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News and Features

Employment Training Panel

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Training can seem expensive, but staff turnover costs much more at 1 to 1.5 times the employee’s salary. Did you know you could get reimbursed for training expenses?  Drawing on Employment Training Panel (ETP) funds, your company might be able to get reimbursed for training expenses. Some features and qualifications of the program include: You design the training program, pick the topic and the trainer. It can be in-house training, or an outside training program. An employer is eligible to participate in an ETP funded project if it is subject to the California State Unemployment Insurance (UI) fund contribution. Employees must be full-time, permanent employees working at least 35 hours per week. Training reimbursement is based on the size of the company and industry sector.  The ETP gives special consideration to small businesses of 100 or less employees in California but no more than 250 employees worldwide.   Priority industries identified in ETP’s strategic plan also receive a higher rate (i.e., manufacturing, nursing and allied healthcare, construction, information technology services, multimedia and entertainment industries). The reimbursement rates are between $12 and $21 per hour, per trainee depending on size of company and industry sector. All training funded must be “off-the-job”, which means that for every hour of training claimed for funding there is a trainer who is doing nothing but training and a trainee who is being trained and is not doing his or her regular job.  Training must be documented on a roster with the signature of the trainer and trainee and up to 20 trainees to one instructor.  Trainees must complete a minimum 8 hours of training to receive reimbursement and 200 hours maximum. Trainees must earn a minimum hourly wage after completion of training.  The minimum wage varies by county.  In this contract the wage range is $11.70 to $28.37.  The dollar value of employer-paid health benefits (medical, dental, vision) may be used to meet the required wage. The required wage is $15.60 for Humboldt County, during the 90 day retention period. Trainees must be retained on the job for a minimum of 90 days after completion of training. Michael Kraft can help you get started. Just contact him at kraft@sequoiapersonnel.com or...

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Can subsidized On the Job Training stretch payroll dollars?

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Yes, with some extra effort – Effort that can be worth it! Let’s look at the facts: On the Job Training (OJT) is a government wage and training subsidy paid directly to employers through a contract.   OJT helps defray costs of upgrading new employee skills with training you specify. It can shorten the time it takes to get a new employee up to speed.  If you are looking to expand and train for job specific or specialized skills, you may receive up to 50% of an employee’s wage rate.  Additional perks can include tax credits for new hires.   Benefits: You make the hiring decision. May include tax credits for new hires. You determine job performance standards. You retain the right to terminate a trainee. Paperwork is handled by an OJT Representative working with you, your HR or payroll staff. Reimbursement happens during the training period.   Responsibilities: You hire OJT trainees as regular, full-time employees. A trainee’s rate of pay is commensurate with what you pay others for similar work. OJT trainees do not replace employees laid off with six months prior to your application.   A conversation with Sherman Landry, Program Coordinator at the Employment and Training Division-Employer Services will answer your questions, help you make a decision, and get you to next steps. CONTACT: Sherman Landry (707) 441-4652...

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Please Train Your People, People

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Providing quality education time for your employees should not be measured as a loss of production or valuable work-time.  Employees are generally eager when given opportunities to improve, both in their work environments and also in their lives in general.  When an employee senses they are connected with their employer and they are working within the kind of culture that makes them feel valued and cared about, they will give more and feel more pride about your workplace. When was the last time you provided training for your supervisors, employees who represent your workplace to the community, or all your staff?   Training Supervisors Some topics that are considered essential, or even mandatory **, for supervisors and employees who represent your company out in the community. Sexual harassment avoidance ** Protected leaves Workplace violence and bullying Investigations reporting and retaliation Substance abuse & more …   All Staff Training Topics Investing in training for your entire staff may improve performance, efficiencies and even loyalty for those valuable people employed at your workplace. Training topics: Safety Sexual harassment First aid/CPR Workplace violence and bullying Substance abuse Company ethics and mission & more … Training doesn’t have to be long or formal.  Some topics can be covered easily at a weekly meeting or impromptu get-together.  Optimize your training by designing for consistency.  A way to ensure consistency is to design and use a written and approved topic content outline. Also, training can be most effective if it is conducted by supervisors and/or a topic subject matter expert.  Many times having a quick test at the end of the training is helpful, even if it is an informal verbal question and answer time, to check on understanding.  If you have a bilingual workforce, it is in the employer’s best interest to also provide training in the languages spoken in the workplace. Depending on your workplace, training might be mandatory. Certain safety, environmental, human resource and legal topics may be areas your workplace is required to provide training.  Make sure you research which training is mandatory. Also, make sure your training materials meet the topic requirements.  Keep training materials dated, provide sign-in training rosters and ask everyone to make sure they sign it...

