Favorite HR Myth?

What's your favorite HR myth? You know.. that commonly expressed belief that just ain't true.

Here is mine...

Myth: Only provide name, rank, and serial number when asked for an employee reference. Say anything beyond that and you will be immediately sued!

Fact: Not only are you legally protected when you discuss true, documented performance issues (although you need to be careful) I also think you are ethically obligated to give good employees a positive reference. They deserve it!

What's yours?



  • 25 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 09-02-02 AT 10:22AM (CST)[/font][p]MYTH:We can give this person a raise and no one else in the department will know about it. I told him/her not to tell anyone. It won't be a problem.

    FACT: I can expect to hear from everyone in the department within 24 to 48 hours and perhaps take a field trip to a governmental entity if the person who got the raise is a white male.

    Margaret Morford
  • Myth: You should always do what your attorney says.

    Fact: You should evaluate an attorneys advice the same way that you would evaluate the advice of any other advisor. The attorney response is not necessarily what is best for the business.
  • Hey Gillian, That's not a myth!!

    MYTH: This employee is at-will, so we can fire him for any reason.

    Truth: There are so many exceptions to the at-will doctrine, that a company is better off firing only for a good reason.


    MYTH: This is a "right to work" state, so as an employee I can't be fired except for cause.

    Truth: Right to work only means that the employee cannot be forced to join a union.
  • Myth: You can have ALL of your employees happy ALL of the time if you are just treat them fairly and honestly.

    Fact: No matter what you do there will be some BOZO out there you thinks he/she is being cheated or mistreated. Fair is in the eye of the beholder.

    Side bit: I once read about a survey which showed that most (can't remember the exact percent, but it was very large) workers see themselves as better than average employees. I can't help wondering if almost everyone is a better than average employee, then who are the average ones? x:-/
  • Myth: HR is the enemy...the police...the policy monkeys waiting in the wings with their red pens screaming "terminate! terminate!"
    Fact: HR is the employee's advocate and voice (usually of reason!)among management.

    Well, on the other hand, some of you are monkeys.

    :) Cinderella :)
  • Myth: "You are required by Federal Law to give me breaks and a lunch hour"

    Fact: I don't think so :)
  • MYTH: HR can clean up and fix any mess I, as a manager, can make. xpray

    FACT: We can't 8-|
  • MYTH: "Since you work in HR, you must make a lot of money!"

    FACT: I make less than some employees who have less education and experience. I get to know about the people who "make a lot of money".
  • Gillian, you are so right. I have two favorites. The first one always comes up when we have just fired someone for cause.

    Myth 1): Will/can the company "block" the payment of unemployment compensation?

    Fact: My standard answer is to say that the company always responds truthfully to all inquiries from the UC office, and then the decision is theirs.

    Myth 2): Employees have the right to shove any kind material they choose into their Personnel File, such as certficates of training, commendations from outside the company, etc. I once had an EE who received a certificate from the Boy Scouts and wanted that inserted.

    Fact: In Pennsylvania the Personnel file is company property and the company decides what it should contain.
  • You are so right! Just Friday I had an employee who helped a client via fax bring me a faxed page that just said, "Thank you." Part of this employee's job is customer service, but she wanted to put it into her personnel file!
  • Myth: Damned right I'm filing for unemployment. I've been paying it all these years and never touched it.

    Fact: Nope. At least in most states the program is 100% employer funded.

    Myth: It's my file. You gotta let me have a look and it and copy it too.

    Fact: Nope. Not in this state.

    Myth: Every company has some managers who think, "Human Resources is a pain in the whatever. Ain't no way I'll get them involved in anything. They'll muddy the whole thing up and have us documenting stuff and writing stupid, useless summaries of what we did and why."

    Fact: Come to think of it, that's not a myth at all, except for a few of the adjectives.
  • Myth: You're the Human Resources Manager. You must know everything that's going on.

