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On September 30, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law SB 1343 which amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and goes into effect January 1, 2019.  This new legislation requires all employers in California who employ 5 or more employees on a regular basis to provide sexual harassment training to all employees, both in supervisory and non-supervisory roles.

Employers have until January 1, 2020, to comply with the new requirements.

In short, employees are required to complete this training within 6 months of starting a position.  Employees in supervisory roles will be required to complete a 2-hour course; employees in non-supervisory roles will be required to complete a 1-hour course.  All employees will be required to complete the training once every two years.

The training can be completed online or in a classroom setting.  It can be integrated with other training sessions that you may require for new employees so long as the curriculum meets the requirements for time and content.

Remember that your required posters and fact sheets will need to be updated.  These posters can be requested directly from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Per the regulations, the Department will be providing two online training courses: a 2-hour course for supervisors and a 1-hour course for employees in non-supervisory roles.  These interactive courses will include questions that must be answered before a participant can continue the course.  After the course is completed, the Department will provide an option for the participant to save a certificate of completion electronically or print it.

For employees placed with a company through a temporary staffing agency, the responsibility of sexual harassment training falls to the temporary staffing agency.

For seasonal or temporary workers who are to be employed less than 6 months, training must be completed within the first 30 calendar days of being hired or within the first 100 hours of service, whichever occurs first.

Keep in mind that there are additional requirements for sexual harassment and record keeping per Labor Code section 1684 for migrant or agricultural workers and AB 1978 for employees that provide property services such as janitorial services.

We will provide an update when more information becomes available regarding the training courses provided by the State. If you have further questions, or would like alternate solutions besides the State provided ones, please contact us.


By Elizabeth Kay, Compliance and Retention Analyst at AEIS

An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that the traits that make someone become a leader aren’t always the ones that make someone an effective leader. Instead, efficacy can be traced to ethicality. Here are a few tips to be an ethical leader.

Humility tops charisma
A little charisma goes a long way. Too much and a leader risks being seen as self-absorbed. Instead, focus on the good of the group, not just sounding good.

Hold steady
Proving reliable and dependable matters. Showing that—yes—the boss follows the rules, too, earns the trust and respect of the people who work for you.

Don’t be the fun boss
It’s tempting to want to be well liked. But showing responsibility and professionalism is better for the health of the team—and your reputation.

Don’t forget to do
Analysis and careful consideration is always appreciated. But at the top you also have to make the call, and make sure it’s not just about the bottom line.

Keep it up!
Once you get comfortable in your leadership role, you may get too comfortable. Seek feedback and stay vigilant.

A company that highlights what happens when leaders aren’t the ones to champion ethics is presented in Human Resource Executive. Theranos had a very public rise and fall, and the author of the article cites the critical role compliance and ethics metrics might have played in pushing for better accountability. The article also makes the case for the powerful role of HR professionals in helping guide more impactful ethics conversations.

One high profile case study of a company recognizing that leadership needed to do more is Uber. Here, leadership realized that fast growth was leading to a crumbling culture. A piece in Yahoo! Sports shows how explosive growth can mean less time to mature as a company. Instead of focusing of partnerships with customers and drivers, Uber became myopically customer-and growth-focused. This led to frustrations for drivers and ultimately a class-action lawsuit. New initiatives, from tipping to phone support to a driver being able to select riders that will get them closer to home, have been rolled out in recent months. These changes have been welcome, but, as the leadership reflected, could have been more proactively implemented to everyone’s benefit. The mindset of bringing people along will also potentially help Uber maintain better ties with municipalities, which ultimately, is good for growth.

Harvard Business Review Don’t Try to Be the Fun Boss” — and Other Lessons in Ethical Leadership

Yahoo! Sports – How Uber is recovering from a ‘moral breaking point’

Human Resource Executive – An Ethics Lesson

by Bill Olson

Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

In a tight labor market, a candidate’s potential commute can make a job more or less attractive. HumanResources reports that a quarter of employees surveyed had left a job because of the commute. When looking at just Millennials, the number jumps to one third. Employees can be choosy, selecting a job that offers more of what they want, and that means less of a commute. Companies can work around this by offering transportation amenities, flexible scheduling or more remote working opportunities.

