HR Base Camp Roundup – September 28th, 2022

We’ve had lots of great questions come in this past week for our HR Base Camp Roundup! Remember: When it comes to your obligations as an employer, it’s not enough to simply be aware of various rules and regulations, you also have to know which ones apply to your specific business. Read on to learn how to make sure you’re asking the right questions when it comes to supporting your employees!

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

 

Is it a good idea to provide a monthly stipend to part-time employees who don’t qualify for your business’ health insurance plan?

Several of my part-time employees have approached me about using the practice’s health insurance benefits instead of the plan they’re on now. Can I offer them a monthly stipend instead?

We’ll start with a disclaimer: health benefit rules and policies are not one size fits all. They vary from employer to employer and are fully dependent on the plan you have with your provider. This brings us to our first point: you need to make sure that the employees are eligible for benefits. Sometimes, the eligibility standards that you set as the business owner for benefits like PTO and holiday pay are different from the standards your provider has set for health insurance benefits. Even if you decided you wanted to offer your health insurance benefit to your part-time employees, it doesn’t mean that you actually can, because part-time employees are typically not eligible for standard health insurance benefits. And even if they were eligible, you also need to consider when these employees are asking to start using these benefits. If it’s outside of the open enrollment period, there needs to be a qualifying event for the employee to enroll. We advise any employer in this kind of situation to double check both of these things before telling employees that they’re eligible for benefits.

Now, onto your  question. Monthly stipends seem like an easy solution to support employees in some capacity when they don’t qualify for insurance.. However, they generally have more drawbacks than benefits, particularly because you cannot require employees to provide proof of insurance unless you set up a health reimbursement arrangement.  It’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of a stipend  vs. other alternative health insurance options before committing to providing anything to employees. You may find that there’s another benefit that is a better fit for your practice.

 

What to do when a employee goes AWOL due to a family medical emergency?

One of my employees has been out for over a week because of a family medical emergency. She’s not answering our calls and we don’t know when she’s coming back. She’s not a great asset to the team, and her lack of communication makes me hesitant to keep her on, but I have to hold her position for her under FMLA, right?

Not so fast! As HR Advisors, we hear employers bring up FMLA a lot. Sometimes it’s because their employee asked them about it, sometimes it’s because a colleague of theirs mentioned that they had to provide it to an employee, and other times, like here, it’s to be proactive when making decisions about employee leave. But there’s one very important detail that needs to be addressed before you should even take FMLA into consideration: do you have 50 or more employees? If not, then FMLA doesn’t apply. Simple as that.

And even if you’re in a state that offers some kind of protected leave for family illnesses, the employee isn’t able to simply disappear whenever they want. There are still requirements for requesting time off and communicating how long they anticipate needing to be out from work. Since the employee isn’t communicating with you, this employee’s absences likely aren’t excused and you can follow your standard handbook policy to address them. In a case like this, we still recommend attempting to contact the employee one more time and giving her a firm return date. If she still isn’t communicating after that, you can move forward with discipline, termination, or job abandonment per your handbook policies.

 

Things to consider when installing security cameras at your business.

I want to install cameras in my office. Do I have to notify my employees and patients that they’re there? Can I put them in any public areas?

Before installing any kind of surveillance, always check state laws. Whether or not you have to notify everyone being recorded depends on your state. While most states only require one party consent for video or  audio recording, there are a handful that require consent from both parties. That said, we recommend having a notice that informs patients and anyone who enters the office that they’re being recorded, even if it’s not required. Don’t forget to create a surveillance policy for employees and add it to your employee handbook so that they’re aware of the changes. Remember, your video recording should never record sound as well as you could risk violating wiretapping laws.

You can generally put cameras in any “public” area, but keep in mind that there can’t be cameras in any place where a reasonable right to privacy is expected. This includes clinical rooms and locker rooms. For those reading that work in a healthcare practice, you’ve got one more major detail to consider – HIPAA.  If there’s even a chance that you might capture PHI on your cameras (or on audio during a recorded phone call), you have to make sure your recording devices are HIPAA compliant.

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.

Sep 28, 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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