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OUR ARTICLE IN PROGRESSIVE DAIRYMAN (not just for Ag)

We were recently honored to be asked to contribute to one of the most widely circulated magazines in the dairy industry.  This is the first of 2 articles we have written for them.  This information is universal and not just for Agriculture employers.  We hope it is useful to you.

You may use this link to go to the article:

http://canada.progressivedairy.com/topics/management/new-osha-rules-emphasize-injury-reporting-discourage-retaliation

Please let us know what you think.  There is a comment section at the bottom of the article.

Thank you

 

 

DEALING WITH EMPLOYEE WALKOUTS – DON’T REACH FOR TERMINATION PAPERS FIRST

The information below comes from the California Chamber of Commerce and provides a very good review of your rights as employers and employees regarding walking off the job.  HR Mobile Services, Inc. agrees with most of the assumptions in this piece.  However, I would also point out that it mentions other factors.  In the case of leaving live animals unattended this could be animal abuse and requires a higher standard of the employee and their actions.  Also, walking off without communicating with the employer or not showing up to work and not communicating with the employer is not a protected action.  In most cases, the employees were not walking off because of the particular employer or their work conditions.  One customer reported an employee said he was not coming in because the employer voted for Trump.  That is not a protected action.

Please read the full article below.

Quite a few news reports discuss recent employee walkouts across the country in protest of new federal policies, such as the recent “Day Without Immigrants” protests.

Employers are obviously concerned about how these protests might affect their business operations and what they should do. In some news reports, employers showed support for employees who choose to protest. But in other reports, employers found that the protest activity was cause for disciplinary action.

The situation can be tough to navigate.

If an employee doesn’t show up at all or walks out in the middle of a shift, this will certainly create a mess for employers, the customers they are trying to serve and the work that needs to get done. Employers want to be able to ensure productivity and maintain attendance policies.

Despite these legitimate concerns, employers should exercise caution before taking disciplinary action against an employee who fails to show up to work because of a protest. In some, but not all, circumstances, the employee’s behavior may be legally protected.

If you have concerns that employee walkouts will disrupt your ability to operate, the best course of action is to seek advice of counsel.

Possible Protections

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of employees to engage in “protected concerted activity,” which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) generally defines as two or more employees taking action relating to terms and conditions of employment for their mutual aid or protection (Sections 7, 8(a)(1)).

This right applies to both union and nonunion employees. In fact, the NLRB often enforces this right in nonunionized settings.

In some circumstances, when employees get together to specifically protest working conditions or job issues, such as wages, the NLRA protects those activities. For example, we saw workers protesting in 2015 for a higher minimum wage. Since this activity was related to improving the employees’ working conditions, it may be entitled to protection under the NLRA.

In other circumstances, the question is more difficult. For example, if workers walk off the job to participate in a general rally opposing the current administration, it is less likely that they are organizing together to try and improve their working conditions. In this situation, NLRA protections might not apply to the employees’ behavior.

It’s not going to be easy for an employer to make a split-second decision as to whether the workers’ activity is protected or not. Recent walkouts involved federal immigration policy and enforcement measures. Both of these can affect workplace conditions, especially if your business employs a large number of immigrants. But not all the protests zeroed in on a specific issue of improving workplace conditions.

Given the difficulty of determining whether the activity is protected, caution on the employer’s part and consultation with counsel is warranted before taking any disciplinary action. Each boycott may be different, and, thus, employee participation may or may not be protected. Also, blanket statements that the employees cannot participate without jeopardizing their jobs may not pass legal muster.

Unfortunately, this area involves a detailed analysis.

Loss of Protections

Keep in mind that employees can lose any protections they are entitled to. For instance, if employees engage in certain acts of misconduct, the NLRA will not protect them. Examples could include planning the destruction of property or threatening or engaging in violence.

If the walkouts are not isolated occurrences but are, instead, reoccurring, employees may also lose protection. Under current law, workers who strike multiple times, especially in the same labor dispute, can lose the NLRA’s protections and face discipline or termination. The NLRB, in some situations, has found that intermittent strikes are not protected.

