What a Year

by Dec 21, 2016Winter 2016/2017 Newsletters


What a Year

By Kim Silvers, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP

One of our roles as HR consultants is to ensure our clients have resources and knowledge back-up to stay out of employment court. We do a pretty good job of that and I’m proud of the ethical employers we hand pick as our business partners. (You think we take any Tom, Dick, or Harriet? Think again. If you’re a retained client, you’ve been carefully screened by us. Kind of like who Dad allows his daughter to date.) But sometimes even the well-intended employer gets caught up in unfortunate circumstances. We’ve had some doozies this past year; I’ll spare you the details.

It is not my goal to be indispensable and attached at a manager’s elbow on every employment decision. We offer lots of training to aid in the day to day journey with employees. But, the feds and the state of California certainly make it a regular “trip to the fountain” to refresh on the new court cases and laws that overlay just about everything an employer does in our great state. As we wrap up 2016, here’s a quick stroll through some of the highlights with a promise of (likely) more to come next year.

March – California updates its Fair Employment and Housing Act to include a new Anti-Harassment policy and training requirements, as well as clarification around Pregnancy Disability Leave. Our training packages are amended and the new PDL notice is distributed.

April – The CA minimum wage is negotiated and signed into law in what is the fastest enactment of a bill in recent legislative history. Wow – my head was spinning at how quickly our state legislature can move when they want to.

April – The CA Supreme Court clarifies (sort of) the requirement for “suitable seating” for employees. Don’t assume cashiers must stand without seating access at their work station.

May – The federal Dept. of Labor (DOL) announces the minimum salary for exempt employees (for overtime exemption) across the country will rise to $47,476 on December 1, 2016. CA has its own set of regulations and the head spinning begins. Little did we know how many emails, articles, and hours of phone calls with attorneys and our clients were necessary to prepare for this big change.

June – Governor Brown signs three no smoking/vaping laws for immediate effect. In essence, no one can smoke anywhere near a place of employment.

July – Several CA cities, including LA, San Francisco, Santa Monica and San Diego pass local minimum wage or paid sick leave laws that are beyond the bounds of the state laws. Add more balls/specialized policies to juggle.

August – The feds determine the Fair Labor Standards Act and Polygraph Protection Act posters must be changed immediately.

September – The last of the EEO-1 reports (as we know them) is due by September 30th. Enjoy it while you can. The next round of this annual report for federal contractors and employers with 100 or more employees must include more information including W-2 wages and hours worked data.

November – More reminders about the DOL overtime exemption regulations coming. In the midst of this, a group of state attorneys general file for an injunction to the Executive Order. The roll out is less than a month away. How many employees have been told they will be reclassified or paid differently already?

November – CA voters pass Proposition 64 allowing recreational marijuana to be sold and ingested.[1] Some employers are panicked that pot brownies will be served in the breakroom daily. The good news is the law specifically prohibits marijuana use at work. Some employers prefer to invest in more breakroom snack machines.

November – At last the US Citizenship and Immigration Services rolls out a new form I-9. Get ready for a cooler, more techy version. And yes, it’s on our HR library with hundreds of other docs.

November – Hold ‘yer horses! A judge in Texas places a temporary injunction on the DOL overtime exemption regulation with one week until the roll out. HMMMM… is this the good news or the bad news?

We’ll continue to keep our clients posted on the big news of the hour. There were hundreds of other employment related court cases and new laws passed in 2016. These are the ones that kept me awake.

[1]A few years ago I considered whether I would retire when recreational marijuana was legalized in CA. But now, it’s just too interesting to walk away. And I love what I do! I’m sticking around to see how we work on productivity in the cloud of smoke rising over the state.