Second Article Printed in Progressive Dairyman Magazine – Marijuana Laws and You

We were again privileged to be asked to submit an article covering the new Marijuana Laws for Progressive Dairyman magazine.  You can read the article here: https://www.progressivedairy.com/topics/management/cutting-through-the-smoke-marijuana-and-the-workplace or  you can read the article in the October 18 issue.

Please feel free to leave a comment or ask questions regarding this or any HR issue.   You can always call our office at 559-625-2322 if you are a customer or would like more information.

 

IT’S A GOOD TIME TO REVIEW YOUR EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN

With all of the wild fires, shootings, hurricanes and earthquakes going on right now, we must remember that these events go on all of the time and it is not always in a cluster as it seems right now.  That being said, it is a great reminder that employers have a responsibility to their employees as well as to the business, to have a plan in place for such emergency situations.

Practice Your Emergency Plan

First on the list, do you have an emergency action plan.  If you are an employer in California,  you should have an IIPP (Injury Illness Prevention Program) and as a part of that program, you should have an Emergency Action Plan in place.  OSHA requires this and most states require a similar safety program.  It makes great sense and many insurance companies will ask for it as well.

But it is not enough to have an plan, you have to actually practice it.  When was the last time you had a fire drill?  Do your employees know how to give directions to your building?  How do you notify your neighbors if there is an emergency?  What happens if YOU are not there?  Where do your employees meet and who checks to make sure everyone is accounted for?  All of these questions and others should be addressed and practiced.

California employers must also have a Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) that details the fire hazards your employees may face and how to handle a fire should the situation arise.

Paying Employees

(these are California rules and may be different in your state)

Even in an emergency, employers must be mindful of obligations under state employment laws and consider pay issues for exempt and nonexempt employees related to office closures.

Employers must pay exempt employees a full weekly salary for any week in which any work is performed. If the business is closed for the whole week, however, employers don’t need to pay exempt employees.

In emergencies, special pay rules apply for nonexempt employees.

If your business shuts down for any of the following reasons, you must only pay nonexempt employees for the hours they worked prior to being sent home:

  • Operations can’t start or continue due to threats to you or property or when recommended by civil authority;
  • Public utilities such as water, gas, electricity or sewer fail; or
  • Work is interrupted by an “Act of God” or other causes not within the employer’s control.

However, if you shut down your business at your discretion (and not for one of the above reasons), reporting time pay may be owed. When a nonexempt employee shows up for work as scheduled and is not put to work or is given less than half of his/her scheduled hours, the employee would be eligible for reporting time pay: pay for one half of the scheduled shift, no less than two hours and no more than four hours.

Of course, employers are always free to pay employees or let them use vacation or other personal time. Many employers may choose to provide some paid time during emergency situations. Just remember to be consistent!

Leave of Absence

You may be required to provide various leaves of absence for your employees after an emergency including sick leave, medical leave and leave due to closed schools, loss of housing, etc.  So, be ready to aid your employees with these measures as well.  The state requires the employer by statute to follow certain guidelines and imposes fines for failure to comply.  In all cases, error on the side of helping the employee during stressful situations.

As always, if you need any help or have questions, HR Mobile Services, Inc is here to help.  You may contact our office at (559) 625-2322 and direct your questions to the Loss Prevention Department or the Legal Department (depending on your situation).  We are here to help!

GOVERNOR BROWN SIGNS 15 NEW LAWS, 5 WITH PREVAILING WAGE REQUIREMENTS

This past week, Governor Brown signed 15 housing bills into law.  5 of them include a prevailing wage component that goes into effect January 1, 2018.

California has a definite housing problem.  Right now there is a need for 180,000 homes and only 88,000 homes are being built in an average year.

Existing law already requires that prevailing wage be paid to workers on State financed project (ever wonder why it costs so much for the State to do anything?).  This new legislation reaches over into the private sector to tell them how much they must pay everyone and extends the influence of Unions into non-union work-places.

Prevailing wages have been around since the 1930’s and were used to kick-start the economy with projects such as the Hoover Dam.  As an example, if you are a bricklayer in Sacramento, the prevailing wage is $70 per hour.  In San Francisco, that may be $90.  And, of course, there is the story of the person who was paid $46 per hour to vacuum at a construction site because that is the prevailing wage for clean-up work.  The Janitorial description would have been much less at around $12 per hour.

