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Posts by Sequoia Personnel Services

Sexual Harassment Training Becomes Law for Small Employers: Are You Ready for CA Senate Bill 1343?

in News and Features

With an ever-increasing number of employment laws on the books, it has become  vitally important to stay current with California’s complex landscape of employment law.  Are you aware that doing business in California means paying different minimum wages based on your company’s size or the location?  Or, If you have employees working in California you must provide them with an adequate amount of sick time based on their tenure with your company?  These are just two of the more recent changes to CA employment law that have had wide-ranging implications to most employers.  This year, you will be required to train your entire staff on how to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace. As of January 1st, 2019 California Senate Bill #1343 became law.   Now all California employers who employ five or more people in our state are required to have all of non-supervisory level employees attend a one-hour interactive sexual harassment training course—with no exceptions.  You read that right, under the new law you’ll need to have your entire staff certified by 2020, then again every two years, moving forward.  If this sounds slightly familiar, you may be confusing this bill with CA AB 1825.  CA Assembly Bill 1825 was enacted in 2004 and signed into law by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Under AB 1825 employers with 50 or more employees were mandated to have all supervisors attend an interactive sexual harassment training of at least two hours, once every two years.  Senate Bill 1343 keeps the standard requiring supervisor’s training to be at least two hours, however, the new bill greatly reduces the threshold to include employers with 5 or more employees. If you’re a small employer chances are you don’t have a dedicated HR department or perhaps even a dedicated HR person to help you stay current with the complexities of CA employment laws.   For many small businesses, staying up-to-date with employment law doesn’t take priority amongst the hustle and bustle of day to day business.  I’m here to tell you it should! Violations can lead to fines and penalties that can stack up quickly and be extremely costly!  Employment law is truly one place where Benjamin Franklin’s adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth...

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How Employers Can Reduce “No Call – No Show” Incidents

in News and Features

Nothing is more frustrating to employers, supervisors, HR managers and staff than when an employee fails to show up to work!  The immediate effects are obvious – it impacts the day’s work flow, burdens co-workers, puts extra work on the supervisor to determine 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?  We in the staffing business have come to see that many Employers’ don’t help their cause—in fact, employer’s often set themselves up for this kind of employee behavior.  Them’s fighting words you say?  Let’s look at some best practice solutions that deal with this problem—and ask yourself, am I doing all I can to help my employees report their absence? 1. Implement a “No-Call / No Show” Policy & Procedure and publish it in your company handbook.  The handbook must clearly identify and outline the “No-Call / No Show” policy, provide a procedure for calling in, and a statement about the consequences of not reporting into work. 2. Review Policy at New Employee Orientation: When first hired, review the policy and procedure with the new hire and have them sign a document saying they have received instructions and understand the consequences of a “No Call –No Show” incident. 3. Communicate “No-Call / No Show” Policy & Procedure annually with all employees – no exceptions.  This is the Number #1 failure of employers!  When was the last time you let ALL your employees know what the procedure is for “calling in” to report an absence?  Make sure all employees, including long-time workers, staffers, and supervisors get updated. 4. Provide multiple “Call in” Options – this is the key to managing your incidents: A) Supply a laminated, wallet-sized card with a voicemail phone number and instructions on what to do when an employee needs to call in to report an unplanned absence. B) Provide a dedicated “Absent Call-In” voicemail phone number. Employee Responsibility:  Require all employees to use it (yes, even supervisors,...

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In Search of that Elusive Government Contract