Slowdowns, where the workers stay at work but don’t do anything, may also be unprotected.

Immigration Protections

California provides several protections against immigration-related discrimination and retaliation, laws that are stronger than even federal protections. These laws may come into play with the protests or walkouts.

Under California law, all individuals, regardless of immigration status, who applied for employment or who were employed in the state are entitled to all protections, rights and remedies available under state law, except any reinstatement remedy prohibited by federal law.

This includes state labor, employment, civil-rights and employee-housing laws. You cannot inquire about a person’s immigration status except when necessary by clear and convincing evidence to comply with federal immigration law. These laws are found in several overlapping California statutes (Civ. Code sec. 3339; Lab. Code sec. 1171.5; Health and Safety Code sec. 24000; Govt. Code sec. 7285).

California also has strong protections for immigrant workers who complain about unfair wages or working conditions (Labor Code sec. 1019). For instance, an employer may not threaten to contact, or contact, immigration authorities because an employee complained that he/she was paid less than the minimum wage.

Critically, it’s unlawful in California to report or threaten to report the suspected citizenship or immigration status of an employee, former employee, prospective employee or a member of the employee’s family because that person exercised a right under the Labor Code, Government Code or Civil Code. This is a broader protection than just protecting complaints about wages and hours; it also covers other rights, such as bringing a discrimination or harassment complaint under the Government Code.

In addition:

·         Business and Professions Code section 494.6 permits the state to suspend or revoke an employer’s business license where the employer makes a report or threatens to report suspected immigration status in violation of Labor Code section 244.

·         Penal Code section 519 provides that a person may be guilty of criminal extortion if the person threatens to report the immigration status or suspected immigration status of an individual, or his/her relative or a member of his/her family.

Both California and federal laws also protect workers from discrimination on the basis of national origin.

Off-Duty Conduct

Remember that California law protects employees for engaging in lawful conduct during nonworking hours. So if the employees engage in protests outside working hours, leave it be. Labor Code section 96(k) allows employees to bring claims for lost wages when they are disciplined or discharged for lawful conduct during nonworking hours.

California’s Labor Code section 1101 prohibits employers from adopting or enforcing any rule, regulation or policy that:

·         Forbids or prevents employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office.

·         Controls or directs, or tends to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.

Best Practices

If you are affected by walkout activity, keep the following in mind:

·         Plan ahead if you know that employees are going to engage in walkouts.

·         Deal with staffing issues.

·         Consider talking to your workers to allow them to explain why they are planning to participate in the walkout.

·         Consult legal counsel about the appropriate course of action.

·         Don’t automatically take disciplinary action or threaten disciplinary action without legal consultation.

·         Make sure that company policies are job-related and applied consistently and fairly.

·         Remember that your employees’ social media activities may also be protected.

·         Train managers and supervisors to be mindful of employee protection issues.

What do immigrant protections mean in relation to recent walkouts or boycotts?

·         Employers should not assume that an employee who protests is undocumented.

·         Employers should never ask employees to re-verify their eligibility to work (by completing a new Form I-9) simply because the employees are involved in political activity relating to immigration issues or because the employer is now suspicious that the employee is undocumented. The Form I-9 should have been completed at the time of hire.

·         Supervisors and managers should understand that using, or threatening to use, the suspected immigration status of an employee or employee’s family member because that employee is exercising protected rights is unlawful conduct.

MORE EFFECTS FROM THE CHANGE TO AGRICULTURAL WORK HOURS

With the coming change, beginning in 2019, to lower the hours worked in agriculture from 10 to 8 per day, there are also other changes to consider.  First, right now, we encourage our employers to give their employees 30 hours of sick pay per year.  As the hours drop after 2019, the hours of sick pay should also drop until they reach 8 hours x 3 days or 24 hours.  So employees will lose 6 hours of sick pay over time.  Again, you cannot make that change now, but understand it will be a change in a few years.

