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 …]

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 …]

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 …]

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 …]

Regular Vs. Base Pay Rate

“I’m confused. When talking about an employee’s regular pay, I’m assuming it’s the same as their base pay. However, now I’m hearing something different. Are these the same?”

Your HR Survival Tip

An employee’s base rate may be the same as their regular rate. However, many times, the regular rate is actually higher than the base rate because the regular rate is based on a calculation and includes more things.

The base pay is the hourly rate you pay the employee and it’s no more complicated than that.

The regular rate, as mentioned, is a calculation based on money paid to the employee for more than just hours worked. It includes those hourly earnings, non-exempt salary, commissions, production bonuses, piece-rate earnings, and even the value of meals and lodging. Also included is that stipend you might pay the employee toward a personal insurance policy instead of providing company health insurance.

What does not count toward that regular rate are gifts, holiday pay, vacation pay, sick pay, expense reimbursements, discretionary bonuses, profit-sharing, overtime pay, and ERISA-qualified retirement plan contributions.

Why does this matter? Because when an hourly employee works overtime or uses sick time, you can’t just pay  [click to read more …]

Why You Do What You Do

“I now have about 30 employees and have heard about employee engagement but I don’t really know what that means or why it’s important.”

Your HR Survival Tip

Employee engagement, in simplistic terms, means employees are involved in your company rather than just having a job. If the employee is just coming to a job, they can easily replace that job with a different one. However, if they are engaged with your company, they feel needed and important and that emotional connection often results in much better retention and happier employees.

Involving employees in the business isn’t that hard to do. People love to give their opinions and many just need to be asked. Management often gets so wrapped up in the big picture, they don’t really know how the front line is doing. If you think about it, that front line may not have a management title but they are often the ones with great ideas that could save you money or increase production.

If we walked into your company and started talking with employees, how would they answer these questions?

Why is what you are doing important to this company?Do you have ideas of how your work  [click to read more …]

Bonus Considerations

“As we come to the end of the year, I’m considering bonuses for my employees. Has anything changed I need to know?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Employees typically love to receive cash bonuses at any time. However, as a business, you need to consider whether you are taking full advantage of this particular benefit so your business benefits, too.

The laws have become very picky about non-discretionary bonuses. A non-discretionary bonus is one that is expected and, often, the amount the employee might get is also known based on certain criteria. Many companies have had their bonus plan in place for so long it would likely be considered non-discretionary for legal purposes. Non-discretionary bonuses must now calculate an overtime amount based on any overtime worked by hourly employees over the bonus period. Yes, it’s another strange calculation California requires so let us know if you need help with it.

If you want a discretionary bonus plan, employees should haven’t any expectation of a bonus, should wonder if there will even be one, wonder when it might be, and have no clue about how much they might receive. Does your bonus plan fit this? If not, it could be considered  [click to read more …]

New Somethings from Newsom

California’s Governor Newsom must have writer’s cramp from signing so many bills into law. All the laws below are scheduled to go into effect on January 1st, 2020, unless someone manages to stop or change them. We have:

AB51 Mandatory Arbitration Agreements — The agreements have been seeing some changes but now we won’t be able to require employees to sign one to keep their jobs. Without the ability to force arbitration agreements, companies may see more lawsuits.AB707 Arbitration Fees — Steep ramifications may be seen if the party initiating an arbitration agreement fails to pay the appropriate fees within 30 days.AB5 Independent Contractors — This bill has already been discussed in the last two articles so we won’t waste your time repeating the information.AB749 No-Rehire Provisions — Often settlement agreements include a provision that the company will not rehire that employee. However, this bill prohibits that option so the ex-employee will no longer be automatically prevented from being rehired.AB9 Claims Extended 2 Years — The deadline for filing a complaint with the DFEH (Department of Fair Employment and Housing) has been extended to 3 years from the previous 1-year deadline. The DFEH handles all types of California’s harassment claims.SB142 Lactation Accommodation — We  [click to read more …]

New Rules for Contractors, Part 1

We’ve been waiting for more than a year to hear more information about independent contractors. Last year the California Supreme Court created the ABC test, which made it difficult to justify using independent contractors.

The decision to hire someone as an independent contractor lies with the hiring company. If your company misclassifies that worker, your company will be the only one held legally responsible. The contractor holds no liability so it’s important you do your due diligence. The default is they are an employee and they are subject to the ABC test.

The passing of AB5 clarifies who will be exempt from the ABC test. If they are exempt from ABC, they must instead pass the Borello test. Let’s first look at the parts of each test.

ABC Test

The workers must pass all 3 points. If they fail any of these, they must be an employee.

A — You can’t control the services or how the worker performs the work (this means you can only tell them the outcome you want, not how they get there).B — The work performed must be outside the usual course of your business (this means the work they do doesn’t touch your clients,  [click to read more …]