in Best Practices, News and Features

Michael Kraft On a day late last year, I was going through bids solicited in California by various government agencies. For someone whose work involves seeking opportunities for public/private partnerships, this is in concept a good idea. In practice, it’s a little mixed. I find myself reading a solicitation for an “F Neck Insulator.” I have no idea what this is, although the middle school boy in me makes a few lewd guesses. It turns out to be some UV-resistant polyethylene thing, and I move on. The hospital at Camp Pendleton is seeking maintenance for its Evita series. This intrigues me evoking the lyrical and historical Evita, but then disappoints by being some kind of ventilator. I don’t know why I thought there might be work for us in this, true, but a ventilator? The Defense Logistics Agency seeks a Wheel, Pneumatic Tire and a Cable Assembly, Special among Things, Other. I find something that could be useful to one of our partner companies and I take a minute to forward that. I do this about once a week. I have once found something to bid on and twice now found things that could be good for our customers. It’s tedious, to be sure, but it has its moments. And, in the end, there is opportunity here for someone, including us Humboldt locals. On the day I found this stuff above, Humboldt County was seeking bids on a cargo van and something called methacrylate treatment for bridges. Down in Fortuna, the CCC was seeking work on its parking lot. And I find one request for services that might actually be in our wheelhouse, and I send off for the bid packet. If you want to join in, you can get started at www.californiabids.com. There are a few tricks and shortcuts; I’ll share the ones I’ve learned if you get in touch with me. You can also get help with government contracting from the North Coast SBDC and the PTAC folks at Humboldt State (Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center, respectively)…just Google them. However you get underway, good luck with that F Neck Insulator! The information provided in this blog is intended for general information purposes only....

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The Wage Debate

in Best Practices, News and Features

Tomas Chavez One of the challenges we face in Humboldt County is competing for talent with the other, often more urban, areas across our state While many of us who live here will argue that we have a leg up when it comes to quality of life, we cannot argue that we are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to competitive wages. When I get candidates into my office who are new to the area, I prepare them for what we call the 30% rule. Employees in Humboldt County typically earn 30% less for professional level (mid to upper level) positions than those in the same positions in the state’s more metropolitan areas. Websites such as Payscale.com are a great recourse to check this statement and compare wages across the country. Since the recession officially ended, we have seen an overall increase in jobs throughout the county. Labor markets are tightening. Despite this, however, we have not seen an increase in wages for the majority of the workforce, with the exception of those earning minimum wage. Minimum wage has seen a number of increases recently, with an increase to $10/hour statewide scheduled for January 1st 2016. While the effect of these increases is a still up for debate, one thing appears certain: employees who earn somewhat more than minimum wage are taking notice and expecting their wages to raise accordingly. According to Payscale.com’s Director of Professional Services, Mykkah Herner, “It’s a matter of getting creative with pay grade structures to accommodate both the need to pay fairly and legally as well as to differentiate jobs that are now getting paid more and more similarly.” There is no easy answer here; if an employer hopes to keep a top notch work force they may be facing difficult choices when it comes to which employees are to receive higher compensation. In the past, when I received a call to Sequoia Personnel for an experienced general administrative position and an employer asked me “What’s the going rate?” I would typically respond that at minimum they should consider a wage of $12/hr if they want a candidate with experience and a solid skills base. As minimum wage increases, we are finding employees...

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Is This an Intern I Spy Before Me?

in Best Practices, News and Features

Michael Kraft It used to be that the State of California and the Federal Department of Labor (DOL) had two different legal standards for what makes an unpaid intern, California’s being predictably more stringent. Back around 2010, however, the state chose to go with the federal standards in enforcement. The feds are still rigorous, using a six-part test to determine whether an intern is an employee or “volunteer” for the purposes of wage and hour laws. The training provided, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, must be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment. The training provided is for the benefit of the trainee, not the employer. The trainees work under close supervision but do not displace existing employees. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship. Importantly, all six of the DOL guidelines must be followed for an employer to stay within the law when offering an unpaid internship. If any of the criteria are not met, the intern is considered to be an employee and wage and hour laws apply. Typically, the most difficult criterion to establish is whether the employer derives a benefit from the intern’s activities. Employers should not view unpaid internships as a means to accomplish regular work tasks. If the interns are unpaid, then the emphasis must be on the educational aspect aimed at assisting the intern, not the company. (Remember: all “employees” must be paid minimum wage and overtime pay.) Other possible issues that arise include: Whether interns are considered employees for purposes of workers’ compensation laws. Protecting interns from discrimination. Whether interns should sign a nondisclosure and/or non-solicit agreement, or any other agreement in light of the fact that the intern may not fully understand what he or she is signing. Given these complications, before recruiting an intern an employer should develop policy for the organization’s...

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