Warren WhiteI help individuals & businesses meet their goals.

Certified HR Professional | Job Search Strategist | Resume Writer | Freelance Writer | Consultant | www.warrencwhite.com

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What are the company's policies regarding the frequency and timing of employee reviews? Start by checking your employee handbook and make sure you completely understand the policies. You then have a decision to make: you can approach your boss to discuss the matter and try to work it out, you can talk to your HR professionals to ask them to address it on your behalf, or you can wait and ask if any adjustment to your compensation can be made retroactively, in light of the delay. Each strategy carries risks. The first two risk impacting your long term relationship with your boss. The last strategy is a financial risk but preserves the relationship. You have to ultimately decide what's most important to you, and what consequences you're willing to live with. Happy to talk with you directly if I can be of more help.

Assuming you have all of the documentation for the performance issues you've outlined, it is better to make the hard decision to terminate now rather than waiting for him to return. If you have the ability, you might offer to connect him with an outplacement firm to ease his transition. If you don't have documentation of the performance issues, however, you run the risk of increasing your company's liability exposure. If that is the case, I would suggest placing him on some sort of formal performance improvement plan upon his return, documenting specifically the areas where you need to see improvement and a reasonable timeframe (90 days) within which you need to see the improvement, and establish some regular check-ins. Happy to discuss further if that would be helpful.

I'll preface this by stating clearly that while I am very familiar with this area of the law--I have over 15 years of experience handling HR issues--I am NOT an attorney. You would do well to consult one with regard to this and any other question on employment law. With that said, this is not like deciding on a paint color for your offices--you are required to comply with federal law.

Employee classification is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and failure to properly classify employees is one of the more frequent violations of employment law. The Labor Department's proposed budget is a sizeable increase over last year's budget, and most of that money is earmarked for enforcement--so disregard at your own risk.

Under the FLSA, employees are classified based upon the actual work they perform--not their job title, or even their job description--rather, their actual duties. Generally speaking, supervisors, managers, executives, function leaders, and other individuals who function independent of general supervision and whose primary contributions are intellectual rather than tactical are classified as Exempt (salaried) employees. All others generally fall into the Non-exempt (hourly) category. Of course, it can be a little more complicated depending on the specifics of each situation, but following those general guidelines should keep you in compliance with the law.

I would be happy to provide more specific guidance if you would be interested in setting up a call.

I'm making an assumption that you've been working for a US company. Often, US employers will only provide neutral references anyway--meaning, all they will do is confirm your dates of employment, title, and potentially salary. Leverage the relationships you've developed directly with your clients during your 5+ years of experience, and ask directly whether they would be willing to provide a reference. You might also ask a select few if they would be willing to provide a recommendation on LinkedIn--while this is not a substitute for a reference, it can serve to publicly validate the quality of your work, which may open the door to some opportunities. Your situation is not bleak--people have overcome more challenging situations and gone on to be successful. Finally, I'll share one other secret with you--while most companies indicate that they routinely check candidate references, that is not always the case, and there are serious questions as to whether references are even a good indicator of future success. As long as you are upfront when employers ask why you're looking and you don't attempt to mislead or falsify information, and focus on selling a potential employer on how you can solve their business challenges, you'll be fine.

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