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Posts by michael

Educating Your Employees about Absences

in News and Features

Clarifying your company policy on various time-off claims is essential! What is it … sick time, family leave, paid time off, or just a non-paid absence from work? Employees are not the only ones confused! For years California employers used attendance policies that assigned an “occurrence” for unscheduled, unapproved absences. Employees who incurred excessive amounts of  “occurrences”  received counseling, then discipline; if the absences continued, termination usually followed. This policy was characterized as a “no-fault” policy because the reason for the employee’s absence was irrelevant: it was merely a matter of the employee being absent from work so often or for so long, that termination became the only option for the employer. Then came the California paid-sick-leave law, known as the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, which required employers to provide paid sick leave beginning on July 1, 2015. The law required employers to provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked or a minimum annual lump sum of 24 hours. Sick leave could be used for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of—or preventive care for—an employee or an employee’s family member, and also for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Some employers don’t note the differences until they are sure an employee may be abusing one of the classifications. Here’s a 3-step process that can help you reduce employee confusion and abuse when recording workplace absences.   Step 1: Develop a clear company policy on absences. Absences are a constant issue so employers must develop a company policy covering all the different types of absences.  When your company decides to clarify its absence and time off policies, the first rule is to review current federal family leave laws. Then be sure to check the latest information from California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) department, which recently published an updated FAQ that addressed the state law.   Step 2: Record your policy in the company handbook. Publish this policy in your company handbook—don’t forget to include within this policy a list of consequences if the employee has been found to abuse any of these classifications. This list would consist of warnings,...

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EMPLOYER ALERT: Paying Employees During a Power Outage

in News and Features

California residents are without power due to the PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program.  As a business owner affected by these outages, do you send your employees home?  Will you need to pay them during the outage if you do send them home? What are your options? You have the option to send employees home. If you decide to send your employees home, remember that pay requirements differ for exempt and nonexempt workers: Exempt Workers – You must pay exempt workers for a full day on any day they perform any work. Also, for any days where the business is shut down for the entire day, if an exempt employee performed any work during the workweek and is ready, willing, and able to work on the day you shut down, you must pay them for the full day you are shut down. Nonexempt Workers – They are only entitled to be paid for the hours they spend performing work. Reporting time pay requirements for nonexempt employees does not apply even when public utilities fail to supply electricity, water, or gas, or if there is a failure in the public utilities or sewer system. Keeping Employees Onsite at the Workplace If you keep your employees on the premises to try and “wait out” the outage—and they do no work—  you will still need to pay them for the time spent waiting for the power to come back on. While the law allows you to require employees to wait out the outage—but if the outage lasts many hours or days—you may want to consider sending these employees home. Call Sequoia Personnel Services for HR compliance help!  If you are still not clear on these pay requirements, or you have other questions concerning labor laws during extreme situations connected to natural disasters, emergencies, or weather-related incidents that affect the workplace, call Sequoia Personnel Services for HR compliance...

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Natural Disasters and the Work Place

in News and Features

Employers need to be ready for emergency closures before they happen! Californians aren’t subject to dangerous hurricanes or tornadoes, but many business owners have had to contend with floods, fires, earthquakes, and even tsunami watches. Office closures in California often revolve around dangerous road conditions or business closures created by fires, flooding, freeway accidents or car chases … no matter what the cause of the delay, closure, or emergency, these conditions can appear suddenly and employers must be prepared for worker’ absences that can occur when these situations arise.   CALIFORNIA MANDATED “EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN” If you have more than 10 employees, you must create a written Emergency Action Plan for your company. Your company is exempt from the written plan requirement if you employ 10 or fewer employees. However, this does not relieve you from your obligation to have a plan for handling emergencies. An Emergency Action plan must specify: The people responsible for implementing the plan or portions of the plan How to communicate emergencies to employees Fire and emergency evacuation policies The personnel assigned to provide first aid and emergency medical attention   Review and Implement an Emergency Closure/Natural Disaster Policy Now Your company should have established guidelines for handling your business operations during periods of extreme workplace conditions and similar emergencies, no matter how many people you employ. This is the time to review your Emergency Action Plan and prep your employees on how to handle the situation when it comes to reporting for work. FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security have a website focused on emergency response resources for employers and a page tailored to family emergency planning. Step 1: Set up a policy and determine protocols of what constitutes a viable reason to close or delay the opening your place of business; the availability of alternative workplaces or work from home arrangements; whether you will offer any leave to employees during times of extreme environmental emergencies and whether that time will be paid or unpaid (beyond what you are legally required to do); and if you will need an extension from the EDD to file any of your payroll reports or taxes. Step 2: Establish who will be in charge of deciding...

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New Court Ruling: Contractor vs. Employee Definitions

in News and Features

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court clarified rules around who is a contractor and who an employee. The good news is that the court did in fact make the situation clearer. The bad news is that for some who were operating in the grey areas of the old rules, that territory shrunk substantially and they will want to review their classifications. The ruling found that workers are assumed to be employees unless three factors can be proven … The “ABC Test” permits workers to be classified as independent contractors only if the hiring organization demonstrates that the worker in question satisfies all three of the following conditions: (A) That the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; (B) That the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and, (C) That the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed. For most businesses, this is simply a clarification that narrows the grey area. Just make sure you’re still classifying your workers correctly. However, for some, such as Beauty Shops and Salons, it could present a major departure from being in the business of renting space to contractors to becoming the employer of those workers. For assistance in figuring this out, call Sequoia Personnel Services at (707)...

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What is Co-Employment?

in News and Features

What is Co-Employment? Co-Employment is simply dividing up responsibility between the onsite employer and a professional employment services provider like Sequoia Personnel. As your “co-employer,” we pay the employee taxes and process employee paychecks which include tracking PTO, sick leave, and other information to keep you compliant with labor regulations.   But if I co-employ with you, am I still the boss? Am I still the one making decisions about my employees? According to employment law, when you co-employ with a professional employer service provider like Sequoia Personnel, we then become the “employer of record.” But you are in charge of your operations and your business, and for supervising the employee. You are still the boss making the final call. While you will still make decisions around hiring, performance, and firing, you will have Sequoia Personnel’s help on the HR side. This may include help with recruiting and screening employees, dealing with discipline issues, and developing and implementing workplace policies.   Do I pay any additional taxes because I co-employ with Sequoia Personnel? No, but with one important caveat. A recent study has shown that employers who co-employ with a service like Sequoia Personnel grow 7-9% faster. This faster growth is achieved by being able to focus on your core competencies while outsourcing the rest of those time-consuming, labor-intensive HR services. This growth often leads to more revenue, which leads to more taxes! So there could be more taxes… and that might be a good thing!   Can I co-employ and still have my own group health insurance plan? Yes, both federal and state law allows you, as the employer, to choose which benefits you offer to your employees. One of the advantages of Co-Employment with a professional provider is that you will have access to an expanded marketplace – an option to select from a wider array of employee benefits at prices that are often only available to large employers. This allows you to compete for the best talent when recruiting new employees.   Learn more about Co-Employment!  ...

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