n  Workplace Investigations

n  Training_Calendar_

n  Legislative Update

n  Employing Minors

n  Welcome New Members

n  Referrals Rewards Program

n  CA Wage & Hour Tip

n  HR Q & A

n  Do you need to update your Employee Handbook?

 

 

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 June '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 Sep. - Oct. '09

Workshops Calendar

n Dealing with Difficult People

August 04

n Creative Conflict

August 18

n Harassment and Discrimination at Work

September 23

n FMLA/CFRA Compliance

October 15

Economy Briefings

n THE PERFECT STORM: Why Workers Comp Premiums are Expected to SOAR!

July 16

n EXEMPT or NON-EXEMPT: THAT is the Question!

August 05

n HEALTHCARE BENEFITS: Can We Still Afford To Provide Them?

September 10

 

Why is TPO SO BUSY conducting workplace investigations for our clients?

Check this out...

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that 95,402 workplace discrimination complaints were submitted by employees to the federal agency in 2008. This was a 15 percent increase from the 82,792 complaints made in 2007, and the highest number of claims since the EEOC was formed in 1965.

According to the EEOC, all major categories of charge filings increased in 2008. Charges based on age (+28.7%) and retaliation (+22.6%) saw the largest annual increases, while allegations based on race (33,937 complaints) and sex (28,372 complaints) continued as the most frequently claimed types of discrimination.

"The EEOC has not seen an increase of this magnitude in charges filed for many years. While we do not know if it signifies a trend, it is clear that employment discrimination remains a persistent problem," said Chairman Stuart Ishimaru.

The agency says the surge in charge filings may be due to multiple factors, including economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees' greater awareness of the law, and the EEOC's practices.

Besides taking complaints, the federal agency also filed 290 lawsuits, resolved 339 lawsuits, and settled 81,081 private sector charges. Through its combined enforcement, mediation and litigation programs, the EEOC recovered approximately $376 million from employers "to promote inclusive and discrimination-free workplaces.”

In CA, there has been no relief from the onslaught of wage and hour lawsuits against California employers. Class actions in the state have risen a staggering 313.8% – with wage and hour class actions outnumbering all other claims.

OK, Stats are Stats, BUT WHY???

Today’s economy is fueling a surge of employee (and past employee) complaints of discrimination and harassment. Decisions about which employees are terminated in a downsizing process; asking the remaining employees to do more with less; relying on under-skilled managers and supervisors to effectively lead change; the list goes on!

Our advice? Be strategic. Keep a pulse on the work environment and the capabilities of the people you are relying on to identify and resolve issues before they become unmanageable. Call us to help you diagnose where things are and make recommendations to establish and sustain proactive HR practices to avoid being an EEOC or DFEH statistic. Believe us; you DON’T want to go there!


Written by: Jill Russell, SPHR, Principal

Did you know that TPO is licensed by the State of California (PI-25638) to provide investigative services?

Not only do we offer years of experience, judgment and credentials – combined with the latest technology – to client investigations including alleged harassment, discrimination and malfeasance; we also work with our clients to reduce risk, liability and loss by creating solid policies and systems. TPO can investigate and analyze root causes, patterns and trends to reduce exposure and liability – and then recommend corrective actions.

Some of the situations that TPO can help you with are:

HR INVESTIGATIONS

• Discrimination   • Harassment
• Theft                • Workplace Relationships

BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS

• Pre-employment             • Promotions
• Contractors/Consultants

RISK MANAGEMENT

• Internal/External Theft   • Intellectual Property
• Computer Use               • IIPP

GENERAL INVESTIGATIONS

• Records                                • Research
• Special ”Discreet” Inquiries     • Skip Tracing

Don’t wait until a situation of discrimination, harassment or other malfeasance arises – give TPO a call to review your current policies, employee relations issues and overall systems today!


For more information on TPO’s Investigative Services, please call us at 1-800-277-8448 or email info@tpohr.com.

Amidst an environment of economic challenges, the new administration and legislative sessions are in full swing and while there are numerous national and state priorities, there are several areas of interest to HR.

Federal HR Legislation

Newly Signed Legislation:

  • Small Business Health Insurance Subsidy – On May 13, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation to help tens of thousands of workers laid off from small businesses (fewer than 20 employees) to obtain a federal subsidy for health insurance for nine months of federal aid paying 65 percent of their insurance premium.

