Friday, June 30, 2017

Reflecting on Companies Open Door Policies


Recently the media was buzzing about a leaked memo Steve Harvey, the popular talk show host, sent to members of the staff of his production company. In the memo, Mr. Harvey warns his staff:
"There will be no meetings in my dressing room. No stopping by or popping in ... Do not open my dressing room door. If you open my door, expect to be removed ... Do not approach me while I'm in the makeup chair unless I ask to speak with you directly ... I want all the ambushing to stop now. ... I promise you I will not entertain you in the hallway, and do not attempt to walk with me."
Because I always look for HR angles in everything, this immediately made me think about Open Door Policies. While the situation with Mr. Harvey may be different because he is a celebrity, most companies should and do have an Open Door Policy.

It is crucial for companies give their employees an avenue for communication and complaints.

Open Door Policies let employees know that they have a path for all issues to be addressed, and they should never feel as though they don’t have anyone to turn to. In fact, some open-door policies specifically outline to whom an employee can turn with any type of issue.

  • Open Door Policies develop employee trust and make certain that important information and feedback reach managers who can utilize the information to make changes in the workplace.
  • Managers who are accessible to their employees will find that their employees feel comfortable stopping by for a quick chat to bring difficult issues, situations or ideas to their attention.
  • Open Door Policies encourage employees to come by and speak up when issues or important situations arise or when employees have creative ideas.
  • Open Door Policies can help a company defend themselves if an employee makes a claim against the company for something like harassment or discrimination. Showing that the employee had the opportunity to bring the situation to management is an important piece of the defense.
  • Open Door Policies create an environment in which employees feel they can express any question or concern without fear. It can also signal to the employees that the company wants to be transparent in its operations. Employers hope to keep employee morale high by ensuring employees their voices will be heard. Employers also benefit from open-door policies because it often means the employer will hear of issues before the issues escalate. You’d rather hear from an employee than from a lawyer.
Lauren Sims, the author of this article, is the Director of Human Resources Consulting at eqHR Solutions.
eqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.
When your business requires professional Human Resources or Payroll advice to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.

Stop Asking Applicants for Salary History

Do you ask candidates for salary history?

If so, stop! Currently, California, Massachusetts, New Orleans, New York (limited to state agencies), New York City, Philadelphia, and Puerto Rico have laws on their books prohibiting the practice of asking applicants for their salary histories, while many other states have recently taken up discussion of legislation on the topic.
Even though it is legal in California, there are some serious issues to think about when creating your hiring processes. In 2015, female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.


Consider the following
An employer hires two individuals – a male and female – to fill two identical jobs (i.e., same job qualifications and same job duties). Both individuals satisfy the educational, skill, and other technical requirements for the job and they have similar employment histories.  However, at their prior places of employment, one individual earned $50,000 at his/her prior place of employment, while the other earned $60,000.
The employer agrees to hire both individuals at 10% more than their prior salaries. Thus, the starting pay for one hire is $55,000 while the starting pay for the other is $66,000, leading to a pay differential of $11,000 (20%) during the first year of employment.

This sounds innocent enough, but remember the OFCCP and the EEOC take the position that, in light of historical societal differences in pay based on gender and race, Executive Order 11246, Title VII, and the Equal Pay Act and California’s Fair Pay Act prohibit employers from justifying differences in pay based solely on salary history.

Here are some tips for ensuring your procedures comply with the requirement and to aid in defense if you are accused of discrimination:
  • Do not ask salary history from applicants;

  • Document all factors that contribute to an initial pay determination including, but not limited to, educational history, degree, prior employment experience, special skills and expertise, individual candidate negotiations, market factors, and other position-specific factors;

  • Document how each factor contributed to pay and the specific reasons for the rate of pay chosen;

Periodically evaluate whether initial differences in pay should be reduced over time when employees have substantially similar job duties and responsibilities.
Lauren Sims, the author of this article, is the Director of Human Resources Consulting at eqHR Solutions.
eqHR SolutionseqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support,  ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.
When your business requires professional Human Resources or Payroll advice to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.




