Posts

CALIFORNIA MINIMUM WAGE PART 2…..

Please look at this graph that shows the minimum wage increase path for small and large employers.

201603290916

It shows that small employers (25 or fewer employees) and large employers (26 or more employees) will pay at a different rate.  Beginning in 2017, large employers will increase to $10.50 per hour.  Smaller employers will not increase until 2018.

Small employers will continue to be one  year behind the large employers until all employees are covered at $15 per hour by 2023.  The increase starts like this…

Large Employer                    Small Employer

2017 – $10.50                          NO Raise

2018- $11.00                           $10.50

2019 – $12.00                          $11.00

2020 – $13.00                         $12.00

2021 – $14.00                        $13.00

2022 – $15.00                        $14.00

2023……………………………..$15.00 + yearly cost of living increases set each year so you don’t have much time to set new prices to adjust for the unknown increase each year.

This could all be changed before it is signed into law, but this is the proposal as of yesterday.  Also, there is a component that would tie the increases after this to inflation rates and also a “hold” feature if the economy goes down, but considering how the State lies about the real debt and economic problems (they still claim they are a employer friendly state), I don’t hold out much hope for a “hold” being used.  It is, after all, in the State’s interest to increase pay so they can increase the amount of taxes collected from everyone.  There is no incentive to lower the amount to be taxed.

Stay tuned……..

CALIFORNIA TO RAISE MINIMUM WAGE YEARLY TO $15 PER HOUR AND BEYOND……..

Governor Brown, today, will be announcing an agreement reached between the State Legislature and 2 major Unions in California regarding minimum wage.  The unions had registered 2 differing minimum wage initiatives and got them on the California ballot, thus going around the State Government to let the people vote on the idea.

According to news reports, the negotiated deal would boost California’s statewide minimum wage from $10 an hour to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017, with a 50-cent increase in 2018 and then $1-per-year increases through 2022. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees would have an extra year to comply, delaying their workers receiving a $15 hourly wage until 2023.

Future statewide minimum wage increases would be linked to inflation, but a governor would have the power to temporarily block some of the initial increases in the event of an economic downturn.

While we have often written here that we oppose minimum wage increases without acknowledging the other “hidden” costs such as large increases in Worker’s Comp costs, this may be the better of the choices available.  The other initiatives on the ballot would have raised the minimum rate more rapidly so the next 2 years we only get a .50 raise each of the first 2 years.

Of course, by 2022, $15 will not raise anyone out of “poverty” since the line will rise as well, so by then the new chant may be $20 per hour.  And so it goes…..

Its backers are hopeful that the final agreement will allow them to formally withdraw that initiative in a few weeks.

“We want to look at the details first,” said Steve Trossman of Service Employees International-United Healthcare Workers West.

Sources say the Legislature could vote on the wage compromise as soon as the end of next week by amending an existing bill on hold since 2015.

It is of note that NO BUSINESS OWNERS OR ORGANIZATIONS WERE INCLUDED IN ANY OF THESE DISCUSSIONS.  So much for open and transparent government!!

We will continue to monitor this law as it is rewritten and passes through the Legislature to the Governor’s desk.  Then we have to hope the initiatives are pulled from the ballot as well.  Stay tuned……

LOOK, UP IN THE SKY, IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, NO…IT’S A DRONE!!

By now, I am sure that most of you have heard about the efforts to photograph activity on dairies and other companies by use of drones.  Unfortunately, again, our State and Federal leaders have left us unprotected and with little in the way of resources to combat these intrusions into our businesses.

To begin, you may own your land, but you may not own the sky above it.  Interestingly, the government still holds many of you accountable for the air above your property when it contains methane or other substances, but not if it is polluted with aircraft overhead.  If your neighbor has a tree that hangs over your fence and you want to trim it back, you can.  But you can’t stop a jet from flying over at 30,000 feet.  So where is the actual cut off?

“There is gray area in terms of how far your property rights extend,” said Jeramie Scott, national security counsel

at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “It’s going to need to be addressed sooner rather than later as

drones are integrated into the national airspace.”

