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Posts by Sequoia Personnel Services

Handling Political & Covid-19 Workplace Discussions 

in News and Features

 Tips on keeping employees’ conversations on controversial topics civil  As employees return to the workplace, there may be heated discussions among co-workers concerning the upcoming elections, current events, or the pandemic. Due to this, arguments and outright hostilities may erupt. If tempers flare during these heated discussions, supervisors will need to know how to handle the situation. To reduce the potential for heated discussions, it is essential to have a policy in place regarding political discussions that includes consequences for violations.    Communicate with all staff any mandatory safety policies that apply to your worksite  Establish specific return to work policies and communicate clearly to all staff your new company policies and requirements for mask-wearing, social distancing, client and co-worker contact and any new cleaning/disinfecting procedures. Through communicating and clarifying company policies upfront, antagonistic discussions can be reduced.  Remind staff that many of these workplace safety requirements are state and federally mandated. Compliance is required to remain in business.    Declare your worksite as a Safe Zone  As workplaces reopen, expect some divergent views from employees about whether they feel safe and comfortable returning to work. Remind staff that co-workers may be health-compromised, or may have a family member who is of high-risk, so they will have legitimate concerns about co-workers’ social distancing and mask-wearing practices. “Virus shaming” will not be tolerated. Due to health confidentiality laws, management and employees themselves are NOT required to share their personal health information.    Set a policy for which employees can Agree to Disagree  Remind staff of company policies, including local, state, and federal laws regarding employees’ rights to disagree and have differing opinions, but specify that the company will not tolerate arguing, intimidation, bullying, or other tactics that would be considered harassment.  If employees insist on discussing politics, set ground rules such as no name-calling and mention that discussions should occur during break time and not during a staff meeting.  Also, remind employees that if they become agitated it is best to end the conversation.     Communicate to your staff that you recognize and respect the diversity of opinions and beliefs  Political discussions may be difficult to avoid in a semi-social work setting, such as a team lunch or after-hours socializing...

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Benefits for California Workers Impacted by COVID-19

in News and Features

Benefits for California Workers Impacted by COVID-19 https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/ Program Why What Benefits More Information How to File Disability Insurance If you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) Short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income); ranges from $50-$1,300 a week for up to 52 weeks. Learn more about your eligibility for Disability Insurance File a Disability Insurance claim Paid Family Leave If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) Up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member. Approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income); ranges from $50-$1,300 a week for up to 6 weeks. Learn more about your eligibility for Paid Family Leave File a Paid Family Leave claim Unemployment Insurance If you have lost your job or have had your hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19 Partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Range from $40-$450 per week for up to 26 weeks. Learn more about your eligibility for Unemployment Insurance File an Unemployment Insurance claim Paid Sick Leave If you or a family member are sick or for preventative care when civil authorities recommend quarantine The leave you have accumulated or your employer has provided to you under the Paid Sick Leave law. Paid to you at your regular rate of pay or an average based on the past 90 days. Learn more about your eligibility for Paid Sick Leave If accrued sick leave is denied, file a Wage claim Workers’ Compensation If you are unable to do your usual job because you were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of your work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits include temporary disability (TD) payments, which begin when your doctor says...

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2020 California Labor Law Update Labor Laws that Impact Employers

in News and Features

Sequoia Personnel is ready to offer HR guidance in navigating these legal changes. Please reach out to us for more information. When you employ through Cardinal, you work with a firm who is prepared to help keep you compliant. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several bills at the end of the legislative calendar that directly impact California employers. Here’s a reference list:     AB 5: New Rules for Independent Contractors This new law would transform a large proportion of independent contract workers (1099) into employees (W-2) — such as delivery and transportation drivers—based on new criteria for classification. The new criteria contractors are directed by employers on what to do and how many hours to work; are in the same line of business as the company; and are not independently established—then these contractors will be reclassified as employees. The law also states some workers as exempt from the law, including insurance brokers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, and real estate agents.    AB 9: Extends the Deadline to File Workplace Complaints Extends the time (from one year to three years) in which employees are allowed to file complaints with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for discrimination or harassment based on race, sex, age, disability, medical conditions, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics. Claims which have already expired under current law are not restored under AB 9.   AB 51: Bans Most Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Designed to ban forced arbitration agreements among California workers. These agreements often require employees to waive the right to take legal action against their employers for sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage theft, instead resolving complaints through private arbitration. Under the new law, employers are prohibited from revoking a job offer or otherwise retaliating against an employee who decides against signing an arbitration agreement. Even with the governor’s signature, however, AB 51 is likely to face years of litigation and may be significantly tempered.   AB 403 Division of Labor Standards Enforcement for Complaints Extends the statute of limitations for complaints alleging workplace retaliation from six months to two years, and would authorize attorney fees to any employee who successfully sues for retaliation based on whistleblowing.   AB 547 Janitorial Workers: Sexual Violence...