California Laws - Personal Vehicle Expenses

Personal Vehicle Reimbursement Expenses

California law requires employers to reimburse employees for all necessary expenses incurred due to business reasons. The most common type of on-the-job expense is the cost of using a personal vehicle. Although there are several different ways an employer can go about reimbursing workers for vehicle use, the most common is the mileage reimbursement method, where the employer reimburses a certain amount per mile driven – generally at the rate set by the IRS, which is currently 53.5 cents per mile.

During a recent case in the California Supreme Court, the Court provided guidance for the permissible methods employers can use to reimburse for personal vehicle use:

  • Mileage reimbursement based on IRS mileage rate - this method is presumed to reimburse the employee for all actual expenses. The Court also held that the reimbursement rate can be negotiated by parties if it fully reimburses the employee, and the amount does not have to be set at the IRS mileage rate. The Court also warned that employee cannot waive the right to be fully reimbursed for their actual expenses.

  • Actual expense method of reimbursement - this method is the most accurate, but it is also the most burdensome for both the employer and the employee. Under the actual expense method, the parties calculate the automobile expenses that the employee actually and necessarily incurred and then the employer separately pays the employee that amount. The actual expenses of using an employee’s personal automobile for business purposes includes fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, registration, and depreciation.

  • Mileage reimbursement method- under this method, the employee only needs to keep a record of the number of miles driven for job duties. The employer then multiplies the miles driven by a predetermined amount that approximates the per-mile cost of owning and operating an automobile. The mileage rate agreed to between the employer and employee is “merely an approximation of actual expenses” and is less accurate than the actual expense method. It is important to note that while this amount can be negotiated, the employee still is unable to waive their right to reimbursement of their actual costs as mentioned above.

  • Lump sum payment method- under this method, the employee need not submit any information to the employer about work-required miles driven or automobile expenses incurred. The employer merely pays an agreed fixed amount for automobile expense reimbursement. This type of lump sum payment is often labeled as a per diem, car allowance, or gas stipend. Employers paying a lump sum amount have the extra burden of separately identifying and documenting the amounts that represent payment for labor performed and the amounts that represent reimbursement for business expenses.

Employers are not required to pay for mileage driven commuting to or from work. The same goes for other transportation costs incurred in commuting to and from home and work. If an employee travels to a separate site directly from home without driving to their worksite first, the employer can deduct the normal commute hours from the total miles reimbursed.
Lauren Sims, the author of this article, is an eqHR Solutions Principal Human Resources Consultant.
When your business requires professional Human Resources or Payroll advice to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.
eqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.


Does Your Attendance Policy Violate California Law?



Many employers have attendance policies that assign an "occurrence" for unscheduled, unapproved absences.

Although employers generally have the discretion to implement attendance policies, such policies should be carefully created to avoid violating antidiscrimination and antiretaliation provisions in California paid-sick-leave and Kin Care laws
Recent guidance released by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) state:
"An employer shall not deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick days, attempting to exercise the right to use accrued sick days, filing a complaint with the department or alleging a violation of this article, cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this article, or opposing any policy or practice or act that is prohibited by this article." (Lab. Code § 246.5, subd. (c)(1).)
Under the California Kin Care law, an employer attendance policy that states an absence that may lead to or result in discipline, discharge, demotion, or suspension violates the Kin Care Law if the absence was taken for one of the reasons in the law.

