HR Headliner: August 2022

HR Headliner

“On Demand”… It’s Not Just For Movies Anymore

Over the past year, many employers have faced significant challenges in attracting and retaining employees in this new job seeker market. Top candidates are often fielding multiple interview requests and job offers, and seem to “ghost” recruiters without hesitation when something better comes along.

Companies looking to entice qualified applicants are offering a range of perks such as signing bonuses, remote work, wellness benefits, and pay on demand.

Did that last one catch your attention? Pay on demand? According to a Zip Recruiter survey, it is a fast-growing benefit, jumping 233% between 2019 and 2022. In a world where we can order groceries with the swipe of a finger for same-day delivery, employees increasingly appreciate having access to earnings without concern for a pesky detail like pay day.

Also known as earned wage access (EWA), on demand pay allows employees to request wages as they’re earned, as frequently as after each shift. Funds are loaded onto a pre-paid debit card or deposited in the employee’s bank account. Employers can place a maximum limit on this early access, with the balance being paid on the next regular pay day. EWA is promoted as a way to improve engagement and help employees maintain financial stability and find a healthy work/life balance.

However, there are potential downsides for employees, such as the administrative costs for on demand service, which are often passed along by employers and can add up quickly. Getting paid every day could actually create more financial stress because people may not set priorities for how the money is spent. For employers, any potential benefits may be outweighed by legal compliance and cash flow concerns.

On demand pay is certainly a sign of our changing times! Click here to share your thoughts on this topic in our Reader Poll.


Heat Illness – Planning and Prevention

HR Headliner

Heat Illness – Planning and Prevention

Ahhhh, Central Valley summers… those months when anything below 90 degrees feels downright refreshing and finding a shady parking spot is like winning the lottery.

If you have employees working outdoors, this is also the season to be vigilant about heat illness prevention and response. Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard sets forth several requirements for California employers:

 • Establish, implement, and maintain an effective Heat Illness Prevention Plan.

 • Ensure employees are provided with potable water that is “fresh, pure, suitably cool, and provided to employees free of charge.”

 • Ensure appropriate access to shade when the outdoor temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon employee request.

 • Allow employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for no less than five minutes, when needed to prevent heat illness.

 • Provide effective training to employees and supervisors regarding heat illness factors, prevention, recognition, and response.

 • Certain industries including agriculture, construction, and landscaping, must also develop and implement high-heat procedures when the temperature exceeds 95 degrees.

Even if your employees do not work outdoors, Cal/OSHA’s Injury & Illness Prevention Standard requires companies to address possible health and safety hazards, which may include indoor heat. Be sure to stay aware of workplace spaces that are not air conditioned or have poor air circulation, where the steps above may be needed to keep employees safe.

Cal/OSHA has recently updated its Special Emphasis Program related to heat illness prevention, which specifically states that all heat-related complaints will be addressed by on-site inspection within three working days of receipt by the Division.

Contact one of our certified Consultants if you have questions about developing a Heat Illness Prevention Plan for your business or compliance with other Cal/OSHA requirements. The California Department of Industrial Relations offers a variety of heat illness prevention training tools and publications, as well.



HR Headliner June 2022: CalSavers Registration Deadline Quickly Approaching


In 2016, California passed a law requiring businesses with five or more employees that do not offer a retirement savings plan to participate in the CalSavers program.

Employers are not required to begin sponsoring a 401(k) plan and there are no employer fees or financial responsibility, but if your company does not currently offer a retirement plan to employees, there are important administrative steps that will be required:
Deadlines for employers with 100+ and 50+ employees to register with CalSavers have already passed. The deadline for employers with 5+ employees is June 30, 2022.

After registering your company, you will receive enrollment information for each employee. Within 30 days, you will begin withholding retirement contributions from employees’ paychecks and submitting the funds to CalSavers for investment in their individual accounts.
CalSavers is an opt-out program, so you will be expected to begin payroll withholdings unless the employee instructs otherwise, using the Opt Out Form.

