Answers to Questions

As events are being cancelled and bars, nightclubs, restaurants, gyms, etc. are being closed, everyone is worried about their employees and their business. We are getting a lot of questions on what employers could or should be doing during this national emergency. We’ve tried to provide a few answers for you here:

Your business interruption insurance won’t cover your losses during a pandemic.Your workers’ compensation insurance won’t cover employees who have been exposed because it’s impossible to prove it was a work-related illness.State disability insurance won’t be available to employees unless they have medical certification, which doesn’t appear to be easily available at this time. However, employees can apply if they are diagnosed and have a doctor’s note.Employees cannot decide on their own to stay home from work as a precaution. They can only make that choice if they are truly in imminent danger. However, you can approve an unpaid leave of absence.You may ask for a doctor’s note stating they should stay home and you can ask for a doctor’s note before letting them return to work if they’ve missed any work due to illness.You may send employees home and use sick (if available) or unpaid time off  [click to read more …]

Working Remotely

“I have employees who want to work from home. However, we’ve never done this before and I’m not sure how it works.”

Your HR Survival Tip

There has never been a higher demand for the ability to work from home as there is right now. But the demand was high even six months ago because technology continues to improve and many workers prefer to work from their own home. First, however, your business needs to be structured and prepared.

If you look beyond today’s health concerns, the ability to work remotely has and will continue to be considered a benefit only available or offered to certain employees. Many industries aren’t able to function without employees on-site, such as manufacturing, transportation, construction, and those using laboratories.

An employee might think it’s easy for them to work from home, particularly if they are an office worker. However, as a business owner, you need to think of the whole picture:

Timekeeping — Are employees able to record time worked online from any computer? How can you ensure they are still taking meal and rest breaks? Are you set up to use electronic signatures?Productivity — What electronic methods do you have set  [click to read more …]

Coronavirus Summary

“Employees are starting to ask about working from home so they won’t be exposed to the coronavirus. I know everyone is worried but I’m not prepared for a remote workforce.”

Your HR Survival Tip

It’s important to understand we aren’t medical specialists of any kind. However, we have been receiving a lot of information about how to handle the current situation and wanted to share some of it.

Experts are considering the risk levels to be very low at this time and are asking people not to panic. While there is no vaccine, they remind us to act the same as when the flu is going around:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a sanitizer containing at least 70% alcoholAvoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed handsCover your cough and sneeze with a tissue (then throw it away)Stay home from work if you feel flu-like symptomsFrequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces used often

There has been a lot of information about masks but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state most masks won’t help. If you’re healthy and wear a mask, you’ve gained nothing. If you’re sick and wear a mask, it  [click to read more …]

Meal Break Waiver

“I’ve heard I can have employees sign a meal break waiver so I don’t have to worry about them taking a meal break. How does it work?”

Your HR Survival Tip

There are employers who think California will allow an employee to waive the rights the state has given them. If only it were true. Instead, California works hard to ensure employee rights are enforced.

As you already know, California requires an unpaid, off-duty meal period of at least 30 minutes any day the employee works 6 or more hours and a second unpaid, off-duty meal period of at least 30 minutes any day the employee works more than 10 hours. Since there are a few differences with meal and rest breaks based on industry, please check the appropriate Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) order for the rules for your industry.

Meal Break Waiver for Under 6 Hours — This waiver is used when employees are scheduled to work less than 6 hours that day. We don’t often use this waiver simply because it seems redundant since you aren’t even required to provide a meal break unless they are working 6 or more hours.Meal Break Waiver for a Second  [click to read more …]

I Voted!

“A couple of my employees are asking about paid time off to go vote. Am I required to pay them to vote?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Any paid time off seems to generate misinformation. California does have a law regarding paid time for voting. However, most employees will not be eligible for this paid time off.

Many California counties have adopted the new Voter’s Choice Act, allowing people to cast their vote in person or by mail about a month before election day. Voting centers in those counties will be open for up to 11 days before election day, including weekends, so employees registered to vote there have no excuse for not having sufficient time to vote.

However, if you have employees who work really long hours, they may qualify for paid time off to vote. The rule is the employee should have 2 hours before or after work when they can go to a voting center. If their workday doesn’t leave 2 hours on either end, you may be required to offer up to 2 hours paid time. Of course, there are a few more things to this law:

Since polling places are open 13 hours  [click to read more …]

New Hire Forms

“Based on what I’ve heard from others, I think I might not be giving my new employees the correct documents when they are hired. How do I find out if I’m missing anything?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Many required new hire documents are forms and brochures from either California or the Feds. Since state and federal governments are involved, you can’t really expect something as simple as a list.

