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Holiday Gift Giving To Employees

in News and Features

A little thoughtfulness and sensitivity go a long way to preventing HR mishaps! The holiday season is a time when business owners want to reward their employees with something a little extra.  Besides a holiday bonus, giving that “little something extra” often takes the form of parties and gifts. But beware!  Holiday gift-giving can quickly become an unintentional HR issue –so now is NOT the time to dismiss the idea of being politically correct. To avoid any potential Human Resource violations, here’s a review of some seasonal do’s and don’ts to assist you in preventing HR issues AND help you spread a little holiday cheer.  Store Gift Card [Online or Local] – The trickiest issue is to select a store that the employee is known to use. Whether the retailer is local or online, some employees will not shop at certain stores due to the company’s politics or stances on local issues. Or your employee only wants to support the “shop local” movement and does not frequent a big box store or national chain. Restaurant Gift Card – Only give one of these if you know the employee is a frequent customer of that restaurant as restaurant gift cards can have time limitation, or your employee may not like the food or be able to eat there due to dietary restrictions. Gift Basket of Goodies – These baskets are often filled with items from the company’s clients or from local shops. Downside is that some items may conflict with personal allergies, religious, or political beliefs. Keep in mind, the task of putting employee gift baskets together should not be placed on any personnel because it looks very impersonal and becomes a burden to whoever is tasked to put it together. Electronic Gift – Android or Apple? FitBits, Alexa, Google, Ring doorbells, Kindle Fires, and virtual reality glasses are very hip and cool, but you’d better know what your employee prefers and if they want to be officially registered in the digital age.  These types of gifts should be given with gift receipts to they can be exchanged or returned. Generic Gift Cash Card – Highly recommended: The best part of a prepaid gift card is that it can be...

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Ask HR: How to handle seasonal lay offs.

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Dear HR, We are going to be laying off employees sporadically throughout the winter. We won’t be able to predict precisely when because our business is weather and road condition related. How can we be responsible employers and let our staff know?  Are there any details we need to consider? HR Answer: Giving advance notice provides employees and their families time to transition and adjust to the prospective loss of employment may be legally required.  Large employers (100+ employees) must give notice to employees at least 60 days prior to a layoff date. The notice requirement does not apply to small employers or employees involved in seasonal employment. However, to be safe, it is a best practice to comply with both Federal and state labor laws concerning employee notifications of layoffs & payroll deadlines. There are federal and state rules and regulations that govern when an employee’s check must be paid. The timelines for issuing a “final paycheck” vary based on the reason why the separation occurred.   CALIFORNIA • An employee who is fired (or laid off) is entitled to a final paycheck immediately, meaning at the time of termination or layoff.  • If an employee quits without giving advance notice, the employer must provide the final paycheck within 72 hours.  • If an employee quits and gives at least 72 hours’ notice, the employee is entitled to the final paycheck immediately, meaning on his or her last day.     Many states have steep penalty wages for paying final wages late In California and Oregon, failing to pay any part of an employee´s final wages on time causes the compensation due to the employee to continue to rack-up— at the same regular hourly rate (for eight hours per day) until the wages are paid! This penalty can be applied to up to a 30-day penalty. The penalty applies in full whenever an employee is still owed compensation after the final paycheck deadline passes. Communicate employee status changes immediately to Cardinal by calling or emailing our Hiring Team at hiring@cardinal-services.com to stay compliant with all state and Federal...

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Educating Your Employees about Absences

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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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Ask HR: Upholding our Call-in Policy

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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...

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EMPLOYER ALERT: Paying Employees During a Power Outage

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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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Employee Benefits in the 21st Century

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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.   2019 Employee Benefits Report To get an accurate overview of what the rest of the world is offering as an “employee benefit” and what employees are requesting—we need to look no further than the 2019 Employee Benefits Survey compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM].  The annual survey examines more than 250 benefits that companies offer, or are requested by their employees. This survey was conducted in April of 2019.   Historically, this report has a reputation for being an accurate window on the trends that start from the top and trickle their way down to eventually impact small business owners. Why is it important to understand these trends? As the labor pool shrinks in America, competition for qualified workers will get fierce, even in rural areas. Rural or nonurban-centered employers will keep losing younger workers to urban areas as educated or trained candidates migrate towards better-paying jobs and better benefits.   Current Trends in Employee Benefits While the top five listed below are the most popular requests and have already been implemented across the business world, others on the list are growing in popularity and may become standard benefit offerings within the next 10 years. The current trends are: Employer match for 401(k) plans. Cost of living adjustment in pay that is not dependent upon performance or seniority. Flexible work schedules (can be remote, compressed work week, or customized hours). Company-provided student loan repayment assistance which could include a 401(k) match for student loan repayments. [IRS has already allowed this.] Childcare assistance programs...

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