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HR Policy

A Rise in Inflation Will Trigger an Increase in Minimum Wage for All Employers in CA!


Currently, California’s minimum wage law, passed in 2016, raises minimum wage in phases until it reaches $15/hr for all employers by 2023. The law states if inflation increases by more than 7%, then the state’s minimum wage will increase by 3.5%. The California Department of Finance determined inflation exceeded 7% this fiscal year, thus triggering the increase in minimum wage effective January 1, 2023.


The 7% threshold triggers the increase in the state minimum wage for all employers to reach $15.50 January 1st, 2023
Employers with exempt employees at the minimum salary requirement will also be impacted. Employees who are exempt from overtime and meal and rest period requirements under the California job duties exemptions must be paid at least two times the state minimum wage to qualify for the exemption. The $15.50 minimum wage increase means that the minimum salary for employees, exempt from overtime, in California will increase to $64,480 annually or $1,240 weekly ($15.50 x 2 x 40 hours).

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HR Policy

Failure to Accommodate

Attorneys are noticing an increase in failure to accommodate cases. What is “failure to accommodate”? It is the lack of appropriate action by an employer to assist an employee with a disability, by providing resources or alternatives, to reasonably perform their job. This can include mental health as well as physical limitations. Why now? Short answer, COVID-19. Employees with pre-existing conditions who can work remotely should be allowed to work remotely if they request to do so. A reasonable accommodation can go beyond ergonomic keyboards, it can include WFH alternatives or personal leaves. If you need help assessing reasonable accommodations for your employees, please reach out to us!

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HR Policy

IRS increases mileage reimbursement temporarily

Recognizing the significant surge in gasoline prices, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) recently announced that as of July 1, 2022 it will make “a special adjustment” to its optional standard mileage rates. For the final six months of 2022, the special mileage rates will be:

62.5 cents per mile for business miles driven;

22 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and

14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (same as before).

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COVID-19

CDC Calculator for Quarantine for non-California Employers

COVID, COVID, COVID. We are all sick of hearing about it, but as it seems more and more likely that it is here to stay, we would like to turn your attention to a new tool released by the Center of Disease Control. A new quarantine and isolation calculator has been released by the CDC to help determine when to stay home, how long to isolate, quarantine, and what other steps to take to prevent COVID-19. Although this does not meet CalOSHA requirements, it is great for employers in other states! The tool can be accessed using the link HERE!

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HR Policy

PAGA Win!

On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana , No 20-15173, holding that arbitration agreements apply to employee claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and that individualized PAGA claims may be compelled to arbitration! This is a nice outcome for employers!

What it means: A valid arbitration agreement can now be used to (1) compel the plaintiff’s “individual” PAGA claim to arbitration and (2) to dismiss the “non-individual” PAGA claim.

California employers, however, should be aware that Viking River Cruises may not be the final word regarding the impact of arbitration agreements on PAGA claims.

If you need an arbitration agreement or need to update yours, reach out to us! For more information on the case Click Here.

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HR Policy

California Wage Increases by City! Minimum Wage Changes

Effective July 1, 2022, these localities will increase their minimum wage to these rates:

Alameda: $15.75/hour;

Berkeley: $16.99/hour;

Emeryville: $17.68/hour;

Fremont: $16.00;

Los Angeles City: $16.04;

Los Angeles County (unincorporated areas): $15.96/hour;

Malibu: $15.96/hour;

Milpitas: $16.40/hour;

Pasadena: $16.11/hour;

San Francisco: $16.99/hour;

Santa Monica: $15.96/hour; and

West Hollywood: $16.00/hour for 49 or fewer employees; $16.50/hour for 50 or more employees

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HR

HR Consultants and How They Help

Employee relations can be stressful and tiring matters to handle, particularly for small businesses. When it comes down to it, tying to tackle all of the recruiting, hiring, training, compensation, and retention of employees can be a headache! That’s why many organizations choose to hire an HR consultant to help alleviate some of the pressure. When you hire an HR consultant, they hit the ground running and can offer flexible, personalized services that best suit your organization. They are there to have your back and give you peace of mind!

HR consultants are great assets when it comes to the hiring process! They are able to remove the stress that inevitably accompanies implementing a successful recruitment and hiring strategy. As you may know, a bad hire can cost an organization a great deal, especially with each new hire taking eight months on average to reach full productivity. HR consultants are there to lighten the load, as they are familiar with the essential skills, knowledge, and abilities a candidate needs to perform successfully within each job function. Rather than engaging in the slow, tedious process, of sifting through applicants and conducting initial interviews, HR consultants are there to highlight the very best candidates to help your organization thrive.

HR consultants are also able to assist in the implementation of training and development for employees. They begin by identifying the need for training within the organization and then design and implement the training accordingly. HR consultants can also conclude each training with an assessment of each employee; these results can then be provided to organization leaders to help ensure employees are seeing the proper growth in each desired area of improvement. Each training program can also be customized to best fit the needs of the organization, ranging from compliance to employee relations!

