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Legality of Workplace Monitoring & Surveillance

If you pay employees to do a job and provide a place for them to do it, the assumption is while they’re on the clock, they’ll be doing it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Employers use workplace surveillance systems not only to be sure employees are working but also to maintain workplace safety, to ensure quality control standards are observed, and to prevent crime. But what about employees’ privacy concerns? What is allowed with regards to workplace monitoring and surveillance? Why Companies Monitor Employees Organizations have more to lose than just productivity. Common concerns involve the following: The potential Read more
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Creating an Office Fraternization Policy

If only good management just involved helping employees be productive. One of the biggest challenges facing leadership is managing the relationships co-workers have with each other. Your business should already have a sexual harassment policy, but that doesn’t cover other types of relationships that may cause problems. Let employees know company expectations for workplace behavior to clarify what is acceptable and what’s inappropriate. Whatever your choice about the acceptability of workplace relationships, you should have a written policy. Fraternization Dangers A fraternization policy is sometimes called a dating policy, because it involves romantic relationships between employees. Some employers think what Read more
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Establishing a Performance Improvement Plan

When an employee fails to live up to your performance requirements, it is in everyone’s best interest to open communication with them to address the situation. A performance improvement plan (PIP), also known as a performance action plan, can be an effective way to allow employees to make changes needed to correct problems, overcome deficiencies, and improve their performance. If necessary, a failed or unsuccessfully completed PIP may also be used as evidence or support in any ultimate disciplinary action, including termination. Ideally, a PIP should only be used to address performance deficiencies. Behavior problems should be addressed through discipline Read more
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Texas Holiday Policy

    Monday, January 15, 2018 has been designated as a US Federal holiday to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While most national, state, and local government offices close in observance of this holiday, many private employers do not. Those who wish to observe this holiday must use paid time off (if they receive this benefit) or take unpaid leave.  On that note, we thought this was a good time to discuss Texas holiday laws.   Are Paid Holidays Required?   There are no federal or state laws requiring Texas employers to observe holidays, and employers Read more
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DOL Alters Intern Test

    With the start of the Trump Administration, we anticipated numerous changes and alterations to employment laws.  That expectation has occurred and we have already seen several changes, including adjustments to the joint employer test and relaxed NLRB guidance regarding employee handbooks.   The changes continued on January 5, 2018.  On that day, the Department of Labor issued a press release in which it indicated it was abandoning the previous six-part test used to determine whether an intern is subject to federal minimum wage and overtime laws (i.e., whether the intern is classified as an “employee” under the FLSA).  Read more
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Performing Applicant Background Checks in Texas

Texas Background Check Laws Employers make huge investments in their employees. Therefore, it is in their best interest to thoroughly evaluate applicants to the fullest. Increasingly, this evaluation process may include a background check, to determine if the applicant has a criminal record. This becomes especially important when the candidate will be exposed to sensitive information, high-value assets, or vulnerable populations. But, there are limits to what employers can do. So, what can an employer do to check out prospective employees without violating their rights? Are Some Employers Required by Law to Perform a Background Check? Most employers can perform Read more
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NLRB Takes Action to Reverse Previous Decisions

  Yesterday, December 14, 2017, the National Labor Relations Board issued two decisions particularly important to employers. In the first decision, the NLRB overturned the 2015 decision, Browning-Ferris Industries. In that decision, the Obama-era NLRB decided that indirect control of an employee could constitute a joint-employer relationship. As a result of yesterday’s decision, however, a company is deemed a joint employer only if there is proof that the employer exercised direct control over employment terms of the employee at issue. Despite the NLRB’s decision yesterday to overturn the 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries decision, Browning-Ferris is still pending as a case at Read more
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Legalities of Workplace Wellness Programs

There are many benefits to a well-constructed and well-run workplace wellness program: employees are healthier and experience fewer absences, the workplace is more productive, and the employer often saves on health costs. However, these programs must be put together in a way that conforms with strict legal requirements. General Issues In most cases, workplace wellness programs are an effective tool that can be used to achieve beneficial goals for both employers and participants alike. In fact, the Texas Department of State Health Services recommends a six-step process to create a wellness program on their site in hopes that such initiatives Read more
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Responding to Unemployment Claims in Texas

Responding to Texas Unemployment Claims The Texas Unemployment Compensation Act (TUCA) provides for the collection and distribution of unemployment benefits to workers in the state of Texas who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Liable employers in Texas (those who meet the minimum liability requirement under TUCA) must report wages paid and pay unemployment taxes per the stipulations of the Act. Some employers may not be familiar with the process that takes place when separated employees file for benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). It is important that employers understand this process and know how to respond Read more
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Drug Testing in the Texas Workplace

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, companies lose an estimated $100 billion each year due to drug and alcohol abuse. This is due to workers’ compensation claims, absenteeism, productivity loss, associated medical costs and employee turnover. If your company is considering drug testing for applicants or current employees, the following information will help you design an effective drug testing policy. Legal Requirements While it is left to the discretion of most private employers, employee drug testing is required by federal law for the rail, air or trucking industries.  Passed in 1991, the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act requires DOT Read more