Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. My great employee lied about finishing high school

We recently hired an employee for a non-professional position who told me after she was hired that she lied on her job application. She said she had her high school diploma when she doesn't, and if she had answered that question in the positive, the online application would have booted her from the application as it is required for the position.

She is a hard worker, a great team member, and really needs the job, so I am not sure if I should ever bring this up.

Green responds:

Requiring a high school diploma (or a college degree) is supposed to be a proxy for "this person is likely to have certain baseline skills necessary to do the job." This person has demonstrated pretty clearly that it's a misplaced requirement. Plus, not finishing high school can correlate with poverty, class, abuse, and other issues that you shouldn't be screening people out over.

Now, obviously it's not okay to lie on your application. But I'm having a hard time working up outrage about it. She didn't go out of her way to lie on, say, a resume -- a document that someone presumably puts a lot of thought and care into. She answered "yes" to an online application question when she should have answered "no." It's hardly the lie of the century.

As for what to do now ... you have a hard worker and a great team member with no high school diploma. If she's otherwise trustworthy, why not take it as a sign that you should drop that requirement, and then move on?

2. How to tell candidates that the position they're applying for is unpaid

I work for a small nonprofit. On our website, we advertise leadership positions, but those positions are all volunteer - as are all of our positions. Lately, I've been receiving resumes from people who seem to be looking for paid work (despite that there is no indication of salary or employment on the website). Is there 1) a good way to show this on our site, and 2) a good way to let people know that it's volunteering when they contact us?

Green responds:

Oh my goodness, please say it right up-front in the ad! Put it either in the job title -- like "Fundraiser (Volunteer)" or in the very first line of the ad itself. The vast, vast majority of people applying will assume that it's paid if you don't say otherwise, and they'll put time into creating a cover letter when they wouldn't be applying at all if they understood the full picture. (Plus, you're then wasting your own time fielding these applicants.)

There's no reason not to say it up-front.

3. I gave an interviewer a salary figure, but then got a raise at my current job

I have an interview at an organization that is in another state and would require relocation. When I was asked my current salary by the new organization, I was completely honest with them and told them $X. Since that time (about two weeks ago), I was given a raise at my current job and now make more than $X. Of course, now I would rather make as close to that as possible if I move to another position. Is this something I should tell the recruiter? Or wait until salary is brought up again? Is it acceptable to change what I'm asking for in these circumstances? If it matters, it is a hard-to-fill position that I am perfectly qualified for with very applicable experience.

Green responds:

Yes, you should bring it up -- your circumstances have changed, and it makes sense to let them know that. You could bring it up either ahead of the interview (if you don't want to waste your time if their response is a clear no) or after the interview if you're still interested at that point. I'd say something like this to the recruiter: "I want to let you know that since we talked about salary, I've received a raise at my current job and am now making $__. It would be tough for me to change jobs for less than that. Is that prohibitive on your end?"

Of course, if you're actually willing to take less than that, you might want to take out the "it would be tough" language and maybe change the whole thing to something like "is that something you'd be able to match?"

4. I want to take a week off in between jobs

I'm considering an offer for a new position. I'd like to give two weeks notice at my current job and also take a week off after that before starting the new position because I can afford to do that and so I'm coming into the new job refreshed. Will that request seem out of line or lazy? And if not, what is the appropriate way to bring it up?

Green responds:

Nope, totally fine and normal to do. When you accept the offer and are discussing start date, just say, "Would (date) work for you?" If they ask if you can start earlier, say, "I of course need to give my current job two weeks notice, and I'd like to take off a week before starting so that I'm able to start with you refreshed." It's a really, really common thing to do. It does not look lazy or out of line in any way.

5. Can I hold people's paychecks until they turn in their time sheets?

I'm a business owner, and we require all exempt employees to track time. As an ad agency, it's essential for client billing, profitability analysis, etc. However, very few keep up with it. Can I require time sheets be turned in on certain days, and if not, withhold pay for that pay period? Not dock them or penalize them, just require that time sheets be turned in before payroll can be processed? If they miss the deadline, they would need to wait until the next pay period.

In practice, we'd be lenient ...a three strike policy. I need some leverage because nagging isn't working.

Green responds:

Nope. Assuming you're in the U.S., your state law requires you to pay people within a certain amount of time after the work was performed; you can't hold people's checks.

Getting exempt employees to turn in time sheets on time is practically a universal struggle. If it's super important to keep up with them, your best bet is to put their managers in charge of making it happen and holding them accountable for spot-checking that they've been filled out and following up with people when they haven't been (including "you have to do this today before you leave," which mostly will work when it's the direct manager saying it).

But also, look for ways to make the process easier on people -- you want them spending their time doing the work, not tracking their time, so while time-tracking can indeed be a must-do, the more you can make the process easy and efficient, the better for everyone.

Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to alison@askamanager.org.

Published on: Feb 11, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.