08.22.23

California’s Shifting Minimum Wage

HR Headliner

Recent History

California has had an especially dynamic minimum wage for several years. Senate Bill 3, passed in 2016, began a series of required annual increases at the start of each new calendar year. We have watched the minimum wage rate rise from $10.00 in 2016 to $15.00 per hour in 2022. Employers who adjusted payroll budgets every January looked forward to wage stability after that period of increases. Unfortunately, we have the opposite.

The same Senate Bill also added a provision to the Labor Code that requires the state Director of Finance to increase the minimum wage based on inflation. These increases must be determined “on or before August 1.” This is the provision behind the minimum wage increase to $15.50 for all employers effective January 1, 2023.

$16 Per Hour in 2024

Now, in a memo to Governor Newsom and other state leaders dated July 31, 2023, the state Director of Finance has announced that a similar minimum wage increase will be happening January 1, 2024. All employers, regardless of size, will be required to pay at least $16.00 per hour. This will not only impact those earning minimum wage, but also exempt employees who must earn at least twice the state minimum wage. Starting January 1, 2024, exempt employees must make at least $66,560 per year.

2024 Ballot Measure

While planning for the upcoming calendar year, employers should also take note of a 2024 ballot measure that proposes increasing the minimum wage to $18.00 per hour by 2026, with further hikes based on the Consumer Price Index.

Next Steps

For now, all employers should plan for the increase in minimum wage to $16.00 per hour and the associated changes (e.g., salaries for exempt employees and wages for employees required to use their own tools). We should expect additional announcements about the minimum wage for computer professionals later this year, and if you live in a municipality that has historically raised minimum wages above the state minimum (an early 2023 city ordinance in the city of Los Angeles raised the minimum wage there to $16.78 effective July 1, for example) we recommend keeping a close eye out for additional adjustments.

As always, Sierra HR Partners is here to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of California regulations. Please contact one of our Consultants with any questions you have.


08.01.23

Revised I-9 Form

HR NEWS

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the latest version of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form earlier this morning.

To ensure compliance with the latest regulatory requirements, we encourage you to download the updated I-9 Form from the official USCIS website.  This new version features several revisions and updates, so it is essential to utilize this latest edition for all new hires and any necessary re-verification.

Please note that employers must start using this new version of the Form I-9 for all employees hired on or after August 1, 2023. For existing employees with previously completed Form I-9s, there is no need to complete new forms unless re-verification is necessary due to expiring work authorization documents. We recommend switching to the revised form as soon as possible.  Employers who continue to use the outdated form after October 31 could be subject to fines.

In addition to the revised form, USCIS published a final rule that allows for the remote examination of identification and employment authorization documents if employers participate in E-Verify. If you participate, or plan to participate, in E-Verify and would like the option to examine an employee’s documents remotely, contact Sierra HR Partners for more information.

We understand the significance of regulatory compliance and want to ensure that our valued clients remain up-to-date with the latest requirements. Should you have any questions or need assistance related to the I-9, our team is ready to provide support and guidance.

Overview of Form I-9 changes: 

  • Reduced Sections 1 and 2 to a single sheet. No previous fields were removed. Multiple fields were merged into fewer fields when possible, such as in the employer certification.
  • Moved the Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification area to a separate Supplement A that employers can use when necessary. This supplement provides three areas for current and future preparers and translators to complete as needed. Employers may attach additional supplements as needed.
  • Moved Section 3 Reverification and Rehire to a standalone Supplement B that employers can use as needed for rehire or reverification. This supplement provides four areas for current and subsequent reverifications. Employers may attach additional supplements as needed.
  • Removed use of “alien authorized to work” in Section 1 and replaced it with “noncitizen authorized to work” and clarified the difference between “noncitizen national” and “noncitizen authorized to work.”
  • Ensured the form can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices by downloading onto the device and opening in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader app.
  • Removed certain features to ensure the form can be downloaded easily. This also removes the requirement to enter N/A in certain fields.
  • Improved guidance to the Lists of Acceptable Documents to include some acceptable receipts, guidance, and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation.
  • Added a checkbox for E-Verify employers to indicate when they have remotely examined Form I-9 documents.

Overview of Form I-9 Instructions changes:

  •  Reduced length from 15 pages to 8 pages.
  • Added definitions of key actors in the Form I-9 process.
  • Streamlined the steps each actor takes to complete their section of the form.
  • Added instructions for the new checkbox to indicate when Form I-9 documents were remotely examined.
  • Removed the abbreviations charts and relocated them to the M-274.

07.17.23

HR Headliner: July 2023

HR Headliner

Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip: “Our team is out in full force, conducting targeted high heat inspections with a focus on construction, agriculture, landscaping, and warehouse industries to ensure employers are complying with the law.”

*Data from the National Weather Service.

With July’s arrival, we can look forward to months of hot weather in the Central Valley. The temperatures are up, and they aren’t falling any time soon.

If you have employees that work outdoors, you are subject to 8 CCR § 3395, Cal/OSHA’s outdoor heat illness prevention standard. This regulation requires employers to provide employees with watershade, and rest.

It also requires employers to train employees and maintain a written heat illness prevention plan.

Water: Provide employees with water that is fresh, pure, suitable cool, and free of charge. This water should be located as close to employees as practicable. Encourage employees to drink water frequently – we may need up to two gallons per day.

Shade: Provide shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. There should be room for all employees.

Rest: Encourage employees to take cool-down rests as needed. They should rest for at least five minutes to protect themselves from overheating.

Even if you’ve lived in the Central Valley all your life, it takes our bodies time to adjust to working in high-heat conditions. During this period of acclimatization, employees must be closely observed for any signs of heat illness.

If your employees work indoors, you likely still have a responsibility to address high-heat conditions. While Cal/OSHA’s indoor heat illness prevention standard has not yet been approved, 8 CCR § 3203 – the same regulation that requires employers to maintain an Injury and Illness Prevention Program – also requires employers to assess and address workplace hazards. Cal/OSHA has already fined employers, under this regulation, for failing to address indoor heat.

We may even see an increase of this kind of enforcement, given federal OSHA’s National Emphasis Program from 2022 related to outdoor and indoor heat. In a news release from this week, Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip said, “Our team is out in full force, conducting targeted high heat inspections with a focus on construction, agriculture, landscaping, and warehouse industries to ensure employers are complying with the law.”

It’s critical to think carefully about how you can protect your employees from heat illness. Contact Sierra HR Partners for help with your Heat Illness Prevention Program and heat illness prevention training.


07.17.23

🌟✨🏠 From Our House to Yours: Supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities! 🌟✨🏠

Uncategorized

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Sierra HR Partners is joining hands with the incredible Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley (RMHCCV) in their extraordinary “From Our House to Yours” telethon!

At Sierra HR Partners, we firmly believe in the power of community and supporting those who need it most. That’s why we are incredibly proud to champion the inspiring mission of RMHCCV, which is to provide a loving and nurturing home away from home for the families of hospitalized children.

As parents, we understand the emotional and logistical challenges that arise when a child requires hospitalization. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley is a true beacon of hope, offering a sanctuary where families can find comfort, support, and essential resources during these difficult times.

Through our collaboration with RMHCCV, we aim to contribute to the incredible work they do, ensuring that families facing medical crises can focus on what truly matters: being together, supporting one another, and helping their children heal.

We invite all of you to join us in this remarkable endeavor! Your support can make a world of difference. Whether it’s spreading the word, donating, or volunteering your time, every act of kindness goes a long way in brightening the lives of these families and providing them with the care they need.

Let’s come together as a community and rally behind Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley. Together, we can create a lasting impact, bringing love, comfort, and a sense of home to those who need it most.

For more information about RMHCCV and how you can get involved, please visit their website at https://rmhccv.org/. Together, we can make a difference!


05.03.23

Supporting Employee Mental Health: A Top Priority!

Uncategorized

📢 Supporting Employee Mental Health: A Top Priority! 🌟

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

At Sierra HR Partners, we understand the significance of mental health and its impact on our overall happiness and productivity.We believe that employees’ well-being is a cornerstone of a businesses success.

As we strive for excellence, it is crucial to foster an environment that promotes positive mental health. Here’s how we can make a difference together:

1) Encourage open communication: Create a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns without fear of judgment. Encourage regular check-ins, provide anonymous feedback channels, and promote open dialogue about mental well-being.

2) Establish work-life balance: Promote a healthy work-life balance by encouraging employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and avoid excessive overtime. Set realistic expectations and prioritize the well-being of your team members.

3) Provide mental health resources: Offer access to mental health resources such as employee assistance programs, counseling services, or mental health workshops. Provide information about local resources and helplines that employees can utilize when needed.

4) Promote self-care practices: Encourage employees to prioritize self-care by providing opportunities for physical exercise, mindfulness sessions, or relaxation techniques. Consider implementing wellness programs that focus on nutrition, exercise, and stress management.

5) Foster a supportive work environment: Encourage teamwork, collaboration, and empathy among employees. Create a sense of belonging by celebrating achievements, recognizing individual strengths, and providing support during challenging times.

6) Train managers and leaders: Provide training to managers and leaders to help them recognize signs of mental distress, offer support, and refer employees to appropriate resources. Equip them with the skills to foster a mentally healthy work environment.

7) Consider implementing flexible work options: This allows employees to manage personal responsibilities and reduces stress related to work-life conflicts.

Remember, promoting mental health in the workplace is an ongoing effort. By implementing these strategies, you can create a supportive culture that values and prioritizes the well-being of all employees!