5 Tips How Your Small Company Can Avoid Labor Law Problems in California

(Internet Resources on Employment Compliance for California’s Small Businesses)

California’s labor laws have given it a reputation as a “non business friendly” state that makes life difficult for employers. In my consulting practice we have audited many California small businesses and found most of them to be seriously non-compliant with many state employment standards and regulations.

A business owner could face serious fines or disruption if a government agency finds his or her company in violation of California’s labor code regulations, which are extensive. Disgruntled ex-employees can find “trolling” lawyers who will pay them a fee for insider information that leads to their filing suit against you for even minor infractions. The plaintiff bar attorneys have prospered from this state’s confusion of rules and regulations and have targeted numerous small and medium sized businesses with employment related litigation.

If you are a small California business employer, it is in your best interests to take the steps necessary to ensure you are compliant with the state’s labor laws. The links in this article can assist the small employer in taking the steps he or she needs, using free or inexpensive resources available on the Internet, to avoid labor law compliance problems. The guidelines outlined here are intended for use by employers with under 50 employees. For those firms with over 50 employees, this advice is still valid but there are other major legal requirements that the larger employer must consider to be fully compliant with the labor codes, such as state and federal leave laws and sexual harassment training for your managers. For the smaller business, here are the primary five areas on which you will need to focus.

#1 Update your Employment Law Posters!

The California Department of Labor and the federal government require employers to post information related to wages, hours and working conditions in an area frequented by employees where it may be easily read during the workday. The number of posters required is determined by the size and nature of your business but could total up to 10 or more.

Employers should study and make sure they understand the regulations on these posters to determine which regulations are applicable to their business so they can answer questions from employees.

#2 Be compliant with all Safety and Health regulations – In California, every employer has a legal requirement to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace for its employees, according to the California Occupational Safety and Health department standards. As of 1991, each employer must have in place a written, effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). This does not have to be a complex document but must encompass certain elements. In addition to developing a plan, there is a requirement that you train your workers on preventing workplace hazards (and document that training). Your IIPP plan must be updated every time you change your operations where the hazards involved also change. In addition.

#3 Pay close attention to how you pay your employees – In California, most state employment regulations “trump” federal regulations because state standards are usually stricter. Many small business owners make the mistake of paying all or many of their employees a straight salary in order to keep payroll a simple process. This is especially true in businesses which have an office environment. This can be a very perilous approach as you most probably will be in violation of overtime rules which have very stiff penalties.  know the legal requirements for overtime wages, breaks and lunch periods for your workers.

A critical area many small businesses fail to recognize is the proper classification of employees, as they apply to mandatory overtime pay – exempt from overtime or not exempt.

#4 Respect your Employees’ Privacy and secure personnel files – Today the law protects the privacy of employees with some pretty severe sanctions against employers who violate a person’s medical privacy or identity. Separate basic personnel information into two files – a personnel file (with payroll tax forms, or basic job information in it such as training documents, performance reviews and disciplinary or commendation notices) and a separate confidential file with medical, credit, benefits and personal family or dependent information. Supervisors or other interested management must be restricted in their access to the personnel file only. Only the person designated as the human resources record keeper is to be entrusted with the access to the confidential file. Make sure these files are always secured. Protect your employees’ personal information.
#5 Don’t forget to properly verify your employees’ work status – The immigration authorities are under increasing pressure to enforce the laws, and experts agree that enforcement will increase in the coming years as the debate wears on regarding illegal immigration. There have been some well publicized raids all over the country. The I-9 employment form must be completed by every employer on every employee, even US citizens. These documents must be completed properly and kept up to date if certain documents are presented on an employee’s legal status to work in the US.

As a further measure, you should also use the government’s free service to verify that the social security numbers being presented by applicants are valid, which will reduce the chances that you are hiring an illegal alien. This may become a requirement in the near future as the immigration service cracks down on employers. The government is now using tax filings with mismatched or invalid social security numbers to look for employer who knowingly hire workers who are in the US without proper labor authorization.

While this article is not inclusive of every labor code issue employers may face, it does cover the “hot” areas which will give you a running head start to being essentially compliant with California state and the federal laws. It might be a prudent investment for every business owner with more than five employees to have a human resource and payroll audit done periodically by an HR professional. This exercise can help you spot areas of vulnerability and non compliance so that you can address those issues before they become a major crisis and costly disruption of you business.

Redundancy Law – Making it Easier on Employers & Employees

Being made redundant and making someone redundant can be difficult, particularly when you don’t know what your rights are when it comes to redundancy law. Searching on the internet is one common way that both employers and employees find information about redundancy but often the wording is such that unless they have a degree in law they probably won’t understand the full meaning. Finding an employment law company who has legal advisors specialising in redundancy law is a great start to getting your questions answered and finding out your legal rights.

