Published on June 30th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover
Question 1 – Is age 49 too young to ask for a bridge to retirement? Alan, I have been on a medical leave of absence due to stress. Before my leave, I was considered a “star performer” and given the most challenging accounts to manage. Due to a merger/downsizing, all people in my department were required to re-interview for their positions. To hold my position, I had to interview while out on leave. My doctor reluctantly approved me to interview understanding my need to keep my job. The interview was with my boss whom my relationship was somewhat a strained one. I was not successful in keeping my position, but was not terminated as I am technically out on a medical leave. Upon my release to return to work, if there are no jobs available which I qualify, I will be given a pink slip. My question is: at 49 years old – could I negotiate with my employer to bridge me to retirement or is 49 years to young to even consider?
Los Angeles, California
The Short Answer is “Yes, Probably.” In my experience, most employer-provided retirement plans have 60, or perhaps 55, as the youngest a person may retire. For that reason, asking for a “retirement bridge” of six years is a “stretch,” to put it mildly. That said, credit for additional years in pension calculation is a very reasonable thing to ask for. After being a star performer, not being chosen for “rehire” based on an interview that took place when you were out on disability leave due to stress might just be a very good argument for there having been disability discrimination. Who knows what was in your boss’s subconscious mind when he decided not to rehire you? That legal claim might be sufficient leverage to get you the retirement bridging you seek. I say, “Go for it.”
Question 2 – For how long after I left my Illinois employer can I see my old personnel file? Dear Alan: I am a former employee of a company in Bloomington, IL. It has been 5 years since I quit the job. I want to know if I still have rights as a previous employee to see either my personal or HR file? It seems some of my most recent colleagues here in Georgia know about my file and issues at this previous employer. It is really strange, and how could they know? Can I request to see my file in hopes that it will help in some way? Please advise.
The Short Answer is “One year.” Sorry, Bonnie, one year is the answer. Illinois’s Personnel Record Review Act of 1984 permits former employees to review their personnel records, but only if they make such a request within one year of their departure. Perhaps you could ask one or two people, “I’m just curious . . . how did you know that?” I wish I could be more helpful.
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Question 3 – Can an employee be forbidden to contact the company’s HR department? My friend has been employed by a health chain for seven years and is an assistant manager. He was informed that the district manager was in meetings all day. Having a question concerning a new employee, he contacted the company’s HR department and was then contacted by his district manager and instructed twice not to call HR again. How can an employee be denied the right to contact HR; isn’t that the purpose of the department?
The Short Answer is “Yes.” Chris, it is with the utmost of respect to all of my HR friends out there that I say this: HR is a department that serves the needs of an employer’s management, not the needs of the employees. This is a critical understanding that all employees must understand. Please take a few minutes to view my YouTube video entitled “The Seven Timeless Truths about Human Resources.” You can do so by simply [clicking here.]
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Question 4 – Can I be fired for refusing to acknowledge receipt of a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”)? My employer is telling me that he wants to put me on a 1 month PIP, and that at the end of the PIP if determined my job may be terminated. At this stage I am being asked to acknowledge by signing that I have received the form for initiation of a PIP and have knowledge of its contents. What happens if I do not respond? Can my job be terminated on this basis? If so, do I disqualify for unemployment insurance benefits?
Matawan, New Jersey
The Short Answer is “Yes.” There is just no good reason to refuse that you have received something from your employer. If you are not being asked to say that you agree with its contents, then all you are being asked to do is to confirm receipt. To refuse to do so is insubordination, and therefore grounds to lose your entitlement to unemployment benefits. I know you are probably nervous and scared, but this much is clear: if it only says, “I acknowledge receiving it,” then you should do so.
I hope you will do so,
Consider our “Ideal PIP Response Package” of two Model Responses (first and second), Model Letters seeking support from others, and our 152-Point Guide and Checklist for a PIP. To obtain a complete set, just [click here.]
Question 5 – Can an employee’s family have two health insurers? My children currently have their health insurance thru Healthy Family, a state program. My husband’s health plan is open for enrollment. We want to add the kids into his health plan because the premium costs the same. This is to cover just in case the kids don’t qualify for their Healthy Family insurance anymore. We don’t plan on using it because the copay and all is quite expensive. Is it legal not to inform my husband’s employer or insurance company of the kids’ current health insurance? Again, we’re not planning to use it because the copay and all is quite high.
City and State Not Provided
The Short Answer is “Yes, provided . . .” Michelle, while I don’t know which state you live in, based on my many years of experience in these matters, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with your children being covered by two health insurers simultaneously, PROVIDED, (a) it is not against the Healthy Family rules, which I would not expect it to be, and (b) you don’t try to collect twice for the same medical expense, which you have written you will not be doing. I think what you are doing is actually quite common, and entirely appropriate.
That is how I see it,
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Question 6 – Can I get fired for making mistakes? Hi, Alan. Can I get fired for making mistakes and making general errors? I am an administrator and get asked at the last minute to prepare reports on mileages for the years. I made a mistake with my report, and heard my boss say “Get rid of her” to HR. Can he do this?
The Short Answer is “It seems Yes.” Susan, I am surely not an authority on South African labour law. However, I spent some time reviewing South African labour law for you, and could not find any authority that says, or suggests, that an employee in South Africa could not be fired for making mistakes. However, it does seem that the South African labour law does require that all acts by employers toward employees be reasonable under the circumstances. For example, were you given sufficient job training? Are you given enough time to perform your reports? If you resort to the Courts in South Africa, these considerations do seem to be reviewed carefully.
Sorry I can’t help you any more,
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Question 7 – Should I disclose to my employer that I have Attention Deficit Disorder? I am an attorney just given administrative warning. Should I disclose my ADD diagnosis that I have struggled with since learning of it 4 years ago. I have been at this firm for 5+years but now have a new boss.
New York, New York
The Short Answer is “Yes.” H, you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by disclosing your Attention Deficit Disorder. You may be entitled to assistance or accommodation under your law firm’s policies. You are entitled to a reasonable accommodation to it under New York and federal law. You are entitled to protection against disability discrimination, which may be the real reason for your being given an administrative warning. And you may be given a helping hand by any colleague, partner and HR representative who understands your disorder, can relate to it, and has empathy as a result. There is no shame in your condition. There are advantages in disclosing it.
I hope this helps,
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