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The IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) have released specific guidelines for employee requests for Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFMLA) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in order for employers to be eligible to receive the payroll tax credit. We have generated an employee request form that meets all of the IRS and DOL requirements from employees when making a request and approval form for your convenience.

Both forms collect key information that will need to be kept for 4 to 6 years from the date the leave is taken. In addition to the request and approval forms, employers are also required to keep additional records including how the benefit amount is calculated for each eligible employee that requests Paid Sick Leave or EFMLA under the FFCRA. Please refer to this article from Kutak Rock regarding those requirements.

As a reminder, be sure to print and post the required posters or direct mail or email them to your employees who are working remotely or who may not be working their regularly scheduled hours but are still active employees.

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released the required notification posters for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that will soon need to be posted in many workplaces and distributed to remote workers. Copies of the posters are available here:

Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Federal Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Each covered employer must post a notice of the FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.

The DOL also posted a Frequently Asked Questions page regarding the new notices.

 

What do you think of when you think of HR? Whether you are in the field or work alongside them at your office, you may think of human resources as simply the department that handles all the paperwork. In too many corporate offices today, HR is viewed at its best as the ones who handle the dirty work of a company’s operations and at its worst an unnecessary entity.

This view of HR is not only inaccurate but dangerous to the health and potential of your company’s success and ability to grow. HR ought to be looking after personnel changes, not administration. As business executive Jack Welch states in his blog article, “What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted, or moved out the door?” So then why would you bog down that department with administrative work?

Jack and Suzy Welch explain further in their book The Real-Life MBA that “HR isn’t optional—not in any industry” and that HR “gets a bad rap because most organizations lump administrative HR and real HR together.” They go on to explain how “administrative” HR consists of payroll, benefits, and so on. Meanwhile “real” HR is the one that is in charge of people development and “finding, training, motivating, and retaining great talent.” But if HR is too busy dealing with administrative day-to-day tasks then it cannot focus enough attention on the long term strategies of real HR.

So if you’re a business owner or if you work in HR, how do you bring your HR department back to where it needs to be in order to hire and develop your team and company?

We recommend investing in a Human Resources Information System (HRIS). A HRIS is able to streamline the administrative functions that we normally associate with HR departments. This digital software is not here to necessarily replace HR. Instead, HRIS allows HR departments to focus less on the administration of a company and more on the growth of your business.

We work side by side with many great HRIS programs and PEOs. Call us at 650-348-6234 to see if you can take advantage of our special channel partnership pricing and get started on streamlining your HR administration today.

California has passed an emergency bill to extend the deadline for the first round of sexual harassment prevention training by one year. Previously, employers with five or more employees were required to provide interactive sexual harassment prevention training to all employees in California by January 1, 2020. The deadline is now January 1, 2021. 

The substantive requirements remain the same. Employers must provide:
  • At least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees
  • At least one hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all nonsupervisory employees
  • “Refresher training” every two years thereafter
  • The applicable training within six months of hire for new employees or within six months of entering a supervisory position
Employers who provide training that complies with the law in 2019 do not need to do so again until two years have passed from the date of training. For instance, if you trained all employees on July 14, 2019 (good work!), you would have until July 14, 2021, to retrain those same employees. However, if you hire new employees or promote any existing employees to supervisory positions, they need to receive the applicable training by January 1, 2021.

A Catch: Seasonal and Temporary Employees

The training timeline was not changed for seasonal and temporary employees. Beginning January 1, 2020, employers must provide training for seasonal and temporary employees, as well as any employee who is hired to work for less than six months, within 30 calendar days of hire or within their first 100 hours worked, whichever comes first. Temporary services employers are responsible for training their employees.
Why is there a different timeline for seasonal and temporary employees? Think of it this way: California wants everyone who holds a job in 2020 to be trained by January 1, 2021. To achieve that, the state needs to maintain the previous training timeline for seasonal and temporary employees; otherwise, someone who works only in the summer, or between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, may not receive training by the deadline.
Have questions on how this new deadline for sexual harassment prevention training affects your company? Call AEIS today at 650-348-6234 and we will be happy to explain it to you! 

As an employer in California, what are my options in how I manage my employee’s vacation days?

First off, in California there is no legal requirement to provide paid or unpaid vacation time. But most companies do in order to recruit and retain employees. (Please note: While employers don’t have to offer vacation or PTO plans, they must comply with a number of paid leave related laws in California and various instrumentalities. This article solely addresses vacation policies.)

If you do chose to offer such a policy as the employer, earned vacation time is then considered wages and it is earned by employees as they work. In other words, vacation pay is considered a form of wages, which is given as it is earned. Please note, this also applies to Paid Time Off (PTO) earned days.

So in short, if your employee is not using vacation days, you could A) pay them off each year or B) set a cap in order to incentivize the employee to spend them. However, as the employer you CANNOT put in a “use it or lose it” policy.