 Forbes has a recent interview with Tamara Littleton, founder of The Social Element, who’s successfully built a remote team at the social media management agency. She argues culture starts at the top. By treating people well, which includes offering remote opportunities, it sets a tone for the whole company. Creating opportunities for in-person meetings and gatherings balance any isolation that may happen. Then, more regular face-to-face communication, essential to build trust and teamwork, comes via video calls when email might otherwise be the default. Newsletters and webinars keep the team connected and ensure important messages aren’t missed. She can point to the success of her ideas with the hire of many senior team members, willing to sacrifice some pay for more flexibility. 

When implementing remote-friendly strategies, there are plenty of success stories to draw inspiration. Entrepreneur has some tips from Zapier, a company that has been on the forefront of offering alternative working arrangements. In fact, they offer a “de-location” package to encourage employees to move from the cost-prohibitive Bay Area. Tools like Slack facilitate real-time communication, with tools to find ideal meeting times across time zones and channels themed for non-work related conversations. Bots regularly and randomly pair up employees to get a chance to know one another during a brief call. A semi-regular retreat brings people together in person and impromptu video dance parties make slow days more fun.

The takeaway? Being proactive and creative to build remote work policies can get you the employees you want, wherever they may be.

Travelling to and fro office may drive your employees to quit

How To Build A Culture Of Trust In A Large Remote Team

This Company Hosts Virtual Dance Parties to Help Its 170 Remote Employees Feel Connected

by Bill Olson

Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

Aristotle was right when he said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Companies and politicians like to say that they’re transparent, when in fact, they’re often the opposite. And, as in nature, in the absence of facts, people will often fill their minds with what is perceived.

If you’re working at a company, rather than being one of its customers, and you’ve been told by senior management that they’re transparent about what goes on, then make sure you take a close look at what they’re willing to share.

In the article titled “The Price of Secrecy” in Human Resource Executive Online, employers are quick to cite company policy, yet are reticent to share if and how those policies are being enforced. This has a huge impact on employee trust and can quickly have the opposite effect on employees following said policy.

Basically, employees want to know that if they follow the rules, others will also follow them, or there will be consequences for not doing so. Companies can hide behind the mantra of “it’s being handled,” or “it’s an employee issue,” but what the employer may forget is that gossip will sometimes fill in the unknown. Compounding matters is that employees want to know that if a colleague violates company policy, the appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

Employers seldom reveal any disciplinary process or policy enforcement simply because it may violate privacy, or it might embarrass either the employee or employer. For example, an employee has been stealing company property for months. Eventually, the employee is caught, but it may reflect poorly on the employer that it took a long time to realize this was happening, or that safeguards were not in place to prevent the theft in the first place. So, while the employer wants to inform its employees about this violation and how it was handled, they also don’t want to expose vulnerabilities that could undermine the employee’s trust in the company.

Another benefit of policy transparency is that it keeps the enforcers honest. That is, if a company employee is responsible for doling out punishment, then that person is more likely to do it fairly and impartially if they know everyone is watching.


by Bill Olson
Originally posted on ubabenefits.com


Criminal History and Job Applicants

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 1412) specifying that employers, public agencies, private individuals, and corporations (employer) may:

  • Ask employees or applicants about an arrest when they are out on bail or on their own recognizance pending trial.
  • When complying with state, federal, or local law:
    • Conduct criminal background checks for employment purposes.
    • Restrict employment based on criminal history.
    • Seek or receive an applicant’s criminal history report when obtained pursuant to procedures otherwise provided under applicable law.

Additionally, employers may ask an applicant about, or seek from any source, information regarding a particular conviction if any of the following apply (per 12 U.S.C. § 1829, other federal law, federal regulation, or state law):

  • Regardless of whether a particular conviction was expunged, judicially ordered sealed, statutorily eradicated, or judicially dismissed following probation:
    • The employer is legally required to obtain information about it;
    • An individual with that particular conviction is legally prohibited from holding the position sought; or
    • The employer is legally prohibited from hiring an individual who has that particular conviction.
  • The applicant would be required to possess or use a firearm in the course of employment.