HR consultants can also help to establish a much-needed change in company culture. HR can be one of the most effective contributors to assessing and improving an organization’s culture, and HR consultants can help to successfully facilitate that change! These methods can include coaching and supporting internal staff with trainings and assisting in building a greater dynamic for teamwork and collaboration, which maximize employee satisfaction!

Curating a competitive total rewards package is a major factor for attracting and retaining top talent within your organization. This of course includes pay and benefits, but also branched out to the potential of continued professional development, flexible work hours, and mental wellness initiatives! The first step to ensure satisfaction begins with employee surveys. With the help of an HR consultant, you can uncover exactly what an employee is looking for, because personalization is paramount! Every employee is unique, and their compensation package should reflect this. Plus, when employees feel as though they have the ability to pick what benefits work best for them, they are more likely to feel like they are being heard and have a greater sense of fulfillment and appreciation when receiving such benefits. HR consultants are also there to help you find the most cost-effective choices for your organization and assist you in ensuring that you are offering all of the benefits which are required by state and federal law!

All of this boils down to how HR consultants can help your organization retain its employees. High turnover is a hot button issue many organizations are facing right now as we continue through The Great Resignation. As you may know, high turnover impacts everything from employee morale and engagement to overall productivity. More so, once an organization gains a reputation of having consistently high turnover, this creates a bad image which can be difficult to recover from and may even damage your future recruitment efforts. This becomes incredibly costly as time goes on. An HR consultant can advise your organization how to ensure employees are satisfied, engaged, and willing to stick it out for the long run. So remember, be sure to reach out to us with any of your HR needs because we are always here to help!

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Employee Engagement

Using Employee Wellness Programs and Workplace Benefits to Increase Employee Engagement, Retention, and Productivity.

As we return to the new workplace “normal” post-COVID, more and more employees are transitioning back to some variation of in-person to work. Right now, it is estimated a whopping 60% of employees are engaging in some sort of hybrid schedule with at least one day involving in-person work. This has placed a spotlight on the importance of employee wellbeing, wellness programs, and employee work/life balance initiatives in the workplace. According to SHRM, “A well-executed [employee wellness] program can reduce health care costs, augment productivity, and increase employee retention, providing further support for the correlation between personal health and job satisfaction” (SHRM, 2019).

Wellness programs come in many shapes and sizes and are not always one size fits all! HR should take time to begin with an employee survey to see what wellness programs are most interesting and helpful to their employee demographic. Employees who feel as if programs are catered towards them will be much more likely to participate and reap the benefits. HR should also take into consideration the possible costs, benefits, and potential legal concerns that may accompany each program before going forward as well.

Wellness programs do not have to break the bank; there are a wide variety which can best suit your organization! For example, nutrition education and exercise programs or memberships are an easy and relatively cost-efficient way to get your employees involved in a wellness initiative! On the higher end of things, providing options such as health screenings, vaccine clinics, or health risk assessments can be valuable tools to help your employees understand and manage their health! Another option would be to provide some sort of mental health services for your employees. This may include free or discounted counseling, therapy, or psychiatry sessions for employees who are feeling overwhelmed or working through something in their personal lives. You can even provide incentives such as reductions to employee contributions to health insurance premiums or contributions to an employee HSA to get employees motivated to place importance on their wellness and want to be involved in your organization’s wellness program!

But are employee wellness programs really that helpful to the overall workplace environment? Studies have shown the answer is a resounding yes! Wellness programs help to improve productivity and performance of employees as studies have shown there is a direct correlation between employee wellness and employee productivity, motivation and focus in the workplace. There has also been a correlation found between wellness programs and the improvement of teamwork; it has been found that workers who engage in wellness activities together actually work better together! Wellness programs also help to lower the impact of stress and risk of illness for employees. This not only lowers healthcare costs for the employees, but also increases overall profit for the organization as employees are taking less sick time. This all leads to higher employee morale, improved recruitment, and reduced turnover!

However, be sure to note wellness programs are not all fun and games. They can have serious legal repercussions if done incorrectly as there are a number of federal laws which apply to the design and implementation of employee wellness programs. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). A good rule of thumb would be to not make any employee wellness program mandatory, not require any employee health information be given involuntarily, and offer employees a reasonable alternative to earn any incentives which may be given if the program is unreasonably difficult for them due to a medical condition (SHRM, 2019). Always consult your employment law attorney before implementing any rigorous employee wellness programs!

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Employee Engagement HR

The Importance of Compliant and Updated Employee Handbooks

Employee handbooks are a valuable resource and communication point between HR, the employer, and the employee. Handbooks provide information and guidance for new and existing employees in relation to the mission, values, benefits, policies and procedures of the organization. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, an employee handbook acts as a source of defense against any potential litigation or other legal trouble the organization or the employer may face regarding its employees in the future. As such, it is imperative to have your organization’s employee handbook reviewed, at minimum, annually by an employment or legal professional before distributing it to employees.

