TPO's Employment Update

 

n  Upcoming Training Calendar

n  Legislative Update

n  Employing Minors in California

n  HR Rumors

 

 

Training Calendar

CA Employment Essentials
(HR101)

n  August

n  October

Management Excellence Series

n  September

Specialized Workshops

n Can't We All Just
Get Along?
June 21

n Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination
July
 18

n Excelling as a First Time Manager
August 3

n FMLA/CFRA/PDA Compliance
August 24

Member Orientation

n  June 22

n  October 12

 

"But your honor, I never meant for this email to be used as evidence…"

"Objection overruled, enter exhibit as requested."

You are among a rare few if you haven’t noticed that email has become the predominant means of communication at work! This has been, in some ways, a fantastic improvement in how we get things done. However, a downside of this techno-communication is information (data) overload. While electronic communication can be efficient and time saving on one hand, it can mean endless data management on the other.

Another potential disadvantage to our shift toward emailing is the content of what is being sent.

There are obvious concerns about potentially offensive information such as racist or sexist jokes and off color stories or pictures. Employers also need to be mindful about criminal activities such as theft of customers' credit card or Social Security numbers!

At TPO, we spend a considerable amount of our time consulting with members and clients over the phone and by email. We advise extra caution when consulting by internet and through emails about sensitive and potentially litigious employment matters since these documented records can be used as evidence in matters of litigation. According to a recent article in the New York Daily News, "Employers have good reason to worry about employee emails. In the past year, a quarter of about 300 companies participating in a recent survey were ordered by courts or regulators to hand over email records. But the survey also suggests they aren't doing enough to prevent misconduct. Though more than 80 percent of these firms have written policies outlining acceptable email use, just half gave workers formal training on email policies in the past year."

Just think about the examples cited in this news article of prosecutors using incriminating e-mails to help build their criminal cases:

n  Enron founder and former CEO Ken Lay - now facing a sentence of up to 165 years behind bars.

n  Former Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher, married for 50 years, was forced to resign after his affair with a female colleague came to light. The sexually explicit e-mails he sent her on his company's email system became embarrassing evidence.

The sexually
explicit e-mails
he sent her on his
company's email
system became
embarrassing
evidence.

n  Former Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget praised stocks in public but derided them as dogs in emails, and was barred for life from the securities industry.

So proceed cautiously. Be sure that your Employee Handbook includes the use of company equipment including computers and network systems, and that you oversee and reinforce your policies as part of your overall HR program. Give us a call for more information about managing communications at work in this advanced technological age!

 

 

Actively in CA Legislative System

Minimum Wage Increase

SB 1162 Would raise the state minimum wage to $7.25 on September 1, 2006 and to $7.75 on July 1, 2007, and indexing increases every year thereafter.

AB 1835 and 1844 If passed, would increase the minimum wage from $6.75 to $7.25 per hour effective July 1, 2007, and further increase it to $7.75 per hour effective July 1, 2008 and indexing increases every year thereafter.

Sexual Harassment Training2095 If passed, would modify the current sexual harassment training statute by limiting the training requirements to employers with 50 or more employees in California, and by limiting the training requirement to supervisory employees within California.

ArbitrationAB 2371 If passed, would eliminate an employer's ability to mandate the use of the far less expensive and faster process of arbitration rather than court to resolve discrimination claims under the CA Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Independent ContractorsAB 2186 If passed, would crack down on employers that intentionally misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid unemployment insurance responsibilities with a penalty of up to $50,000 if the employer willfully, purposefully, or intentionally misclassifies more than one employee as an independent contractor and there's evidence that such misclassification is a pattern or practice.

Gender Pay Equity ViolationsAB 2555 If passed, would impose new paperwork burdens by mandating damage awards and new civil penalties for gender pay equity violations.

Healthcare

SB 1414 If passed, would require employers with more than 10,000 employees to allocate at least 8 percent of payroll to employee health care or directly to Medi-Cal.

AB 1952 If passed, would create a benefits fund that would be financed by employers that do not offer health insurance to their workers, individual premiums and state appropriated dollars.

Unemployment CompensationAB 2209 If passed, would make any agreement between an employer and an employee that prohibits the employee from filing a claim for, or appealing a decision of denial or reduction in, unemployment compensation benefits against public policy and therefore void.

"Household" and "Personal Attendant" Employees
AB 2536 If passed, would apply the requirement
that overtime be paid for hours worked in excess of eight in a workday or 40 in a workweek to personal attendants, live-in household employees, and non-live-in household employees.


You are the voice of the business community – be heard!

Go to www.leginfo.ca.gov for more information on bills, including:

1. Click on "Bill Information" to enter the bill number and track the progress of the bill through the Legislature

2. Click on "Your Legislature" to link to all Legislators


No Longer in CA Legislative System

10-hour Work DaysSB 1254 and AB 2217 Would have given employees the right to negotiate 10-hour/four-day workweeks

Workplace PostingsAB 2277 Would have required that workplace postings and notices be written in plain language so that employers and employees can easily understand them.

Summer is upon us and no doubt employers are seeing an influx in the number of minors applying for work. While this can be welcomed relief to have a surplus of applicants, it can also signal the employer’s need to brush up on the regulations around employing minors.

Employment of minors is regulated under numerous authorities, such as the California Labor Code, the Education Code, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to name a few, and the regulations vary by industry and age of the minor. A minor is anyone who is under 18 years of age and required to attend school and therefore subject to California’s child labor protections.

Before employing a minor, ensure you are familiar with your industry regulations and avoid these common mistakes: not obtaining the proper work permits; not paying the required wages to minors; employing minors in prohibited occupations; and violating permitted work hour restrictions.