The law also newly defines the following:

  • A particular conviction is a conviction for specific criminal conduct or a category of criminal offenses prescribed by any federal law, federal regulation, or state law that contains requirements, exclusions, or both, expressly based on that specific criminal conduct or category of criminal offenses.
  • A conviction is a plea, verdict, finding of guilt, regardless of whether a sentence is imposed by the court. However, any adjudication by a juvenile court or any other court order or action taken with respect to a person who is under the process and jurisdiction of the juvenile court continues to be protected.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA S.B. 1412

FEHA, Harassment, Training, and Nondisparagement Agreements

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 1300) amending the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) as follows:

  • By removing the word “sexual” from the protections against harassment and thereby making employers responsible for the acts of nonemployees with respect to all harassment of employees, applicants, unpaid interns or volunteers, or persons providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace, if the employer, or its agents or supervisors, knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
  • An employee of an entity subject to the FEHA who is alleged to have engaged in any prohibited harassment may be held personally liable for any act in violation of the law.
  • Employers are authorized to provide bystander intervention training that includes information and practical guidance on how to enable bystanders to recognize potentially problematic behaviors and to motivate bystanders to act when they observe problematic behaviors. The training and education may include exercises to provide bystanders with the skills and confidence to intervene as appropriate and to provide bystanders with resources they can call upon that support their intervention.
  • In exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment of continued employment, employers are prohibited from requiring the execution of a release of a claim or right under the FEHA or from requiring an employee to sign a nondisparagement agreement or other document that purports to deny the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment. An agreement or document in violation of either of those prohibitions is contrary to public policy and unenforceable.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA S.B. 1300

Home Care Aide Registry and Disclosure of Personal Information

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (A.B. 2455) requiring, for any new registration or renewal of registration of a home care aide occurring on and after July 1, 2019, the State Department of Social Services to provide, upon request, a labor organization an electronic copy of a registered home care aide’s name, telephone number, and cellular telephone number. The department must also establish a simple opt-out procedure that would allow a home care aide to prohibit it from sharing his or her information and would require the department, at the time of registration or renewal of registration, to inform a home care aide how to use the simple opt-out procedure.

The law also prohibits labor organizations from using or disclosing the shared information, with exception.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA A.B. 2455

Lactation Accommodation in the Workplace

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (A.B. 1976) specifying that an employer who makes a temporary lactation location available to an employee is in compliance with the state’s workplace lactation accommodation requirements if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation location because of operational, financial, or space limitations.
  • The temporary lactation location is private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location is used only for lactation purposes while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location otherwise meets the requirements of state law concerning lactation accommodation.

An agricultural employer, is in compliance with the law if it provides an employee wanting to express milk with a private, enclosed, and shaded space, including, but not limited to, an air-conditioned cab of a truck or tractor.

Additionally, if an employer can demonstrate to the California Department of Labor that the requirement to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom would impose an undue hardship when considered in relation to the size, nature, or structure of the employer’s business, then an employer must make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA A.B. 1976

Mandatory Placement of Women on Board of Directors

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 826) requiring all of the following:

  • By no later than the close of the 2019 calendar year, a publicly held domestic or foreign corporations (corporation) whose principal executive offices (per its SEC 10-K form) are located in California must have at least one female on its board of directors.
  • By no later than the close of the 2021 calendar year, corporations must comply with the following, as applicable:
    • If its number of directors is six or more, then the corporation must have a minimum of three female directors.
    • If its number of directors is five, then the corporation must have a minimum of two female directors.
    • If its number of directors is four or fewer, then the corporation must have a minimum of one female director.

According to the law, a female is an individual who self-identifies her gender as a woman, without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth. The California Secretary of State will impose the following fines for violations:

  • $100,000 for failure to timely file board member information with the Secretary of State.
  • $100,000 for a first violation.
  • $300,000 for a second or subsequent violation.
  • Each director seat required to be held by a female, which is not held by a female during at least a portion of a calendar year, is a violation. However, a female director having held a seat for at least a portion of the year is not a violation.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA S.B. 826

Settlement Agreements and Confidentiality

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 820) prohibiting a provision in a settlement agreement that prevents the disclosure of factual information relating to any of the following claims that are filed in a civil or administrative action:

  • Sexual assault.
  • Sexual harassment.
  • Workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex.
  • Retaliation for reporting harassment or discrimination based on sex.

However, a provision that shields the identity of the claimant and all facts that could lead to the discovery of his or her identity, including pleadings filed in court, may be included within a settlement agreement at the claimant’s request. This does not apply if a government agency or public official is a party to the settlement agreement.

