Q&A: Mandatory Lunches and More
You asked, we answered. Here are your top questions for April.
Question: We have a remote employee who is working through their lunch break. Can we require them to take it?
Yes, generally you can and should require an employee to take a lunch break. In many states, employers are required to provide employees with rest breaks, meal breaks, or both, and are sometimes even required to provide them at specific times during an employee’s shift. An employee skipping these rest periods could result in noncompliance with those laws. Additionally, an employee who works through their breaks may see negative impacts on their health and well-being, while you may see a drop in their overall productivity. It’s in everyone’s best interest that the appropriate break time is provided and taken.
Having said that, before taking any adverse action against the employee, try to find out why they’re working through their break. Perhaps they would rather take their break at a different time, or maybe their workload is so heavy they feel they have to work through breaks to keep up. We advise approaching the employee with curiosity and looking for a solution that works for both of you. If the employee continues to skip their breaks despite these efforts, you can consider whether discipline is appropriate.
Question: We have an employee who is going on a leave of absence. We will need to hire a temporary employee to cover those duties. What do we need to know about hiring a temporary employee?
The process for hiring a temporary employee is like hiring regular employees. You will post the position, go through a selection process, ensure all necessary new hire paperwork is completed, and onboard the temporary employee. Just be sure you’re clear in the job posting and during the interviews that the position is temporary. If you know the length of the assignment, you should mention it.
Of course, there’s also the option of using an agency to assist you with the process. There would be a cost, but they’d likely be able to find you a temporary employee faster than you would using your usual process. They’d also handle most of the typical employment-related paperwork.
Question: We need to terminate an employee due to poor performance. Should we give them a letter outlining why we are terminating them?
There is no federal requirement for employers to provide written notice about why someone is being terminated, but we do recommend providing written notice as best practice. This reduces the likelihood of the terminated employee spinning up their own (possibly illegal) reason for the termination and then claiming there is no documentation to the contrary.
Question: What is the difference between a job description and a job posting? Can I just share the job description when advertising for a role?
While the job description and the job posting are similar, in that they both outline the duties of the role and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform those duties, each has a different purpose.
The job description is an internal document outlining the purpose of the role within the organization, the essential functions, and the necessary KSAs. It is often used to set the salary range, complete performance reviews, and if needed, create a performance improvement plan or consider accommodations. A job description will usually have more details about the day-to-day requirements of the position than a job posting, and it doesn’t need to include enticing language about the benefits the company offers or the company’s culture.
The job posting is what you use to attract candidates to the job and your organization. It’s, at least in part, a marketing tool designed to attract talent by not only discussing the duties of the job, but also the benefits you offer (both big and small) and the culture of your organization. While a job posting will usually include a fair bit of information about the job itself—so candidates have a clear picture of what they’re applying for—it probably won’t be as extensive as in the job description. The job posting will also have information on how to apply for the position and perhaps information about your screening and selection process.
While these two types of documents convey much of the same information, they’ll be more effective if you write each of them to achieve their respective purpose.