For purposes of this article, we will focus on employing minors 14-17 years of age.

Work Permits

Employers must obtain proper work permits which are required year-round, even when school is not in session. The school year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 and work permits expire five days after the start of the new school year. Work permits are issued by the Superintendent of the school district where the minor goes to school or lives. The employer or the minor must obtain (from the superintendent) and complete the Statement of Intent to Employ a Minor, and obtain a Permit to Employ and Work. Work permits are not required if the minor is a high school graduate, or has a certificate of proficiency

Wages

Minors must be paid no less then the minimum wage and overtime if applicable. Minors are typically not allowed to work more then eight hours in a day. See below for more details.

Prohibited Occupations

Minors are not permitted to drive a motor vehicle on public highways and streets for the purpose of their job which includes delivering any type of goods from a motor vehicle. Generally, prohibited occupations include: excavation, manufacturing explosives, mining, and operating many types of power-driven equipment. For more information on this subject, visit the Department of Labor website at www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/hazardousjobs.htm

Work Hours

Generally, minors age 14-15 can work three hours per day on a school day outside of school hours and eight hours on a non-school day. They can work up to 18 hours per week while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week when school is out. Minors in this age range are permitted to work between 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. except from June 1 through Labor Day when they can work until 9 p.m.

Generally, minors age 16-17 can work four hours per day on a school day and eight hours on a non-school day or on any day preceding a non-school day while school is in session. When school is out, they can work eight hours a day. The maximum amount of hours they can work is up to 48 hours per week, even when school is in session. Minors in this age range are permitted to work between 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. and can work until 12:30 a.m. on any evening preceding a non-school day, such as Saturday evening or during the summer.

Note: If a minor works two jobs, both jobs count toward the aforementioned limits.

Give us a call if you would like more information, and have a great summer!

HR Rumors: Get Your Facts Straight from the Experts!

I got a letter from the Social Security Administration with a list of about 10 names and social security numbers that they say they have different names for those numbers. What does this mean and why am I getting this now?

FactThese letters, referred to as "mismatch" letters, are sent when names submitted to the IRS with social security numbers do not match the name on record or when the mismatch is discovered through an audit of other employment eligibility forms (I-9). This can be caused by an error on the part of the employee, the employer or a governmental agency. It does require the employer to take action when the notice is received. Some of the most common reasons for these mismatches:

n  Typographical error in data entry to payroll system or Human Resource Information System (HRIS)

n  Misreading of employee handwriting on payroll enrollment forms

n  Use of different name form for the same person, e.g. Tom Jackson, Jr. vs. Thomas R. Jackson, Jr.

n  Marriage name changes not reported to both systems

n  Use of fraudulent identification

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stepped up enforcement of the Immigration Control and Reform Act which is the Act requiring employers to complete and retain I-9’s. The new focus on this issue means many more of these letters are going out.

When an employer receives such a letter, the following steps should be taken:

n  Employers should not jump to the conclusion that the employee has been dishonest nor that they are in trouble.

n  Employers should check files and electronic systems to be sure all of the documentation and data they have agree.

n  Resolve any internal errors.

n  If employer documentation shows no discrepancies, they should talk with the employees involved if they are still employed and notify them of the issue.

n  The employee must contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to research the error if there is no discrepancy found.

n  The employee should receive verification from the SSA if it is an error on the part of the SSA and a receipt or letter that new documentation is being provided.

n  If the employee is no longer employed, employers should still recheck all of the documents for that employee and resolve any error they find in that research.

Members may email TPO to request a copy of the "Mismatch Checklist".

DHS has two new rules being considered (issued June 9, 2006). One of the new rules being promoted by the DHS includes a "Safe Harbor" provision for employers who respond to the letters. Employers must do the following in order to qualify for the provision:

n  Check the employer’s records to ensure that the discrepancy did not result from a typographical or similar clerical error.

n  Resubmit the information if a clerical error resulted in the discrepancy.

n  Ask the employee promptly to confirm that the employer’s records are correct if the discrepancy cannot be resolved.

n  Take steps to correct an error if the employer’s records are not right.

n  Ask the worker to pursue the matter personally with the relevant agency (such as contacting the SSA) if the employer’s records are correct.

n  Reverify the individual’s employment authorization without using the documents that were the subject of the no-match letter if the employer is unable to resolve the discrepancy within 60 days of receipt of the no-match letter.

The DHS has warned that continuing to employ a worker when the mismatch cannot be resolved could be seen as "employer [having] constructive knowledge of employing an alien unauthorized to work in the U.S." This means that employers should not allow employees to continue to work if they are unable to resolve the mismatch issues.

In addition to review of documents and completion of I-9’s for new employees, employers can check for match between name and social security numbers at www.socialsecurity.gov/bso/bsowelcome.htm.

Important things for employers to remember include:

n  Employers may not specify which documents from the lists provided for I-9’s an employee presents.

n  Employees may not work beyond 72 hours without having provided the necessary documentation to show they are legally allowed to work.

n  Only original documents are acceptable for the employer to review.

n  Documents that have expiration dates (other than a US passport) must be reverified and some sort of reminder system should be put in place to ensure the updating of expired documentation occurs in a timely manner.

TPO Human Resource Management will be monitoring the course of the new rules and keep our Members informed of changes or additions that will be of concern.

Not sure your documentation process is compliant? Need help with developing a reminder system? Questions about this process? Call your TPO Representative.

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The information provided is designed to be accurate in content. TPO provides human resource consulting and is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. Readers are advised to consult legal counsel on matters involving employment law or important personnel policies & practices before adoption or implementation.