n  Register and Save!

n  Are you having fun at work?

n  Career Transition

n  Congratulations Sue!


n  OSHA Posting

n  Welcome New Members

n  Member Spotlight

n  Unclaimed Final Paychecks

n  2009 Compliance Posters

n  Blackberries on Vacations

n  Meet your TPO Consultant


All of us at TPO wish to extend a heart-felt thank you for choosing TPO as your HR partners, and for the many wonderful relationships that have evolved over the past seventeen years.

We wish you health and prosperity in 2009, and look forward to the opportunity to support your HR goals and objectives next year and in years to come!


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 February - March '09

n April '09

Management Excellence Series

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

n March - April '09

n May - Junel '09

Workshops Calendar

n Excelling as a First Time Manager

January 28

n Delivering World-Class Customer Service          February 12

n FMLA/CFRA/PDL Compliance

March 12

n Harassment and Discrimination at Work

March 19

n Effective Meeting Management

April 02


TPO and Littler will guide you through an informative day,
balancing both Legal and Leadership Best Practices to prepare you for 2009!

2009 Employment Law & Leadership Conference








The Obama Administration


The Puzzle - The Process.


Balancing Needs with Regulations


Understanding Communication and Motivation

Conference is approved for 5 PHR/SPHR/GPHR or CLE credit hours!

Click here for early bird registration!

If not, morale decreases, teamwork can be compromised and the bottom line can suffer! People like to accomplish a meaningful job…with people they trust…and in a way that is rewarding! The “FUN at Work Series” is more than just having a good time; it is about pausing long-enough to re-engage with your team, your job and your company’s vision!

Have you noticed that people are feeling stressed right now? Each of these 1.5 to 3-hour sessions focuses on giving employees necessary coping skills in a way that is fun and engaging!


Contact TPO to talk about scheduling the Fun at Work Series for your staff…you’ll be glad you did!

Are you considering reorganization or downsizing in the future?

TPO HR 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:

  • Termination Notification Support
  • Individual Self-Assessment Tools
  • Resume Development
  • Interviewing Skills
  • Stress and Change Management
  • Career Coaching
  • Job Search Strategies
  • Re-teaming

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

TPO’s Susan Kettmann recently earned her California Certification in Human Resources to add to her Senior Professional in Human Resources designation.

The certification, awarded by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), signifies that Susan possesses the theoretical knowledge and practical experience that is necessary to pass a rigorous examination on the human resources body of knowledge in the state of California. The exam covers such workplace issues as compensation and benefits; employee and labor relations; leaves of absence and workers’ compensation; and workplace health, safety and security concerns. This California–specific certification ensures that HR professionals have the means to demonstrate their knowledge of the state’s unique employment laws.

“Because of the diverse demographics that employers face when working in the state, and the unique legal compliance and practice requirements, this new certification will be critical in determining an HR practitioner’s professional competence with California law,” said HRCI Executive Director Cornelia Springer, CAE. There are many issues, such as overtime, pregnancy leave, and labor relations where California law is more generous than federal regulations. Understanding the differences in state and federal law is critical since employers are required to follow the law that is more generous toward the employee.

Holiday Closures
With Christmas and New Years’ landing on Thursdays this Holiday Season, many organizations are faced with determining what days to allow, encourage or even require an employee to take off. Additionally some organizations may choose to be closed for multiple days or even weeks. When making these decisions, look at your employee handbook and past practices to guide your future decisions. Does your policy accurately address your practice? If not, it may need revision to bring the two into alignment.

  • Salaried, Exempt Positions: Remember, employees in such positions are paid for any week in which they perform any work, subject to no less than half-day deductions from vacation/PTO. Additionally, consider that in order to require a salaried, exempt employee to use vacation/PTO during a week closure; such requirement should have been distributed 90 days in advance. If you have questions about these very specific regulatory requirements, you are encouraged to contact TPO.

2009 NEW Employment Laws
The November edition of this eNews listed the bills signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger (click here for link). At the TPO-Littler Employment Law and Leadership Conference on January 21, 2009, a thorough discussion of the 2009 Employment Laws will be provided (click here for link). As always, TPO keeps up to date on changing employment regulations and modifies consulting advice and recommended policies accordingly.

IRS Announces 2009 Standard Mileage Rates
The IRS has announced a new mileage rate effective January 1, 2009. The rate will decrease slightly to 55 cents per mile. While gasoline is a significant factor in the mileage rate, other fixed and variable costs such as depreciation enter the calculation. The business mileage rate was 50.5 cents in the first half of 2008 and 58.5 cents in the second half.