An analysis of the cost of prevailing wage on the average home in California reveals the following:

  1. Almost all employees will be paid a much higher wage.  The range is an increase of 39% for electricians to 116% for construction labor.
  2. The overall increase in labor cost for residential construction would be 89%
  3. Labor accounts for about 41% of the cost of an average home, so this would mean an increase in the total construction cost of 37%
  4. Put into monetary terms, if the average cost of home construction is $88 per square foot, the 37% increase would add another $32 per square foot for a total cost increase on the average home of $84,000!

Proponents of the bills say the cost will be mitigated by the fact you are hiring professionals who will work faster, more efficiently, with less errors in the construction process.  However, they have no significant evidence to back up this assumption.  Rather, I refer you to the Bay Bridge retrofit project in San Francisco built by Union workers and under prevailing wages that is crumbling and needs millions of dollars to be fixed.  I also refer you to our present high-speed rail project with it’s original cost going from $9 billion to $65 billion (or more) as costs continue to rise.  These projects do not support the idea that if you pay a person more, they will save you money.

So far, these bills only apply to projects that take advantage of certain State fast-track waivers for environmental reviews and permitting process.  However, based on past history, the next round of legislation may be to impose prevailing wage on all “trades” work.  And, it may reach over to regular private work that is not regulated by State laws.  It could move next to any work permitted by the county, city or municipality.  The cement slab you want for a patio may double in cost.

This is a long, slippery slope that has no factual standing.  At the end of the day, there may be no increase in building homes because the cost savings of fast-tracked government regulations may not off-set the increase labor costs.  In fact, it may not even off-set the increased worker’s compensation insurance costs associated with the significant increase in wages.  If labor costs increase 87%, then worker’s comp costs will almost double for the contractors.  Also, there is an a large increase in payroll taxes associated with the increased payroll.  The State likes that.

So, what we have here is another example of legislation written to make the Politicians look like they are doing something, and appeasing their select groups (unions).  But, there is very little evidence it will actually improve the housing problem in California and even less chance that those homes will reduce the cost of housing.  We will have to wait and see what comes next.

A Short Explanation of the 7-day Work Week Penalty In California

The article below was originally  emailed to many of our customers and we felt we should share this information with all.  We  hope it is helpful.

 

The state of California says that an employee should not be forced to work 7 days in a week and has attached a penalty for doing this.  This is not new, but recently, there was some misunderstanding of the rule.  I will try to explain.

When we first meet with you to discuss your employee packet, we ask all of you to define your workweek.  This is NOT your pay period and it does not change.  Your work week is permanently listed as a 7-day period that has an exact starting and stopping time.  As an example, your work week may run from 12am Monday morning to 11:59 pm Sunday night.  Let’s use this example:

If an employee works on Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat and Sunday, then they worked all 7 days in the SAME workweek.  In this case, the employee would be entitled to be paid regular pay through Saturday, but the first 8 hours that they work on Sunday are paid and 1 ½ times their normal hourly rate.  All hours worked on that 7th day after 8 hours is at double-time pay.  Everything resets on Monday morning.  You cannot pick a different day to pay this “penalty pay” and you also may owe for daily or weekly overtime as usual for the week.

Using this same example of Monday-Sunday as the workweek, if the employee had Monday off, but worked every day for the rest of the week and continued working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the next week before getting a day off on Thursday (9 days in a row), there is no penalty or 7-day rule pay because the employee had Monday off in one defined work week and Thursday off in the next work week.

The 2 places where we see the most use of the 7-day rule are in harvesting and when an employee switches shifts with another employee.   There are also some issues when milkers change from day to night shifts.

Most harvesters work a shorter day on Sunday and this reduces the cost of the 7th day pay.

In your handbook we give notice to employees that they must obtain consent from the supervisor before making any changes to their work with another employee.  This is so you have a chance to check and avoid having an employee work all 7 days in the same work week.

Finally, if you are going to have situations when employees work all 7 days, it may be a good idea to include the release form in your employee packet so you have advance notice of your employee’s wishes.

As always, if you have any questions regarding these issues, please contact us at our office number (559) 625-2322 and ask for the client services department or legal department.

You may also obtain more information on our other blog posting “work weeks upheld by California Supreme Court” from May 9, 2017  https://www.hrmobileservices.com/work-weeks-upheld-by-california-supreme-court/