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

in News and Features

Here are some “safe practices” that can help you and your employees Sequoia Personnel Services acknowledges the worry and the many questions on employers’ minds with the arrival of the Coronavirus in the Pacific Northwest. We want to share some best practices that can help you and your employees during this ongoing health challenge.   Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Rules on “Safe Workplace” Under OSHA, employers do have a responsibility to maintain a safe workplace, but at this time, the risk of exposure for the average worker is relatively low. Though many employees may feel uneasy about coming to work or working with the public, a few essential precautions and an open communication policy at your company can go a long way to easing fears.     Call-In and Attendance Policies Review your procedures for calling in sick or unplanned absences. Review these procedures with your staff and your managers so that they can review these with their work crews. It is crucial for every employee to know the company’s sick, vacation, or paid time off (PTO) policies, and managers should be prepared to answer questions from your staff. Keep in mind, employees requesting time off for illness, may have some job protections under other Federal or State Leave Laws such as the Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), California Paid Family Leave (PFL), California Family Rights Act (CRFA), or even the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Generally, however, an employee is not entitled to these protected leaves if staying home just to avoid getting sick.   Flu/Infectious Disease Best Practices Encourage sick employees to stay home You may legally send sick employees home Wash hands frequently with soap & water (20 seconds) Have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer available Avoid close contact with people that are sick Avoid touching eyes, nose, and face Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue—then wash hands! Increase workplace cleaning frequency—disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces, including counters, doorknobs, break-rooms, kitchens, and restrooms Offer virtual webinars or conference calls instead of in-person meetings, if feasible Stay current with local and national health agency recommendations Limit travel to affected areas Consider offering telework, i.e., working remotely to potentially...

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Ask HR: Upholding our Call-in Policy

in News and Features

Dear HR, One of our new hires failed to follow appropriate call-in policy before missing work.  We are aware that they had a death in the family so want to be kind and help our employee through this tough period, but how do we do that while still upholding our company policies and procedures.   HR Answer: Nothing is more frustrating to employers, supervisors, and other staff than when an employee fails to show up to work!  The immediate effects are obvious – it impacts the day’s workflow, burdens co-workers, puts extra work on the supervisor to determine the cause and always, always affects the bottom line of an employer’s profits. It is easy to cast blame on the employee for not notifying the employer.  For many companies, failure to “call-in” is considered job abandonment and is grounds for immediate termination.  But in this labor market, who can afford a high rate of turnover?  There are no California or federal law that regulates the amount of time an employer must hold a job open for an employee who neither appears for work nor calls in to explain their absence. In California, three no-call, no-show days are commonly considered job abandonment.   Time to Review Your “No-Call / No Show” Policy A company handbook must identify and outline a “No-Call / No Show” policy, provide a procedure for calling in, and include a statement about the consequences of not reporting into work.  There will be times, however, when due to a family emergency, calling the company will not be an employee’s priority.  Your handbook should have a paragraph or two defining these “unforeseeable emergency no-call situations” along with a statement concerning the policy of the company on these types of situations. As stated, this was an unforeseeable family emergency, and we believe that situations such as these should always be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.    Annual Review of your “No-Call / No Show” Policy Our suggestion is, when the time seems appropriate, to privately review this policy with your employee. However,  this incident can be a reminder that it is perhaps time to review your company’s “No-Call / No Show” Policy & Procedure with all employees – no exceptions—including...

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