The issue is becoming more urgent as drones are crowding America’s skies: The Consumer Technology Association

estimated 700,000 were sold last year.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, every inch above the tip of your grass blades is the government’s

jurisdiction. “The FAA is responsible for the safety and management of U.S. airspace from the ground up,” said an

agency spokesman, echoing rules laid out on its website.

But common law long held that landowners’ rights went “all the way to Heaven.” And today, it’s clear that they have

some rights.

California’s Governor vetoed all of the bills that came before him at the end of the 2015 Legislative Session.  Most probably needed to be reworked.  So, there are about 6 bills working their way through the system again.  However, we really need to turn to the FAA to get guidance, and so far, the only real answers they have is that drones need to be registered with the FAA.  The FAA refers to drones as UAVs or Unmanned Arial Vehicle Systems.

So what do we do while we wait for the government to catch up with an issue that started a couple of years ago?

This is from the AgWeb website:

The FAA administers the air space from the ground surface (soil, grass, top of building) upward. If it finds there is a problem, it can rule that the UAV was in violation due to careless and reckless operation and issue a fine or other penalty. Well-equipped UAV systems with cameras and sensors can cost from $7,500 to $40,000 or more, creating a substantial loss if destroyed.

Woldt says concerns often are based on a need for safety and potential infringements of property and privacy. The former is addressed by federal aviation regulations, while property and privacy concerns are addressed by civil and perhaps even criminal law. Someone can fly a UAV equipped with a camera over a neighbor’s backyard and be adhering to aviation law, but infringing on someone’s personal privacy. It gets back to one’s expectation of privacy in different settings, Woldt said.  If a person feels that their privacy has been infringed upon, then the same recommendation applies — contact appropriate authorities with as much information about the UAV as can be obtained, without confrontation.

Landowners can take steps to create a no-fly zone over their property by documenting their preferences at https://www.noflyzone.org/. The No Fly Zone organization works with manufacturers and UAV software developers. While it cannot guarantee that individual no-fly zones will be respected, it will provide the information to leading manufacturers, who can incorporate these areas into their software.

Proposed Changes to UAV Regulations

Earlier this month the FAA released a set of proposed regulations to more fully integrate UAS into the National Air Space. When approved, these regulations would open the door to much wider UAS use, including for a breadth of possible agricultural applications.  For more information on the proposed FAA regulations, and to provide comments to the FAA on the regulations, see:

As you can see, this is a very murky situation with a lot of what you can’t do and very little on what you can do.  You can confront the person if you find them, but you cannot threaten or use physical force.  You can contact the Sherriff’s department and claim that they are disturbing your animals (if indeed they are doing so).  Chasing animals with drones could be considered animal abuse in some situations, but in all cases, consult your attorney or law enforcement, do not take action into your own hands.  Remember, in the long run, you don’t want to lose the public opinion on an issue while the legislature is trying to provide solutions or you could end up on the bad side of that solution.

Contact your Assembly and Senate members and let them know your position.  Attend meetings, get organized and most of all, communicate to everyone you know when you see drone activity in your area.  Together we can work to stop this.

UFW HANDING OUT FALSE WAGE INFORMATION

 

 

Due to the recent signing of AB1513 there are a lot of people very nervous about Piece Rate pay and the new rules.  Please not the article below and then I will add more information below the article.  Also, as a reminder, Minimum wage goes to $10 per hour beginning January 1, 2016 in California.

UFW Distributes Minimum Wage and Piece-Rate Leaflet

Article Courtesy of: Rob Roy, President and Counsel, Ventura County Agricultural Association

Please find a leaflet that is being left on employee’s vehicles at worksites or along public roads by representatives of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW).

The leaflet seeks to inform agricultural employees as to whether they have heard about the “new wage law.”  They also claim that “thanks to the UFW, we have a new law that protects wages for farm workers that work by piece rate.”

The leaflet goes on to say that effective January 1, 2016, it is required that each employee is paid for their non-productive time (e.g., travel time between fields, training, exercises, etc.) based upon the minimum wage.  It also states that it is required that your employer allow you to take paid rest periods even though you work by piece rate based upon the average hourly rate earned.

Before December 15, 2016, the leaflet requests that if your employer has not given you retroactive pay, you should demand it for the last four years the employer failed to pay.  It goes on to state that you could be eligible for $8 more per day, up to $48 per week.