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Prop 64 Passed – Now What?

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Now that Proposition 64 has approved adult use (recreational) cannabis in California,   What Employers need to know: The biggest question for most organizations: Employers can still drug test, and they can enforce their own drug policies, including up to firing workers who test positive for weed. This stuff remains illegal at the federal level. It remains to be seen how a Trump administration will choose to enforce the federal laws. For our local economy, the federal rubber meets the road most at the bank. Banking regulations (and the interpretation and enforcement of them) are notorious disconnects with the local situation on the ground.   Here is some other stuff you may want to know: Smoking weed on the street or in a bar remains illegal, since public consumption is banned. Consuming in a vehicle or getting high and driving remains illegal. Although the testing technology is not up to speed, drugged driving laws still apply and, as with alcohol, it’s not legal to have an open container of pot in a car. Basically, for now, Prop 64 means California citizens can grow up to six plants “discreetly” at home, can consume marijuana in their homes, and can walk around with up to an ounce of old school bud or up to 8 grams of concentrates. For now, buying or selling recreational cannabis is also illegal. Licensed shops won’t open for another year. So anyone who doesn’t have a doctor’s recommendation and wants to get cannabis legally needs to either wait until they can grow their own (up to six plants…and cities/counties can put additional restrictions on this) or get an ounce or less for free from another...

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Regulations Update

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December, 2016 – January 2017 This month and next month have shaped up to be busy in terms of new regulations affecting employers. Here are short briefs on several of these developments: Minimum Wage This one is big but simple. Remember that on January 1, the minimum wage in California rises to $10.50.   Tax Filings for Organizations with 10 or More Employees This one is pretty straightforward. As of January 1, California employers with 10 or more employees are required to file electronically with the EDD (Employment Development Department). This applies to employment taxes, wage reports and payroll tax deposits. The good news is that the tool is powerful, relatively simple and free. A year later, all employers will need to do this. (AB1245)   Employment & Legal Right to Work This bill from the state legislature is a little “inside baseball,” as they say, but here’s the upshot. As of January 1, agencies that provide certain employment services (such as EDD) will no longer verify the recipient’s legal right to work. Therefore, as an employer, you cannot assume that someone receiving unemployment or similar services has the right to work in the U.S....

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Overtime Ruling Delayed

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December 1st Deadline on Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees Delayed!   In case you missed it, late last month a Federal judge in Texas halted the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime rule by issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction. The recent DOL’s rule requiring “white collar” employees to be paid at least $913 per week in order to remain exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will NOT go into effect on December 1, 2016, as planned.   This injunction will delay activation of the rule and the future of the overtime rule is unclear as it will now attract the attention of both executive and judicial branches. So, employers who were waiting until December 1st to implement this employee classification change may continue delaying.   Now, here’s what will happen if the injunction is lifted…per the original rules the Department of Labor (DOL) issued on New Overtime Exemption Rules.   Employee Communication Have you been talking with your workers that will be affected? In addition to having these conversations, it is always a best practice to implement changes of classification or salary in writing to your employee.   When choosing to reclassify your employees earning less than $913 per week, you should require they track their start times, end times, break times and meal times. This is a great opportunity to ensure your employee handbook is up-to-date so your employees know what your policies are regarding meals periods, breaks and tracking their hours.   If keeping up with all these new changes prove to be an administrative nightmare, consider looking to Sequoia Personnel Services for help in monitoring rule compliance for you organization. We offer a wide variety of workplace solutions such as time and attendance options and free FLSA review. We can also create, review, or assist in the preparation of new or existing policies and handbooks.   Questions? Confused? You’re not alone! Give Michael a call at 1-707-445-9641 to connect with a member of our HR...

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