Second and more important, vacation hours will change.  In the past, it was not really correct to say you get “one week” of vacation because that does not define an exact number of hours offered.  So, we changed your employee packets to say 1 week (60 hours).  Now, we need to start changing that again and we need to do it soon.  Many customers also offer 2 weeks of vacation (120 hours) after anywhere from 2-5 years later.  So, an employee hired in 2017 may be seeing his hours reduced by as much as 20 hours in a week by the time they get that 2 week vacation.  For that reason, we are proposing a change to employee vacation policy that states the employee will earn the equivalent of one week of vacation based on the consistent average of the work weeks from the previous year.  In other words, if an employee works around 40 hours a week, they will get a 40 hour vacation.  If they average 45 hours a week, it will be 45 hours of vacation.  It does not have to be an exact average, but based on the common hours worked weekly.  The same will stand for the 2 week vacation.

If you are an HR Mobile Services, Inc. full-service customer, we will be working to change these policies over the next year.  We see the employee packet as a living document and we make changes large and small about 3 times a year for our customers.  If you have an employee handbook from an attorney, it may not be as up-to-date as Federal Law and State laws change constantly.

Don’t Touch That Cellphone!!

Californians!  Because our state government feels it must protect everything you do, the governor has signed AB 1785 written by (and you are going to love the name…) Assemblyman Bill Quirk.  It is known as the “Distracted Driving” update.  Originally passed a few years back, the old law said you should not text while driving and it attached a fine if you are caught.  This makes sense, because we have all driven behind some numbskull who is not paying attention to the traffic and playing with their phone.

So, now we have an update to that law and you should bring this to the attention of every employee you have that uses a company vehicle or drives on company business.  Basically, the new law says that if you touch your phone or other electrical device FOR ANY REASON while driving, it is a violation and subject to a ticket and fine.  Specifically, you can mount a phone or GPS device on the windshield and you are allowed to do a “one-swipe” gesture which allows for the use of GPS but does not allow texting or other items.

These changes were proposed to meet the 2014 appeals court decision to move the emphasis from the action (calling or texting) to the devices.

We are not posting this to cause a discussion on whether a change like this will eliminate accidents, but we feel a technological change would be better.  They  have software that can disable cellphone use while driving, but refuse to implement it.  So, please inform your employees so that they and you are not subject to fines or tickets.

Seattle, San Jose, and San Francisco are working on new labor laws that may affect you

Seattle, San Jose, and San Francisco are working on new labor laws that may affect you

According to an article from the AP, many employers will be subject to severe new rules regarding scheduling and once it gets a foothold, you can bet this will be going Nationwide and into other industries.  This is the next step in Socializing all employment.  Please note at the bottom that those with collective bargaining agreements (unions) are exempt.  I can’t imagine how an employer will comply with this law.  If an employee calls in sick or quits, the employer will face fines if they ask another employee to come in and work their shift, so they are forced to work the next 2 weeks short-handed or pay penalties.  – Jeff

By PHUONG LE

Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) –Seattle leaders have proposed new rules for retail and food-service businesses with hourly employees, including requiring them to schedule shifts two weeks in advance and compensate workers for some last-minute changes – the latest push by a city that has led the nation in mandating worker benefits.

Seattle was among the first to phase in a $15 hourly minimum wage, mandate sick leave for many companies and offer paid parental leave for city workers.

Now, the mayor, city officials and labor-backed groups are targeting erratic schedules and fluctuating hours they say make it difficult for people to juggle child care, school or other jobs, to count on stable income or to plan for the future.

Seattle’s “secure scheduling” proposal also would require retail and fast-food companies with 500 employees globally to compensate workers with “predictability pay” when they’re scheduled but don’t get called into work or are sent home early; provide a minimum 10 hours rest between open and closing shifts; and offer hours to existing employees before hiring new staff.

“Creating equity in Seattle means providing workers with access to a reliable schedule that meets their life and financial needs, while balancing the daily realities facing large employers,” Mayor Ed Murray said earlier this month.

In 2014, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to pass similar legislation. A District of Columbia bill requiring 14-day scheduling notice advanced out of a council committee in June but has yet to be taken up by the full council. A November ballot measure before San Jose, California, voters would require businesses to offer additional hours to existing part-time employees before hiring new staff.

