HR Base Camp Roundup – July 27th, 2022

This week’s Roundup of questions from the HR Base Camp Facebook Group and HR Solution Center cover some “common-sense” HR concepts that aren’t quite as cut-and-dried as they might seem.

Here are our top Q&As from the last week:

  1. Can you revoke approval for time off if you’ve already said you would allow it?
  2. Can you deduct the cost of broken equipment from an employee’s pay?

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Can you revoke approval for time off if you’ve already said you would allow it?

I have an employee who is great in their role but is out sick a lot. The team is starting to get frustrated with how often she is absent. She has two days scheduled off for personal time this coming week and I’ve already approved the time, but I was wondering: Can I require her to come in since she was out sick again this week? Can I deny future requests for time off due to her frequent absences?

We don’t want to mince words here – revoking time off or reducing an employee’s hours because she’s been sick lately is a sure fire way to get a retaliation claim. 

This essentially equates to punishing the employee for being ill, which is a risk for any employer, but exponentially worse if you’re in a state with protected sick leave and/or protected COVID leave. 

So, your first step is understanding any limitations placed on you by state and local sick leave laws and any other governing body, and then working within that framework to address the issue. This is one more area where our Solution Center experts shine.

Has the employee already used up all of their available time off? If they eventually do exhaust all applicable sick pay/COVID pay and other time-off benefits offered to them and still continue to miss work, then you can address the attendance issue via corrective coaching.

You can ask for a doctor’s note when they’re out sick, too. You just want to make sure you’re holding all employees to the same standard when it comes to requiring a doctor’s note for being out sick. Otherwise, until this employee has used up all of the time-off benefits available to them, the benefits you provide are theirs to use, and taking adverse action for using that time can potentially hurt you in the long run.

This is why it’s so important to have a trusted HR service that can provide detailed guidance in these situations. You really want to make sure you’re compliant before making any decisions about benefits or reducing hours. 

If this came through the Solution Center, our advisors would analyze this specific employee’s situation, the circumstances at your business, and verify what and how state laws apply before issuing customized guidance on how to proceed.

If you’re a CEDR Member and are dealing with this or any other employee-related issue, you can submit a support request via your Member’s Area here.

If you’re not a member yet, you can learn more about CEDR’s world-class HR support here.

Click here to download a free absence request form you can use for your business.

Can you deduct the cost of broken equipment from an employee’s pay?

Can I put something in my handbook about employees needing to pay for the cost of replacing equipment that they break? 

We feel your pain. CEDR is no stranger to the loss of expensive equipment due to employee damage. We’ve had dogs eat tech gear, coffee spilled on computers, and numerous other kinds of costly employee whoopsies to address in-house, so we know it’s no pleasure cruise when an employee sends a piece of equipment to its doom.

That said, there’s not much we can do to assist directly when it comes to addressing the financial loss from employee carelessness/negligence through the handbook or otherwise, because the law does not permit employers to make employees pay for those losses. But, you also aren’t required to continue employing individuals who are careless with your expensive equipment.  

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employers pay for the expense of equipment and other items that are to the primary benefit of the employer. Most state laws do not allow deductions from pay for breakage to property. It’s considered an employer expense, and the cost of doing business. Accepting funds from the employee for the lost equipment would be seen in the eyes of the law as no different from taking the funds directly from their paycheck. 

A few states allow for pay deductions for extreme circumstances of an employee intentionally or maliciously causing damage, but that situation is a rarity and you’d better be able to prove it without question.

But you can take regular employment action around someone breaking your expensive equipment, in the form of a write up, suspension, or termination. 


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.
Find a list of common illegal handbook policies in our Free Employee Handbook Guide. Click to download.

Jul 26, 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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