Lastly, the leaflet asks employees to remember not to sign documents that waive their right to this money.  This last reference is to retroactive release agreements between employers and employees to cover retroactive wages not paid such as non-productive time, rest or heat recovery periods or overtime.

There are several misstatements in this leaflet.  For example: (1) The UFW was not a party to the negotiation process; (2) Workers cannot demand unpaid wages beyond three years unless they are part of a class action lawsuit with a cause of action for restitution under the California Business and Professions Code; (3) There is no law that currently requires an employer to pay retroactive non-productive time and rest periods.  However, AB 1513, which becomes effective on January 1, 2016, permits employers to voluntarily make such payments to avoid potential class action lawsuits.

It should be noted that these leaflets may be passed out with Notices of Intent to Take Access by UFW organizers to your workplace.  If the UFW files a valid Notice of Intent to Take Access and files it with the ALRB, they will be permitted to take access to your business operations during three specified periods in the workday.  During such periods, they may be able to distribute such leaflets and speak with your employees concerning its content.

Do not attempt to restrain UFW representatives in passing out leaflets to your employees during lawful access.  Also, do not question your employees about what the UFW representatives discussed during the access periods.

If UFW organizers are accessing private property to put the leaflets on employee vehicles, you may intercede and inform the organizers that they are on private property, they are trespassing, and ask them to remove the leaflets.  To enforce your demand, you should take a photo of the individual placing the leaflet, as well as his/her car and license plate.

If they persist in not leaving your private property, contact the local police or sheriff’s office.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

AB 1513 was written to address the issue of unpaid rest periods, which, by law, should be paid.  Here is the problem….when an employee is working by piece rate, they are not paid when they are “resting” so the court said the employer must establish an hourly rate to pay the employee when they are not picking fruit or whatever the job is.  You cannot establish just a minimum wage for this time because it is not an incentive to take a rest break for less than you are making when you work.  So, they created a formula that involves taking the gross amount paid for a week, divided by the hours worked minus the 10 minute breaks and meal periods time.  That gives you the hourly rate when they are working.  This is the hourly rate you use to pay the rest breaks on a separate line on their pay stub.  We strongly suggest that you meet with your attorney and develop a plan for paying any employees who fall into this category.

There is also a ‘safe-harbor” time set up to pay back pay if you owe it, without incurring penalties.  This could save you thousands of dollars and again, it is worth a discussion with a good labor attorney to protect your rights.

You may also contact HR Mobile Services, Inc. for a general discussion of this issue before you speak to your attorney.  Just give us a call or email.

ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS MAY BE ON THE WAY OUT IN CALIFORNIA

AB465 just passed the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on a 4-1 vote and is on to the Senate Judiciary Committee next.  This bill precludes mandatory employment arbitration agreements, which have already been authorized by the California and US Supreme Courts.

Although this regulation, if passed, could ultimately be overturned by the courts, it will take many years to work it’s way through the system.   Meanwhile, employers and employees will have to pay for lengthy lawyer and court proceedings with no resolution in sight.  The only people making money on this are the lawyers of California and they are, as usual, silent on the issue.

If you have or are thinking of adding a arbitration agreement to your employment package, you may want to reconsider and instead impose good payroll, time recording and proper training as a low cost alternative to this expensive process.  If you have the correct tools in place, the chances of trouble diminishes considerably.  Your loss prevention specialist from HR Mobile Services, Inc. can help you stay in compliance.

IN ALL CASES, if you are a full service customer of ours, and OSHA shows up on your property, ask them to wait off the property for one hour and call our office immediately so we can get out there and represent you.

Attention ALL States: California is at it Again – Double Holiday Pay!!!!!

Hot on the heals of establishing a mandatory 3 days of sick pay for all employees in the state, California is now considering Double Pay for certain holidays.  Please read the analysis below from the California Chamber of Commerce Alert Bulletin regarding this legislation (more commentary at the end):

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Assembly Committee Passes Double Holiday Pay Bill

March 20, 2015 Jennifer Barrera

The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee this week approved a California Chamber of Commerce-opposed bill requiring double pay for work on certain days.

