September Celebrations

September 4 – Labor Day
While we all enjoy a long weekend as the summer winds down, few of us stop to consider the origins of Labor Day. Since becoming a federal holiday in 1894 on the heels of the labor movement, Labor Day recognizes the value of the American worker, particularly economically and socially disadvantaged groups who, at the time, worked long hours under dangerous conditions.Workplaces have come a long way since then through legislation, employee advocacy, and cultural trends (to name a few). If you are celebrating Labor Day with a barbeque, pool party, sporting event, or simply kicking back and relaxing, we say, GO FOR IT! You earned it, and we appreciate you!

September 16th – National Working Parents Day
Parenthood famously comes with incredible blessings, but also unique challenges and tribulations. With care costs on the rise, food prices through the roof, work and life pulling them in different directions, and time as limited as ever, working parents definitely don’t always have it easy.Consider how your employment policies affect working parents. Talk to the working parentson your team to find out what they feel is helpful, and what they would change. Ask them how you can best support them. Don’t forget to thank them for all they do… and maybe a DoorDash gift card wouldn’t hurt!How do your policies empower all working parents on your team?

September 22 – American Business Women’s Day
Founded in 1949, the American Business Women’s Association set out on its mission to unite women in business across the nation in diverse industries, roles and occupations, increase the opportunities available to them, and enrich their lives personally and professionally. Officially recognized as a holiday by President Ronald Regan, August 22nd is observed in honor of the millions of working and business-owning American women. As a woman-owned and women-operated business, we urge you to observe and honor American Business Women’s Day in your workplaces by ordering lunch or snacks from a woman-owned eatery, writing complimentary online reviews for your favorite woman-owned businesses, mentoring an emerging female leader, or shouting out amazing women in business on your social media channels. What are some ways you are uplifting the women in your companies?

September 26 – Human Resources Professionals Day (our favorite!)
SweeterHR team would like to take a moment to express our sincere gratitude to all of our clients and partners who have trusted us with your HR needs and given us the opportunity to support you. We are so passionate about HR and love to represent and uplift this amazing and dynamic field. If you have an HR professional on your team, or someone owning these important responsibilities, we encourage you to show them your gratitude. If you have a business owner in your network who could benefit from our passion and expertise, our team would love to connect with them! We also provide referral incentives through discounts on services! How has your perception of HR changed over time?

September 29 – National Coffee Day
Oh coffee… how do we love thee? Let us count the Starbucks.

Coffee is as beloved a beverage as beer, more beloved than wine, and almost as beloved as soft drinks. Most of us wouldn’t dream of starting our mornings without it. At work, many meetings are held, deals closed, interviews conducted, and projects completed over coffee. Some research even suggests that having coffee on hand at the office (whether home or onsite) can increase productivity and heighten brain activity… but you didn’t need us to tell you that. To positively impact employee satisfaction, consider investing in a quality coffee or espresso machine for your office. If your employees are remote, send them a perk that perks them up with a hot and caffeinated beverage delivery. How do you take your coffee?

HR Policy

COVID-19 Exceptions to Form I-9 Process Ending

The ability for employers to examine employee I-9 documentation “remotely”-an exception made to in-person examination put into place during COVID-19, is being discontinued effective July 31st 2023. The US Dept. of Homeland Security and ICE are again requiring that an appointed employer representative examine the original and authentic accompanying documents provided by new hires and other employees in-person during the I-9 completion process, meaning:

1.    Employer representatives are required to retroactively conduct a physical review of the original supporting documents for anyone whose I-9 was completed remotely. The deadline to do so is August 30th.

2.    Beginning on August 1, 2023, physical and in-person documentation review is required by the new hire’s third day of employment.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Employers may choose to use an authorized representative to fill out their portion of the Form I-9 on their behalf.  Authorized representatives may also complete the in-person inspection as needed. This is a manageable alternative for fully remote workforces, as the authorized representative may be an employee’s friend, neighbor, relative, or similar.

HR Policy

Required Employment Law Postings Update

New updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, and Pregnant Workers Fairness Act have just been released. These changes require that the mandatory employment law posters be updated.

These changes include:

The Pump Act was added to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in May 2023.

Access the revised FLSA poster HERE

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was updated in its entirety, also in May 2023

Access the revised FMLA poster HERE

Employers are now required to post the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), as of June 2023

Access the new PWFA poster HERE

Don’t forget to post your new and updated employment posters in high-visibility locations where all your employees can review them!

HR Policy

Important Update to Minimum Wage in California Cities

Businesses in the following localities must adjust to the increases as they go into effect on July 1, 2023:

California New Minimum Wage Increases:Fremont : $16.80
Los Angeles (city): $16.78
Los Angeles (county – unincorporated areas): $16.90
Malibu: $16.90
Pasadena: $16.93
San Francisco: $18.07
West Hollywood: $19.08
If you are an employer in an affected area, please ensure that your business’s minimum wage is updated.

HR Policy

CA SDI (Disability) and PFL (Paid Family Leave) Wage Replacement Benefits Increased

Lower-earning workers in California can soon receive up to 90% of their regular wages through State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) program benefits. Other eligible employees in the state of California can receive up to 70% of their regular wages.

