Lynne Curry: Day spent fishing may cost angler holiday pay

THE WORKPLACESeptember 15, 2013 

Q. When my boss told me he'd be working Labor Day and if I wanted to I could too, I thought he was teasing. "Thanks," I said, "but I'm going fishing!"

It never dawned on me I wouldn't get paid for Labor Day. But when my paycheck came it was minus that day's hours. I asked the payroll clerk, "What about Labor Day?" and she said, "What about it?"

When I said, "Wasn't there holiday pay?" she told me we were only paid for hours worked. I can't afford this treatment. Is it legal? Don't all employers pay for holidays?

A. If you were an hourly employee, you may be out of luck; employers don't need to pay non-exempt or hourly employees for holidays. Some employers do, others don't. Also, many employers don't provide holiday pay to part-time or temporary employees.

The vast majority of employers pay exempt employees for holidays -- docking an exempt employee's weekly pay can jeopardize their exempt status for that week. While many employers pay hourly employees for holidays out of fairness as they don't want to give exempt employees a benefit non-exempt employees don't receive, some require that non-exempt employees serve an introductory period to qualify. While I don't know your situation, your manager may have been trying to help you out and not short you when he offered that you could work Labor Day.

Q. I was excited when I learned my company was sending me to Chicago for a conference with my co-worker "Anne." I've always liked Anne but she's so guarded it's hard to get to know her.

On the plane when Anne opened her travel documents and learned we needed to share a room, she freaked. I tried to reassure her.

Then, on our first night, I woke up to Anne's screaming, "No! Don't!" I went over to her bed, saying, "Anne, it's OK," touched her shoulder to calm her and she almost hit me. Suddenly she woke, stared at me for a minute without seeing me, then looked stunned and ran for the bathroom.

When I work up the next morning, Anne had already left the room. When I went toward her at the continental breakfast table, she turned and walked away. She made sure we weren't seated next to each other on the plane back to town and hasn't talked to me since.

How do I get us past this?

A. There isn't an "us"; sharing a hotel room doesn't make you Anne's confidant. When you witnessed her nightmare, you saw something personal.

Anne may steer clear of you for weeks or months. She probably fears you'll let others know what you saw. Respect Anne and earn her trust by neither presuming nor probing. If you'd like to reach out, do so in a low-key manner, letting her know you absolutely respect her privacy, yet want to be there for her if she chooses.

Q. I twisted my back and jammed my foot sliding to first base last weekend on a company-sponsored baseball game. This morning, I learned I might need chiropractic care. My employer doesn't cover off-the-job injuries but fully covers on-the-job injuries and I'm wondering if this counts as job-related as almost everyone on our team works for the company or is a spouse.

A. Was the game included "in the course and scope of employment?" If not, worker's compensation probably doesn't cover you. You might, however, have access to facts that indicates your employer's involvement in the team makes this "their" event - for example, did your supervisor strongly urge you to join the team? If so, you might be covered.

If, however, you signed the standard release form stating your joining the team was voluntary and you'd assume the risk of injury, you may be out of luck. Your worker's comp carrier can give you an exact answer.

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at lynne@thegrowthcompany.com. You can follow Lynne on Twitter @lynnecurry10 or through www.workplacecoachblog.com.

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