Affinity HR Questions & Answers


We have an employee who would like to bring a service dog to work with her. Do we have to allow this?

Customer

Question: We have an employee who would like to bring a service dog to work with her. Do we have to allow this?

Answer: Well, the question of whether you "have to" depends. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which applies to companies with 15 or more employees, an employer should attempt to provide a "reasonable accommodation" to a person with a qualified disability. The act defines what types of conditions would qualify as a disability. If the individual is eyesight impaired and allowing her to bring a dog to work does not create an "undue hardship" to your company, then yes, providing that accommodation would be reasonable. It's a slippery slope from there. What types of animals are service animals? What level of mental health ailment would qualify someone as having a disability? Our best advice is to get some validation from a medical provider for the need for the accommodation and the benefit it would provide and allow the accommodation as you deem appropriate.

Is it possible for us to hire an HR generalist on a temporary basis? We've had mis-hires before and want to try her before we hire her.

Customer

Question: Is it possible for us to hire an HR generalist on a temporary basis? We've had mis-hires before and want to try her before we hire her.

Answer: Absolutely, it is fine to hire someone temporarily on a contract basis. By doing so, you could treat her as an independent contractor or a short-term employee. Be sure to provide an engagement letter discussing the scope of the engagement, the length of the project, the work expected, the pay rate, and, importantly, include your "at-will" language specifying that the engagement does not constitute an employment contract and can be severed "at-will" by either party without notice or cause.

We have a challenging employee. I've been working with him for two years, but he just refuses to take advantage of the resources and support that we've provided him. What do you recommend?

Customer

Question: We have a challenging employee. I've been working with him for two years. He has lost the confidence of his team. I've plotted a course for him to improve his performance, but he just refuses to take advantage of the resources and support that we've provided him. I don't know what else to do. What do you recommend?

Answer: Fire him. As a manager, you have three essential responsibilities. 1) To make sure your employees know what's expected of them at work; 2) To make sure they have the tools and equipment necessary to do the work to your expectations; and 3) To provide ongoing feedback and guidance. It sounds like you've done all of that, and he has not taken advantage of your support. There's one last piece of advice to remember: you can't change anyone who is unwilling to change. You can only change yourself. If, despite your conversations and interventions and efforts, your employee refuses to do what is necessary to satisfy your expectations, there's one course of action we would recommend: fire him.

We just hired a new inside sales rep with very little experience. It was a hard, long search, and we had to pay him $12,000 more than our other sales rep who has been with us 3 years and is a great employee. Should we increase her pay?

Customer

Question: We just hired a new inside sales rep with very little experience. It was a hard, long search, and we had to pay him $12,000 more than our other sales rep who has been with us 3 years and is a great employee. Should we increase her pay in case she would discover the pay disparity?

Answer: In a word, absolutely. Employees talk about pay, and she will certainly learn of the disparity. Best to keep it all equitable otherwise you risk losing a valued employee and will end up paying her replacement $12,000 more anyway. Welcome to the true impact of the tight labor market!