Once upon a time the reasons that an employer would set up shop in the Golden State of California were many and varied. In those days the economy was growing because both businesses and people were moving here from other states.
These days California has lost a lot of its appeal. Businesses have left the Golden State in droves. Not only that but California is one of the top five states with the most compliance issues in the entire United States. California has become a legislative nightmare for employers.
So these days the reason that employers set up a shop in California is because of the weather and easy access to both mountains and beaches.
Given the anti-employer climate, we are going to cover some of the main issues that employers will want to make sure that they have dialed in. California Labor Laws and Cal-OSHA Standards are some of the toughest you can find anywhere.
- Proper Communication During The Hiring Process:
Every new hire should receive an offer letter that is easy to understand. This letter should include your companies “At-Will” provision and explain that the “At-Will Status” will supersede any other negotiations.
- Make Sure Your Meal and Rest Period Policies Are Current:
Employers still do not understand the ins and outs of the new Meal and Rest Period Laws. Construction companies and other companies that have employees working remotely are getting into trouble because they are not strongly encouraging their employees to document that they are taking both the Rest Periods and the Meal Periods.
One of the things that employers can do to reduce the risk of a lawsuit developing out of mismanagement is to make it the employee responsibility to let the employer know when a Rest Period or Meal Period has been missed.
- Review Your Travel Time Policies:
Employees who commute from their home to the workplace do not have to be paid for that commute. However, if an employee goes from job site to job site, or any other driving on behalf of the company that drive time must be compensated.
If while driving on behalf of the company, the employee either drives in traffic or becomes caught in traffic the employer must develop a system that will capture the employees extra time so that they may be compensated properly.
Here again, it is wise to put the obligation on the employee to report to the employer when the employee is caught in traffic. This is something that employers should not make light of because failing to implement a policy on travel time and sticking with it is just asking for a class action lawsuit to happen.
- Cal-OSHA Fines Have Become a Big Deal:
Failing to establish and develop a safe working environment could cost you your business. Effective November 1, 2016, Cal-OSHA fines will increase by 80%. Not only that but Cal-OSHA is requiring employers to document all of the steps that employers have taken to ensure a safe working environment for all employees.
Today the Cal-OSHA enforcement team wants to see written documentation that you have done your onsite inspections. They also want to see documentation of your safety training topics going back at least two years.
Employers should be asking themselves when is the last time that we had our safety program reviewed or modified? When was the last time we had a Cal-OSHA Safety Consulting Team take a look at both our safety program along with the job site?
- Misclassification of Employees:
Calling someone a supervisor does not make them an exempt employee. For an employee to be exempt, there are two tests that must be passed before the employee will be considered an exempt employee.
- The Job Duties Test
If the employee is not spending at least 51% of his/her time as a supervisor, managing the employees that are under his direction the employee is not exempt.
- The Salary Test
Effective 12-1-2016 the exempt employee must be paid a salary of nearly $45,000.00 per year. This is up substantially from the present $23,000-24,000 per year salary requirements.
Employers seem to be under the impression that just because someone has signed a contract saying that they are an independent contractor that they are ok. This could not be further from the truth. The IRS has developed 21 rules that must be established to make someone an independent contractor.
- Respecting Employee Privacy:
In California, Employers are allowed to track or monitor the activities of employees. Some of the methods most often used for the purpose of employee activity monitoring is as follows.
- Installing GPS in company vehicles
- Monitoring the employee’s emails
- Social Media Activities
- Cell Phone Use
- Using hidden cameras
All of this is acceptable in California as long as you have developed a written policy that lets employees know that they have no expectation of privacy in the workplace.
While it is acceptable to monitor company phone calls and emails the monitoring of the employee’s private phone calls and emails is usually illegal. In addition to that, the company needs to be able to defend their decision to monitor their employee’s actions.
- Develop A Smart Phone Policy
Employees who are nonexempt who are checking company emails and text, or who are making and receiving phone calls or who are working off-site beyond the work day may become a large overtime liability.
California Labor Law requires employers to reimburse employees when employees use their personal cell phone for company business. It does not matter if the employee has an unlimited plan or not.
If your employees have been provided with a company phone and they are non-exempt that phone is recording every minute that they are working for the company after hours, and all of that is overtime that can be easily tracked.
Last but not least every employer should have a policy that stress employees are not to be on the cell phone while driving.
Contact California Employer Services Today!
The complexity of the Labor Laws has gotten so complex that employers are finding that they need the help of a Cal-OSHA Consulting Team. CES Today has been helping employers since 1997.
We are famous for making compliance easy. These days that is not easy to do but it is worth when we hear our clients praise for how much easier it is now that they have our team of experts working with them
If you should have any questions, we would love to hear from you. We love questions, and we love helping employers to get and stay in compliance with all of the California Labor Laws and Cal-OSHA Standards.