Q&A: Making sense of mandatory meetings

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Our monthly meetings are mandatory, and people's days off and time working are being docked. Is this legal?

Q: Our hospital director has made our monthly staff meetings mandatory—whether we're scheduled to work that day or not. Some team members are docked vacation time or time worked for missing the meetings—even those with children to take care of. Is all this legal?

Unfortunately, this has less to do with employment law and more to do with your own contract and your practice's written policies, says Dr. Karl Salzsieder, JD, of Salzsieder Consulting and Legal Services in Longview, Wash.

Employers are required by law to pay hourly workers for attending mandatory meetings, Dr. Salzsieder says. Whether the director can take away employees' earned vacation time or dock pay for missing the meeting is an issue that must be covered in your staff policy manual or your specific contract when you were hired. If it's not spelled out in your contract or in the employee manual, docking is not permitted.

Your issue of possible discrimination against employees with children may be covered in state or federal law. If children require medical care or special attention on those dates, you must be excused without penalty when you request those days off, Dr. Salzsieder says.

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