If you are an employer you will know that a company restructure, downsize or reorganisation are all part of business life and more often than not result in you having to make staff redundant. You will also know that restructuring needs to be used with care so as to avoid any unintended consequences that could ultimately damage your business. Some employers think that they can make their staff redundant simply because of their lack of performance or they just don’t get on with them: This is not the case: If they are caught doing this then it can be very expensive. There are important steps to be taken when considering a restructure and talking with a specialist in the field of redundancy law will help you with these steps.

If you are an employee you may feel that being made redundant is a personal decision by your employer, as you’ve heard rumours that they are creating a new position which appears very similar to yours. Under New Zealand law you are entitled to be consulted prior to any decision being made and to be given all relevant information. Along with this you are also entitled to representation.

It’s important to remember that redundancy can come about for many reasons including the addition of new technologies, business outsourcing, market downturn or change of business ownership, but regardless of the reason redundancy laws still apply.

So to find a specialist, conduct a search for keywords such as ‘restructuring and redundancy law’ in one of the Search Engines and look for a company that provides such services in your area of New Zealand. Also, take a look at their site to see if they provide information on what they need from you to assist you with your case. Make sure that they clearly state what they can assist you with, so that you are sure you are going to receive the help and information you require.

Finding a redundancy law specialist will not only provide you with the help you need but it will help to avoid any unnecessary arguments and mitigate the stress.

 Associates Ltd is one of Canterburys leading employment law advocacy firms. Since 1992 we have been providing advice and representation to employees and employers on employment agreements, employment problems (such as personal grievances, disputes, harassment, redundancy law, unfair dismissals & workplace bullying) and the laws governing them.

We focus on employers who have small to medium size businesses and employees working in the public and private sectors. We recognize that employers are faced with the demands of running their business and surviving in a competitive market and often have very little time and energy to deal with employment relationship problems. We also recognise that when employment relationships are dislocated, employees find it difficult to find solutions without sound tactical advice.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Employment & Job Searches

Employment Law

If there was ever a more complicated way to find lawyer categories attorney’s labor employment law, this particular string of search parameters would be it. Although if all you wanted to do was to find out where you could source a good labor lawyer, plugging in lawyer categories attorneys labor employment law will definitely give you a good starting point in your search.

Basically what you would need would be a comprehensive directory of the various kinds of labor lawyers/attorneys that specialize in a variety of different laws in the labor employment area. For instance you may need someone who specializes in discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination or a variety of other areas.

Lawyer categories attorney’s labor employment law will also take you to some sites that provide forums for you to ask questions. Granted the questions can’t be too specific, but in terms of being able to provide you with a broad overview, filling out one of the questions forms on a forum site in the lawyer categories attorneys’ labor employment law arena might get you started down the road to finding out what you need to know.

Since this area of law is so broad and complex, you might want to take some time searching for the right lawyer to suit your personality and, your specific set of circumstances. It’s important if you’re going to actually be taking a labor dispute to court, that you and your attorney are both on the same page. So, with some due diligence on your part, take the time to thoroughly check individual legal representatives in the in lawyer categories attorneys labor employment law sections you find on the Net.

In case you get lost with all the terminology on the Net in the labor law area, you might want to know labor law is also called employment or labor law. What is it? In simple terms it’s the collection of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which deals with the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations.

Employment or labor law mediates many relationships between trade unions, employees and employers. Within the category known as employment or labor law, there are two other categories to consider – collective labor law (dealing with employee, employer and union) and individual labor law (dealing with employees rights at work and through the work contract).

How did we get all these labor laws? In the 19th and 20the century, the labor movement itself was/is critical in getting the various laws enacted to protect the working man and woman.

Seniors Rejoice At New Anti Agism Law – Employers Beware Of Age Discrimination At Work

Good news for all those senior baby boomers out there or anyone else of seniority living in the UK. You may or may not be aware, but on Sunday 1st October 2006 an important change in UK employment law come into effect. The new legislation will offer hope to anybody who has felt they’ve been discriminated against in belief that they are too old to continue working. It is hoped that this new law will promote ageism to be as serious and as unacceptable as racism or sexism.

So what does this all mean? Well, one of the biggest changes to be implemented is employers will no longer be able to force compulsory retirement before an employee reaches 65. Before October 1st it was quite common for employers to set there basic retirement age at 60, but not anymore… However, it’s unclear as yet whether the compulsory retirement age of 65 will remain or perhaps be scrapped altogether. Unfortunately, we won’t find this out until 2011 when a formal review will take place.