Employers must generally reimburse employees for business-related travel expenses, including mileage. Often the IRS rate is adopted as the standard reimbursement rate. It is important to remember that employers are not required to reimburse at this rate, but it is the maximum rate which can be claimed for tax purposes.

“Passport Card” serves as a “List A” Document for Form I-9
On August 8, 2008, the Departments of State and Homeland Security (DHS) announced the new "passport card" which is the approximate size and material of a credit card. While the new card is more limited in its uses e.g., it may not be used for international air travel, it is a valid passport that attests to the U.S. citizenship and identity of the bearer for employment purposes. Accordingly, the card may be used as a “List A” item for the Form I-9 process and can also be accepted by employers participating in the E-Verify program.

  • TPO’s HR Administration Kit: While the I-9 form has not been revised to capture the word passport “card”, TPO’s HR Administration Kit guidelines have been updated to include this provision.

DOL Finalizes Changes to FMLA
The Department of Labor released the final changes to the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which impacts several areas of leave administration for organizations with 50 or more employees. FMLA is similar to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA); however, it is important to remember that some of the permitted employer inquiries under FMLA are not allowed under CFRA due to the more stringent privacy requirements in California. TPO offers several opportunities for clients to learn more about these required leave programs, through attendance at the TPO-Littler Employment Law and Leadership Conference on 1/21/09 (click here), CA Employment Essentials (click here), and FMLA/CFRA/PDL Compliance (click here) training opportunities.

Unemployment Insurance Funds in Today’s Economy
Rising unemployment is not a surprise in today’s economic climate. California's unemployment rate is surging to a 12-year high, the state's unemployment insurance fund is paying out as much as $27 million in benefits a day – and it could be $500 million in the red by January, officials warn. The Employment Development Department (EDD) along with business and labor leaders are set to discuss how to return this safety-net program to financial health. One possible solution: raising the payroll tax that employers pay on each worker to bankroll the state unemployment insurance system.

State Compensation Insurance Fund Files for an 8.9% Workers' Compensation Increase
Though Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner issued an advisory rate increase of 5%, State Fund ultimately filed for an 8.9% increase, stating that the increase was due to medical costs inflation. Premiums for individual employers will be based on their particular rating class and individual organization’s experience modification. The higher rates go into effect for policies beginning and renewing January 1, 2009.

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

The Cal/OSHA 300A Form allows you to summarize your reportable work-related illnesses and injuries for the 2008 calendar year. (A copy of the Form can be found in the TPO HR Administration Kit in the last section under “Safety”.) Posting this Form is required for most California businesses (see end of this article for two categories of exemption) each year even if there were no reportable incidents.

The Form should be completed and handled in the following manner:

  • Enter all reportable incidents from 2008 and have the form signed by an executive who can certify its accuracy.

  • Post the Form on February 1, 2009 at each worksite in California and leave it up until April 30, 2009.

  • The location of the postings should be places that are conspicuous and where notices to employees are regularly posted.

  • Employee names should not appear on the Form due to possible medical confidentiality issues.

If you have telecommuting employees or sales staff who do not regularly report to a work location, you should make the Form available to them. After April 30, the Form should be stored in a safe location as any Cal/OSHA representative visiting your business will likely ask to see it. Retain the document for a full 5 years.

Exemptions from recordkeeping requirements (unless specifically notified by OSHA that the employer must comply):

  1. "very small-employer" exemption: Employers with 10 or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year,

  2. "low-hazard industry" exemption: Employers in specific low-hazard industry groups including, retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate industries. Such industries are covered by Standard Industrial Codes (SIC) codes 52-89, excluding 52-54, 70, 75, 76, 79, and 80. Go to http://www.osha.gov for more information on low-hazard industry codes.

Article written by: Susan Kettmann, SPHR-CA

n Big Sur International Marathon

n Santa Lucia Conservancy

n Derinda L. Messenger & Associates

n Tico Construction

n Mann Mann Packing Co., Inc.

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!



Don Chapin Jr., President / CEO:  “TPO has been a great partner and have been very instrumental in helping us with our Company Policy Handbook and with every day issues that we need some expert advise on. In the last seven years our company has grown from 175 employees to 275 just with the Don Chapin Co. TPO has provided not only technical information needed to ensure exemplary HR practices, but you have mentored us as we developed our own human resource department. Your staff is outstanding and always very helpful. Our employees are our biggest asset and you have helped us in our quest to attract and retain outstanding staff."


