HR Base Camp Roundup – August 17th, 2022

This week’s HR Base Camp Roundup focuses on two issues that cause grief for employers on a regular basis while highlighting how support from HR experts can give you peace of mind when it comes time to make a difficult employment decision.

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

  1. Should you or are you required to pay for your employees’ Continuing Education?
  2. Should you give an employee a copy of their disciplinary documents if they request them?

Click here to register for our live presentation of "Termination: Firing Without Fear" on August 31 at 11 AM PDT.

Should you or are you required to pay for your employees’ Continuing Education?

I’m looking to hire a new employee and they asked me about my policy on paying for employee CE. I normally don’t pay for employee CE but it sounds important to this potential new employee. What is the best way to handle this?

Many individuals working in healthcare fields have annual continuing education (CE) requirements they need to meet in order to maintain certain licenses. Meeting that requirement is an obligation on the individual, not on the practice. Of course, you should keep track of whether your employees have a valid license and are meeting the requirements for renewing it, otherwise it does become a problem for the practice. 

While you may not be required to help pay for the cost of license renewals or CEs taken specifically for an employee’s license, offering that type of a benefit is becoming more and more common and is definitely something people look for when considering accepting a job offer. 

In general, when looking to provide CE benefits to employees, we recommend offering them as a reimbursement option. And, if you want to offer this type of benefit, there are a few things to consider:

  • Which employee positions qualify for the benefit? Will it be available to any license holders, or only certain positions? 
  • When are employees eligible for this benefit? Once they’ve been with you for 90 days? Six months? One year? 
  • What does the benefit cover? The cost of CEs needed for the license, the cost of license renewal, or both? 
  • What is the monetary value of the benefit? We commonly see this as a set maximum amount per year. Some employers have different amounts for different positions based on the expected total cost of their CE. Other employers have the maximum amount increase over time. 
  • When are reimbursements paid? Upon presentation of a receipt for the course? Or at set intervals, such as having a six month look-back period? This would mean they’re able to submit reimbursement requests at set intervals, which can help prevent you from paying for a CE course only to have that employee quit the next day. 

Once you have determined all of the above criteria, we advise putting that information in your handbook so employees are aware of the policy. We also recommend listing this as a benefit when posting a job ad, as some job seekers will be looking for that in their next employer. 

If this is not a benefit you offer but is something a specific applicant is asking for, you could agree to give them some type of a benefit to help get them to come work for you. But there are two things to keep in mind in this scenario: 

  • First, make sure you clearly document what you are agreeing to pay for and provide that documentation to the employee. 
  • Second, consider the impact it would have on other employees if they find out you are paying for a new hire’s CE but not for theirs. 

As a general rule of thumb, employers are not required to pay for the CE that employees have to take in order to maintain a license so long as those courses are taken on a completely voluntary basis. In this case, “voluntary” means that the decision about which courses to take and when to take them are left completely up to the employee.

All that being said, the rules do change if you get yourself involved with choosing (or strongly suggesting) what courses an employee takes. At that point you get into the territory of an employee taking a specific course for work-related reasons rather than simply to maintain their license. When that happens, it doesn’t matter how generous your CE reimbursement may be, you will need to follow state and federal law around paying for expenses and employee time – including overtime. 

You can read more about employer obligations related to travel and training pay here.

You will also find a video explanation of this topic by CEDR CEO and Founder Paul Edwards in our private, professional Facebook Group here.

Not a CEDR Member? Get additional guidance and updates in our private Facebook Group. Click to join!

Should you give an employee a copy of their disciplinary documents if they request them?

I had a tough coaching conversation with an employee yesterday and documented it as a formal write-up. Should I be giving the employee a copy of the write-up?  

Here’s an easy way to think about this: If you give someone a verbal warning, it’s verbal so you aren’t giving them anything in writing. You will want to document it by putting notes in their file, but you are not giving them something in writing about it.

If you are giving someone a write-up, then you should be giving them that write-up. The focus of this corrective action should be the same as it is with a verbal warning – it should cover the coaching conversation you are having with them to help them understand what issue is being addressed and why. The difference from a verbal warning is that you are giving the employee something about it in writing

When the employee leaves this coaching meeting with you, they should have a copy of the write-up so that they read it. They’re typically going to be able to focus better on reading it if they aren’t sitting in the room with you watching them. So, they should be given a deadline for reviewing it and signing an acknowledgement that they have done so. 

When well-supported and written properly, a copy of a corrective action given to an employee can be very helpful even after an employee leaves as it can demonstrate a few things that support your employment decisions, including: 

  • That the employee had behavioral or performance issues that needed to be addressed;
  • That the employee is aware of your expectations for them;
  • That you made an effort to point out an issue to an employee and help them correct it.

Even after signing and returning that document, your employee should be given a copy of it to keep. A good rule of thumb is that, anytime you ask an employee to sign something, they should get a copy of it. Similarly to giving an employee a copy of your Employee Handbook, it’s much easier to hold them to expectations set out in a document if they actually have a copy of it to reference. 

Our HR Vault software comes in handy when it comes to sharing documents with employees. With HR Vault, you can digitally store employee documents like write-ups and reviews and share them directly with employees with a few clicks. The employee can then choose to print or save the document for their own records without having to come to you directly to request a copy of that document.

You can learn more about HR Vault and get free access to that software here. 
Get your free corrective action form from the HR experts at CEDR. Click to download!

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.

Aug 16, 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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