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TELEWORKING: Productivity tips for working remotely.

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During this challenging time, employees are now being asked to work from home. Here’s a list of tips that can help both employers and employees be more productive when working remotely. TIPS FOR SUPERVISORS WHO MANAGE REMOTE WORKERS  Profiles of successful employees who work remotely have the following attributes: are proactive and self-initiating by nature, are project-driven and comfortable working alone- but know how to communicate regularly to a supervisor or team. Remote employees work best when there are deliverable deadlines to keep everyone focused and on task.  Managers must communicate well and often with the remote worker. It is recommended to set up weekly check-ins to prevent isolation and to create a workflow rhythm. Both employer and employee should utilize video chat platforms so that it becomes second nature to all involved.     EQUIPMENT & SOFTWARE If teleworking is required—meaning there is no choice due to a community health crisis, employers may be financially responsible for providing the proper equipment to enable an employee to work remotely. Employees will need to have a good, adjustable chair, or a stand-up desk to help with comfort and ergonomics. Besides the required computer equipment for remote connections, employees may want to install flexible monitor arms, touchscreens, wireless keyboards, and a mouse. Provide employees with sound-blocking earplugs or earmuffs which protect against chaotic households and helps when employees need to concentrate. Set up video conferencing software and tools before meetings. Employees must make sure to arrange for no interruptions during the conference—remember that European ambassador who was interrupted by his toddler? There’s no guarantee your company or client will be that understanding. Remind employees to turn off all the unnecessary notifications on their phone to avoid interruptions when conferencing, including buzzing microwaves, doorbells, and timer bells.  Emergency connectedness/backup work: Set up a local NAS for shared files and backups. Employees must factor in a REGULARLY SCHEDULED back up of their work to the cloud. Have a VPN for those days, which is also essential if your local network connection goes out. If your local ISP is down and employees are on a deadline, everyone will want to know what location to travel to that has Wi-Fi and bandwidth.    EMPLOYEE TIPS...

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Temporary Revised Requirements for Form I-9 “In-Person” Documentation

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will defer the requirements for employers to review Form I-9 documents in-person with new employees, due to the COVID-19 emergency. Here are the temporary, revised requirements: EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: I-9 Documentation procedures to be used during COVID-19 public health emergency: Employers taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review a new employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. This change applies only to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. The physical documentation review requirements will not be excused if any employees are physically present at a work location. Employers who avail themselves of this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy on the I-9 from for each new employee by writing in the Section 2 “Additional Information” note box, “ Physical inspection delay due to COVID-19″ as the reason for the lack of in-person verification of the documents. Employers must still inspect the Section 2 documents over video conference, by fax, or by e-mail. Employers must still obtain and retain copies of the I-9 form/documents within three business days of hire.   NEW PROCEDURES ONCE EMERGENCY OPERATIONS HAVE BEEN LIFTED: Employers are required to re-verify I-9 Documentation of all employees hired during the emergency: Once normal operations resume, all new employees who were onboarded using remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of their identity and employment eligibility documentation. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add the notation in the Section 2 “Additional Information” note box, “documents physically examined” and include the date of inspection.   These provisions are in effect until May 19, 2020 or within three business days after the termination of the national emergency, whichever comes...

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Benefits for California Workers Impacted by COVID-19

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Benefits for California Workers Impacted by COVID-19 https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/ Program Why What Benefits More Information How to File Disability Insurance If you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) Short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income); ranges from $50-$1,300 a week for up to 52 weeks. Learn more about your eligibility for Disability Insurance File a Disability Insurance claim Paid Family Leave If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) Up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member. Approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income); ranges from $50-$1,300 a week for up to 6 weeks. Learn more about your eligibility for Paid Family Leave File a Paid Family Leave claim Unemployment Insurance If you have lost your job or have had your hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19 Partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Range from $40-$450 per week for up to 26 weeks. Learn more about your eligibility for Unemployment Insurance File an Unemployment Insurance claim Paid Sick Leave If you or a family member are sick or for preventative care when civil authorities recommend quarantine The leave you have accumulated or your employer has provided to you under the Paid Sick Leave law. Paid to you at your regular rate of pay or an average based on the past 90 days. Learn more about your eligibility for Paid Sick Leave If accrued sick leave is denied, file a Wage claim Workers’ Compensation If you are unable to do your usual job because you were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of your work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits include temporary disability (TD) payments, which begin when your doctor says...