The agency concludes: "This means, in general terms, that if an employee has accrued sick days available, an employer may not deny the employee the right to use those accrued paid sick days, including the right to use paid sick leave for a partial day (e.g., to attend a doctor's appointment), and may not discipline the employee for doing so."
This does not mean that an employer may never discipline an employee for missing work. If the employee does not have any accrued or available sick leave, as in the case where the employee has used up all his or her available time under the employer's sick pay policy, the employer may give the employee an "occurrence" for the absence that otherwise violates the company's attendance policy.
This is so even if the absence would have counted as covered sick leave had the employee not exhausted his or her accrued time.
The paid sick leave law does not "protect" all time off taken by an employee for illness or related purposes; it "protects" only an employee's accrued and available paid sick leave as specified in the statute.
When only part of an absence is covered by accrued paid sick leave, the employer may assign an "occurrence" for the uncovered portion. For example, if an employee is absent for a full eight-hour day of work, but elects to use only four hours of his or her accrued paid sick leave, the employer would be allowed to discipline the employee for the half day of absence for which no paid sick leave was used.  Similarly, if the employee had a full day absence, but only had available four hours of accrued paid sick leave, the employer could discipline the employee for the half day absence under the employer's attendance policy.
Employers should carefully consider these issues when crafting an attendance policy that assigns adverse consequences for unapproved or excessive absences.

Lauren Sims, the author of this article, is the Director of Human Resources Consulting at eqHR Solutions.

HR Polices-ProcedureseqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.
When your business requires professional Human Resources or Payroll advice to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

eqHR Solutions - Lauren Sims Promotion

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Lauren Sims to Director of Human Resources Consulting, effective July 1, 2017.

Lauren joined eqHR in June of 2015 and has successfully supported multiple clients while taking a leadership role on several complex projects. Lauren is the author of the in-depth human resources articles appearing in our monthly HR Newsletter for Business Leaders. Lauren is amazingly patient and demonstrates a wealth of knowledge in HR compliance, HRIS, compensation, payroll and payroll systems.  Lauren will hold the functional responsibility for the HR/Payroll consultants.

Please join me in congratulating Lauren on this new and exciting opportunity

June Jeong, CEO

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June Jeong - Appointment to a Board Member - National Organization of Women Business Owners

Please join us in congratulating our CEO, June Jeong, appointment to the board of directors of the National Organization of Women Business Owner’s (NAWBO) Los Angeles chapter. 
Since founded in 1975, NAWBO’s mission is to propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.  June joins over 10.1 million women-owned business in the United States  


Monday, May 22, 2017

Complying with the EEOC Wellness Programs Regulations

Is Your Employee Wellness Program Discriminatory?

The EEOC has issued rules that set limits on wellness programs that require employees to answer disability-related questions or undergo medical exams, such as health risk assessments or blood pressure checks, to either earn a reward or avoid a penalty. The rules apply only to workplace wellness programs beginning on or after January 1, 2017.
The term "wellness program" generally refers to health promotion and disease prevention programs and activities offered to employees as part of an employer-sponsored group health plan or separately as a benefit of employment.
Many of these programs ask employees to answer questions on a health risk assessment (HRA) and/or undergo biometric screenings for risk factors (such as high blood pressure or cholesterol).
Other wellness programs provide educational health-related information or programs that may include nutrition classes, weight loss and smoking cessation programs, onsite exercise facilities, and/or coaching to help employees meet health goals.
Under the final ADA rule, companies may offer incentives of up to 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage in connection with wellness programs. If the incentives stay under the 30-percent threshold, the wellness program still will be considered voluntary and will not violate ADA prohibitions against disability-related inquiries or medical exams.
The final GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) applies to wellness programs offered by employers that request health information from employees and their spouses. It provides that the value of the maximum incentive attributable to a spouse's participation may not exceed 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage, the same incentive allowed for the employee.
No incentives are allowed in exchange for the current or past health status information of employees' children or in exchange for specified genetic information (such as family medical history or the results of genetic tests) of an employee, an employee's spouse, and an employee's children.
The rules permit wellness programs to operate consistent with their stated purpose of improving employee health while including protections for employees against discrimination.
Many employers offer workplace wellness programs intended to encourage healthier lifestyles or prevent disease. These programs sometimes use medical questionnaires or health risk assessments and biometric screenings to determine an employee's health risk factors, such as body weight and cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels. Some of these programs offer financial and other incentives for employees to participate or to achieve certain health outcomes.
Lauren Sims, the author of this article, is an eqHR Solutions Principal Human Resources Consultant.
When your business requires professional Human Resources or Payroll advice to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.
eqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.