Pending In the Congress:

  • “Employee Free Choice Act” (S.560 and HR. 1409) –  These bills would amend federal law to give workers the option of joining unions by signing cards (“card check”), rather than casting secret ballots.


California HR Legislation

Stalled for the Year due to Inaction

  • Sick Days (AB1000) – Similar to San Francisco’s current law, this bill would provide one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours of work.

  • Workers’ Compensation (AB 664 and SB 773) – Both bills were projected to have increases workers’ compensation costs.

  • Government-Run Health Care (SB 810) — Would have created a new government-run, multibillion-dollar socialized health care system.

Still in the Legislature for Consideration

  • Union Representation for Agricultural Employees (SB 789) - Would mirror current legislation on the Federal level, giving workers the option of bypassing the secret-ballot elections and instead, they could sign representation cards. This bill is specifically aimed at agricultural employees. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed similar "card check" bills the last two years.

  • “Familial Status” (AB 1001) - Would create a new basis for liability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act by adding “familial status” to the list of classes protected from employment discrimination.

  • Meal Periods (SB 287) - Would clarify a variety of important issues related to meal periods, such as:

    • Specifies that meal periods apply only to employees subject to the meal period provision of an Industrial Wage Commission wage order;

    • Permits an employer to "provide" the meal period before the employee completes six hours of work;

    • Defines the language "providing the employee with" to mean "making available to the employee;"

    • Permits an agreement to waive either the first or second meal period if the employee is otherwise entitled to two meal periods (the employee works more than 10 hours but no more than 12 hours in a workday); and

    • Provides express conditions for lawful on-duty meal periods.

  • Meal Periods (SB 380) – Would make similar clarification as SB287 and would also specify that the one hour pay for late or missed meal periods is not restitutionary in nature and does not constitute additional wages to the employee.

  • CA Family Care and Medical Leave (AB 849) – Would expand the CA Family Rights Act (CFRA) to:

    • Eliminate the age and dependency elements from the definition of "child," thereby permitting an employee to take protected leave to care for his or her independent adult child suffering from a serious health condition;

    • Expand the definition of "parent" to include an employee's parent-in-law; and

    • Permit an employee to take leave to care for a seriously ill grandparent, sibling, grandchild or domestic partner equivalent.

  • Alternative Workweek (AB 141 and SB187) – Would permit an individual non-exempt employee to request an employee-selected flexible work schedule providing for workdays up to 10 hours per day within a 40-hour workweek without any obligation to pay daily overtime compensation.

  • Company-Provided Transportation (AB 1421) - Would require employers who provide transportation to the worksite to also pay employees for time spent commuting from the parking lot to the workstation.

  • Payroll Records (AB 527) – Would revise existing law to provide that if the Labor Commissioner finds that payroll records submitted for any pay period relating to any claim or complaint brought pursuant to the commissioner's authority have been falsified, all payroll records relating to that claim or complaint must be presumed false and disregarded.

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

Employing Minors

Every summer employers are faced with the opportunity (and challenge) of bringing in young people to both supplement the workforce and provide career training for the younger employees. While this can be welcomed relief to have a pair of ready hands to take on the work which might otherwise burden employees who are trying to take vacations or just have a lot of administrative work, 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 proper work permits; not paying 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 than 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.


Be cautious because many minors may attend summer school, so the school day hours would apply in that case.


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

Mobile Phones

Effective July 1, 2008, it became illegal for individuals under age 18 to drive a motor vehicle while using a mobile phone, even with a hands-free device. This includes other mobile service devices, such as a broadband personal communication device, a specialized mobile radio device, a pager, a two-way messaging device, or a handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access. However, minors may make calls for emergency purposes only to, for example, a law enforcement agency, a healthcare provider, or the fire department.

Note: There are many additional exceptions to hiring minors and this list is not inclusive. If you have specific questions about your organization, please call TPO for more clarification.

Article written by: LaTonya Olivier, SPHR-CA

n KLEEN GLOBE

n NH3 SERVICE COMPANY

n ENZA ZADEN NORTH AMERICA, 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!

Our most effective way of telling our "story" is through current members!

