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Posts by Sequoia Personnel Services

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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Meet our Staff: Tomas Chavez

in Meet Our Staff, News and Features

Michael Kraft I’ve been a fan of Tomas Chavez for about 8 years now, when he was pretty new at Sequoia Personnel, and I was pretty new in the county. We met as two of the founding officers of the first Humboldt chapter of Business Networking International, or BNI. Well before I came to work here at Sequoia in 2013, I tagged him as one of the county’s up and coming business leaders. If Sequoia was a car, Tomas would be the engine. He powers and inspires the rest of us. He handles the majority of permanent placements, as well as temporary contract employees in office environments. He works passionately, and tirelessly on behalf of both sets of our clients: the employer looking for the right person and the job-seeker looking for their next, and best, job. Tomas is involved with various community endeavors. He is a member of the Arcata Sunrise Rotary. Earlier this year, he was named Ambassador of the Year by the Eureka Chamber of Commerce, and he will chair the ambassador group for the coming year. Tomas grew up in the high desert east of Los Angeles. Like many, he came to Humboldt to study at HSU and decided to stay. Tomas is married to Heidi Chavez. They have a son, Cruz, and live in McKinleyville. If you want to experience the very best customer service in Humboldt’s personnel industry, get in touch with Tomas at 445-9641 or...

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Do You Know About the Wage Theft Notice You’re Supposed to be Handing Out?

in Best Practices, News and Features

Michael Kraft Last month, Debi Callahan and I presented a workshop on California’s new mandatory sick leave law. (We’ve made several references to this significant change. If you’re not up to date, please see our previous blog post here.  At one point, we mentioned that information about this law needed to be on the required Wage Theft Notice. Then there were a disconcerting number of blank faces staring back at us. As a relevant aside, Human Resource Management is composed of a disconcerting combination of strategically important considerations relating to the management of talent within your organization, and a maddening array of also-really-important-legal-requirements-that-can-get-you-into-trouble. The Wage Theft Notice is one of the latter. The California Wage Theft Protection Act flew in, kind of under the radar, in 2011/2012. The act requires that all employers provide each employee with a written notice containing specified information at the time of hire. You need to be giving one of these to each of your new hires. Then, when a key change like the mandatory sick time issue comes up, you need to issue an updated notice to each of your employees. If you’ve never handed out a Wage Theft Notice in your life, use the current regulatory change as your trigger to do so to all of your employees. If you want to read up on this, the best source is the California Department of Industrial Relations website: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/governor_signs_wage_theft_protection_act_of_2011.html. The English version of the notice itself is here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/LC_2810.5_Notice.pdf If you feel the need for a review of your HR practices to see what else you might be missing, call me at 445-9641 or email kraft@sequoiapersonnel.com. Debi or any of our other outstanding HR consultants would be happy to help you.   The information provided in this blog is intended for general information purposes only. Readers should seek the help of an HR professional for guidance on specific...

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