ABOUT tHE Don Chapin Company

The Don Chapin Company was founded in 1978 by President Don Chapin Jr., and his father, Don Chapin Sr. As a premier general engineering contractor on the central coast, the Don Chapin Company specializes in roadway construction, underground utilities, concrete construction, land clearing and septic construction. Proudly serving the Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties, the Don Chapin Company provides the highest quality of workmanship and professionalism to their customers.

As a family owned and operated company, the Don Chapin Company believes keeping a strong relationship with their customers is the key to success. The Don Chapin Company is the local company that cares, providing the highest quality of workmanship along with honest and realistic information. As the company continues to grow, the core values remain true, providing superior work and integrity to our customers. What ever the request, whether large or small, the Don Chapin Company takes pride in getting the job done on time and under budget.

For more information about The Don Chapin Co: www. www.donchapin.com

Unclaimed Final Paychecks…what an employer should do

You may have experienced an employee who just seems to dissipate into thin air (voluntary job abandonment – resignation) and never inquires about his/her final paycheck. Many employers have the practice of simply popping that final paycheck (with all accrued vacation/PTO) into the mail and “washing their hands” of the situation. Careful!

The legal requirement is that the final paycheck is made available at the regular place of paycheck distribution with 72 hours if no notice was given, or on the final day of work if more than 72 hours notice was given. When employers pop a final check in the mail without authorization from the employee, they run the risk of an employee showing up to collect the check and when it is not “available” so that waiting time penalties start to accrue. When an employee does not give notice and does not inquire about the final check, employers are advised to:

1. Call the employee to attempt to ascertain the employee’s intentions. Document all call(s).

2. If the employee is not reachable and/or does not return calls, send a certified return receipt letter indicating that per the Handbook policy, you may consider it a “no-call, no-show” and require the employee contact you within a reasonable time frame (3 days). (TPO can help you write this letter!)

3. If the employee still does not contact the employer, choose one of the following options (your accountant may have recommendations of what is best for your specific situation):

  • Keep the final paycheck through the statute of limitations (2 years for employment at-will; 4 years for written contract), and then provide to the local DLSE Field Office or CA Controller’s Office, or

  • Provide the final paycheck to the local DLSE Field Office after a reasonable amount of effort/time (2-6 weeks), or

  • Provide the final paycheck to the CA Controller’s Office after a reasonable amount of effort/time (2-6 weeks).

For the death of an employee where there is no individual with an Affidavit to Collect Compensation of Deceased, as required by the California Probate Code, keep the final paycheck for 3 years and then provide it to the CA Controller’s Office.

Next Wage & Hour Quick Tip: How to calculate “regular rate of pay” to correctly determine overtime owed.

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

Have you been receiving numerous e-mails urging you order your updated 2009 compliance posters?

While it is true that changes will be made to the required postings, they have not been released yet. It has been stated that due to the budget crisis the government agencies have not finished or released the new postings as was hoped. The sub-postings that will have changes are:

Once the agencies release their postings, TPO-HR will issue an eCompliance update to TPO Annual Members. At that time you will have two choices:

  1. download the three above sub-posters (an acceptable option if you have posters from TPO with a date of 2007 edition or later on them), or

  2. order new sets (the preferred option to ensure your posters are up to speed).

If you know you want to order new sets and want to place your order now, knowing they won’t ship until the sub-posters are released, please click here.

HR Rumors: Get Your Facts Straight from the Experts!

Many of our employees like to get their email on their BlackBerry. Do we have any obligation if they check their messages on them while on vacation?


FactThe information age has brought new issues about pay as a result of the “always connected” phenomenon. There can be implications for both your exempt and nonexempt staff if you allow them to do this.


Non-Exempt Staff
Most at risk are companies that give PDAs, phones and other devices to nonexempt employees, since that basically encourages them to work extra unscheduled hours. As more people buy these devices on their own and use them for work, any employer is more at risk if the time isn’t being tracked.

It’s dangerous territory, since employees don’t always tell their supervisors they’re working at home. But that doesn’t mean companies can’t be held liable for that time. Take this example:

An administrative assistant often takes time at night to read and respond to her e-mail. She never records the time and has never told her boss that she does it. Her boss regularly gets e-mails from her that are time-stamped during non-work hours. That probably is enough to put the supervisor on notice that the employee is doing extra work and is owed overtime.

California law defines “Hours Worked” as:

“The time during which an employee is subject to the “control of the employer,” or all of the time the employee is “suffered or permitted to work,” even if the employee is not instructed or required to do so. This encompasses employee “off-the-clock” work where the employer has actual or constructive knowledge, including when work is done at home.”

This means that the employee must be paid for all of the time spent checking email or any other work they do through such electronic devices outside of work hours.

