HR Minute
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Using social media and the internet to screen job applicants

Do you run internet searches or check social media accounts on job applicants? For some employers the internet has become a tool to further screen prospective employees. However, employers must be careful in how they go about gathering such information because search engines and social media sites may expose the employer to information involving protected categories. For example, an internet search may reveal that the applicant is a certain age, was born in a certain foreign country, or practices a certain religion. But employers shouldn’t make employment decisions based on these characteristics. So an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney might argue running internet searches or checks of social media accounts on job applicants is evidence of discriminatory hiring practices, even though you are not seeking such information, but encounter it in the course of a search.

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Required notices for medical leaves of absence

Most employers have had employees request time off for medical reasons at some point, either for planned medical procedures, or when the employee is out unexpectedly and notifies the employer that he/she cannot return to work for some period of time. However many employers are unaware of the specific response and notification requirements that are triggered once they are put on notice of an employee’s need for medical leave. Certainly, for any type of leave of absence, you might want to consider generating documentation confirming with the employee the duration of the leave, how benefits payments will be handled during the leave, and what the employee’s reinstatement rights are. However, medical leaves warrant further documentation.

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Employer obligations regarding final pay checks

Can employers deduct from an employee’s final pay check any amounts that the employee owes the employer?

Final pay checks have special protections under California law, and therefore, employers must be very careful in calculating and issuing them. We often encounter situations in which an employer wishes to make deductions from an employee’s final paycheck for business losses, such as unreturned uniforms or equipment. Under California law, in most situations the employer may not use the employee’s final paycheck as a means of “self help” to collect amounts that the employee owes to the employer. In cases where the employer is entitled to recovery of expenses from the employee, the employer may be left with taking the employee to court to recover such losses.

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California extends paid family leave benefits

Since 2004, the Paid Family Leave program has provided monetary benefits to employees who have to temporarily miss work to care for a sick family member or to bond with a new child. This program is funded through employee payroll deductions into the State Disability Insurance fund. Earlier this year, the Governor signed into law a bill that will take effect January of 2018 to increase these benefits.

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