The Washington Retail Association and other businesses have criticized the Seattle proposal, saying many employers already provide advance scheduling notice. They say the measure is too restrictive and will create more problems for workers.

“It will wipe out the scheduling flexibility that benefits both employ yees and employers,” said Jan Teague, association president. If store managers can’t add to labor costs to cover the predictability pay, they’ll operate with fewer employees or fewer hours when someone can’t make it into work, she said.

Others say they want to see changes to some provisions, such as ensuring employers aren’t penalized for offering shifts directly to workers who want them.

Across the country, companies have faced increasing pressure to make schedules more predictable. Last month, Wal-Mart launched a new scheduling system to give thousands of hourly employees more certainty about their hours.

The sponsors of Seattle’s ordinance say it’s as much about closing the city’s income gap as giving entry-level workers, many of whom are women and minorities, more control over schedules. Median household income, housing prices and rents have soared in booming Seattle as the city has grown to about 687,000 and added about 50,000 tech and other jobs in five years.

“We want this to be a city where our workforce, the people who are keeping this place running, can afford to live here,” said Councilwoman Lisa Herbold, a bill sponsor. “When people have more secure hours, they can do things that make the city more affordable, such as holding down a second job or going to school so they can get a better job.”

Crystal Thompson, who works at Domino’s Pizza, often scrambles to find child care when she gets her schedule one day before the work week begins. The short notice makes it difficult to plan her life.

“This will be good for a lot of people,” she said.

Oliver Savage, 22, a Starbucks barista, said he has asked to work 30 hours but currently gets 20. For a period this summer, a previous store manager scheduled him for only eight hours, reducing his one source of income. He said the store hired a new barista during that time, so he supports the provision requiring current workers be offered hours before additional staff is hired.

Jennifer England, who owns a Subway franchise, said she works with her three employees to accommodate their scheduling needs. She said she won’t be able to pay extra for last-minute shift changes if a worker wants time off or calls in sick.

“They’re making it harder for us to schedule and if anything comes up, we’re going to be penalized and we can’t afford that,” England said.

The bill exempts companies whose employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement with similar scheduling provisions.

YOUR PAY POLICIES COULD GET YOU IN TROUBLE!

Recent legislative actions at the federal and state level have brought renewed attention to the issue of compensation discrimination. From the EEOC publishing a new action plan on pay data collection to several states enacting new or revamping existing equal pay laws, closing the gender wage gap has become a nationwide priority. With this increased focus on combating wage discrimination and pay inequality at both the state and federal levels, employers should take the following steps to minimize the risk of a pay discrimination claim:

  1. Eliminate policies that prohibit employees from discussing wages – such policies are unlawful under the NLRA and many state laws.
  2. Develop a policy prohibiting wage discrimination for all employees and train supervisory employees on making employment decisions based on legitimate non-discriminatory criteria (e.g. merit, skill and performance).
  3. Carefully document all employment decisions relating to employee compensation and state the legitimate, non-discriminatory factors taken into account when making the decision.
  4. Regularly review and audit your pay practices to make sure wage discrimination is not occurring.

This does not require a great change for most of you out there.  However, you must be able to defend your neutrality when it comes to raises and pay for certain jobs.  You cannot forbid employees from discussing how much they make.  If confronted by an employee, give them a truthful answer.  If you do not think they are as good of a worker as this employee, tell them.  Be honest.  Don’t say that the other person is paid more because they need it for their family.  That is not a business reason.  Pay should be based on productivity and skill level not need.

As always, if you have a question about paying your employees, call HR Mobile Services, Inc. at (559) 625-2322.

CALIFORNIA DEFEATS OVERTIME BILL FOR AGRICULTURE AGAIN…..BUT…..

On Friday, there was a heated debate in Sacramento regarding a bill that would remove the exemptions for agriculture workers and bring them into the 8 hour day and 40 hour workweek.