To show our appreciation for you sharing your enthusiasm about how your TPO membership adds value to your operation with others, we are offering a

REFERRAL REWARDS PROGRAM!

How does it work?

1. You refer us to a colleage, we meet with them to talk about TPO, they DON'T join membership...you enjoy 1 complementary seat at any of our 3 hour Specialized Training Programs!

2. Refer a colleague who joins TPO membership before

September 15, 2009

and add 1 of the following special money saving options to your membership at

NO EXTRA COST!

  • Add 3 more months to your 12-month membership, or

  • 1 additional "authorized representative" to receive member benefits ($500 value) or

  • 1 seat at CA Employment Essentials ($595 value)

Contact your TPO representative for more information!

Employees On-Call and on Standbywhen the time is paid or unpaid?

While some employers choose to voluntarily pay a premium to employees who are on-call or standby, other employers looking to reduce employment-related expenses may want to explore if such time can be unpaid.

 

Example of Time Not Worked and therefore Unpaid:

  • An employee is required to carry a pager, radio or phone with them at all times and is expected to return the call within a reasonable amount of time (5-15 minutes) to determine the nature of the call and what action to take. During this on-call or standby time, the employee is allowed to participate in their own activities (movies, beach, restaurants, etc.) providing they do not go beyond a reasonable distance from the possible worksite (within 20-30 minutes).

Example of Time Worked and therefore Paid:

  • Requiring a non-exempt employee to stay at home with a large, non-portable radio and be within earshot of the radio at all times and the ability to call back to work within seconds.

  • If a non-exempt employee is called back to the worksite:

    • Pay for the travel time starting from the point you call an employee back to work

    • Pay for all time spent on the call-back, or at least two-hours, whichever is greater

    • Payment of overtime, if hours worked exceeds overtime amounts.

  • If a non-exempt employee answers the call via phone or e-mail and does not have to travel to the worksite:

    • Pay for all time spent on the call or e-mail

    • Payment of overtime, if hours worked exceed overtime amounts.

Next Wage & Hour Quick Tip: Unpaid Volunteers Not Likely in For-Profit Organizations

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

I heard that we need to begin to use the federal E-Verify system for our I-9 verifications if we have federal contracts. Is that true? Have I missed the deadline?

This might be exactly what you heard, but nothing has moved forward yet on this issue, except for a recommendation for a two year extension of the current program by the House Appropriations Committee. That recommendation has not yet been acted upon by the House. The Department of Justice recently set another delay to the implementation of the rules that govern the use of E-Verify for checking eligibility to work in the U.S. when you have federal contract money. The E-Verify rules were set to take effect on June 30, 2009, but this fourth delay puts the next target implementation date at September 8, 2009.

One reason for the delay is that President Obama wants additional time to do a thorough review of the rule changes. The rules were first proposed under the Bush administration in 2008. In a back and forth legal struggle, opponents have claimed that some of the provisions contradict elements of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

Stay tuned as TPO will keep members up to date on this issue!
 

Article written by: Susan Kettmann, SPHR-CA

Is It Time to Update your Employee Handbook?

Have things changed in your organization? Have people moved on? Have policies changed? Employee Handbooks are a key component of any sound employee relations program and play a critical role in communicating essential information about benefits, policies, and performance standards to all employees. The benefits of having documented policies are key to the promotion of fairness and consistency in which employees are treated, and reduce the possibility of arbitrariness and discrimination. The result is enhanced employee morale, productivity and loyalty (along with more favorable legal positioning).

TPO recommends that Employee Handbooks be updated at least every 2 to 3 years to provide business owners and managers with a comprehensive and compliant guide in making sound employment decisions, such as implementing corrective action, hiring, termination and promotion. Having polices and standards documented and up-to-date can be a real time-saver by eliminating the need to ‘reinvent the wheel” as issues arise. Additionally, policy and/or leadership change in organizations may result in the need to update your handbook.

TPO can update your current handbook or create a new handbook for your organization in a timely and cost-effective way. TPO can also help you “announce” the updated or new handbook to your employees by providing you with helpful presentation notes, memos and facilitation. Do you need any or part of your Employee Handbook translated into Spanish? Give us a call to get your Employee Handbook updated or created
, please contact us at 1.800.277.8448 or tpo@tpohr.com.

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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.