During testimony to the committee on AB 67 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) CalChamber Policy Advocate Jennifer Barrera explained that the bill increases costs, creates a competitive disadvantage, and potentially violates employers’ constitutional rights by forcing employers to recognize certain days as “family holidays” and compensate all employees with double pay for work performed on those days.

Violates Religious Freedom

AB 67 provides that employers shall compensate an employee at no less than twice the employee’s regular rate of pay on a “family holiday,” defined as “December 25 of each year” and “the fourth Thursday of November of each year,” commonly referred to as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

While the recognition of these holidays may seem benign to some persons, employers who have non-Christian-based beliefs or are immigrants to America might not see the recognition the same way. The Legislature should not mandate certain days as more significant based upon religious or cultural beliefs that are not maintained by all.

Further questions about the First Amendment implications of AB 67 were raised during the hearing and directed at Barrera, but she was stopped from answering them by the committee chair, who cited procedural precedent issues.

Unavoidable Increase in Costs

Although some employers may close their place of business on a “family holiday” to accommodate their employees, others do not realistically have that option for their business models.

Competitive Disadvantage

AB 67 would also unilaterally increase the cost of doing business only for those employers who have a physical presence in California, thereby automatically placing them at a competitive disadvantage with online companies and out-of-state businesses that would not be subject to this cost.

Recently, the Legislature tried to even the playing field between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores in the sales-tax arena. AB 67 would further distort this playing field by increasing the cost of doing business for local employers, as opposed to online retailers, who would not have to comply.

Regular Rate of Pay/PAGA Enforcement

Determining the regular rate of pay of many employees requires a detailed calculation that goes beyond just an employee’s hourly pay. As defined by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the “regular rate of pay includes a number of different kinds of remuneration, for example hourly earnings, salary, piecework earnings, commissions, certain bonuses, and the value of meals and lodging.” While this calculation is performed for overtime purposes, it is subject to good faith errors as to what types of “remuneration” should be included in the calculation.

Due to being included in Section 511.5 of the Labor Code, the provisions of AB 67 are subject to the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) (Labor Code Section 2699 et seq.). Therefore, errors in calculating the regular rate of pay or failures to comply with other provisions of this mandate would add another threat of litigation against California employers.

Key Vote

AB 67 passed the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee 5-2.

 

Ayes: Chu (D-San Jose), Hernández (D-West Covina), Low (D-Campbell), McCarty (D-Sacramento), Thurmond (D-Richmond.

 

Noes: Harper (R-Huntington Beach), Patterson (R-Fresno).

 

The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee; no hearing date has been set.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This bill puts a direct strain on any employer who works with living beings, animal or human.  Zoos, dairies, pet stores, aviaries, animal conservatories, laboratories and research facilities, all would fall under this.  Not mentioned are the thousands of employees who work with the elderly and infirmed.  Now, many places fully staff on the holidays so that people who may not have family or a place to celebrate a holiday, have a great day.  Now they will cut back to a bare minimum of workers and hours and this will also reduce the enjoyment of holidays for those people.

This is a well intentioned bill but not a well thought out bill.  Notice that Sick Pay, Paid leave, and now Holiday pay do not affect the State employees because they can just close on those days or they already have a better package of specialties, or, what the heck, it is just tax payer money so there are no real consequences to State agencies.   Hmmmm……..

One positive, there is almost no reason to join a union any more.  They are already in the California Legislature.

We ask that you contact your representatives and express your opinion about this legislation. 

 

DISCLAIMER FOR THIS BLOG FORMAT

We work very hard to bring you the most up to date and correct information possible at all times. However, reinterpretation or delay of certain regulations and rulings from State and Federal courts and departments make things very fluid. This is especially true of large legislations such as the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

The opinions expressed on these pages by HR Mobile Services, Inc., commenters, and quoted sources are only opinions and should not be taken as Legal Opinions or Statute. For legal or insurance advice, we encourage you to contact your own attorney or other licensed agents you trust as well as our advice. This will give you the information you need to form your own opinion on any subject.

We encourage people to leave a comment or opinion and as long as it is appropriate to the topic and not obscene. We monitor this blog and we reserve the right to allow or deny the posting of comments.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.