n  Legislative Update

n  TPO On-Site

n  HR Article

n  Risk ReMinder New!

n  New Members

n  Member Spotlight

n  HR Quick Tip New!

n  HR Rumors

n  Career Transition

n  TPO in the Community!



Training Calendar

CA Employment Essentials (HR101)

A training series focusing on the regulatory compliance and HR best practices - the information & skills supervisors & managers need to keep themselves and the organization out of hot water!

n May '08

n July - August '08

Management Excellence Series

A training series focusing on practical leadership and communication skills to help managers develop or refine their effectiveness as leaders!

n June '08

n Sept. - Oct.  '08

Workshops Calendar

n How to Say It

May 20

n First Time Manager    June 03

n Harassment & Discrimination      July 17


TPO in the Community!

July 9

Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

Topic: Managing Employee Performance

Time: 7:30 - 10:30 am

Location: San Juan Oaks Clubhouse, Hollister, California

Registration: Contact Pam Kenney at (408) 846-4590




  • Meal Periods (SB 1539) – If passed would provide several solutions to the often confusing meal period laws including:

  1. Specifying that a meal period based on working more than 5 hours in a workday is required to be provided before the employee completes 6 hours of work (versus the current requirement of prior to the 5th hour of work);

  2. Changing the 2nd meal period waiver provision to permit the employer and employee to agree to waive either the first or the second meal period if the employee otherwise is entitled to 2 meal periods (versus the current provision which only allows the second meal period to be waived if the first was taken);

  3. Clarifying specific situations where “on-duty meal periods” are allowed (versus the current reality that most positions do not qualify according to the rigid requirements); and

  4. Defining the employer responsibility to provide a meal period as "giving the employee an opportunity to take" (versus the current requirement of ensuring it is taken).

  • IRA’s (AB 2940) – If passed, would make it easier for small-business owners and their employees to start putting money aside. This proposal, which has already received a first approval from an Assembly committee, would direct the California Public Employees Retirement System to offer individual retirement accounts to workers who can't get traditional pensions or 401(k) plans from employers. While the Governor has expressed approval for the bill, the securities industry has express a general dissatisfaction with the bill.

  • Mandatory Sick Leave – If passed, California could become the first state in the country to require paid sick days for all workers. The bill would require businesses with 10 or more workers to offer nine sick days per year and companies with fewer than 10 employees would have to offer five paid sick days. The bill is modeled after a San Francisco ordinance that has been on the books for two years.

  • Workers` Compensation Insurance (AB 2692) – If passed, opponents fear that it will create an unworkable system for employers on the regulation of insurance companies' rates.

  • Employment Retaliation (SB 1244) – If passed, would create new basis for liability under the Labor Code by adding a protected class of "a coworker or family member" of a person who has filed a claim with the Labor Commissioner, or is testifying in a proceeding before the Labor Commissioner.

  • Unemployment and Paid Family Leave (SB 1661) – If passed, this bill would allow for an employee who took time off to receive Paid Family Leave who was then not reinstated to their job to be eligible to then receive unemployment insurance. Paid Family Leave does not guarantee a leave, however, opponents of this bill content that if this bill is passed, it in effect will, because employers may have to choose between reinstatement and paying unemployment insurance.

  • Medical Marijuana (AB 2279) — If passed, would force employers to hire workers who use medical marijuana, which is illegal under federal law.

Failed Passage:

X Alternative Workweek (AB 2127) – Despite efforts to infuse CA labor law with the realities of employee’s desires for a flexible work/life balance, the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee rejected this bill on a vote of 2-6. AB 2127 would have allowed a small employer (25 or fewer employees) to agree to an employee's request to work an alternative work schedule without the usual wage order requirements of an alternative workweek which apply to an entire work-unit.

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

It's one thing to reduce staff...it's another to get the work done!

Now you can have an experienced HR Generalist in your operation a day or two a week without adding to your payroll staffing levels!

● Support your current demands with an extra pair of hands
● Make sure you are in compliance with state and federal employment regulations without missing deadlines
● Provide an additional skilled resource for your management team
● Help resolve small communications issues before they become bigger problems to manage
● Get those “hard to get to” HR & Risk Management projects off the check list
● Increase your efficiency and service

Click here for more information!

