FAQ

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of HaleHR online answers some of the most commonly asked questions I receive. Please check this section if you have questions about me, my services, or the HR profession. Let me hear from you to answer any other questions you may have.

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Do you work at the client’s office? Would I need to have an office where you would work?

We would determine what best meets your needs when we do our initial consultation. I do work at clients’ offices, depending on the projects and whether my presence is needed on a regular basis. In situations where I’m working regularly with the client and their staff, offices have been provided for me where I can access files and/or meet with staff. I’ve also used clients’ conference rooms for meetings with clients and staff, or for trainings. I do a substantial amount of work from my office and am easily accessible by phone, text and email. Teleconferencing can also be arranged. I am happy to travel to clients’ offices locally, regionally and I have traveled internationally to work with clients.

How do you keep up with industry standards?

I have professional certifications in Human Resources through the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) and the Society of Human Resources Professionals (SHRM). I first earned my Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification in 2009 and went on to earn my Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification in 2011 from HRCI. I just recently earned my Senior Professional Certification (SPC) certification in 2015 from SHRM. I regularly attend seminars, webinars and conferences. I recently attended the 2015 Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC) 26th Annual Employment Law Update Conference, and the 2015 Labor & Employment Seminar by Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP Attorneys & Counselors at Law. Of course, if there’s something I come across that I don’t know about, I’m comfortable letting a client know that I need to get some additional information and pride myself in quick response. I’m happy to provide copies of my certifications.

Do you have a consulting agreement form or would our company have to provide one?

Most of my clients appreciate my drafting the consulting agreement after we’ve defined the scope of work and type of HR services they would like me to provide. I have incorporated standard language their company (or attorneys) prefer, so that it’s a collaboration between both entities.

I have an employee who is missing a lot of work to care for a relative. It’s affecting the morale of other employees and I’m not sure what I should be doing or saying to the employee and to my staff.

Absenteeism and tardiness is one of the biggest causes of poor morale for employees. It puts extra stress on staff to cover the absent employee’s work and schedule. It impacts your company’s customer care and service too! If clear expectations or policies are not explained or in place, employees interpret this behavior as acceptable by the boss, so it’s very important to take action right away. If you don’t have an Attendance Policy, I can help you develop one and work with you on how to communicate this to your employees. Having a Progressive Disciplinary Policy will also be helpful. We will want to look at the size of your organization too, as you may need to follow the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides leave for an employee to care for an immediate family member for serious health conditions.

Can I tell new employees they’ll have a 90-day probationary period?

It depends on where your business is located and your local and state laws. Colorado, for example, is an at-will state for employment – so you would not want to structure a probationary period. However, you can implement an introductory period, which will be part of their orientation.

When I hire employees, I ask them for a copy of their resume, but I haven’t had them fill out an application. Should I be using an application?

Yes, you definitely want to have applicants complete a formal application form. It serves as a legal document with their signature, affirming that the information they’ve provided is true. Most applications also provide the applicant’s approval for the prospective employer to conduct background checks, including criminal background checks and reference checks. Having both documents, the application and resume, for comparison is important. Important to remember – the resume tells the employer only what the applicant wants the employer to know; whereas the application tells the employer what the employer needs and wants to know. I can help you develop your company’s application form and, if you do a lot of hiring, an applicant tracking system.

I have had several really good employees move out-of-state recently. I’ve accepted their resignations, but I’ve offered them work on a contract basis as independent contractors. They’ve been really happy to continue working for me as contractors. Is there anything I should be doing or not doing, other than having them provide an invoice each month?

Yes! You (and they) may be violating IRS rules regarding independent contractors. One thing to consider when hiring an independent contractor – are they doing similar work for other clients? Could they provide you with written confirmation that they are? The IRS has 20 items on their checklist for independent contractors and I would be happy to review this with you. This is a HUGE area for investigations of late!

I will have to terminate an employee and they owe the company for some training that was provided to them last month. Can I deduct this from their final pay?

It depends. Do you have their written permission to deduct this training amount from their final pay? And, if so, is it based on voluntary or involuntary termination? Is the termination due to poor performance or other reasons, like reduction in force, grant funding ends, etc? I’d be happy to discuss this with you and provide my recommendations, based on these additional details. It’s important to have a standard document in place that all employees sign when hired that gives you permission to deduct trainings or other amounts owed to the company (besides the regular deductions for health and welfare benefits) from their paychecks. Other circumstances may determine a ‘best practice’ of not deducting, but consistency is important.

Can I pay an exempt employee by the hour? I would like to dock an employee who is taking long lunches and leaves early when I’m not in the office?

There are Federal laws that guide employers on how exempt and non-exempt employees are paid. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers [All] employers – no exception to the size of the company. An exempt employee has to qualify for the exempt status by meeting requirements for Professional, Administrative, or XXX exemption to over-time. Once classified, they are to be paid for the job they do, not by the hour. You can, however, give specific expectations to the employee that their work schedule is to be a 40 hour week: 8-5, Mon-Fri, as an example. If they take off for doctor appointments, or take long lunches, or come in late or leave early, a discussion should take place to let them know that they need to comply with your company’s work schedule. The only times exempt staff pay can be adjusted to an hourly basis, is during their initial and terminal weeks of employment, and during intermittent Family Medical Leave (FMLA). I can help you script the discussion and review the law and new updates.

We don’t have a Strategic Plan for our company. Is this something that you can help us with?

Yes, I can help you develop your Strategic Plan. We’d start by developing tactical goals and action plans designed to meet the needs of your organization. For HR, the strategic planning process result is known as a Human Capital Management plan (HCMP). Also known as a strategic HR plan, an HCMP answers the same four questions addressed during a strategic planning process:

Where are we now?
Where do we want to be?
How will we get there?
How will we know when we arrive?

HCMP must align with the corporate strategy. It creates a competitive advantage for the organization. I’ll be happy to discuss an HR Audit and how this would support the Strategic Plan and its development.

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