March 2023 TogetHR Times

Drinking on the Job- What to Do

When an employer suspects a worker has been drinking on the job or is intoxicated at work, it should respond to ensure the safety of the employee, their co-workers and customers. That response may entail doing a quick investigation and having a conversation with the employee, along with possibly sending them for breath alcohol testing and escorting them home.

Discipline can range from a final written warning to suspension without pay to immediate termination.

Confirm first, that the employee has been drinking.  Is the suspicion based on rumor? Is it based on the employee’s attendance after a long weekend?  Is it based on observations by others, such as a co-worker seeing an employee drinking in a car, on break or at lunch?  Is it because of the smell of alcohol on or around the employee?  Or is the employee slurring words, having difficulty with motor skills or falling asleep at work?

The matter can be investigated in several ways, such as:

  • Interviewing witnesses.
  • Reviewing attendance logs.
  • Reviewing videotape.
  • Searching the employee’s desk, locker or workspace, if a company policy or handbook allows the employer to do so.
  • Meeting with the employee.

Employers might consider directly asking if the employee has been drinking. This should be done with a witness present.  Employees suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work will usually deny it. 

Documentation of the employee’s behavior might include:

  • Appearance, such as being disheveled or flushed, having tremors or sweating profusely.
  • Slurred or incoherent speech.
  • Impaired motor skills, such as unsteadiness, staggering or lack of coordination.
  • Other behaviors, such as vomiting or being agitated, paranoid, withdrawn, or verbally or physically abusive.

Employers should also record the date, time, employee location and any witnesses.

If the employee claims to have an addiction to alcohol, a common response among employers is to provide both a leave of absence to attend a treatment program and a last-chance agreement. Such an agreement allows the employee to address the underlying problem while making it clear that drinking on the job is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.

If the employee claims to be  addicted to alcohol and immediately enters treatment, the employer may still discipline the employee for violating company policy. The employee is being disciplined for their job performance or behavior, not their disability. If the employee’s behavior due to drinking on the job was egregious, particularly if it put the employee or others in harm’s way, immediate termination may be appropriate.

If the employer has a reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing policy, the employee generally may be sent for testing, noting that testing for alcohol is governed by applicable local and federal laws, in addition to state laws. For example, sending the worker for reasonable suspicion breath alcohol testing is required by federal law for employees regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If you do not have a policy for drug and alcohol testing, escort the impaired employee home. If the employer doesn’t exercise care in sending the employee home, the employer may be liable for harm caused by the employee after they leave work. An employer also could be liable for an employee’s misuse of alcohol in the workplace if personal injury or property damage results from that misuse. If the employer knows or should have known about the alcohol misuse, it should take timely and effective steps to address it.

If this occurs in your workplace, how will you handle? TogetHR Consulting is available to assist.

The full article is available from SHRM:  Drinking at Work


Managers Have Bigger Impact on Employee Mental Health than Therapists

A new report by the Workforce Institute at UKG found that managers have a greater influence on employee mental health than therapists or doctors, and an equal influence to spouses and partners. That may be surprising until you consider that 60 percent of the employees surveyed said their job was the most significant factor in their mental health. The survey included 2,200 employees and 1,200 leaders in 10 countries.

Other striking employee responses:

  • One in three said their manager fails to recognize the impact they have on their team’s mental well-being.
  • Nearly three in four said stress from work negatively impacts their home life.
  • Two-thirds would take a pay cut for a job that better supports their mental wellness.
  • A majority (70 percent) want their company to do more to support mental health.

Leaders and workers have quite different mental health experiences: Nine in 10 human resource and C-suite leaders surveyed said that working for their company had a positive impact on employee mental health, while only half of employees agreed.

One in five employees responding to the survey said the impact on their mental health from their job was negative. Heavy workloads and exhaustion at the end of the day were common problems cited. Yet, more than one-third of employees rarely or never talked to their managers about it.

