more power. Let them know that those on the property should be clients/patients or employees, and inform the rest of the staff that they should let you know if the issue persists. It’s likely that this will pass quickly.

In most of these cases, emotions are high and the ex-employee is upset. Once that feeling subsides, they typically  move on. If  things escalate to a level that qualifies as harassment or trespassing, you can consider contacting legal counsel.

 

Maternity Leave is an area of employment law that has serious repercussions if not handled correctly. Where do you even start?

I’m a new office manager, and I just had my first pregnant employee ask about maternity leave. What requirements do I have to follow? I don’t even know where to start.

We hear you. Managing maternity leave can be overwhelming. There’s a ton of paperwork and things can change in an instant. But as long as you have a solid understanding of what you’re required to provide in your state and you document things thoroughly from the start, you’ll be in good shape.

On a federal level, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act kicks in at 15+ employees. If this applies to you, your employee is entitled to reasonable accommodations, such as leave of absence for pregnancy related conditions. If you have 50 or more employees, you’ll need to follow all FMLA regulations. Keep these laws in mind in case she needs to start maternity leave early due to complications or doctor’s orders.

Where it gets a little trickier is state leave and pregnancy laws.  An increasing number of states offer expanded protections. This can include providing work accommodations even without a doctor’s note, job protection, lengthy amounts of protected time off, and more.  Double check what your requirements your state has!

The best place to start is to review your current leave of absence policy, which should indicate eligibility, length of leave, and other important details. Ideally, your policy should also include any relevant state laws (if applicable). If it doesn’t, it’s a good idea to talk to an HR expert about updating your handbook to make sure it’s compliant.

 

Speaking of maternity leave, how much break time are nursing employees entitled to when they come back to work?

I have several employees that are nursing mothers. How do I determine if they’re taking too many breaks or breaks that are too long?

It’s impossible to give an exact answer to this because the fact is that the law doesn’t actually specify what is considered “too long” or how many breaks is too many. What we can do is offer some guidance as to the best approach to make sure your employees’ needs are being met, you’re compliant, and your business isn’t losing valuable time.

As with most things, communication is key. Discuss each employee’s needs with them directly. Having specifics from each employee regarding the length and frequency of breaks that they anticipate they’ll need will help immensely in being able to plan the workday and maintain productivity. Remember that federal law requires that employers provide reasonable break times (and some states have their own requirements on top of this), and “reasonable” may vary slightly from employee to employee. Of course, keeping your business operational is important. If an employee requests a thirty minute break every hour, then there’s a problem.

Remember there’s also requirements for the space you provide the employees for their nursing break and how they’re compensated for that time. The more knowledge you have about these laws, the better you can communicate with your employees.
 
 
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.

Oct 12, 2022

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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