Due to the ever lightly pension crisis facing many people living in the UK, the ability to work until 65 now offers some rest bite at least. That’s not to say working that long is a good thing, as given the choice I’m sure most people would like to take earlier retirement, but at least seniors can no longer be discriminated against for working longer if they so choose.

While it’s commonly thought the new ageism legislation will make a difference, it’s a shame more wasn’t done by removing the compulsory retirement age of 65 altogether.

Seven Employment Lessons to Be Learned From a Recent Supreme Court Ruling

It seems that labor and employment law cannot stay of the news headlines for very long. The US Supreme Court recently ruled in a nationwide discrimination class action lawsuit, one of the largest discrimination suits in history. The lawsuit represented over 1.5 million women who claimed that had been discriminated against. After working its way up through the judicial system, the Supreme Court eventually heard the case and turned down the lawsuit. They stated the class action lacked a cohesive claim to bind them together as a class action. This landmark decision addresses several important issues relating to all class action lawsuits, and provides important insights towards implementing human resources best-practices.

The case clearly impacts the way employers address human resources practices, and other HR policies and procedures. Even if a company has recently updated its employee manual and management practices, they should once again review these policies in light of the Supreme Court decision.

Below are seven important take-aways that employers should consider implementing to comply with EEOC anti-discrimination policies. Putting these actions into place will help to protect them against future class actions, as well as other discrimination related lawsuits.

  1. Carefully review pay and promotion policies to determine whether or not they could be misconstrued as favoring one class over another.
  2. Eliminate all subjective decision-making processes by clearly linking promotions, demotions, raises or bonuses to objective goals and job performance.
  3. Ensure that all managers who are tasked with performance appraisals are properly trained on the relevant labor laws, proper employment practices and appropriate decision making processes.
  4. For those employees who have been turned down the possibility of a promotion, or who were denied a raise, consider implementing an appeal process.
  5. Investigate, and implement, other corporate policies with the purpose of increasing diversity in the workplace, and preventing discriminatory practices.
  6. Continue to train and communicate corporate policies to the staff, particularly in the areas addressing anti-discrimination practices, career growth opportunities, and the ability to access further education.
  7. Take employee complaints seriously, document your response and follow up, and be sure to address each issue on its own individual merits.

As we have witnessed time and again, the playing field of labor and employment law continues to change and evolve. The rules are not static, and employers must make all efforts to remain abreast to these changes, and recognize how they impact their human resources practices in the workplace. When in doubt, prior to making any employment decision, it always recommended to consult with a human resources expert or labor attorney. The short-term cost will be well spent in protecting against long-term expenses.

Explore The Changes in UK Employment Tribunal Law

For years, an employee’s choice to bring an issue of employment law before an employment tribunal was totally free of charge, but now this has changed in favour of fixed rates.

Although there’s no doubt that many of these reported cases are fraudulent or at least exaggerated, until now making a claim has not affected employees to any large degree because placing a lawsuit of this nature has always been without financial charge. In such cases the company on the receiving end of the lawsuit would inevitably have to pay thousands of pounds in legal fees regardless of whether the tribunal decides to rule in favour of the plaintiff. Companies on the receiving end of these claims have often chosen to attempt an out of court settlement with the plaintiff simply to avoid the excessive legal bills that result from arranging an employment tribunal.

This has long been an issue that has needed addressing in UK employment law and it was at last reconsidered in July 2013 when the British Government instigated a policy of issuing fees to employees who choose to lodge an employment tribunal claim. This move is clearly intended to deter false claims while helping to reform the tribunal system so that those who make accusations of this kind will contribute some money towards the cost of organisng the employment tribunal. London alone sees thousands of emplyment tribunal cases each year which find millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent on employment tribunal cases that often last for weeks at a time.

The fee to issue a Type A claim has been set at £160. This covers claims being made for redundancy payment and unlawful deductions from employee wages. Type B cases which assess claims of unfair dismissal and discrimination come with a fee of £250. In addition to these fees a hearing fee is also now in effect. This extra charge is taxed at £230 for Type A claims and £950 for Type B claims, although, in some cases it is possible for a plaintiff to be exempt from these charges, namely that the plaintiff must have a disposable capital of more than £3,000, or £16,000 if they are over 61 years old at the time of filing the complaint.

However, if a claimant’s disposable capital falls below these figures the gross monthly income will also be taken into account. Other considerations will be made in regards to the plaintiff’s marital status to ensure the charges issued are fair.