We provide an HR Forms Packet that includes everything but we have to work to gather these documents and regularly check back to see if new versions have been issued. Our packet includes the following new hire documents:

CA discrimination brochureCA family rights act brochureCA paid family leave brochureCA paid sick leave flyerCA pregnancy leave brochureCA Ralph hate violence brochureCA rights of victims brochureCA sexual harassment brochureCA state disability brochureCA unemployment brochureCA wage theft prevention formCA workers comp time of hire flyerFED CHIP noticeFED Form I-9FED Form I-9 instructionsFED Form W-4FED healthcare noticeCOBRA noticeDirect deposit formEmployee information formEmployee handbookHarassment prevention policyNon-disclosure agreementPaid sick leave policy

Yes, it’s a lot of paper! There are a few items on the list that may not be relevant for your size company but most  [click to read more …]

Important Changes

Even though everyone is accustomed to constant changes with California or Federal employment laws and related items, we like to inform or remind you of any important changes. The forms, in particular, have a drop-dead implementation date so don’t delay in using them.

Arbitration Agreement Update

So often California adds another weight to your administrative burden. But, for once, the Feds have saved us! California’s AB51 had been passed, prohibiting us from requiring employees to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. Right after that, a judge put a temporary restraining order on the law because the federal government strongly disagrees with that prohibition. Finally, a US District Court has ruled that AB51 is invalid. This means you can continue to require employees to sign your arbitration agreement if they want to work with your company.

California attorneys are very much in favor of using arbitration agreements because they help avoid class-action lawsuits. Those lawsuits are hitting smaller and smaller companies so it’s good to have protection. Please ask if you need a referral to an employment law attorney to create an agreement for you.

New I-9 Form

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services have finally  [click to read more …]

Risky Role Models

“I like to joke around and hug my employees occasionally. Someone has told me I need to stop most of it but I really want employees to have a great place to work. Is fun no longer allowed at work?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Nearly every employee would like to work at a company where it’s a great atmosphere and the boss is approachable. But you need to understand what that means to ensure you aren’t sending the wrong message. The one message you need to remember is “if I do it, it’s okay for everyone else to do it.”

Often someone in management may be able to pull off a behavior that goes badly awry when a subordinate tries it. Perhaps they don’t understand the legal or company rules as well as you. Or maybe they just don’t understand there are differences between what you’ve done or said versus what they do or say. Let’s look at a few behaviors we’ve seen from management:

Joking Around – When kidding with employees, you need to be sure you aren’t being offensive or that someone will think it’s offensive to someone somewhere. Very few jokes can pass the test as  [click to read more …]

Prepare for 2020

We hope you have had a prosperous year and are looking forward to the final holidays this year. Now is also the time to plan for the employment law changes in 2020:

CA Minimum Wage — Calfornia has, as usual, an increase of $1/hour to the minimum wage on 1/1/2020. This means companies with 26+ employees increase to $13/hour and those with less than 25 employees increase to $12/hour. This is only the state wage so, if you are in an area with a local law, you need to check what that new rate may be.San Diego Minimum Wage — The City of San Diego is one of those areas with a local law. If you have employees working within San Diego city limits, you’ll need to pay $13/hour regardless of the size of your company…while those employees are working within San Diego.Minimum Salary — Whenever the state minimum wage increases, so does the minimum salary. So on 1/1/2020, your exempt (salaried) employees may need a raise. Companies with 26+ employees must pay at least $54,080/year and those with less than 25 employees increase to at least $49,920/year. Keep in mind this is the absolute minimum you can  [click to read more …]

Questionable Posts

“Sarah, my employee, has been posting on social media a lot of pictures of herself partying and drinking. She has been moving up in the company but I think these posts could eventually hurt her career. What can I do?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Legally, there’s nothing you can do about the choices employees make when posting on social media. People of all ages now seem to post everything about their life, without regard to privacy or what others may think. Once something is posted, it truly is “out there” forever. People don’t always think about that when posting.

You can counsel Sarah and explain she might want to give some thought to the message she’s sending with her choice of posts and who is seeing them. Although we all have personal lives, every detail doesn’t need to be made public. In some cases, those posts may actually alter what people think of her and that could ultimately damage her career.

Strangely enough, a lot of people feel a person with a lot of responsibility at work must be responsible at all times. For example, people may not want to see their banker getting sloppy and having fun at  [click to read more …]