A “use it or lose it” policy is when a company installs a forfeiture of vacation pay when it is not taken by a certain date, which is an illegal policy in California.

As opposed to a “use it or lose it” policy, a vacation policy that puts a “cap” or “ceiling” on the amount of vacation pay an employee can accrue is allowed. An illegal “use it or lose it” policy leads to a loss of accrued vacation pay for the employee. Meanwhile a “cap” puts a limit on how many vacation days can build up. That is to say, as soon as a set number of accrued vacation days is earned but not used, no additional vacation days accrue until the amount lowers back down below the set cap.

For example, if you set the cap at four weeks, or 160 hours, that an employee can accrue, then they will not be able to start accruing more vacation time until they have used some of their vacation hours and their hours fall below the maximum.

Even though “cap” policies are allowed, the employee must be able to take a vacation within a reasonable time frame. If a “cap” policy actually serves as a means to deny employees vacation pay or benefits, the policy would not be permissible in California. For example, a work policy of vacation days having to be taken in the year that it is earned or in a very constrained time period following when the vacation days were accrued is deemed unfair.

The employer can decide vacation pay responsibilities, such as managing when the employee can take a vacation and how long of a vacation they may take at a time. The employer can also pay the employee off at the end of the year for vacation that the employee earned and accrued that year, but ultimately did not take.

Summary:

In California, you cannot institute a “use or lose it” policy in which the employee has to use the vacation within a narrow timeframe or the same year or face loss of vacation days. You also must pay terminated employees their unused vacation days.

Employers can institute policies of cap/ceiling where there is a limit to the amount of vacation days they can accrue and must fall below that cap to get more; pay off unused vacation days for ones not used that year; and decide when and the amount of vacation days at a certain time.

Disclaimer: Any compliance related information in this blog is intended to be informational and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation. Should you require further compliance assistance or legal advice, please consult a licensed attorney.

 

For more information, please visit the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Source: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm

By W. Bland
AEIS Advisors

Even when you proactively anticipate all the people risks that have the potential to impact your workplace, it’s easy to convince yourself there is no risk to youthat it will never happen here.

You may think no one at your workplace will harass anyone, no one will sue you over an honest mistake made in administering workers’ comp, no one will accidentally cause a data breach, or no one will ever bring a weapon to the office. You might think managing people risk is extremely time consuming and not worth the effort. Rationalizations like this may lead you to believe you don’t need to do anything to prevent these risks.

However, these risks are very real and can happen anywhere, at any time. It’s imperative you cover all of your bases, and it’s actually very straightforward, especially if you have a partner on your side.

Ideally, you will integrate people risk management (PRM) with your business practices so it’s not something extra to do; it’s a way of doing things you already do. PRM can be a lens through which you look through when evaluating your policies, procedures, and other aspects of how you run your company.

Acknowledging and Preventing Risk: A Four-Step Plan

When you are anticipating risk, you are thinking about what might happen. Then you need to look at what you should do when something actually happens and it’s time to acknowledge the risk.

Maybe a law passes or regulation is finalized, you realize your pay policies are not in compliance with the law, or an employee informs you they have been prescribed medical marijuana but you have a very strict drug use policy. What tools to do you have to deal with that?

Once you acknowledge the risks inherent in these issues, there are four steps to putting a plan of action into place to prevent the risks from causing damage to your company’s bottom line, its reputation, or to its level of employee engagement:

  1. Understand when and how the risk will impact you. If it’s a law or regulation, when does it go into effect? Is it an ongoing issue or something that can be addressed and then set aside? What are the potential penalties or pitfalls presented by the risk?
  2. Determine the best course of action. Does the situation require simple changes to operations or a more complicated approach? Where do changes need to be implemented — in handbook policy updates, procedural documentation, or new training programs?
  3. Craft communication strategies around the risk. Who needs to know what, and how much information should be given to people at each level? What information should be held back to preserve confidentiality? What information is only relevant to a handful of people (such as when an OSHA report is due) and what information is relevant to everyone (such as who needs sexual harassment training in your state)?
  4. Decide what change management activities are required to get buy-in. It’s one thing to decide to do something but getting people ready to embrace the change is another thing. If change management is good, then the changes will take hold, the implementation will be smooth, and the risks will be lower.

 

by Larry Dunivan, CEO of ThinkHR
Originally posted on ThinkHR.com

The opioid crisis has driven overdose deaths in America to all-time highs. By 2017, the opioid mortality rate was five times higher than the rate in 1999. This crisis is not limited to one socio-economic class or one geographic area. Opioid addiction affects those in suburban homes, high-rise office buildings, and schools in every state in America.  Employers must address this epidemic in their workplace through education and services for employees, so that the tide of this crisis can recede, and their workforce can march ahead undeterred by addiction.

Opioid Addiction Explained

Opioid addiction most often results from the misuse of and addiction to prescription pain medication. It has become an epidemic that affects not only the patient, with implications in the workplace, as well. Many patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain don’t believe they will become addicted to them. But, with prolonged use, their need for more medication to achieve the same level of pain-relief increases, as does their dependence on these drugs.

