Thursday, October 26, 2017

California Rules - Time off for School Appearance or School Activity


We often get questions regarding providing time off for employees to go to their children’s school. There are two laws in California relating to time off for school-related issues:


  1. School Activities leave applies only to employers with 25 or more employees.
  2. School Appearance leave applies to all employers, regardless of size.

The School Activities leave applies to employees who are the parents, guardians or custodial grandparents of children in kindergarten through grade 12, or of children in a licensed child day care facility.


Eligible employees may take time off to participate in school activities. The time must not exceed 40 hours per year, nor 8 hours in a calendar month. The employee must give reasonable prior notice of the planned absence and must provide documentation of participation.

The School Appearance Leave requirement provides that employees and who give reasonable advance notice to their supervisor will be granted time off without pay to:

  • Appear at their child’s school or child care provider when the parent is required to do so by the school or child care provider, or up to 40 hours per year to visit the school or child care provider of their child(ren). An employee will be granted a maximum of eight (8) hours per month of time off under this policy.

  • Under this provision, an employer cannot in any way discriminate against an employee who takes time off to appear at school in conjunction with a child’s or ward’s suspension from a class or school.

As a result, you should not stop your employee from leaving work to go to her child’s school, nor could you take disciplinary action against the employee for taking the time off.

The law does not require you to pay the employee for the time away from work, so on the day that the employee leaves early to go to her son’s school, you need to pay her only for the actual time they spent in the office working.

Lauren Sims is the article author and the Director of Human Resources Consulting for eqHR Solutions.
Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.
eqHRSolutions offers professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.

New California Parental Leave Act Affects Small Employers

New Parental Leave Act - Effective January 1, 2018


Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law the New Parent Leave Act. The bill will require that California small businesses (20 to 49 employees) offer workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected family leave to bond with a new baby or child.


The eligibility for this leave is like the current California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provisions which offers the same parental leave protections to new parents who work for an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius:

  • The employee has worked for the employer for at least 12 months.
  • The employee has at least 1,250 hours of service during the previous 12-month period.
  • The employee works at a worksite that employs at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Further, the law states that an employer must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The employer would be prohibited from refusing an eligible employee protected family leave.
  • The employer would be prohibited from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under an eligible employee's group health plan if the employee takes leave.
  • The bill would also authorize, but not require, an employer to grant simultaneous leave to two employees for the same birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
  • The employer would be prohibited from refusing to hire, discharge, fine, suspend, expel, or discriminate against an employee for exercising the right to parental leave provided by the bill, or giving information or testimony as to his or her own parental leave, or another individual's parental leave, in an inquiry or proceeding.

The law goes into effect January 1, 2018. Employers should ensure they update their Labor postings and Employee Handbooks to comply with the new law.
Lauren Sims is the article author and the Director of Human Resources Consulting for eqHR Solutions.
Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.
eqHRSolutions offers professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.

It’s Official - Asking for Prior Pay History in CA is Now Illegal

California Governor Signs AB168



We’ve written about it previously and now it’s law. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 168 into law. Now California joins Delaware, Puerto Rico, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York City, Philadelphia San Francisco in "prohibiting employers from asking job applicants for “salary history information.” This term includes both compensation and benefits.

Section 432.3 will prohibit employers from asking about or relying on prior salary information in deciding whether to offer a job and in deciding how much to pay, however, it will give employers a pass when an applicant, “voluntarily and without prompting,” discloses salary history information. In that case, the law will not prohibit the employer from relying upon the volunteered information in setting the applicant’s starting salary. Remember though that the California Fair Pay forbids employers to rely on prior salary, by itself, to justify any disparity in pay.

California will be the first jurisdiction in the country to require that employers provide applicants with the pay scale for a position, upon “reasonable request.”


This law applies to “all employers”—both private and public—and will become effective January 1, 2018.

As a reminder, 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 is the article author and the Director of Human Resources Consulting for eqHR Solutions.
Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.
eqHRSolutions offers professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.

Friday, September 29, 2017

New eqHR Solutions Client - Optimum Property Management

We are pleased to announce that eqHR Solutions has been engaged by Optimum Property Management. Optimum is a community management firm located in Irvine California that has been providing communities with the highest level of customer service for more than 20 years through their unique community harmony program.

