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A Better Partnership


Mar 2000
March 05, 2000

Seven Deadly Sins Often Undertaken by Employers and How to Avoid Them

It seems that employers are subject to more and more legal restrictions and obligations each year. This dilemma is compounded by the changing workforce and recruiting methods employed by companies today, such as the use of temporary agencies. Below is a list of seven common mistakes made by employers when attempting to comply with many of these new obligations. What is clear is that these "Seven Sins" are easily avoided once they are brought to a company's attention.

  1. If an employer utilizes a subcontractor and an employee of the subcontractor is injured, the employer is covered by the subcontractor's workers' compensation insurance — FALSE. In fact, the employer must maintain its own general liability insurance to cover the injury.

  2. If an employer uses a temporary agency to find an employee and then, after a certain trial period, hires the temporary employee, the employer does not count the time the employee worked through the temporary agency toward the employee's FMLA minimum hours/time requirement — FALSE. All time worked by an employee for an employer can be considered when determining the employee's FMLA eligibility, whether or not the employee was paid by a temporary agency.

  3. A company which utilizes a temporary worker is immune from a claim of sexual harassment by the worker — FALSE. The employer can be held responsible for any inappropriate conduct in its workplace. To protect itself, the employer should ensure that all people working in its facility receive a copy of the company's policy against harassment. This policy should contain an avenue for workers to report any alleged wrongful conduct so that the employer can learn of the problematic conduct in a timely fashion and undertake appropriate action. Without such a policy disseminated to all workers, an employer increases its vulnerability to claims of unlawful harassment.

  4. An employer can withhold from an employee's paycheck amounts which the employee owes the employer without the employee's permission — FALSE. An employer must obtain written permission from an employee prior to withholding any amounts owing to the employer from the employee's paycheck.

  5. An employer may discharge an employee whose wages are consistently garnished — FALSE. Michigan law prohibits an employer from discharging or disciplining an employee because the employee's wages are garnished.

  6. An employer can require its employees to keep their wage and salary information confidential — FALSE. Pursuant to Michigan law, it is a misdemeanor for an employer to require its employees to keep their compensation information confidential.

  7. Under the FMLA, employees are entitled to 480 hours' family/medical leave — FALSE. In fact, the FMLA requires employers to grant employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. The allowable leave time is computed by looking at the employee's normal work schedule, which may be more or less than 40 hours a week, as would be the case if the employee works overtime or is a part-time employee. For example, if the employee typically works 30 hours a week and works only 20 hours a week on a reduced leave schedule, the 10 hours of leave each week would be counted as 1/3 of a week of FMLA leave. In total, she would receive 360 hours of leave which, considering her normal 30-hour work schedule, would total 12 weeks of leave.

The above should provide employers with a bit of information with which to make good employment decisions and to avoid the "Seven Sins." 

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Because each business situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

Shoreline Business Monthly

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