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 …]

More Become Independent Contractors

If you have or were using independent contractors, you know California has complicated it over the past couple of years. The California Supreme Court established the ABC test, which made it very hard to have contractors doing anything related to customers. Then AB5 clarified certain positions could be classified as contractors. While this opened the door a bit, it’s still been hard for most companies to hire contractors and be confident with that decision.

Governor Newsom just signed AB2257, which now opens that door a bit wider. Workers that may now qualify as independent contractors include:

Certain occupations in connection with creating, marketing, promoting, or distributing sound recordings or musical compositions.A musician or musical group for the purpose of a single-engagement live performance event, except in certain conditions.An individual performance artist presenting material that is their original work, creative in character, and the result of which depends primarily on the individual’s invention, imagination, or talent.Still photographer, photojournalist, videographer, or photo editor, as defined, who works under a written contract that specifies certain terms.People who provide services to a digital content aggregator, as defined, by a still photographer, photojournalist, videographer, or photo editor.Fine artist, freelance writer, translator, editor, content  [click to read more …]

Special Updates

We often see little pieces of information that may affect you. This is just a quick summary of some of those items.

FFCRA Back to School Options

It’s possible the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) has more frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers than anything we’ve seen in years. As always, the emergency Family Medical Leave (FMLA) component is available to employees who are unable to work or telework because of childcare issues. Now that schools have reopened in one format or another, more explanations were in order. The newest additions are FAQ #98, 99, and 100. Some schools now or in the upcoming months will offer in-person classes. The FFCRA monies will only be available if the school is not offering in-person classes, forcing the employee to stay home with their child due to remote learning. However, keep in mind the original qualification…the employee also cannot be able to work OR telework due to childcare issues.

FFCRA Revisions

Based on a court decision in New York, a few things have changed with how the FFCRA is generally applied by companies.

If someone is still officially your employee, they may be eligible for FFCRA monies even if  [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 …]

Documenting COVID

“What do I need to track for COVID and what do I do with the information?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Running a business has become increasingly difficult as COVID rules and responsibilities keep changing. The one thing we all know is to send an employee home (or tell them not to come to work) when they have symptoms and/or test positive for COVID. But what then?

1) You follow your protocol, which should include finding and notifying those potentially exposed, cleaning the work area of the person who tested positive, etc. When warning about the exposure, you only say “someone you work with has tested positive.” While the employees may figure out who it is, the name can’t come from you due to privacy laws.

2) The next step is to notify your local health department to inform them of a positive case.

3) The last step is determining if this positive test must be reported on your Cal/OSHA Log 300 (that is posted February 1 to April 30 each year). You must list this incident if the employee misses work, is diagnosed by a doctor, has medical treatment beyond first aid, etc. These are the primary things that happen when  [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 …]

Managing Unemployment Forms

“My business was closed for over 2 months due to the state stay-at-home orders. In the past few weeks, I have been bombarded with various unemployment claims and notices but the deadlines for responding have passed. What do I do with them?”

Your HR Survival Tip

You only had to hear the news of all the layoffs caused by the pandemic to know EDD (California’s Employment Development Department) was swamped with unemployment claims. They are slowly catching up but we’ve seen a lot of forms arriving in June but with March and April dates. So now it’s your turn to be swamped.

The way we like to handle them is to first sort them by employee so you can see if there are multiple documents or a progression in the documents for that employee. The most common are:

Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed — This is the first form you receive. It shows you an employee has filed a claim. The form includes the employee’s name and social security number, the effective date of the claim, the last day of work, and the reason the employee gave them for not working. If the information is correct, you  [click to read more …]