First, a little history:

The Federal Government exempted agriculture workers back in the 1940’s from the FLSA and left the regulation of overtime to the States if they wanted to improve on this standard.  NO OTHER STATE DID…..EXCEPT CALIFORNIA.  In 1976 Jerry Brown (the first time as Governor), signed bills that established the 10 hour day and 60 hour work-week.  This was included in the Wage Orders that were established about 2001, specifically, Wage Order 14 with some agriculture work being moved to the 8/40 schedule with wage orders 8 and 13.

In 2010 and again in 2011, they tried to change the rules to 8/40 but it was defeated again with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stating:

“Unfortunately, this measure, while well-intended, will not
improve the lives of California’s agricultural workers and
instead will result in additional burdens on California
businesses, increased unemployment, and lower wages.  In order
to remain competitive against other states that do not have such
wage requirements, businesses will simply avoid paying overtime.
Instead of working 10-hour days, multiple crews will be hired
to work shorter shifts, resulting in lower take home pay for all
workers.  Businesses trying to compete under the new wage rules
may become unprofitable and go out of business, resulting in
further damage to our already fragile economy.”

So again on Friday, we had the arguments for and against.  3  pro-8/40 Assembly members felt it was important to quote Bible Scripture.  While interesting, this is not really the argument.  There were supporters from the usual groups, UFW, Labor leaders on one side and Agriculture employers on the other.  What was missing was those who really represent the interests of the employee.

Right now, a dairy worker generally works 60 hours a week, 10 hours a day.  If you pass this law, that employee will be working 40 hours a week, or 8 hours per day (5 days a week).  Since employers will not want to pay overtime, they will do one of 3 things.  They will change from two 10-hour shifts a day, to 3 8-hour shifts per day.  Or, they will reduce the size of their herds so they can be handled in 8 hours and this will further reduce the number of employees needed.  Finally, they can just close up and go to one of the other 49 states that want to work with agricultural employers.

When you reduce the worker’s income by 20 hours per week, you are not doing them a favor.  In fact, you may be creating a much worse situation.  In order to make up for the lost income (can you afford to lose $200 + per week in your pay?) the employee will have to look for a second income.  This means working at another dairy 2 days a week or working a second shift at another dairy.  This increases the likelihood of injuries due to being over tired, less time with family and most likely they will not have a day off at all.  Right now they get one or two days off a week, but if they have a second job, that will most likely go away.  YOU ARE NOT HELPING A PERSON WHEN YOU REDUCE THEIR HOURS, INCOME AND DAYS OFF.

Though well intentioned, this shows a real lack of understanding of the actual on the ground situation.  Typical of State Legislators, they sit in their Sacramento office and listen to advocates instead of getting their shoes dirty and talking to the actual people involved.  I would extend an invitation to any State Legislator to come and spend a day in our office to see the impact of some of their legislations.  I can guarantee there are at least 10 things that they do not know exist or the impact it has on employers and employees, and the environment.

Meanwhile, contact your representatives directly, not through an organization, and point out to them the tremendous loss to employees if this legislation goes through.  They won’t listen to your problems, but they may listen if you are discussing your employee’s concerns.

YOU CANNOT COMBINE REST PERIODS!

For some time now we have been advising our clients that they must separate 10 minute rest periods into each half of the day as per the wage orders.  Now there has been the first court trial after the Brinker decision to address the issue of combined rest periods.  Below is an edited version of an article from HRCalifornia white paper sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce.  There is contact information on the bottom if you wish to read the full account but the important information is here:

California Court Affirms Rest Break Timing Requirement

A California court recently affirmed that, in general, rest breaks cannot be combined (Rodriguez v. E.M.E., Inc., 2016 WL 1613803 (2016)).

Relying on the California Supreme Court’s guidance in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, the appellate court ruled in Rodriguez that “rest breaks in an eight hour shift should fall on either side of the meal break, absent factors rendering such scheduling impracticable.” The court acknowledged that unusual or exceptional circumstances may permit variation from the norm.