Under the law, any provision within a settlement agreement that prevents the disclosure of factual information related to the claim entered into on or after January 1, 2019, is void as a matter of law and against public policy.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA S.B. 820

Sexual Harassment and Waiver of Right of Petition or Free Speech in Contracts

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (A.B. 3109) making a provision in a contract or settlement agreement void and unenforceable if it waives a party’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA A.B. 3109

Sexual Harassment Training Modifications

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 1343) modifying the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) sexual harassment training requirements as follows:

  • By January 1, 2020, an employer with five or more employees (rather than 50 or more) must provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all nonsupervisory employees in California within six months of hire. The law provides the following additional provisions:
    • Employers may provide this training in conjunction with other training provided to employees.
    • The training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation, and may be completed in shorter segments, as long as the applicable hourly total requirement is met.
    • An employer who has provided this training and education to an employee after January 1, 2019, is not required to provide training and education by the January 1, 2020, deadline.

After January 1, 2020, each covered employer must provide sexual harassment training and education to each employee in California once every two years.

  • Beginning January 1, 2020, for seasonal and temporary employees, or any employee that is hired to work for less than six months, an employer must provide training within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first. For temporary employees who are employed by a temporary services employer, to perform services for clients, the training must be provided by the temporary services employer, not the client.
  • Beginning January 1, 2020, sexual harassment prevention training for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers must be consistent with training for nonsupervisory employees.

Employers may develop their own training module or use the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s training which it will develop and post on its website. The department will also make existing informational posters, fact sheets, as well as the online training courses regarding sexual harassment prevention available online and in alternate languages.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA S.B. 1343

Talent Agencies and Sexual Harassment

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (A.B. 2338) requiring the following:

  • A talent agency must provide educational materials on sexual harassment prevention, retaliation, and reporting resources and nutrition and eating disorders to its artists. These educational materials must be in a language the artist understands, and would require the licensee, as part of the application for license renewal, to confirm with the California Labor Commissioner that it has and will continue to provide the relevant educational materials.
  • Prior to issuing a permit to employ a minor in the entertainment industry, an age-eligible minor and the minor’s parent or legal guardian must receive and complete training in sexual harassment prevention, retaliation, and reporting resources. A talent agency must also request and retain a copy of the minor’s entertainment work permit prior to representing or sending a minor artist on an audition, meeting, or interview for engagement of the minor’s services.

The law also makes it a violation of existing laws for a talent agency to fail to comply with the education and permit retention requirements and authorizes the commissioner to assess civil penalties of $100 for each violation.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA A.B. 2338

Information Privacy and Connected Devices

On September 28, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 327) requiring manufacturers of a connected device to equip it with a reasonable security feature that is appropriate to the nature and function of the device, appropriate to the information it may collect, contain, or transmit, and designed to protect the device and any information it contains from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure.

Under the law, a connected device is any device, or other physical object that is capable of connecting to the Internet, directly or indirectly, and that is assigned an Internet Protocol address or Bluetooth address. Additionally, a manufacturer is the person who manufactures, or contracts with another person to manufacture on their behalf, connected devices that are sold or offered for sale in California. A contract with another person to manufacture on their does not include a contract only to purchase a connected device, or only to purchase and brand a connected device.

The law is effective January 1, 2020.

Read CA S.B 327

Personal Information

On September 28, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 244) implementing additional privacy protections for an individual’s personal information. The law requires that information or documents obtained by a California city, county, or other local agency for local identification card issuance may only be used to administer the ID card program or policy. It may not be used to for discriminatory purposes, be otherwise disclosed except in response to a subpoena for individual records, is exempted from disclosure and is not public record under the California Public Records Act.

Moreover, the law provides the following protections:

  • Documents provided by applicants to prove identity or residency may not be disclosed except in response to a subpoena for individual records in a criminal proceeding or pursuant to a court order, or in response to a law enforcement request to address an urgent health or safety need.
  • The use of a driver’s license issued under these provisions is prohibited to be used evidence of an individual’s citizenship or immigration status for any purpose.
  • Where a drivers’ license states, “This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits,” all of the following are violations:
    • To discriminate based on this type of license.
    • Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, for a business establishment to discriminate against a person because he or she holds or presents this type of license.
    • Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, for an employer or other covered person or entity (employer) to discriminate against a person because he or she holds or presents this type of license, or for an employer to require a person to present a driver’s license, unless possessing a driver’s license is required by law or by the employer and is permitted by law. However, this protection does not limit or expand an employer’s authority to require a person to possess a driver’s license.