Currently, lower-income employees receiving benefits under these programs can expect to receive up to 70% of their base pay, while their higher-earning counterparts can receive up to 60% of their base pay, to the weekly benefit cap of $1,620.00.

Gavin Newsom, CA’s governor, signed these changes (Senate Bill (SB) 951) into law late last September to take effect beginning January 1st, 2025. In preparation for these expanded benefits, the in-force payroll tax limit will be lifted on January 1, 2024, affecting California workers making more than $153,164 per year.

To prepare for these changes, do not wait to coordinate with your payroll servicer about the upcoming tax implications, and discuss these updates with your employees, including the increased SDI and PFL benefits they could be eligible for in 2025.

HR Policy

Protected Speech In The Workplace and Profanity

By Lauren Amabile Sr. HRBP

The NLRB overruled a 2020 precedent related to the consequences faced by employees who use profane and/or harassing/discriminatory remarks during arguments at work in its May 1st decision in a case involving a manufacturing company based in Texas (Lions Elastomers, LLC.).

An employee of Lions Elastomers participated in a tense and “offensive” confrontation with company leadership over the workplace conditions—considered protected activity by the NLRB, resulting in his termination in 2017. The case was eventually handed to the Board following an appeals process and, at the time, the NLRB considered the dismissal to be unjust and ruled in favor of the employee’s reinstatement.

This ruling is particularly noteworthy for employers, as it returns the NLRB to a position of bolstered protections for workers participating in protected actions under the National Labor Relations Act. Though this recent decision is working its way through the appeals process, it is recommended that companies increase their consideration process when it comes to reprimanding employees for their conduct during disputes related to concerted activity.

The Board recognized in their decision that, while employers are understandably interested in an orderly and considerate work environment and employee relations, disputes related to working conditions can be caustic in nature and therefore, workers should be given grace related to their conduct in the heat of the moment, so as not to infringe on their rights under Section 7 of the NLRA.

According to the 2-person majority opinion, the employee’s behavior and conduct must be reviewed in the context of participating in concerted activity, and not as if it happened during regular business operations.


Pay Transparency

The new pay transparency law in California requires employers with 15 or more employees to include salary on all job postings and employers with 100 or more employees must report pay data for existing employees. Pay data reports include the median and mean hourly rate for demographics, due on May 10, 2023 to the Civil Rights Department.

Whether your company falls under the pay transparency law or not it is important for you to understand where your company is falling short. Salary benchmarking may sound overwhelming but it can be helpful in attracting and retaining top talent. Some benefits include;

Attracting and Retaining talent
Increased motivation
Establish trust and loyalty among employees
Reduce pay inequality

We suggest taking the time to collect employee data including salaries, job responsibilities, and demographics (race, sex, sexual orientation, and education), then comparing it to your organization and similar companies to remain competitive.

HR Policy

Earned Wage Access

Research suggests that earned wage access is becoming more popular in how companies pay their employees. EWA is a revolutionary concept where employees can access their earned wages as early as the same day. Studies have shown that 60% of workers want on-demand pay, which increases a business’s ability to attract, retain and motivate employees. Simply having the option to request earned wages provides a higher sense of security for workers, even if they don’t utilize it. Earned wage access is an awesome way to stay ahead of the competition but there are some compliance items to think about. Here are 4 best practices when considering this benefit.

Ensure you have written policies that are compliant with state and federal laws including privacy and Paycard laws.

Get the consent of employees when sharing information to providers.
Consider benefits, implications and withholdings.
Research EWA providers and partner with experienced companies.
Have an attorney review for compliance risk

Human Resources

Large Wage & Hour Penalty for Popular Family-Owned Restaurant

In December, the U.S. Department of Labor received $370,194 for back waged and damages from the owners of Millie’s Café. The DOL found Millie’s Cafe denied workers overtime wages and hid the activity.

Millie’s Cafe owners violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay employees overtime. Investigators also found the restaurant attempted to conceal labor violations by issuing company checks and giving cash payments to employees. In addition, the DOL cited the restaurant for failing to keep records of employee hours, including overtime.


Pay Equality

With a focus on International Women’s Day last month, we thought we would discuss Pay Equality for the Newsletter.

Did you wonder why employers cannot ask candidates about their previous income in CA and select additional states? It is due to pay equality.

In the past, many businesses offered candidates pay based on their previous income. In an environment where women and most definitely, women of color, are paid less for the same work as their male counterparts, it is easy to imagine how quickly pay inequality can spiral under such practices.

In fact, California’s requirement came after a recent-ish case of a teacher, Aileen Rizo. She found out she was paid less than her male counterpart although she had more experience and education. When she inquired as to why she was paid less, the school listed prior income as the determining factor. She sued and won.

Equal pay for equal work. It is something you will see a lot of people on social media lamenting about right now. A ton of CEO’s will be declaring their companies stand behind women on International Women’s Day without actually putting in the work or looking at the data and adjusting. More of our small business clients practice wage equality than many of the large (boastful) companies we have come across. Our hats off to all of you for the equality practices we see every day!

For more on the Rizo case: