HR Headliner: September 2022
Supplemental Paid Sick Leave To Be Extended… Again
Much like the cat who (we thought he was a goner but he…) kept coming back, California’s supplemental paid sick leave program is sticking with us, at least through the end of this year. (If you didn’t pick up the reference to the Laurie Berkner song, click here to enjoy!)
Our current supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) program was implemented in February 2022 (backdated to January 1st) and was set to expire on September 30, 2022. However, Assembly Bill 152 (passed in August by the state Assembly and Senate, and now awaiting Governor Newsom’s signature) will extend the deadline to December 31st.
What Stays The Same?
SPSL will continue to apply only to employers of 26 or more employees. The bill does not change the qualifying reasons for an employee to use SPSL benefits, and does not replenish the available “buckets” of paid time off. If an employee has already used the maximum amount of SPSL, he/she is not entitled to any additional payments.
What Will Change?
Employers will be permitted to require additional diagnostic testing to confirm the need for ongoing SPSL payments. Under the current rules, an employer can require the employee to take a diagnostic test five days after the originally-reported test was taken. The new law will allow a second diagnostic test to be required at least 24 hours later. Employers must make these tests available to employees at no charge.
AB 152 establishes a grant program to assist small businesses (26-49 employees) and non-profit organizations that incur SPSL expenses. Qualified employers could be eligible for up to $50,000 of aid through January 1, 2024. The list of criteria for being deemed a “qualified” small business is extensive, and you may want to consult with legal counsel prior to beginning a claim for these funds.
Please join us in welcoming Spencer Sansom to our Sierra HR team!
Spencer obtained her undergraduate and post-graduate degrees from Ohio State University with a focus on education and management, while being a part of their Women’s Softball team.
Prior to joining Sierra HR, she worked in the Recruiting and Staffing industry in Columbus, Ohio. Outside of work, she spends time with her family and her two dogs. We’re thrilled to have Spencer’s talents as part of our recruiting and background investigation services.
HR Headliner: August 2022
“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
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.