Another concern is that the employee might be seen as “on call” if he/she is required to respond within a certain time period. The following questions must be asked in order to determine the answer to that question:

  1. Are the restrictions placed on the employee primarily directed toward the fulfillment of the employer’s requirements and policies?

  2. Is the employee substantially restricted so as to be unable to attend to private pursuits?

Exempt Staff
As a general rule, any work during the workweek entitles exempt employees to full-week salary.

Exceptions include:

  • Absence for one or more full days for personal reasons, other than sickness or disability

  • FMLA leave

  • Suspension for violation of a major safety rule

Since it is also permissible to dock exempt staff leave banks (vacation/PTO/sick) for half a day, it is possible that things could get even more confusing:

Hypothetical: Victor works as an exempt project manager for Workaholic Technologies. Victor is on vacation all this week in Cabo and is receiving pay solely from accrued vacation. While sitting on the beach and sipping a pińa colada, Victor checks his work e-mail on his company laptop using the wireless internet access of his hotel which is adjacent to the beach. Victor spends about 30 minutes responding to e-mails and redlining a proposal and some project plans drafted by a manager of the company. Victor then turns off his laptop, orders another pińa colada and doesn’t think about work for the rest of the day.

What should Workaholic Technologies do?

Things to consider:

  • Pro rata docking of salary for full-day absences is allowed if an employer did not require (directly or indirectly) the employee to do any work that day.

  • Employers may deduct from bona fide employee leave banks (vacation/PTO/sick) for half a day or more absence.

  • If a manager sent the message and asked Victor to respond while on leave, that probably would be seen as the employer requiring Victor to work and so must be paid as work time. The most conservative approach is to pay Victor if the manager in any way knew the employee was logged on and working.

The least risky thing to do if Victor has a vacation leave bank available, and there is a written policy allowing for at least half-day deductions from vacation, would be to pay Victor for the 30 minutes and then deduct the balance of the day from his leave bank.

If Victor does not have a leave bank available, then Workaholic would find paying for the full day less risky.

What to do
Continually advancing technology has made it easier for employees to work anytime, anywhere. It may also make employers more likely to incur overtime obligations.

So far, the issue hasn’t been tested in court, but law experts warn that it’s only a matter of time. Chances are you don’t want it to be your name in the headlines when that happens.

In addition to making sure any and all time worked is properly recorded, here are ways for companies to avoid getting hit with these claims:

  • Update policies - You have to pay overtime to non-exempt employees, once it is incurred, even if you have a policy against working extra hours. Giving people rules about when they shouldn’t work is the best way to avoid those sticky situations. The Handbooks produced by TPO include policies that address the question of unapproved overtime.

  • Educate managers - If supervisors don’t understand the overtime regulations, they may expect and encourage nonexempt employees to check e-mail and do other work at home or on their time off. These and other regulations are covered in our California Employment Essentials class that is designed for managers, supervisors and HR professionals. This series is offered several times a year at TPO, or we can come to your location and train your entire team.

  • Limit communication - If managers call or e-mail employees after hours, those employees may feel encouraged to work overtime. Such communication should be limited to critical situations.

  • Withhold devices - If your company issues BlackBerries, laptops and other devices to employees, you may want to consider providing them only to exempt workers.

Article written by: LaTonya Olivier, SPHR-CA

Kelsey L. Escoto, MSOD, SPHR, Consultant

Q. Kelsey, you have been with TPO-HR since July of 2006, What is your role at TPO, and what do you do when you aren’t providing training and HireRight Systems support to clients?

A: I do specialize in HireRight Systems and presenting various skills training programs. Also, my background includes a lot of experience with career transition (outplacement). Since many of our clients are downsizing and restructuring to respond to the economy, I have been spending a good deal of time assisting people who are recently unemployed with resume writing and job seeking support. I also focus my efforts on marketing TPO’s wide range of HR services and introducing this great resource to employers.

When I’m not working at TPO-HR with a great team of very smart people, I am usually scrap booking, walking or working out at the gym. Of course there are dinners with good friends, my “Mom” status. Raising a son by myself has provided me with many joyful events and challenges. Watching and helping my son develop into a responsible and caring young man has been one of the most rewarding “jobs” I’ve held and I continue to cheer his successes.

I have been fortunate enough to get the education and work experience needed to work with people. I thrive on reading behavior and helping others understand the impacts of their actions to facilitate necessary change. As I continue my work with TPO and volunteer opportunities, my goal is to work with community youth to provide them leadership and communication skills that in turn will help them succeed and contribute.

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Employment Upd@te is a publication of  TPO HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Copyright ©2004-2008. All rights reserved.
TPO's Employment Upd@te may not 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.