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 …]

New COVID Rules

“I’ve heard my workers’ compensation insurance is now going to be hit when employees get COVID. Will this make my rates go up?”

Your HR Survival Tip

We aren’t yet sure just how SB1159 will affect workers’ compensation insurance rates, if at all. Regardless, we have no choice but to implement the changes required by this new law. Originally, there was a short-term law in place from 7/6-9/17/2020, that presumed anyone working for you might have caught COVID while working and was eligible under your workers’ comp. The new law made this presumption official and extends the time period for more than 2 years…to January 1st, 2023.

If at any time between 9/18/2020 and 1/1/2023 you can answer yes to all the below questions, you must file certain paperwork:

Your company has 5 or more employees (including owners, etc.).An employee tested positive for COVID within 14 days of working at your facility or job site.The employee provided you a positive test result.

If you did (or do in the future) answer yes to the above, provide your employee with a DWC1 workers’ comp claim form. Then ask your employee for more details so you can complete Form 5020. Now you have 3 business  [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 …]

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 …]

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 …]

Tool Time

“I’ve always provided the tools my field employees need. Then an employee told me a previous employer made employees use their own tools. How can I implement that?”

Your HR Survival Tip

As you may have noticed, there seem to be laws or lawsuits for nearly everything employment-related in California. There are three things to consider when you have employees who use or need tools in the field:

Employer-provided tools — You provide all the tools, including maintaining and replacing them. You are not able to charge employees for the replacement of lost tools so consider a check-out/check-in system to track your tools.Employee’s tools — In California, you are only able to require employees to use their own tools on the job if you are paying those employees at least twice the state minimum wage (currently $24 or $26 per hour, depending on company size). If you have employees earning less than that, you are responsible for the tools.Paid commute — If you have employees carrying your company tools in their personal vehicle every day, there is the possibility you may be responsible for their commute time and costs. Current lawsuits haven’t yet been settled but it appears a paid  [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 …]

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 …]

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 …]