Upcoming Deadlines

We have a few hard deadlines ahead of us that require action. Start scheduling now to ensure everything is ready and/or done by the deadline.

By 12/31/2020 — Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

If your company has 5+ employees anywhere, including owners, all your California employees must complete their sexual harassment prevention training by 12/31 of this year. This is paid time for the employees so schedule it accordingly. We have had two years to get this training completed so it’s highly unlikely the state will accept any excuses for not meeting the deadline. There are several resources for this training available online, including our training.

On 1/1/2021 — New Minimum Wage

On January 1st, the CA minimum wage increases again for non-exempt (hourly) employees. Companies with 25 or fewer employees must pay $13/hour, while companies with 26 or more employees must pay $14/hour. These numbers will continue to increase by $1 for the next two years. Please check the law in your area because most have a higher minimum wage. For example, the city of San Diego’s minimum wage will be $14/hour on 1/1 for companies of any size.

On 1/1/2021 — New Minimum Salary

Whenever the state’s minimum wage  [click to read more …]

Driven

“Our admin will run errands for us on occasion. I just heard she received a DUI last month. Should I have any concerns?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Yes, you should definitely be concerned. Whenever you allow an employee to drive for any reason related to their work or your company, you are taking a risk. If anything happens while an employee is driving, it’s your company that will be sued.

Companies don’t always consider someone running errands as an actual driver for the company, but you should. Even a quick, one-time run for sandwiches for the boss’ lunch is considered work time and puts the company at risk. It doesn’t matter if they are using their own vehicle or yours, it’s the activity that will count against you.

Before allowing any employee to drive on company time for any reason, you really need to do your due diligence:

Do you get a copy of their personal auto insurance for your files?Do you get a copy of their driving record from DMV on a regular basis?Do you do post-offer drug/alcohol testing?Do you have a policy about driving for the company that mentions safe driving, the need to report any  [click to read more …]

Too Much Leave

“I have an employee on pregnancy/maternity leave but I need to call her back to work because I’m short on help right now. What are my options?”

Your HR Survival Tip Leave

Different leaves of absence have different rules in California. Many of the differences are related to company size but pregnancy leave has very specific rules.

Delivery

When your employee wants to stop working, she must provide you with a doctor’s note stating the date she must stop working and the expected amount of time off. This is considered the disability period because pregnancy is managed the same as other disability leaves. However, pregnancy disability is protected time off in California (meaning you must give her the same job back once she returns to work). The normal time off is 8 weeks and you cannot require your employee to work during this period or there could be legal issues.

Baby Bonding

Baby bonding is not always protected time off. In a company with 19 or fewer employees, the company does not have to offer any time off for baby bonding. In fact, if you do offer it, it is actually just a personal leave of absence and is  [click to read more …]

COVID-Related Changes

“I haven’t been paying furloughed employees the emergency paid sick leave but just heard I might need to do it. Am I in trouble?”

Your HR Survival Tip

We have been subjected to ever-changing opinions and rules about COVID-19 since February…and now we have more. Most of these changes have not been backdated so you shouldn’t get in trouble for following the guidance current at that time. The latest changes include:

FFCRA for Non-Working Employees — Originally, only employees actively working were eligible to receive the FFCRA (Families First/CARES) money for emergency paid sick leave or emergency paid childcare leave. Now, anyone still in your employ may qualify for FFCRA money even if there is no available work for them (e.g., furloughed or sitting employees). Note: We don’t believe this applies to employees on a leave of absence.

FFCRA Documentation — You may not require documentation for a COVID-related leave PRIOR to the employee starting the leave. The employees will still need to provide documentation but they may begin the leave and then provide backup as soon as it’s practicable.

CDC Quarantine — The CDC is now only recommending a quarantine of 10 days after a positive test (rather than the original  [click to read more …]

Gig-A-Go-Go

We all know the independent contractor scene has been dramatically altered in the past two years. First, the California Supreme Court instituted the ABC test in March 2018, then AB5 was passed in October 2019. Now the Labor Commissioner’s Office is acting on those changes by filing lawsuits against companies.

Mobile Wash, Inc. — This Bellflower company was recently sued by the Labor Commissioner’s Office (LC Office) for misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The claim is at least 100 workers were misclassified because those workers did not pass the ABC test. In addition, the company is charged with paying those workers less than minimum wage because the workers were not reimbursed for expenses incurred.

As the company name implies, workers went to customer locations to provide services. The workers were required to use their own vehicle (plus buy gas and insurance), pay for their Mobile Wash uniforms, and pay for cleaning equipment and supplies. In addition, the company charged the worker a $2 transaction fee for every tip left on a credit card. The LC Office also found unpaid overtime, rest and meal break violations, and failure to provide paid sick leave.