The law does not alter an employer’s federal rights or obligations regarding obtaining documentation evidencing identity and authorization for employment. Any action taken by an employer that are required by the federal Immigration and Nationality Act are not violations.

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA S.B. 244

CCPA Amended

On September 23, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (S.B. 1121) amending the state’s Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) as follows:

  • It retained the CCPA’s operative date of January 1, 2020 but made the act immediately effective. According to the bill, the need for the immediate effective date is to prevent confusion that could be created if local laws regarding the collection and sale of personal information were enacted prior to January 1, 2020 and were in conflict with the CCPA.
  • The Attorney General is required to draft the CCPA’s implementing regulations. However, S.B. 1121 provides these regulations are not required to be in place until July 2, 2020. Moreover, under the bill, the AG may not bring an action to enforce the law until six months after the final regulations are published or July 1, 2020, whichever is earlier.
  • Adding more exceptions to the CCPA application, for example, some clinical trials and Confidentiality of Medical Information Act covered healthcare providers (but not under all circumstances).
  • Clarifying that the only private right of action permitted under the act is the private right of action for violations of unauthorized access and exfiltration, theft, or disclosure of a consumer’s nonencrypted or nonredacted personal information and deleting the requirement that a consumer bringing a private right of action notify the Attorney General.
  • Limiting the civil penalty levied by the Attorney General to not more than $2,500 per violation and not more than $7,500 per each intentional violation, and provides an injunction as another available remedy.

The law is effective September 23, 2018.

Read CA S.B. 1121

Petroleum Facilities, Rest Breaks, and Safety Positions

On September 20, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (A.B. 2605) exempting employees who hold safety-sensitive positions (those where duties reasonably include responding to emergencies in the facility and carrying communication devices) at a petroleum facility from the rest and recovery period requirements. The exemption only applies to employees who are subject to California Industrial Welfare Commission Order No. 1 and are covered by a collective-bargaining agreement. However, for any rest or recovery period during which an employee was interrupted, or forced to miss, the employer is required to pay one additional hour of compensation to the employee at his or her regular rate of pay.

The law became effective September 20, 2018, remains in effect until January 1, 2021, and then is repealed.

Read CA A.B. 2605

Occupational Injury and Illness and Recordkeeping Violations

On September 19, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (A.B. 2334) regarding workplace injury and illnesses and reporting standards. Under the act, Cal/OSHA law at Cal. Labor Code § 6317 newly defines what a violation occurrence is, as related to the statute of limitations in a Cal/OSHA recordkeeping violation. Specifically, under the law an occurrence continues until it is corrected, or until the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (division) discovers the violation, or until the duty to comply with recordkeeping requirement no longer exists. Thus, the Cal/OSHA enforcement branch may issue a citation for a recordkeeping violation which occurred any time during the Cal/OSHA five-year recordkeeping period because this new law defines a violation occurrence as continuing until it is corrected. Additionally, the law revised the Cal. Labor Code § 6317 language to state that a citation or notice will not be issued by the division more than six months after the occurrence of the violation. Prior to the bill, the entirety of § 6317 merely stated that, “no citation or notice will be issued by the division for a given violation or violations after six months have elapsed since occurrence of the violation.”

The law is effective January 1, 2019.

Read CA A.B. 2334


Originally posted on thinkhr.com

The guidelines for employers regarding who they can or cannot classify as a W-2 employee or a 1099 Contractor have seen some changes in past years, but the latest court ruling means some dramatic changes are going to be taking place as businesses come into compliance with the new standard.  On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court passed down a ruling regarding the classification of W-2 employees and 1099 contractors which alters it yet again.  So listen up, as this may impact your business!

Previously there was a lengthy multi-factor test that an employer would use to determine if they had classified all of their 1099 contractors correctly or if they needed to re-classify them as W-2 employees.  Now the California Supreme Court is stating that employers need to use the ABC test.

The test established by the Court in California reads as follows:

“The [new] ABC test presumptively considers all workers to be employees, and permits workers to be classified as independent contractors only if the hiring business demonstrates that the worker in question satisfies each of three conditions: (a) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and (b) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and (c) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.” – Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, No. S222732 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Apr. 30, 2018)

This new standard makes California’s policy regarding independent contractors one of the most restrictive in the United States.

