Parting Ways

“My business is slower to return than expected and I have too many employees. How do I reduce my headcount?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Your employee costs are often one of your highest line items, depending on the type of business you have. It’s important to know exactly how much you spend per employee overall so you can make good decisions about when you should increase or reduce the number of employees.

There are several types of terminations but they each have a specific use. Many companies like to use “layoff” because it feels softer to them. However, your choice could potentially result in legal obligations for you so you really do want to choose the type of termination that fits your scenario.

Layoff – When you use layoff as your reason, the expectation is you will rehire the employee once business picks back up or you again have need of the position. You provide a final paycheck that includes any earned, unused vacation or PTO time. The employee is eligible for unemployment. Furlough – We rarely saw this used prior to the pandemic. It is almost exactly the same as a layoff except they remain an employee on your records.  [click to read more …]

Employee Referrals

“I’d like to implement a plan that rewards employees for recommending people they know to our company. What do I need to consider?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Employee referral plans can be a huge benefit to your company and for your employees. When a current employee recommends someone to apply, they want the reward. As a side benefit to you, they often feel responsible for the success of that person and won’t recommend people they think might make them look bad.

When planning to offer a referral bonus, there are more things to consider than you might think:

What is the value of receiving a recommendation from an employee? Recruiting time and money can often cost you far more than paying a referral bonus. We see plans paying $300-$1000, depending upon the position. When does the current employee receive the bonus? Consider how long it takes a new hire to start doing well in the job. Or look at your turnover and determine when most of it happens. If you have a lot of turnover in the first three months, then you want to wait until after that to pay out any bonus. What process needs to be in  [click to read more …]

Extra Cost of Employees

“I pay my employees well but a few are mentioning I should be reimbursing them for different things. Besides wages, am I supposed to pay them for anything else?”

Your HR Survival Tip

If you ask the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the federal Department of Labor (DOL), or the Courts, you will find they all agree you may owe your employee for more than just time worked. The answer comes down to the fact that it should not cost your employee a penny to work for you or to do their job.

Where those pennies are being spent by employees depends on the job they have, equipment/tools needed to do the job, and their workspace. When using an employee’s personal property, you will be legally expected to pay for that convenience…even if it doesn’t actually cost the employee more. Examples include:

Personal cell phone — If you haven’t provided the employee with a desk or cell phone, you must reimburse for a percentage of their monthly plan based on company use. Even if they have an unlimited plan, your company benefits so you need to calculate a fair reimbursement. However, you won’t owe anything  [click to read more …]

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 …]