    Fact: No, the company refused to pay my dues to the Psychic Network. My leg of the grapevine got cut long ago (and of course I try to never listen to gossip). And nobody ever wants to let me in on the "good stuff" because then I'll want to make them do it the right way. I have no control issues!

  • Myth: A manager would never complain to HR about a poor employee without giving the employee some feedback and the opportunity to improve.

    Fact: Despite the apparent frustration, many managers do everything BUT actually give the employee some direct feedback on their poor performance.

  • MYTH: If something has gone wrong, it must be that HR had a hand in it.

    FACT: If something has gone wrong, it's because they wouldn't listen to HR.
  • Myth: HR is a "glamour job".

    Fact: I'm still laughing about this one!
  • Myth: Time to pick up paychecks varies from pay period to pay period.

    Fact: It's the same time EVERY PAY PERIOD (although I have had at least half a dozen calls in the three and a half years I've been here stating otherwise). ;;)

    OK, so maybe it's not HR for some of you, but it is for us! We give our employees the option of picking up their paycheck a day early for $1.00 to our company chosen charity. Managers pick up their departmental checks the next day.

  • Wouldn't work for us, but interesting. The account we draw against for paychecks carries a zero balance until check issuance day when we load it. Or so the beancounters tell me.
  • Myth: That HR's function is to keep people from suing the company.

    Fact: Ain't nothing or nobody that will stop somebody from suing the company if they really want to. One of HR's many functions is to make sure that there is sufficient documentation on file to defend against nuisance suits. (And most of the time, that isn't all that easy, trying to get managers to document things is nigh impossible in my company.)x:'(
  • Myth: You hold back a week of pay so you owe me an additional weeks pay when I terminated.

    Fact: Sorry sweetheart, you worked and got paid - no holding back money here. You get paid on Friday for all the days you worked the week before.
  • Myth: It's HR's job to make sure everything goes absolutely perfect with my health insurance, 401K plan, etc.

    Reality: No, it's HR's job to provide you with information to read, telephone numbers to call if you have questions, meetings to discuss changes to benefits, and to try to help when there are problems. It's not my fault that you had a medical procedure done that's not covered, the stock market sucks & your 401k is losing $, etc . . .

    Boy, I feel better now!
  • Myth: Twelve weeks? All I get is 12 weeks? You're going to fire me because I can't get better in 12 weeks? You have to make an exception for me - I've been here eight years - I know you've made exceptions for others!

    Fact: Yes, it's all you get. No I'm not firing you, you have to resign because you can't come back to work. And I can't make an exception for you, because I haven't made an exception for anyone else, and I don't intend to make an exception for the other 780 employess when you go back and tell them I made an exception for you!
  • So, then it'll be you who's responsible for my kids not having a Christmas. I hope that'll make you reeeaaal happy. I bet if I worked up here in this fancy office with all of ya'll, I wouldn't have this problem. I know the law and I know my rights. You'll be hearing from my lawyer. I hope you're happy!
  • Myth: Employees always respond well to the truth. "Gee thanks, I know you've done all you can by policy, and I appreciate your efforts and the time you've spent with me."

    Fact: See Don D above.

    So maybe I've had to be a bit of the grinch before, but at least I'm not a full time curmudgeon!
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 09-09-02 AT 10:33PM (CST)[/font][p]Don D,

    I know where your employee learned the law. I once had an employee tell me that I was wrong about the law (I have a law degree and used to practice law) That Judge Wampner said it was legal so I must be wrong!

    Margaret Morford
  • There are some real good ones here but not my personal favorite. We have a lot of what we call lunch room lawyers here and they will tell you that virtually everything HR does is illegal. The only reason we are not stopped is because the union is to lazy or incompetent to check on us.

    Fact: HR is probably the most careful department in our company or yours. We study legal ways to do things and get legal advice on a continuing basis. Out of 100 decisions you make each day, perhaps one could be successfully challenged. Now if only the engineering dept. could do it right at the same percentage.
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