Today, managers often are encouraged to share their challenges and strategies for coping with stress to model work/life balance for their team. By being open about stress, managers send the message that employees can talk about their problems without stigma.

Managers shouldn’t force a discussion. Instead, they should try to earn employees’ trust and let them know they have a safe space to share.

The majority of employees (81 percent) sent a strong message through The Workplace Institute at UKG survey that their mental health was a higher priority at work than their salary.

See the full report:  Mental Health at Work

Can managers change employee timesheets?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must keep certain records for nonexempt employees, including hours worked each day and total hours worked each workweek. Employers may use any time-keeping method they choose, including written time sheets, time clocks or automated time-keeping systems. Employers may allow supervisors to keep track of their employees’ work hours, have employees track their own time or permit a combination of the two. Under the FLSA, however, employers—not the employees—have the ultimate responsibility to maintain these records. For this reason, employers have the ability to change employee time records but must ensure that the records accurately reflect the time actually worked.

There are only certain times when employers should change employee time records. For example, if an employee forgets to record his or her start time on a time sheet or forgets to punch in on a time clock, an employer may enter the employee’s time on either record to ensure that the employee is paid correctly. Another example is when an employee is out sick. The employer may change the time record to reflect a paid sick day instead of time worked. However, an employer may not change a time record to show a number of hours that is fewer than what was actually worked. For example, an employer may not change an employee’s time record from 48 hours to 40 hours in a workweek in order to avoid overtime payment, even if an employee were to consent to the change.

A common lawsuit filed is one in which an employee claims that the employer has not paid him or her for all hours worked or for owed overtime. Employers found liable may be required to pay damages, including back pay, attorney fees, and civil or criminal penalties under both federal and state laws. Employers may also be held personally liable under the FLSA. The FLSA defines an employer as “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.”

Measures to minimize time record changes include the following:

  • Require all employees to record and maintain their own time records.
  • Have supervisors record or closely monitor their subordinates’ hours worked.
  • Hold employees accountable for following time-keeping policies and procedures.
  • Develop policies prohibiting off-the-clock work.
  • Ensure that employees are relieved of all duties during unpaid meal periods.
  • Have employees sign and date their own time records.
  • Require employees and managers to acknowledge when changes are made to a time record.

When time records are changed, an employer may want to keep the original record and create a new record, or it may want to cross out the error on the original time record, make the correction, and have both the manager and employee sign and date the change. Documentation should be established to note the reason for any modifications. Automated time-keeping systems typically have features to record a history of changes and who made them and may also be set up to obtain the acknowledgment of both the employee and the employer when changes occur.

To minimize liability, time-keeping records should be maintained in such a way that a third party, such as an auditor from the Department of Labor, can tell that the records, including any changes, are genuine and reflect the time actually worked.

Read the full article here: TIMESHEETS

Must we pay an employee who is suspended?

Federal and state wage and hour laws will determine when employee suspensions must be paid, with the key component being the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) classification of the position as exempt or nonexempt. Collective bargaining agreements as well as employer policy and practice may also guide an employer that wishes to suspend an employee without pay.

Under the federal FLSA, major differences exist between the exempt and nonexempt classifications when it comes to an employer’s ability to implement unpaid suspensions.

The FLSA generally requires nonexempt employees to be paid only for time actually worked and places no restrictions on an employer’s ability to schedule or not schedule an employee for work. One exception to that rule might be found in salaried nonexempt employees. The DOL’s Field Operations Handbook, §32b04b(b), states that salaried nonexempt employees must be paid their full salary, “regardless how few the scheduled hours may be in a particular week, even though occasional disciplinary deductions for willful absence or tardiness are made. Disciplinary deductions, of course, may not cut into the minimum wage or overtime pay required by the act.” Given this regulation, it is advised that before suspending a salaried nonexempt employee without pay, an employer consult with its attorney for an interpretation of how the regulation applies to the specific scenario.