Documenting the organization’s compliance with federal and state laws and regulations should be the number one priority when crafting an employee handbook. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), one of the largest mistakes many human resource professionals make when creating their employee handbooks is to simply insert their company’s name throughout a template without tailoring its language to fit the federal, state, or even county law and regulation requirements. For states like California which has extensive state and county laws and regulations, it is even more important to tailor the employee handbook accordingly (SHRM, 2021). 

Employers should make a habit of reviewing their employee handbooks, at minimum, annually. Employment laws, particularly laws on the local and state levels, are constantly changing and therefore should be consistently reviewed to ensure legal requirements are being met and all laws are being accurately reflected within the handbook’s contents. Conducting a full handbook review annually may seem tedious or unnecessary to some employers, however, it is the most accurate way to ensure there are no policies or laws that have been overlooked, and that the handbook’s contents still holds relevance to the organization. Failure to do so may expose the employer to liability, lead to lawsuits, and procure costly fees.

As mentioned, laws and regulations are constantly changing on the federal, state, and even county level, and litigation against employers and companies are becoming more prevalent as a result. The employee handbook is a means of protecting the employer against such liabilities, from discrimination or unfair treatment to wage and hour claims. As such, it is important to have it reviewed by an employment or legal professional. A legal counsel, such as an employment lawyer, ensures that all aspects of the employee handbook are compliant with laws and regulations (SHRM, 2020).

A lawful employee handbook is essential for an organization’s success. Some of the most important areas which should be addressed and reviewed annually within an employee handbook include state and local sick leave, remote-work rules, leave of absence mandates, health and safety requirements, the release of private information, regulations related to COVID19, anti-discrimination or harassment policies, and drug-testing programs or marijuana legalization laws. Additionally, if your organization has employees working in multiple states, it is imperative to create an employee handbook which complies with each of the state’s legal requirements.

It is just as important to ensure each employee handbook is sent with an accompanying written acknowledgement form. Acknowledgement that each employee has read and is made aware of the organization’s policies and procedures is just as important as ensuring the policies and procedures are compliant with laws and regulations. The onboarding process should address the acknowledgement of the employee handbook and should then be saved within the employee’s personnel file. Although this establishes the employee has been made aware of the organization’s policies and procedures, it is important to ensure it in no way is construed as an employee agreement, as this can affect the employment-at-will status (SHRM, 2021).

If you would like a compliant handbook or need yours updated, reach out to us! We would be happy to help!

Categories
COVID-19

Senate Bill 93: California Right to Recall Statute

On April 16, 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 93, which requires certain employers to rehire eligible employees who were previously laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To be eligible for recall, laid-off employees had to have been employed by the covered employer for six or more months in the 12 months preceding Jan. 1, 2020. This bill is currently effective until December 31, 2024.

The law applies to hotel businesses, private clubs, event centers, airport hospitality operations, airport service providers, and building service providers (defined as businesses that provide janitorial, building maintenance, or security services to office, retail, or other commercial buildings). Covered employers must follow SB 93’s recall procedures, timeline and preference system, which gives priority to employees based on date of hire. 

Covered employees are considered “laid-off employees” who worked for a covered company for at least 6 months in the 12 months preceding January 1, 2020. Additionally, an employee must have worked two hours or more per week for a covered employer; AND were terminated for any reason related to the COVID-19 pandemic (including a public health directive, government shutdown order, lack of business, a reduction in force, or any other economic, nondisciplinary reason due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

As such, employers must make an offer to qualified employees if the laid-off employee is qualified for a position and laid-off employees must be offered the position in order of seniority. With that, simultaneous, conditional offers of employment may be made to more than one laid-off employee, with the final determination of which laid-off employee gets the position determined by seniority. 

The length of time the offer must be open is 5 business days, though if a covered employer chooses not to recall laid off employees for a position based on the grounds that they lack the qualifications, the employer must provide written notice explaining the reasons for the decision within 30 days. 

An employee may file a complaint with the DLSE, which has exclusive jurisdiction to enforce the law. The DLSE may award the complainant the following: 

  • Hiring and reinstatement rights 
  • Front or back pay 
  • Value of the benefits the complainant “would have received under the employer’s benefit plan” 

In addition, the DLSE may impose civil penalties of $100 for each individual whose rights the employer violated. The statute also provides the DLSE with the discretion to impose liquidated damages of $500 per day for each individual whose rights the employer violated “until such time as the violation is cured.” 

Record keeping requires an employer to keep records for 3 years, including records of communication regarding the offer letter to laid off employees. 

In addition to the statewide right of recall, local right-of-recall ordinances persist in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach, Oakland, Santa Clara, and Pasadena; each of which has its own coverage and requirements.