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2020 California Labor Law Update Labor Laws that Impact Employers

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Sequoia Personnel is ready to offer HR guidance in navigating these legal changes. Please reach out to us for more information. When you employ through Cardinal, you work with a firm who is prepared to help keep you compliant. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several bills at the end of the legislative calendar that directly impact California employers. Here’s a reference list:     AB 5: New Rules for Independent Contractors This new law would transform a large proportion of independent contract workers (1099) into employees (W-2) — such as delivery and transportation drivers—based on new criteria for classification. The new criteria contractors are directed by employers on what to do and how many hours to work; are in the same line of business as the company; and are not independently established—then these contractors will be reclassified as employees. The law also states some workers as exempt from the law, including insurance brokers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, and real estate agents.    AB 9: Extends the Deadline to File Workplace Complaints Extends the time (from one year to three years) in which employees are allowed to file complaints with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for discrimination or harassment based on race, sex, age, disability, medical conditions, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics. Claims which have already expired under current law are not restored under AB 9.   AB 51: Bans Most Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Designed to ban forced arbitration agreements among California workers. These agreements often require employees to waive the right to take legal action against their employers for sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage theft, instead resolving complaints through private arbitration. Under the new law, employers are prohibited from revoking a job offer or otherwise retaliating against an employee who decides against signing an arbitration agreement. Even with the governor’s signature, however, AB 51 is likely to face years of litigation and may be significantly tempered.   AB 403 Division of Labor Standards Enforcement for Complaints Extends the statute of limitations for complaints alleging workplace retaliation from six months to two years, and would authorize attorney fees to any employee who successfully sues for retaliation based on whistleblowing.   AB 547 Janitorial Workers: Sexual Violence...

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

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Here are some “safe practices” that can help you and your employees Sequoia Personnel Services acknowledges the worry and the many questions on employers’ minds with the arrival of the Coronavirus in the Pacific Northwest. We want to share some best practices that can help you and your employees during this ongoing health challenge.   Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Rules on “Safe Workplace” Under OSHA, employers do have a responsibility to maintain a safe workplace, but at this time, the risk of exposure for the average worker is relatively low. Though many employees may feel uneasy about coming to work or working with the public, a few essential precautions and an open communication policy at your company can go a long way to easing fears.     Call-In and Attendance Policies Review your procedures for calling in sick or unplanned absences. Review these procedures with your staff and your managers so that they can review these with their work crews. It is crucial for every employee to know the company’s sick, vacation, or paid time off (PTO) policies, and managers should be prepared to answer questions from your staff. Keep in mind, employees requesting time off for illness, may have some job protections under other Federal or State Leave Laws such as the Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), California Paid Family Leave (PFL), California Family Rights Act (CRFA), or even the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Generally, however, an employee is not entitled to these protected leaves if staying home just to avoid getting sick.   Flu/Infectious Disease Best Practices Encourage sick employees to stay home You may legally send sick employees home Wash hands frequently with soap & water (20 seconds) Have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer available Avoid close contact with people that are sick Avoid touching eyes, nose, and face Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue—then wash hands! Increase workplace cleaning frequency—disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces, including counters, doorknobs, break-rooms, kitchens, and restrooms Offer virtual webinars or conference calls instead of in-person meetings, if feasible Stay current with local and national health agency recommendations Limit travel to affected areas Consider offering telework, i.e., working remotely to potentially...

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FEDS TIGHTEN I-9 REQUIREMENTS & ADD NEW FORM

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U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services releases new I-9 Form – Employers must begin using it by May 1, 2020.   EMPLOYERS USING OUTDATED I-9 FORMS RISK COSTLY VIOLATIONS The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have released a new Form I-9, and employers must begin using it by May 1, 2020. Employers may continue to use the previous form through the deadline, but for convenience, employers may begin using the new form now. To stay compliant, you may download the new form directly from USCIS’ website. NEW CHANGES ON ELECTRONIC FORM ONLY: Added two listings: Revised the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field (when selecting a foreign passport) in Section 2 to add “Eswatini” and “Macedonia, North” per those countries’ recent name changes. Instructions: Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer Updated USCIS website addresses Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9 Updated the process for requesting paper Form I-9 Updated the DHS Privacy Notice   COMPLY WITH ALL VERIFICATION REQUIREMENTS OR FACE FINES U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are fully committed to ensuring that employers comply with Form I-9 employment eligibility verification requirements. These requirements prove that an employee is legally allowed to work in the United States . Fines can range from $110 to $1,100 for errors such as not completing the form—but they increase dramatically for knowingly, or continuing to employ unauthorized workers—up to $14,050 for each violation.   TIMELY COMPLETION OF I-9 FORM Section 1 must be completed “at the time of hire” means on or before the first day of employment. Employers must take care in conducting the documentation review required for Section 2. Someone must review all identification documents in person, even for remote hires – on or before the third day of employment. Employers must retain an employee’s completed Form I-9 either three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment is terminated, whichever is later.   FAILURE TO RETAIN ORIGINAL I-9 FORM Failure to retain the original Form I-9 (unless electronically stored and compliant with those rigorous requirements) constitutes a breach of protocol and will be classified as either a “Failure to...

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