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 issues.

Educating Your Employees about Absences

Posted by on 4:33 pm in News and Features | Comments Off on Educating Your Employees about Absences

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, probation, and termination protocols. Remember—your handbook is your go-to document that supports the company in case of employee claims.


Step 3: Communicate, communicate, communicate!

It is imperative that a company communicates this policy to all staff yearly, not just to your HR Manager, but communicated to senior management, supervisors, and every employee. This communication may be done through a company-wide memo or employee meetings. An initial review of this policy can be done during the “on-boarding” process with any new employee you hire.


Clarification is your insurance policy against employee abuse of absences.

Some employers avoid telling their employee’s what their legal rights are when it comes to claiming time off for fear that their employees may try to play the system.  But employers have already informed their employees of these laws—they are found on each Labor Law poster every employer is mandated to post in their workplace! By actively reviewing your policy with all staff on an annual basis, you create a culture of awareness that will prompt your staff and employees to self-classify their absence.  If you have an employee that seems to be abusing a classification, then you, as an employer, have already established the legal grounds to invoke warnings or take disciplinary action.


Sequoia Personnel Services has your workplace solutions!

Our services include helping you develop company policies that are compliant with state and federal labor laws. We can provide you with handbook templates, or help you create a customized handbook specifically tailored to your company or industry. As a professional employment services provider, Sequoia has many years of experience in helping growing companies develop and implement employment policies, including those covering employee absences and providing HR services that take the stress out of disciplining employees.

 Call today to get the help you need (707) 445-9641

Ask HR: Upholding our Call-in Policy

Posted by on 4:25 pm in News and Features | Comments Off on Ask HR: Upholding our Call-in Policy

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 company policy specifically when there is a death in the family or a family emergency. 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, are updated.


Craft a Solution that fits your Company! 

Reducing “No Call / No Show” incidents takes a combination of employee education, setting a clear reporting policy and procedure— and perhaps most critically—providing multiple pathways for employees to communicate their absence to your company.  If you need help in crafting a “No Call /No Show” policy and a procedure for reporting absences or need help implementing an orientation or updating your handbook on this topic—Call Sequoia Personnel ServicesWe’re here to help!                                                  

EMPLOYER ALERT: Paying Employees During a Power Outage

Posted by on 2:23 pm in News and Features | Comments Off on EMPLOYER ALERT: Paying Employees During a Power Outage

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 help!

Employee Benefits in the 21st Century

Posted by on 9:29 am in News and Features | Comments Off on Employee Benefits in the 21st Century

The World of Employee Benefits is Evolving


Employees usually say that the most important things they want in a job first and foremost is a good-paying wage, along with “benefits.” The most common form of employee benefit is basic health insurance – with dental and vision still being an optional offering. Health benefits are still the gold standard by which many prospective employees judge a prospective employer. In a tight labor market, an employer will eventually need to offer some sort of access to health care insurance to compete. But the world of employee benefits is evolving—what constitutes a “benefit” is being redefined as the face of the workforce grows younger.


Ask HR: Employee with Cancer diagnoses.

Posted by on 9:16 am in News and Features | Comments Off on Ask HR: Employee with Cancer diagnoses.

Dear HR:

My employee is being tested for cancer. While there is a definite cancer diagnoses – my employee’s doctors are still doing tests to see what course of treatment will be required. The employee is trying to be proactive and called me to find out about our company benefits. What benefits would apply… disability, medical leave, etc.? This is the first time I’ve had a seriously ill employee whose condition will definitely impact my company. We are a small “mom & pop” shop –so news and gossip travels fast, and any absences due to the employee’s medical treatments will effect everyone’s work schedule.  Please tell me the appropriate steps that I as an employer need to take to minimize this upcoming impact as well as any advice I need to tell my employee. 

Natural Disasters and the Work Place

Posted by on 1:01 pm in News and Features | Comments Off on Natural Disasters and the Work Place

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.



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



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

Posted by on 4:00 pm in News and Features | Comments Off on Sexual Harassment Training Becomes Law for Small Employers: Are You Ready for CA Senate Bill 1343?

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.