Employers who traditionally hire employees for short periods to help them get through their busy season but pay them as 1099 contractors will no longer be able to do so.  If you hire someone to perform the same work that your company already performs, even if it is for a shorter period of time, they will need to be hired and paid as any other W-2 employee.

This will mean increased costs for employers in many areas including, but not limited to, increased taxes through FICA, workers comp premiums, and in some cases health benefit premiums if the employees meet the eligibility criteria.  However, even with the potential increase in costs, the penalty for non-compliance with the new 1099 employee test could be much higher.

By Elizabeth Kay

Question: We have a new employee in our call center who has a service dog. She came to her interview and trained without the dog, but is now asking if she can bring her dog to work. Do we have to accommodate her request?

Answer: The first step will be to determine whether the dog is a trained “service animal” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or is an “emotional support animal.” A “service animal” is one that has been individually trained to work or perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability. The animal must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with the disability. Allowing an employee’s trained service animal is a form of reasonable accommodation.

However, pets used for emotional support are not considered service animals under the ADA as they are not trained to perform a specific task. Although some states and some local governments allow individuals to have emotional support animals in public places, the same may not hold true for allowing such animals in places of employment. You will need to contact your local government agency to see if such laws exist. If not, you may set a policy that prohibits pets in the workplace except for ADA-defined service animals.

Employers are limited on what they can ask an employee when it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal. Employers may only ask:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

In addition, employers are not permitted to ask for documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate the task, or inquire as to the nature of the disability. The ADA does not require that trained service animals wear certain vests or collars indicating that they are service animals. Further, the ADA does not require the service animals to have a certificate of training.

Opening a dialogue with your employee about her need for the dog will provide you with guidance as to whether you need to allow her dog to remain with her at work. If another employee notifies you that he or she is allergic to dogs or dog dander, you may notify the employee with the service animal that due to the allergies of another employee, you cannot accommodate her request. However, you must engage in the interactive process with the employee with the service animal to consider other accommodations that would allow the dog to be with the employee.

Check with the Job Accommodation Network for resources to guide you in accommodating employees with service animals. If you do allow this employee to have her dog with her at work, remind her that she is responsible to ensure that her dog is always under her control and does not create a disruption to the work environment.


Originally posted on thinkhr.com

You have a business and it is growing – Congratulations!

As your company grows and you hire more employees, there are milestones that you will hit.  Some of these milestones come with additional responsibilities that you need to attend to, such as Cobra, HCSO, FMLA, Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and the Affordability Care Act’s Large Employer Mandate.

For example, if you are a company based in California and offer an employee benefits plan that includes medical insurance, you are obligated to allow former or terminated employees and their enrolled dependents to enroll in Cal-COBRA if they are no longer eligible to be enrolled in your plan.  Once you reach 20 employees or more for an average of 50% or more of the previous calendar year, then you are obligated to start offering enrollment in Federal COBRA for those plan participants and enrolled dependents if they are no longer eligible to be enrolled in your plan.

Additionally, if you have any employees working in the City of San Francisco, you would also need to comply with the Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO).  However, these two things would not happen at the same time because while they both require you have 20 or more employees before you have to comply, they count those employees differently, and over a different length of time.

Federal COBRA counts employees by their classification.  A full-time employee is counted as 1, and part-time employees are counted in fractions.  So you may have 15 full-time employees, and 5 part time employees and you would NOT be subject to Federal COBRA because your part time employees work an average of 20 hours per week, meaning all together they only count as 2.5 full-time equivalents which when combined with your full-time employees puts your count at 17.5.

The HCSO counts employees by head count, and they do it per quarter.  So if you have 19 employees during one quarter of the year, you don’t need to comply.  But if you have 20 employees for at least 13 weeks of the following quarter, you would need to comply.

Is your head spinning yet?

As you move further along and you reach 50 employees, there are more regulations that may now be applied to your company.  They are the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for California businesses, and the Pay or Play provision of the Affordable Care Act.  As one might expect, each regulation counts employees in a different way.

When you have had 50 or more employees over 20 weeks during the current or previous calendar year, you are subject to FMLA.  The weeks do not have to be consecutive weeks.  Additionally, FMLA counts the employees on your payroll register even if they are not being paid.  If they are on your payroll register, they are counted.  Each person is counted as 1, regardless of the number of hours worked.