Uber and  [click to read more …]

Revamping Descriptions

“I’ve been reorganizing duties as I’ve begun bringing employees back to work. How do I let my employees know what’s now expected of them?”

Your HR Survival Tip

It seems any major financial crisis, such as a recession or pandemic, results in companies finding new and better ways to be more efficient and more profitable with fewer employees. The changes initially made are based on immediate necessity but then you realize what you’ve done can actually work well going forward. Major changes require a different approach but the following works well for tweaking workloads.

You’ll start with an initial conversation with the employee to inform them you have made changes based on business needs changing, reorganizing the workflow, reorganizing the work to better match skills…whichever reason fits your scenario. Then provide the employee with those changes via memo or updated job description.

We prefer a revised job description because it has many purposes and, in this situation, provides a better overall description of what the job now entails rather than just listing the changes. Ideally, you provide a job description to candidates when hiring, use it to keep employees focused on their responsibilities, and have it play a  [click to read more …]

Careful v. Practical

“I don’t know how to handle all the possible exposures I’m hearing about from employees. Nothing seems to work for both the employee and my company.”

Your HR Survival Tip

Not surprisingly, companies are receiving more and more reports of employees who may have been exposed. We don’t know of any single solution that will work for everyone but we can tell you what some companies are doing.

It’s important to remember that without COVID symptoms, there is no financial help for the employee from the government. The employee must have symptoms AND be talking with a doctor or getting tested to qualify for the Families First money (emergency paid sick leave for 2 weeks).

There are three primary exposure solutions we’re hearing about but each has a negative:

Super Safe — You have an employee who was “possibly exposed” go into self-quarantine for 2 weeks. Give some thought about how many of your employees may be potentially exposed at any one time and that those employees won’t be paid during the quarantine period since they don’t have symptoms. The negative is the employee is unpaid for two weeks and you’re low on headcount that could affect your  [click to read more …]

Pandemic Safety Protocol

Several clients have asked us what a safety protocol should include. We have provided below a very basic plan designed for offices but this is not one of those situations where one plan can work for everyone. You should take these concepts and expand on them based on your work environment for offices or field job sites.

ABC Company Safety Protocol

In order to create a safe working environment for you and for our customers, we have implemented the following protocols:

Before Leaving for Work

You must self-check to confirm you do not have any symptoms.If you do have symptoms, do not go into work but call your supervisor immediately.

Upon Arrival at Work

You must have your temperature taken (and show it is below 100 degrees).You must sign off that you do not have any of the symptoms listed on the sign-off sheet.(Symptoms include cough, headache, the recent loss of taste or smell, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.)

While at Work

You must wear a face mask/covering over your mouth and nose whenever:You leave your office or work station  [click to read more …]

Commission vs. Bonus

“I want to pay my employees a commission of $20 for every successful upsell of our products to a current client. How do I set that up?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Employees are often excited about an opportunity to earn extra money. Let’s first make sure you are using the correct terms and processes for it so you remain in compliance with California law.

In California, a commission is only available when the “salesperson” is actively involved in making and closing the sale and earning a percentage of the sale. You must have a written commission plan signed by each employee with specific details, in accordance with the law. In your case, commission is the wrong term for what you’ll pay.

Since your employees will earn a flat $20 for each upsell, this is considered a non-discretionary bonus. It’s non-discretionary because it is expected whenever they successfully upsell a client. It’s a bonus because it is a flat dollar amount instead of a percentage of the sale.

The only negative is, in CA, a non-discretionary bonus is subject to overtime for the period it covers. For example, if an employee’s bonuses are earned and paid each pay period, you  [click to read more …]

Broker Trust Broken

“I’ve been working with my insurance broker for many years. Lately, when I’ve asked him a question based on something I heard, I find myself worrying about the answers he gives me.”

Your HR Survival Tip

As with any profession, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the changes in your industry and with technology being used in the industry. Too often, when we start working with a new client, we find the insurance broker doesn’t know the answer to our questions…and we believe they should.

While loyalty is a fabulous thing, you may have to decide if your loyalty really belongs to your broker or to your employees. You may not like “breaking up” with your broker but you do need to take responsibility for the choices you make affecting your employees. We all use brokers to provide us with those choices.

We recently heard a client’s broker say he wasn’t really “techie,” so he was unaware that technology started playing a big role in insurance enrollments years ago. Whether you are enrolling directly online with the carrier or using an online broker-provided service like Ease, being able to have employees enroll online (by smartphone or computer) is  [click to read more …]