The CalSavers web site provides more information and instructions. You may give employees additional information with CalSavers notices in English and Spanish.

But Wait… There’s More!

Updated SDI Brochure

The EDD has (finally) published an updated version of DE 2515, the employee brochure describing State Disability Insurance benefits. This document should be replaced in your New Hire Kit for employee onboarding and provided to employees as needed. (The Spanish version of this form has not yet been updated.)

Changes Expected for Form I-9

The existing version of Form I-9 is set to expire on October 31, 2022, and the Department of Homeland Security has announced plans for an overhaul of the document’s format. Sierra HR will be watching for publication of a new, revised version and will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.

Minimum Wage Increase in 2023

We have all been watching the State minimum wage rise over the past several years, heading toward a planned stopping point of $15.00 per hour in 2023. However, the Governor’s office has announced that due to high inflation, the minimum wage for all workers will increase to $15.50 per hour effective January 1, 2023. This will also impact the salary test for exempt employees, which must be at least two times the State minimum wage. The minimum salary for exempt classifications will rise to $64,480 annually.


COVID-19 Update: CDPH Ends Indoor Mask Mandate for Unvaccinated Employees


On February 15, 2022, Governor Newsom announced the end of California’s indoor mask mandate for fully-vaccinated individuals. Effective today, March 1, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has also removed the requirement for unvaccinated individuals to wear face coverings indoors. The mandate is being replaced by a “strong recommendation” that all people, regardless of vaccination status, continue to mask when in indoor public settings.

Employers are still bound by the CDPH requirements to exclude employees from work and/or require face coverings if the individual has reported a positive COVID test or has been in close contact with a COVID-19 case. Please refer to our HR Headliner published January 7, 2022 for additional details.

CDPH guidance allows businesses to maintain mask requirements, if they prefer to do so. And, no person may be prevented from voluntarily wearing a mask.

Masks will still be required in specified work environments including healthcare settings and public transit, but will no longer be required in public schools effective March 12, 2022.

As always, Sierra HR Partners is here to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 precautions and paid leave benefits.  Please contact one of our Consultants with any questions you have.


COVID-19 Update: California Ends Its Indoor Mask Mandate – What Do We Do Now?


California’s indoor mask mandate, imposed on December 13, 2021 in response to surging cases of the Omicron variant, will officially expire tomorrow, February 15, 2022. Governor Newsom’s office cited falling case numbers as the basis for ending the requirement for face coverings indoors. In Fresno County, positive case rates have decreased significantly in the past two weeks.

What Does This Mean for California Employers?

Beginning February 16, most employers in California can once again refer to the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard for rules on face coverings. It’s been a little while since we last reviewed these regulations, which were revised on January 14, 2022. Below is a brief summary:

  • Fully vaccinated employees are not required to wear masks indoors, unless the company is experiencing a COVID outbreak. In non-healthcare settings, a booster dose is not required to be considered fully vaccinated.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask when working indoors or in a vehicle. The employee may remove the mask if alone in a room or vehicle, or when eating or drinking at least six feet away from others. Accommodations may be made for medical or mental health conditions that prevent the employee from wearing a face covering.
  • Employers must provide face coverings to unvaccinated employees, and ensure the masks are clean and undamaged. Masks must be provided to all employees when required by an order from the California Dept. of Public Health.
  • “Face covering” is defined by Cal/OSHA as, “a surgical mask, a medical procedure mask, a respirator… or a tightly woven fabric…of at least two layers (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source.)”

Certain counties, such as Los Angeles and Santa Clara, will maintain their local masking requirements. Employers should check with local Public Health Departments or contact Sierra HR Partners for specific guidance.

Masks will still be required in specified work environments including healthcare settings, senior care facilities, and K-12 schools.

As always, Sierra HR Partners is here to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 precautions and paid leave benefits. Please contact one of our Consultants with any questions you have.