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 …]

Employees 1, Employers 0

Governor Newsom signed SB1383 and dramatically changed protected time off as we know it. On January 1, 2021, companies of 5 or more employees will be subject to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The CA Chamber of Commerce had declared this a job killer bill and it definitely proves politicians don’t understand the challenges smaller employers face.

CFRA is very similar to FMLA (Federal Medical Leave Act) but includes a few more benefits for the employee than the Federal law. Starting 1/1/2021, the following differences will be in effect:

Affected companies:FMLA = companies with 50+ employees;CFRA = CA companies with 5+ employees. Employee’s employment:Both = employed at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during that period. Location size:FMLA = 50+ employees within 75 miles;CFRA = 5+ total anywhere. Amount of time off:Both = up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected time off. Reasons:Both = care for yourself or a family member with a serious health condition, pregnancy, new baby bonding (or foster or adoption), and various military reasons. Family member:FMLA = child (minor or a dependent), spouse, and parent;CFRA = those listed under FMLA plus siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners, adult children, and  [click to read more …]

How Unemployment Works

“I just don’t understand how unemployment works when I’m able to offer a little part-time work for employees.”

Your HR Survival Tip

We have been exposed to just about every combination of work versus unemployment this year. One of the questions we get most often is how unemployment is affected if you only give the employee a few hours each week rather than full-time work.

When a worker is on unemployment but also works part-time, they are required to report those earnings every two weeks to EDD (California’s Employment Development Department). EDD then does a calculation based on those earnings versus the worker’s unemployment benefits, based on one of two ways:

Method 1 — This is used when that paycheck is more than $100. The first 25% doesn’t count but the other 75% is subtracted from what the employee would have received in unemployment benefits that period.Method 2 — This is used when that paycheck is $100 or less. The first $25.00 doesn’t count but the rest of the paycheck is subtracted from what the employee would have received in unemployment benefits that period.

We appear to be at the end of the Federal add-on to unemployment. However, knowing these calculation  [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 …]

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 …]

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 …]