Let’s start with the facts. According to a study done by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) it is estimated that 40% of resumes contain false or “tweaked” information. The cost of a poor hire is estimated to be three times the annual salary of the position. And finally, the probability of a successful hire increases by 20% when reference or background checks are conducted.

What does this all mean? The hiring process is often a very subjective process. Determining and evaluating an applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities can involve a fair amount of “gut” feeling. However, it is important to develop systems that move the hiring process from a subjective process to an objective, fact-based process. In addition to asking all applicants the same set of questions, documenting results using standardized rating sheets or forms, and developing organized systems to track candidate materials (resumes, applications, assessments, etc.) and status; it is imperative that you check references and in some cases conduct background investigations on those candidates you are considering for employment.

The State of California has recognized a cause of action against employers for “negligent hiring” which may result in employers being liable to injured third parties, for negligence in “hiring or retaining” an incompetent or unfit employee. More and more employers are coming under increased scrutiny for “negligently” hiring or retaining employees whose criminal records, history of drug or alcohol abuse or related problems create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. This is particularly true with employees whose work actions may affect the health and safety of co-workers, clientele (thinking of patients, etc.) and the public. Many obvious pitfalls can be avoided by conducting reference checks or background investigations.

Conducting Reference Checks and Background Investigations
One way employers can protect themselves is by conducting reference checks which are meant to verify work history, duties performed, pay, skills, experience, etc. Another method is background checks which look into possible criminal background, credit history, education credentials, Department of Motor Vehicles driving record and other employment-related activities. Employers should review their application form to be sure it includes a statement that authorizes the employer and/or it’s agents to conduct such checks.

In the case of conducting Background Investigations, employers are also required to notify candidates in writing and get written authorization (on a separate form) that they will be conducting a background investigation, as well as provide the candidate with their rights as outlined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). At a minimum a background check will verify social security number, employment history and the candidate’s addresses for the last seven years. At most it can include credit history, driving record and criminal history.

If employers decide not to hire because of information from the background investigation, candidates must receive a pre-adverse action disclosure that includes a copy of the report as well as the candidate’s rights. The name and address of the Consumer Reporting Agency and information on their right to dispute the report must also be provided.

Just as standard questions should be used during the interview process, the same holds true for checking references. Some examples are:

• Dependability on completing work assignments
• Ability to take responsibility
• Attendance
• Work attitude and work relationships
• Honesty
• Tendency toward or association with workplace violence
• Customer service approach
• What are the candidate’s greatest strengths?
• Does the candidate have any areas they need to develop?
• Would you re-employ? If not why not?

As a matter of course applicants should supply employers with at least 3 work references – people who can actually speak about information as outlined above. But what if they just give the number for human resources? Most HR departments will only verify dates of employment, job title and sometimes salary (if approved by the employee to do so). So what is a hiring manager to do to find out the real information on whether or not a candidate is the right fit for the organization? One solution is to ask the applicant for another professional reference. Some hiring managers are turning to social networks to find out more information on potential candidates.

There has been more and more literature lately about the use of social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, etc) in conducting reference or background checks. It is important to remember that that under the law, each stage of the screening process used in selection of prospective employee is, legally, a “test.” To that end each “test” – be it an application form, interview questions, assessments or reference checks should all be relevant to the job being filled and analyzed for any potential adverse impact.

TPO trains managers and supervisors in recognizing and stopping discrimination regarding any term, condition or privilege of employment. Questions asked during an interview need to be directly related to the position. We advise hiring managers to avoid questions about a person’s marital status, religion, age or other membership in a "protected class". Applications forms are carefully designed to elicit only the necessary information to confirm an applicant’s job-related experience, skills, and education. They do not ask about physical limitations or conditions, Social Security number, number of children, marital status, etc. If it isn’t job related – don’t ask it - even out of curiosity or as idle chit chat.

The type of information found on social networks typically includes information about friends and family, likes and dislikes, dating/sex, religion, political affiliation as well as anecdotal information about parties, dogs/cats, concerts or the like. Most of the information found on a social network site is NOT job related. And given that, why would an organization want to “break the rules” and even give the perception that they made a hiring decision based on this type of information.