For sexual harassment prevention training in California, once you have 50 or more employees (regardless of full-time or part time status) for 20 or more consecutive weeks, you have to begin offering training for your management staff every 2 years, and within 6 months of promoting an employee to a managerial position.

The Applicable Large Employer or ALE classification under the Affordable Care Act counts employees in yet a different way.  With regards to determining ALE status, you generally count each full-time employee as 1, and for part-time, seasonal, and variable-hour employees you count the number of hours they all worked collectively during a month (do not include more than 120 hours for any employee), then divide the total hours by 120 hours to get how many Full-Time Equivalent Employees (FTEs) you have.  You then add the number of full-time employees, to your FTE’s to get your total employee count.  If you average 50 or more employees during the calendar year, you are considered an ALE the following tax year.  For example, if you average 50 or more employees during the 2018 calendar year, you would be subject to the Pay or Play Mandate and the reporting requirements associated with it for the year 2019.

If your employee count stays at 50 or above in 2019, you would continue to be an ALE with all associated requirements in 2020.  If your employee count dips below 50 in 2019, then you would not be considered an ALE in the year 2020.

The Pay or Play Mandate (Employer shared responsibility) means that as an ALE you are required to offer minimum value, affordable coverage to your full-time employees and their dependent children, or potentially face a penalty from the IRS.

No one is an expert in all things, which is likely why your business is doing well and thriving: because you fulfill a need or expertise in the area that you specialize in.  As a successful business owner you know it is advantageous to have strong partners in your corner to help lend their strengths to your areas of weakness.

Having a strong benefits advisor to assist you in navigating these hurdles, speed bumps, and curves in the road is essential.  Whether you have the resources to handle these regulations in-house, or if you need someone to recommend a trustworthy third party vendor to handle it for you, we are pleased to be able to fulfill that need for you.


by Elizabeth Kay

Understandably, some employers (and employees) have mixed feelings about the gig economy. While many enjoy the freedom gained and overhead saved, others miss office camaraderie and routine. No matter your position, research shows that the trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. By 2021, 9.2 million Americans will work on-demand jobs, and so employers need to start asking themselves how they plan to keep employees of all stripes engaged in office work and culture.

As HR Technologist cautions, employee engagement goes both ways.While employers should be concerned about the reliability and loyalty of their freelance pool, they must also maintain strong relationships with their current full-time employees. Best practices for addressing this include providing similar perks to all workers, using in-depth onboarding services and training, and maintaining meticulously open lines of communication.

It is also important to remember that integration like this can’t happen overnight. Building a strong and diverse team, whether fully remote or mixed, takes time. Many companies are engaging “future ready” practices, so that hybrid workforces can be available whenever a particular company is ready to consider open options. Such practices are rooted primarily in savvy digital platforms, allowing for collaboration and innovation, as well as clear conversations about benefits and salaries. Not only do such techniques strengthen the current team, but they also position organizations as solid competitors for rising digital talent. Finally, remember that talent management isn’t merely an agenda item. It’s also a driving tool for strategic decisions about innovation, growth, and performance ability.

While there is no one established way forward, it’s clear that employers who are cognizant of the growing gig economy trend are able to both deepen and strengthen their current talent pool while looking toward the future.

by Bill Olson
Originally posted on UBAbenefits.com

Since the ACA was enacted eight years ago, many employers are re-examining employee benefits in an effort to manage costs, navigate changing regulations, and expand their plan options. Self-funded plans are one way that’s happening.

In 2017, the UBA Health Plan survey revealed that self-funded plans have increased by 12.8% in the past year overall, and just less than two-thirds of all large employers’ plans are self-funded.

Here are six of the reasons why employers are opting for self-funded plans:

1. Lower operating costs frequently save employers money over time.

2. Employers paying their own claims are more likely to incentivize employee health maintenance, and these practices have clear, immediate benefits for everyone.

3. Increased control over plan dynamics often results in better individual fits, and more needs met effectively overall.

4. More flexibility means designing a plan that can ideally empower employees around their own health issues and priorities.

5. Customization allows employers to incorporate wellness programs in the workplace, which often means increased overall health.

6. Risks that might otherwise make self-funded plans less attractive can be managed through quality stop loss contracts.

If you want to know more about why self-funding can keep employers nimble, how risk can be minimized, and how to incorporate wellness programs, contact us for a copy of the full white paper, “Self-Funded Plans: A Solid Option for Small Businesses.”

by Bill Olson
Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

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