Education Is Key

Educating your employees on how opioid addiction happens and what can be done to overcome it is essential in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have many resources to help you with education that you can post around your office and workplace. Their website is also a great resource on educating the employer on what opioid misuse looks like and how to address it with your employees.

Resources for Employees

With an estimated 1.7 million Americans addicted to opioids, you can be assured you will encounter someone in your workplace who has been affected by this crisis. How can you help your employees to overcome this addiction? Your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a wonderful resource to offer. Each EAP will be different based on the service to which your company has subscribed. According to a recent survey, 91% of work organizations offer some type of EAPs for their employees. Most EAPs offer assistance in matching employees to local treatment resources, as well as short-term counseling and support/recovery groups. Also, EAP professionals are knowledgeable on treatment options and suggested ways to intervene when abuse is suspected.

The opioid crisis is real—now, more Americans are likely to die from an opioid overdose than an automobile accident. This epidemic has sieged neighbors, co-workers, and family. The workplace is feeling this crisis through lowered productivity of employees as well as increased healthcare costs. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. As an employer, you have the ability to help turn the tide of this addiction crisis by offering education and employee assistance programs for your workforce. The right resources can help your workforce become educated on and overcome this addiction.

We are all drinking from a firehose of news and information — all day, every day. With this deluge of information, it can be difficult to determine what’s truly important to know. But being reactive is not acceptable. You need to know what’s coming, what affects you, and how it affects you.

Take, for example, legislative changes — 80 percent don’t require your attention, but the 20 percent you need to act on can easily get lost in the noise. It’s the 20 percent that expose your business to risk, but how do you know which 80 percent of information you can safely ignore?

Paying attention to the right information at the right time and setting the rest aside – knowing what you need to know – is essential to anticipating and understanding risk.

Where People Risk Management Comes In

People risk management starts with anticipating and understanding what presents risks to your business. It’s the idea you can look at something, understand it, digest it, and know if and how you need to act on this information. It’s a complicated sequence that no one has time to do, which is why you need a trusted and knowledgeable partner who:

  1. Knows what’s in the pipeline, such as newly-introduced bills that have the potential to become law.
  2. Keeps an eye on at what’s actually happening that may affect employers, such as when bills pass, agencies issue directives, or courts rule on cases.
  3. Determines what presents any type of risk to employers – such as litigation, noncompliance, or reduced employee engagement – and what doesn’t require action.
  4. Communicates promptly, consistently, and effectively, so you can use this knowledge to update your policies, stay on top of compliance requirements, and incorporate best practices in a way that reduces risk for your unique business.

Understanding People Risks: An Example

Often, when we think about risks to employers, we focus on insurable risks because they are well understood and easily quantifiable. It’s important to address these risks with solid prevention plans and insurance products, but it’s the uninsurable categories of risks, particularly people risks, that can catch us off guard and unprepared.

People risks can result not just in financial loss, but damage to employee engagement and company culture. They tend to be more subject to interpretation and can be very abstract.

Take, for example, the consequences of hiring the wrong employee or losing a valued employee. When this happens, you bear the cost of lost productivity and the time and money invested in recruiting, hiring, and onboarding. You also risk litigation if policies are not adequately documented, communicated, and followed should the employee claim discrimination, harassment, or disability accommodation is to blame for their separation from the company.

Hiring the wrong employee or losing a valued employee also carries the risk of negatively affecting employee engagement, which is a well-documented predictor of business outcomes. If it happens regularly, or there is even one instance handled poorly, your employment brand can be tarnished. For example, it could result in bad reviews on recruiting sites, chipping away at your recognition as an employer of choice.

Be in the Know

Whether it’s knowing how legislative changes affect your business or what risks are inherent in day-to-day employee management issues, people risk management starts with a solid knowledge base that evolves continuously to keep up with the latest employment trends, news, regulation, and information.

 

by Larry Dunivan, CEO of ThinkHR
Originally posted on ThinkHR.com

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.

HumanResources
Travelling to and fro office may drive your employees to quit
https://www.humanresourcesonline.net/travelling-to-and-fro-office-may-drive-your-employees-to-quit/

Forbes
How To Build A Culture Of Trust In A Large Remote Team
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brettonputter/2018/10/04/how-to-build-a-culture-of-trust-in-a-large-remote-team/#5d4e5d23188c

Entrepreneur
This Company Hosts Virtual Dance Parties to Help Its 170 Remote Employees Feel Connected
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/320411

by Bill Olson

Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

Switching over to AEIS Advisors was the best decision we’ve made this year. Ronald and his team were able to identify discrepancies on our billing statements which got missed by our last broker, and they saved us over $8,000 in credits! AEIS has proven to be an attentive and caring company, looking out for the best needs of their clients."

- Director of Operations

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