Our engagement includes ongoing professional human resources consulting & support, both on-site and remote. In the first phase, we will complete an HR assessment of the client's internal HR processes and controls. The ongoing support includes employee relations, compensation management, employee benefits, employee performance, management training and recruiting / on-boarding.   

eqHR Solutions is a leading human resources and payroll consulting firm, providing custom tactical and strategic human resources employment support and payroll processing and product training. Services are provided for all size businesses in Southern California and the San Francisco / Bay area.




Friday, September 22, 2017

Maintaining Employee Personnel Files in California



Employers are required by law in California to keep personnel files for every employee.


Employees may inspect those personnel file/records at “reasonable times and intervals.” To facilitate the, an employer must do the following:

  1. Maintain a copy of each employee’s personnel records for no less than 3 years.
  2. Make a current employee’s personnel records available, and if requested by the employee or representative, provide a copy at the place where the employee reports to work or at another location agreeable to the employer and the requester.
  3. Make a former employee’s personnel records available, and if requested by the employee or representative, provide a copy at the location where the employer stores the records unless the parties mutually agree in writing to a different location.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has stated that “reasonable times” is during the regular business hours of the office where personnel records are maintained.  The DLSE has stated that “reasonable intervals” is once every year, unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the file has been altered in a manner that might adversely affect the interests of the employee, or the file contains information that is pertinent to an ongoing investigation affecting the employee, in which case more frequent inspections would be considered “reasonable”.

The employer must make the employee’s personnel records available within 30 calendar days from the date the employer receives a written request for inspection.

Employers do not have to provide everything in the personnel file for inspection by the employee or the former employee. By law, the right to inspect does not apply to:
  1. Records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense.
  2. Letters of reference.
  3. Ratings, reports, or records that were:
    1. Obtained prior to employment
    2. Prepared by identifiable examination committee members

Records that are generally considered to be "personnel records" are those that are used or have been used to determine an employee's qualifications for promotion, additional compensation, or disciplinary action, including termination. The following are some examples of "personnel records" (this list is not all-inclusive):

  1. Application for employment
  2. Payroll authorization form
  3. Notices of commendation, warning, discipline, and/or termination
  4. Notices of layoff, leave of absence, and vacation
  5. Notices of wage attachment or garnishment
  6. Education and training notices and records
  7. Performance appraisals/reviews
  8. Attendance records

Employers are also required to allow the employee to have a copy of their personnel record. Employers can charge the employee to make the copy an amount not to exceed the actual cost of reproduction, not later than 30 calendar days from the date the employer receives the request.  A former employee may receive a copy by mail if he or she reimburses the employer for actual postal expenses.


Employers can require employees to inspect the file on their own free time. However, if required the employee to travel to the location where the records are stored, the inspection must be during a time when the employee is scheduled to work and the employee must be compensated for that time at their regular rate of pay.

The penalty for failing to comply with the regulations regarding the employee’s right to inspect their file is $750. An employee may also bring an action for injunctive relief to ensure compliance and recover costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Employers should maintain all personnel files in a consistent and legal matter. All unnecessary items should be removed. The official personnel file should contain only items such as those listed above. When an employer receives a written request from an employee to inspect their file, review the file first to ensure that all extraneous items are removed.


Lauren Sims is the article author and the Director of Human Resources Consulting for eqHR Solutions.
Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.
eqHR Solutions offers professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.

Employers Considerations During Natural Disasters


This is a good time for HR professionals and business owners to be reminded of employees compensation and leaves when natural disasters strike.


Recently we have all witnessed the devastating impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and perhaps more to come. Whether it be from afar, or it directly affects our employees, we want to do whatever we can to help. Many businesses have been damaged or destroyed, while others have closed temporarily for safety and security reasons. These businesses may remain closed, or operate with limited hours, for days, weeks, or possibly months. When such closures occur, we must consider business needs and what our obligations are.


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay nonexempt employees only for hours that the employees have actually worked. Therefore, an employer is not required to pay non-exempt employees if the employer is unable to provide work to those employees due to a natural disaster. However, in California, you are required to compensate non-exempt employees under call-in or reporting pay laws, especially if the employees were not advised that they should not report to work and were denied work upon arrival at the workplace. You are also required to pay non-exempt employees for waiting-time. For example, if the power goes out and employees are required to wait on premise until the power comes back on.

For exempt employees, an employer will be required to pay the employee's full salary if the worksite is closed or unable to reopen due to inclement weather or other disasters for less than a full workweek. However, an employer may require exempt employees to use paid time off or accrued vacation time. If an exempt employee can not get to work because of a disaster, this is considered an absence for personal reasons and the employer can place the employee on unpaid leave or require the employee to use a vacation day for full days.

