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Posts by michael

Employee Time-Off for Voting 

in News and Features

 What Employers Need to Know About California Election Law  Election Day is right around the corner. Employers must stay compliant with California State Law requirements concerning employee voting rights and should immediately review existing company policies and practices to ensure compliance with said laws. Employers must also be prepared to deal with employee requests for time off before election days. California maintains a website that has all the pertinent information employers and employees must understand regarding their voting system.   https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/   California Statewide Election Dates:   March 3, 2020: Primary election.  November 3, 2020: General election – state and federal levels.    Under California Election Code Section 14000:    Polls Are Open From: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Time Off: Employees are entitled to two paid hours off for voting, only if their non-working hours are insufficient for them to cast their vote.   Hours: Time off may only be taken at the beginning or end of a work shift, whichever maximizes the amount of free time for voting and minimizes time away from work, unless otherwise mutually agreed.  Employee Notice to Employer: The law requires workers to notify their employers two business days before the election if they need to take time off to vote.   Posting Requirement: Employers must post a notice of voting-time requirements at least 10 days before an election. Employers can satisfy this requirement by posting a copy of the Time Off to Vote notice.  California Voter Registration   Automatic Voter Registration:  Beginning 2016, any individuals who visited the California Department of Motor Vehicles to acquire or renew a driver’s license could automatically register to vote.   Online Voter Registration: California has an online voter registration system. Residents can register to vote at: http://registertovote.ca.gov/  Voting in California  Deadline: The deadline to register to vote is 15 days before Election Day.  Voter Requirements: To vote in California, an individual must be a U.S. citizen and California resident who is 18 years or older on Election Day. The voter cannot be in a state or federal prison, on parole for the conviction of a felony and cannot be found mentally incompetent to vote by a court.   Conditional Voter Registration: A new safety net for Californians who miss the deadline to register to vote or update...

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Reimbursement of Expenses for Remote Workers

in News and Features

  In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many employers are permitting, or even requiring, that employees work from home. A consequence to this is that some states mandate employers to reimburse their employees for certain expenses incurred as a result of their remote employment – and California is one of those states!   Employers are required to reimburse employees for reasonable expenses they incur for equipment and services necessary to work from home. This can include cell phone, internet and computer usage expenses. Under federal law, employers are generally obliged to reimburse expenses incurred by their employees if those expenses reduce their pay scale below minimum wage standards.  California Labor Code requires employers to cover “all necessary expenditures or losses” that workers incur while doing their jobs. Those costs can include the purchase of office equipment and reimbursement for utilities, i.e. electricity, internet or broadband and phone service.   California businesses must have compliant labor policies for expense reimbursements and workplace safety. Now, this needs to include policies that specifically address expenses incurred by a remote workforce. However, some of these policies may be designed to stay in effect only until staff return to the physical worksite.    Reimbursements  Monthly payments of $25, $40, $50, or $75 for utilities are accepted amounts, but employers may want to do some market research to justify the reimbursement amount provided. Employees who feel the amount is too low should have an avenue to appeal.  Monthly reimbursements can vary by category of worker. For example, remote IT teams might need faster, more expensive broadband than their co-workers so their expense allotment may be higher.  Employers can require employees to provide additional information (such as utility bills) to determine what percentage of a utility is used for work purposes. Calculating utility reimbursements to the penny or providing a small monthly stipend may leave employers vulnerable to claims of failure to compensate their employees fairly. It is better to stay on the side of generosity as to avoid allegations of labor code violations.  Internet reimbursements can be handled as nontaxable expense reimbursements provided the employer is able to justify how they arrived at the amount. However, some monthly payments—such as a car allowance that...

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Back to Work – Employee Safety Concerns on Returning to Work 

in News and Features

Get ready to have new policies in place and answer employee questions   Your employees may have many questions and concerns after returning to work. It is your job, as the employer, to address these questions and concerns regarding employees’ health and safety as we face COVID-19. Below is a probable list of questions employees may ask as you reopen your business. Do I have to return to work?  What steps will you take to keep me safe?  Will you implement social distancing between co-workers?  Will you take mine and my co-worker’s temperatures daily?  Will everyone be required to wear a mask and gloves?  Will you provide masks and gloves?  How often are you cleaning the workplace?   How will you protect me from customers that might put me at risk?  What if a co-worker gets sick? How will I know?   What do I do if I know my co-work actively abuses safety practices at work or in their personal lives, putting me and others at risk?  What happens if I get sick? Will I get paid for time off?   What if someone in my family gets sick and I have to care for them?    These questions may require new company policies  While no two businesses are alike, and despite the fact that the business community has never dealt with a challenge like this, there are still guidelines and labor laws that apply to these situations. Here are the recommended steps your company can take to prepare for and welcome your returning workforce:    Step 1: Gather your Management Team and discuss your COVID-19 “Return to Work” policies. Create a special section in your employee handbook called, “Public Health Emergency Work Policies as Related to COVID-19.”    Step 2: Create a