For exempt employees, the FLSA requires those exemptions subject to the salary basis regulation 541.602 to be paid their weekly salary, with few exceptions. In terms of unpaid suspensions, the regulation states that an employer may dock an exempt employee’s pay under the following conditions:    An employer may impose in good faith an unpaid suspension for infractions of workplace conduct rules, such as rules prohibiting sexual harassment, workplace violence or drug or alcohol use or for violations of state or Federal laws. This provision refers to serious misconduct, not performance or attendance issues. The suspension must be imposed pursuant to a written policy applicable to all employees.

Deductions from the pay of an exempt employee may be made for suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for disciplinary reasons for infractions of workplace conduct rules. Such disciplinary deductions may only be made in full day increments. 

Although many state laws will follow the federal law on the issue of unpaid suspensions, employers need to review each state in which they have employees to determine compliance.

Finally, the employer must review collective bargaining agreements for any further restrictions and must carry out company policies on unpaid suspensions consistently to avoid any unlawful discrimination issues.

Read the full article here: PAY AND SUSPENSION


Remote Work After COVID

While COVID has calmed down in a lot of ways, the impacts of the pandemic continue to ripple into the workplace. Many businesses have found that remote work is possible to be productive and necessary for employee retention. While there are many pros and cons to remote work, one side effect of it is a lack of employee connection and engagement. Many business are having to build new skills as to how to engage with their employees in a proactive way. Instead of reacting later to employee complaints, do what you can to engage with your employees now. One way to do so is to conduct regular check in’s with each employee. Such team meetings are fine but let’s be honest, it is way to easy to check out once your camera is off. The power of seeing each employee individually has a massive positive impact on employee engagement. Do what you can to engage each employee today!

Do you have a remote work policy or a telecommuting policy? Are you considering remote work?  If so, ask yourself, these questions:

  1. What do your employee want?  Would working remotely lead to better moral? Better productivity? (which studies support)
  2. What’s the purpose of your office? Do you have customers/clients that come to your office? Do you need a meeting space?
  3. Have you clearly defined roles and responsibilities? What positions are able to operate remotely? Could they operate remotely part of the workweek?

Thinking about remote work? Have your employees asked for it? TogetHR Consulting can assist with a policy and implementation.


Payroll Solutions- Our Partner

TogetHR Consulting is proud to announce our Gusto Partnership as Certified Payroll Specialists.

Gusto is the #1 rated HR platform for payroll, benefits and more offering 25% off Plus Plan through April 30, 2023.

✓ Unlimited monthly payrolls. Pay your team every week, or use different pay schedules for different employees – with no extra charge
✓ Track time, in no time. PTO reporting and time-off requests integrated with payroll
✓ Workers’ comp with no lump sums. Set up your workers’ comp policy online, then pay as you go instead of all at once
✓ So much more than payroll. Support your team with health insurance, 401(k), workers’ comp, an employee dashboard, plus powerful integrations – all in one place

✓ Free administration. Benefits administration and compliance support included with Gusto, with no hidden fees
✓ Cashout is a free way for employees to cover unexpected expenses between paydays. Gusto handles the Cashout, you run payroll as usual.  “The Cashout program is issued by Sunrise Banks, N.A., Member FDIC.’
✓ Less paperwork, more time. Employees set up their benefits on a paperless online platform, synced automatically with payroll
✓ Keep the plan you like. Gusto will move your current plan over without any interruption in coverage or increase in premiums

✓ Team surveys. Send and review anonymous surveys to get feedback from your team
✓ Friendly customer support. Gusto support specialists are available by phone, chat, or email
✓ Stay on top of changing laws . Gusto & TogetHR sends alerts about new HR regulations to help protect your business
✓ Employee handbook. Work with TogetHR’s HR Associates to build an employee handbook to keep all of your policies in one place and the business on track

Contact TogetHR Consulting for more details!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call Now Button