Employers should also be aware that under California law, it is illegal to reject or discriminate against an applicant because he or she participates in lawful conduct during non-working hours, away from the employers’ premises, or engages in political activities, or has political affiliations. If employers obtain this type of information while using a social network to check out a prospective employee, and then reject the person even though he or she is otherwise qualified, the burden of proof is on the employer to prove whether the information affected the hiring decision.

Bottom line: all applicant search activities from creation of a job description, job ad, interview questions, assessments to reference checks should be reviewed to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly and equally. If it isn’t job related, don’t ask it or do it!

For more information on TPO workshops or recruitment services, please contact us at 800-277-8448 or visit our web site www.tpohr.com

Article written by: Kelsey Escoto, sphr

The title of this article may sound a bit repetitive. It is. The one phrase you will hear more than any other when discussing HR issues is “DOCUMENT” …

Whether it is related to training, safety policies, or a specific incident, proper documentation is your best assurance against huge losses in both financial and, more importantly, human terms.

Document all of your safety training. Have a sign-in sheet which is signed by all who attend the training. Additionally, have each employee sign a separate sheet acknowledging that they attended the training. The acknowledgement should include a statement that they understood the policies and procedures presented, had an opportunity to ask questions, and that they are aware that failure to follow those policies and procedures may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. This form should be placed in the employee’s personnel file.

If the employee is involved in an incident, the presence of that training acknowledgement form will help to show that you provided effective safety training on a regular basis and that the employee was properly trained in the use of the tools and equipment involved in the incident. If you need help with this issue, TPO can provide you with forms and expert advice on properly documenting pre-incident practices and post-incident investigations.

Article written by: Brian Pratt, PI

Director of Investigative Services

n Bernardus Lodge

n Special Kids Crusade

n Monterey Bay Charter School

We look forward to the opportunity to provide each of you with unlimited phone/email access, reduced consulting and training rates, eCompliance notices, attendance to our Annual Employment Law & Leadership Conference at no additional cost, and priority status when you require TPO support from any of our highly qualified team of HR experts! Thank you for joining!

Kinship Center®

Every Child Deserves a Family


Carol Biddle, President/CEO: “During the many years that Kinship Center has utilized the services of TPO, our staff has grown from 30 to more than 150, and we have developed our own internal HR department. TPO has supported us during this time of development and change. When we update our employee handbook, we rely on TPO to be sure that it contains all of the current HR regulations, and we appreciate their quick responses to our questions. We have sent several new managers to TPO's Management Excellence Series and HR-101 workshops, and TPO has worked with us to present the mandated harassment training to our entire statewide staff at one time. We look forward to their annual update seminars each year.”

ABOUT Kinship center

Since 1984, Kinship Center has helped create and support families for thousands of children, ages birth through 17, who can no longer safely remain with their birth parents because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. With a core belief that every child deserves a family, Kinship Center remains focused on our mission…to connect children to safe, permanent families who will be there for a lifetime.

A statewide nonprofit agency, Kinship Center and our professional staff play a leading role in the field of child welfare, and we continue to receive national recognition for our model programs and services on behalf of children. Through participation and advocacy, we help formulate policy and establish standards that protect children and families. Kinship Center provides life-changing outcomes for more than 1,800 children and 2,000 families each year through a variety of programs:

  • Adoption: Our adoption services include public awareness, parent recruitment, assessments and education, child placement, and support and counseling for families after placement.

  • Foster Care: Kinship Center’s therapeutic foster care program provides experienced, temporary care for children who have suffered abuse or neglect from family members.

  • Relative Care: Our Family Ties program offers critical services for relative caregivers, 90% of whom are grandparents, to help them keep children in crisis out of foster care and connected to family.

  • Mental Health Therapy and Child Development: Kinship Center mental health clinics assist children who have emotional, developmental or behavioral challenges.

  • Wraparound: A program for adoptive or relative families dealing with children’s most serious issues. The goal is to keep children out of residential care or psychiatric hospitalization.

  • Education Institute: Kinship Center is recognized nationally for providing state-of-the-art training for parents and professionals.

