It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. How can I ensure I get paid for my notice period?
I’m considering another opportunity and may be handing my notice in by the end of the week. I was planning on giving 2 weeks notice. However, I could be moving to a major competitor, so I’m not sure if they will want me around the office for the next 2 weeks. In the event they send me home, how do I make sure they pay me for my notice period? I’m worried as I’m employed on an “at-will” contract, they will turn around and say “you’re leaving today, effective immediately” and I won’t get pay or benefits for those weeks. Can they legally do that?
Yes. And some companies do that — although not the smart ones, because doing that only ensures that other employees won’t give any notice when they resign in the future, because they’ll see how people have been treated.
Your best bet is to look at what your company’s history has been. Do they typically push people out early when they give notice? And if they do, do they pay out their notice period anyway? (Some companies will have you leave immediately but still pay you for that time.) Let your company’s history be your guide here — and be prepared for the possibility that might indeed have you leave immediately.
2. Coworker sent me an adult photo at work
I have been flirting with a coworker and today he decided to send me a photo using our work accounts. The email had no subject and no text, just a photo attached. When I opened the email and saw there was just a photo attached, I asked him what it was. That’s when he told me it was a sexual photo. I did not open the attachment. Instead, I just deleted it from both my received files and my trash, but now I’m scared I could get fired even if I didnt open it. Please advise.
Unlikely. But you should clearly tell your coworker not to send you adult photos at work (or, if you prefer, at all). Also, what kind of dude thinks that using work email for this type of thing is smart? Flirt with a different guy (preferably not a coworker).
3. What questions can I ask a disabled job applicant?
I’m going to be on the second round of interviews for a person who is being considered for a job that requires considerable keyboard work.
He passed the first round of technical screening with no problems. The question I want your help on comes from the fact that he has a visible
disability – his arms are held at unusual angles and have limited mobility.
I would like to know if it’s OK to ask a question like “If you come to work here, what accommodations would you need to do the keyboarding
part of this job?” in an interview. Or do we need to wait until after offer/acceptance to discuss accommodations? When I call his
references can I ask them what accommodations were made for him at his previous job (where he also did some keyboard work)? Can I ask if his lack of arm mobility affected his job performance?
You can’t ask any of that. Employers can’t ask about disabilities at all pre-offer. You can, however, ask about a candidate’s ability to perform specific functions of the job — in other words, you can ask, “Would you be able to do this type of keyboard work?” but not “What accommodations would you need to do this type of keyboard work?” And you shouldn’t be asking his references those questions either. All discussion about what accommodations he’d need should take place post-offer, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
But also, when you’re dealing with a complicated law like the ADA, don’t rely on an advice columnist; talk to a lawyer who specializes in employment law, who can talk to you about the specific nuances of your situation and ensure that you’re following the law. (I don’t mean that to sound chastising — but it’s important.)
4. Can my friend be fired for this?
Now that I am an “HR Professional” all of my friends, family and friends of friends come running to me with advise. Some things I am cool answering, some stuff not. This is one of those occations.
A friend works for a bank. They have a policy stating that a teller can be off balance X times per calendar year before being fired. There is a handbook stating the progressive discipline practices of the bank. My friend got fired today, and the reason was that she was off balance. However, she was not off as many times as the policy states that you can be off before getting fired. When she asked about it, they stated it was a new policy effective January 1, 2013 and they were retroactively firing her (gotta love 23-year-old supervisors who still live at home, bah). There were no notificatrions via email, snail mail or bulliten boards letting employee know of the policy change.
Of course they offered her 1 week severance, vacation payout and that they wouldn’t fight her unemployment claim as long as she agreed to sign the “I won’t sue you for unlawful termination” letter. My advise was to not sign the letter immediately and consult with a local employement attorney. Can companies do this sort of thing? I know mine doesn’t but maybe I am just lucky that way.
I doubt the handbook says that you can only be fired if you’re off balance X time per year. I’d assume that it says that you will be fired if that happens, but probably not that you can’t be fired unless it does. Unless this bank is very, very stupid, they used language in their handbook that preserves at-will employment and which allows them to fire an employee for any legal reason, whether or not they violate a specific policy.
That said, it never hurts to consult with a lawyer before signing a general release in exchange for severance, but I certainly wouldn’t encourage your friend to think she’s going to have recourse here.
5. My boss chews with his mouth open
I work at a startup in a very small space (4 of us in one room) and my boss chews with his mouth open. Not only is it really getting under my skin (especially since he eats several times a day), but I notice that he eats like this in front of potential customers, business partners, etc. and I feel that it’s off-putting. Is there any way to address this problem, or is it something I have to live with?
You have to live with it.
Sometimes people have annoying habits. And when you work with people, you will have annoying coworkers. This one happens to be your boss. This annoying habit isn’t getting in the way of you doing your work, so it falls in the “need to live with it” category.
6. Are flat shoes unprofessional for women?
Reading through the AAM archives, I found a reference in the comments to not wearing flat shoes to an interview. Are high heels considered more professional? I’ve never worn heels and am applying for jobs (as a pharmacist) where I’d be on my feet a lot of the day, so I’ve seen many pharmacists wear sneakers to work with dress clothes. Should I be wearing heels to interviews?
Flat shoes are fine, and plenty of people wear them and look perfectly professional. Just make sure the shoes themselves are professional; not just any pair of flats will do, obviously. Try loafers.
7. Employee is working unauthorized overtime
I have an employee who comes in too early and leaves late without it being approved. He is an older, senior employee and feels he can continue to do this. I am new in my role as a supervisor, but I need to nip this in the bud. He is sneaking overtime in every week. Please advise.
Be direct about what you need him to do differently: “Bob, I cannot allow you to work overtime without approval. I noticed you’ve been coming in early and leaving late, and I need you to revert to working your regular hours. I need you to check with me to get any overtime approved before you work it.”
Then, if the problem continues after that, you treat it like you would any other serious instruction that was ignored: “Bob, we talked a few days ago about the fact that you need to get overtime approved in advance. Why is it continuing?” …. “This is a serious issue, and I need to see an immediate change.”