Q & A: Employee Status for Benefits Eligibility


Question Corner

Employee Status for Benefits Eligibility

By Jason R. Mau

Q: If an employee is hired to work part time but consistently works full-time hours, are we obligated to change his status to full time, which would determine benefits eligibility?

A: For all purposes from the employer’s perspective, including a benefits-eligibility determination, the employee’s status should be based on the actual duties being performed and actual time being spent on those duties.  To avoid many compliance issues, an employer should be careful not to base determinations on what a job description may state or the work for which the employee was initially hired to perform.

Q: Our company plans to move to a different city in the fall. Are we legally required to inform our employees and let them decide if they want to move with us? How far ahead should they be informed?

A: This move potentially could come under the requirements of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires the employees be notified within 60 days of the move if you have more than 100 full-time employees.  There are exceptions that may apply, but I recommend you share the specifics about your workforce and relocation with legal counsel to discuss potential consequences. 

Q:  A salesperson was involved in a car accident on her way out the door to get gas and head out to customers.  Does this fall under workers’ compensation? At what time would she be considered on the clock?

A: In Idaho, to qualify as an injury for workers’ compensation purposes, the injury must have occurred during the course of employment, at the place of employment.  For this salesperson, travel will likely be considered part of her principal activity, and the accident will have happened during that principal activity, or at the very least, a duty closely related to the travel required for work.  Thus, the accident will qualify for an injury for benefits purposes regardless of the exact location as the travel is part of her duties.  Additionally, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all time spent in travel for this employee must be paid, as the travel from customer to customer would be considered travel that is part of the employees’ principal activity under the FLSA. 

Q: One of our employees keeps giving me items to place in his personnel folder—positive e-mails someone has sent expressing that he has done a good job. Are we required to add these e-mails to his file?

A: While Idaho law does not require you to collect or add these materials to his employee file, you may want to briefly review the materials to decide whether there is any relevancy for your evaluation purposes, especially if it comes from his supervisor, or informs you of awards or completion of specific training or programs.    

Jason R. Mau is an attorney with Greener Burke Shoemaker Oberrecht, P.A.  He can be reached at 208-319-2600 or jmau@greenerlaw.com.