Please visit Kinship Center's website at www.kinshipcenter.org for more information.

Missed Paydays

Employers faced with cash flow challenges may be tempted to delay payday, however, when an employer fails to pay wages on a regular payday, the employer, is subject to a civil penalty for each such missed payday.

  • The initial penalty for failure to pay wages is $100 per employee per missed payday. If your company has 50 employees, the potential civil penalty is $5,000.

  • The subsequent penalty is $250 per employee, plus 25 percent of the amount unlawfully withheld.

While most penalties required by the Labor Code and the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders go to the employees, missed payday penalties go to the state of California.

Next Wage & Hour Quick Tip: Required time periods for final paychecks.

HR Rumors: Get Your Facts Straight from the Experts!

I read an article that Wage & Hour class action suits are on the rise. What should I do to protect my company?

FactClass action lawsuits are on the rise, and while your organization might not be the large, often international employers who are named in such a lawsuit, every employer is impacted by such suits – particularly since these high dollar suits are covered prominently in the media (radio, newspaper, blogs, etc.). Employees learning of such suits are certainly able to make the link between the proposed unlawful employment practices detailed in the suit and the practices of their current employer.

Your TPO Membership is a great start to protect your company by getting excellent information and business advice! Busy HR professionals simply cannot divide their time between the collection of continuing changes and working with their leadership team to develop business strategies to help companies be competitive and profitable in today’s business climate.

TPO provides a valuable service in monitoring legislation, court cases and administrative decisions and providing that information to our Members in a timely manner. Our resources are extensive and shared among all of our professionals. It is our business to keep up with these issues as they arise. Here are some other suggestions on how improve your practices and keep the organization in line with legal requirements:

  1. A regular review of your Wage & Hour practices is an excellent way to ensure you continue to manage those high-exposure issues the best way you can. When you have your Annual Check Up with your primary TPO Consultant, let him or her know if you would like to schedule time to go over your practices and discuss any areas of concern specifically.

  2. Develop a regular training schedule not only for your HR Staff, but for front line managers. Many of the Wage & Hour issues that employers end up paying for could have been identified and controlled by front line supervisors. TPO provides California Employment Essentials as baseline training for managers, supervisors and HR professionals as well as many classes on specific, difficult issues.

  3. Use caution in documenting decisions about Wage & Hour issues. More and more discussions about such issues occur via e-mail which employers do not always recognize as leaving a trail of discoverable information should any future actions occur. Reasoning for decisions on such things as exempt/non-exempt status and pay decision should be documented, but communications regarding practices that are of concern should be carefully monitored and, when appropriate, protected by attorney-client privilege.

In recognition of this emerging area of exposure, TPO has decided to highlight a Wage & Hour issue in every future E-News. You can read our new "HR Quick Tip" beginning in this issue.

Although most of us have read of the Starbucks decision recently, below are some statistics that further demonstrate the concern that is being voiced by HR Professionals and legal experts as well.

From Oct. 1, 2007 to March 28, 2008, there were 1,477 federal and 508 state Wage & Hour class actions, including 544 in California (137 in federal court and 407 in state court). This information was reported in April by Littler Mendelson at one of their conferences. As you can see from doing the math, over one fourth of the suits filed were in California. A review of the effects of class action has also shown the costs of claims in many industry segments to be as much as $87 million.

Article written by: LaTonya Olivier, SPHR-CA

Are you considering reorganization or downsizing in the future? TPO HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT can offer guidance and assistance to employers and employees in managing a career transition and change. We offer a range of transition service options to assist participants through the career move as well as provide support to employers through the reorganization process.


Typical services provided are:

n Termination Notification Support

n Individual Self-Assessment Tools

n Resume Development

n Interviewing Skills

n Stress and Change Management

n Career Coaching

n Job Search Strategies

n Reference Materials

TPO can work with your organization to customize a Career Transition Package that meets the organization’s needs. To get more information, please contact TPO at 1-800-277-8448 or tpo@tpohr.com

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Employment Upd@te is a publication of  TPO HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Copyright ©2004-2007. All rights reserved.
TPO's Employment Upd@te may be reproduced or re-transmitted without change or modification of any kind. 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.