The Rodriguez case is one of the first since Brinker to expand on the issue of rest-break timing. In Rodriguez, the court ruled that whether the company can show that unusual circumstances justify its practice of combining rest breaks into a single 20-minute break before the meal period is an issue that cannot be decided on a motion to eliminate the case before trial (known as a motion for summary judgment).

The Rodriguez court remanded the case to a lower court so the issue can go before a jury.

General Guidance

The court relied on the Wage Orders, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement opinions and the Brinker decision to reaffirm the general rule that rest periods should fall in the middle of work periods and separated by the meal break “insofar as practicable” — which the court interpreted to mean “to the extent feasible.”

Following the Brinker guidance, the timing of such breaks in an eight-hour shift is that one rest break should fall on either side of the meal break.

Limited Departure From the General Rule

Now we know the general rule. But when is a departure from the permissible schedule allowed? According to the Rodriguez court, a departure from the general rule is allowed only if the departure can meet the following two-prong test:

1.   The departure will not unduly affect employee welfare; and
2.  The departure is tailored to alleviate a material burden that would be imposed on the employer by implementing the preferred schedule.

A departure from the preferred schedule that is “merely advantageous” to the employer will not meet the above test. Instead, the employer must show that the preferred schedule imposes a material burden and that departure from the norm is necessary to alleviate that burden.

In coming up with this rule, the court noted that the overall intent of California’s Wage Orders is to protect employee health and welfare.

Combined Breaks

The court also rejected the notion that employers are allowed to combine rest breaks, as the company in this case did. Again, the court reiterated the preferred schedule of one rest break on each side of a meal break.

A company has no right to combine rest breaks as a matter of law.

However, unusual or exceptional circumstances may permit a combined rest break. The court noted that there was only one circumstance that the former Industrial Welfare Commission had discussed allowing a combined rest break: where the business requires shifts in which the meal period occurs soon after the employee reports to work. The Rodriguez court noted that those facts were not before it.

Note: Employers are advised to consult legal counsel if they think they have a situation that allows them to depart from the general rule of a rest break on each side of a meal break.

Question for a Jury

In this particular case, the employer submitted declarations from employees that the combined rest break wasn’t harmful to them and that they preferred it.

The company also submitted evidence that the combined rest break was necessary because the nature of the production process meant that the employees needed a long time to prepare for the break and also time to resume activities after break. The company claimed that a departure from the preferred rest break schedule enabled the company to avoid material economic losses due to lost production time preparing for breaks and resuming activities after.

However, the employee who brought the case submitted his own declaration claiming that employees lost little or no work time in taking breaks, countering the argument that employees following the preferred break schedule would place a material burden on the company. Because of this declaration, the employer was not able to get rid of the case before trial, and further proceedings will be necessary.

This case has now been remanded, and we will see if the employer can prove that its departure from the general rule was justified. Or the case may be appealed to California’s Supreme Court. In the meantime, this published decision is good law.

Best Practices
Comply with break timing requirements. Provide the preferred schedule of one rest break falling in the middle of the work period before the meal period and one rest break falling in the middle of the work period after the meal period.
If you think your company has unique burdensome circumstances that would allow you to depart from the preferred schedule, consult legal counsel. It can’t be stressed enough: meal and rest break claims continue to be a source of costly litigation, penalties and fines.
Review your policies to make sure they are compliant with the preferred rest break timing.
Educate managers about their obligations relating to meal and rest periods and discipline managers who do not follow policy.
You may use this contact for more information from the California Chamber of Commerce Services: hrcalifornia.service@calchamber.com

US Dept of Labor Issuing new Rules for Salary Exemptions

Below is a release from the US Department of Labor.   Many states take their labor rules directly from the US  DOL but many others have their own rules under which employees are eligible for overtime pay.  For instance in California, a salaried person must be paid twice the minimum wage and be in a largely administrative position not doing the same work as the hourly employees.  They must exercise independent thought and actions and this is a pretty high standard to be exempt from overtime requirements.  Further, if you have salaried people, you better have a written agreement of what the salary covers as far as expected hours of work each day\week and if there is any overtime figured into the salary.  Otherwise, it is not considered as covering overtime due.  Check with your own state for their rules on overtime, but here is the statement from the US Department of Labor:

 Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Overtime

President Obama signing the memorandumToday the Department of Labor has announced a proposed rule that would extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million white collar workers within the first year of its implementation. Failure to update the overtime regulations has left an exception to overtime eligibility originally meant for highly-compensated executive, administrative, and professional employees now applying to workers earning as little as $23,660 a year. For example, a convenience store manager, fast food assistant manager, or some office workers may be expected to work 50 or 60 hours a week or more, making less than the poverty level for a family of four, and not receive a dime of overtime pay. Today’s proposed regulation is a critical first step toward ensuring that hard-working Americans are compensated fairly and have a chance to get ahead.

On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department to update the regulations defining which white collar workers are protected by the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime standards. Consistent with the President’s goal of ensuring workers are paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, the memorandum instructed the Department to look for ways to modernize and simplify the regulations while ensuring that the FLSA’s intended overtime protections are fully implemented.

Following issuance of the memorandum, the Department embarked on an extensive outreach program, conducting listening sessions in Washington, DC, and several other locations, as well as by conference call. The listening sessions were attended by a wide range of stakeholders: employees, employers, business associations, non-profit organizations, employee advocates, unions, state and local government representatives, tribal representatives, and small businesses. In these sessions the Department asked stakeholders to address, among other issues: (1) What is the appropriate salary level for exemption; (2) what, if any, changes should be made to the duties tests; and (3) how the regulations could be simplified. The Department’s extensive outreach helped in shaping a proposed rule that is intended to be responsive to concerns raised by the regulated community.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published on July 6, 2015, in the Federal Register (80 FR 38515) and invited interested parties to submit written comments on the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov by September 4, 2015. Only comments received during the comment period identified in the Federal Register published version of the NPRM will be considered part of the rulemaking record.

Written comments received during the comment period will be helpful in shaping any final rule. Based on past experience and extensive work with the regulated community on other FLSA-related matters, we believe a 60-day comment period provides sufficient time for interested parties to submit substantial comment. Equally important, a comment period of this length, coupled with the feedback already received during the initial outreach sessions, will meet the goal described above of ensuring the Department has the level of insight from the public needed to produce a quality regulation. For these reasons we will not be extending the comment period.

Additional Information

 

   

CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY BILL TO END AG OVERTIME EXEMPTION (AB2757) PASSES COMMITTEE

AB 2757 (Gonzalez), which seeks to repeal longstanding law allowing California Agriculture to pay overtime after 10 hours of work in a day passed the California Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee on April 6, 2016.

Presently, Labor Code section 554 exempts agricultural employees from Labor Code provisions regarding wage and hour, meal break requirements and other working conditions.  Known as the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016, this bill would remove this exemption and would create a schedule that would phase-in overtime requirements for agricultural workers over the course of four years, beginning in 2017.  Under the proposed legislation, beginning July 1, 2017, agricultural workers would receive overtime for all work after nine and one-half hours daily or in excess of 55 hours in one workweek.  The thresholds for daily and weekly overtime would be further reduced each subsequent year until January 2020, at which point agricultural employees would receive overtime for work beyond eight hours daily or 40 hours weekly.

Obviously, California Agriculture should do everything it can to oppose this ill-thought legislation. Sagaser, Watkins & Wieland PC will continue to monitor AB 2757 and all other pending employment and labor law bills pending in the California Legislature.  Please call us at 559-421-7000 if you have any questions.

This bill will reduce the paychecks of thousands of agriculture workers.  This bill forces employers to cut 20 hours a week out of the agriculture workers check.  It also reduces their mandated sick pay hours to 24 (from 30) and most of these families will not be able to exist on this amount of pay.  This could mean the end of Agriculture in California.  If employees cannot feed their families they will move away.   If they go, there won’t be anyone to tend the animals and crops.  This is a bill that needs to see the light of day and have a vigorous voice from all Ag employers.  Do it today!!