A deduction from salary for less than a full day's absence is not permitted, although the employer may make a partial daytime deduction from the employee's leave bank (if there is insufficient time in the leave bank, no deduction from salary can be made).

There is an exception to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) Act for natural disasters. If a plant or operating location is closed or there is a layoff as a direct result of a natural disaster, the employer is not required to give the 60 days notice required under the WARN Act. Nonetheless, the employer is required to give as much notice as is practicable. If an employer gives less than 60 days' notice, the employer must prove that the conditions for the exception have been met.

If your company is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), employees affected by a natural disaster are entitled to leave under FMLA or CFRA for a serious health condition caused by the disaster. Additionally, employees affected by a natural disaster who must care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition may also be entitled to leave under the FMLA and CFRA.

For those employees who are also part of an emergency services organization (such as the National Guard or a Reserve unit), the USERRA may apply. USERRA prohibits discharging, denying initial employment, denying promotion or denying any benefit of employment because of a person's membership, performance of service or obligation to perform service in uniformed service.


Don’t forget the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, employees who are physically or emotionally injured as the result of a catastrophe may be entitled to reasonable accommodation by the employer as long as it would not place undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

Also, consider safety issues. Employers are responsible to protect employees from unreasonable danger in the workplace, which includes an imminent "natural phenomenon" that will threaten employee safety and health. Hurricanes and other disasters may present obvious safety concerns that employers need to consider when asking employees to come into work during adverse weather, including vehicle accidents, slips and falls, flying objects, electrical hazards from downed power lines, exhaustion from working extended shifts and dehydration.

During what can be a difficult time for your employees, employers should do their best to remain sensitive to the physical and emotional needs of their employees. Communication is key as well as fostering a “we’re in this together” spirit. Companies may sponsor donation efforts for which they will match funds collected, or hold food or clothing drives. Some companies may also encourage employees to volunteer for relief effort by providing paid time off to do so. Employers who maintain leave banks may also allow employees to donate leave to other employees who need time off to deal with disaster issues or who are volunteering for relief efforts.

Lauren Sims is the article author and the Director of Human Resources Consulting for eqHR Solutions.
Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.
eqHR Solutions offers professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.

Best Practices for Paternity Leave in California



Recently the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Estée Lauder for giving new mothers more leave for caregiving and child-bonding than new fathers.

Paternity leave benefits are much less common in the United States than maternity leave benefits. However, California is one of the few states in the country that provides fathers with paid time off via state law.

In California, paternity leave benefits are a part of the state’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance program. The law provides disability compensation for men and women who take time off from work to care for newborn babies or injured or sick family members.


Anyone who pays into the California State Disability Insurance through payroll deductions is entitled to use PFL benefits at any time for a variety of situations. Parents are only eligible to receive PFL benefits within one year of a new child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. In addition, parents must also provide proof of relationship to receive approval for PFL benefits. If eligible, PFL will pay for up to 6 weeks while a new parent is on leave.
However, employers should not confuse PFL with a leave entitlement for new fathers. Employers who are subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) must grant leave to new parents. FMLA and CFRA leave is unpaid, and gives parents the opportunity to take 12 weeks to bond with their new child.

Often we are asked by employers who are not subject to FMLA or CFRA if they have to provide paternity leave for their employees. Remember PFL does not entitle an employee to leave, it just provides pay if a leave is granted. Even still, I recommend employers grant personal leave to new fathers. As is shown by the EEOC case against Estee Lauder, not granting leave can appear discriminatory, aside from the general goodwill granting such a leave would foster.

PFL applies to all California employers, regardless of the size of their workforce. In addition, PFL does not provide an independent job restoration or reinstatement right for an employee who leaves work for a reason that qualifies under the PFL program, unless the employee is entitled to job protection under the employer's policy or another law. Another thing to consider in California is the Paid Sick Leave Program. Depending on which city the employee works, they are entitled to use paid sick leave benefits to care for a child. I recommend that when considering granting paternity leave, take their accrued paid sick leave balance into account.


Employers, especially smaller companies not subject to FMLA and CFRA are usually reluctant to provide paternity leave to new fathers. As I said above, it is a good practice to do so, but if it is a hardship the employer can get creative with how they grant the leave.

The employer can suggest an intermittent leave where the new father takes two days off a week, or maybe spreading the leave out where they take 2 weeks right after the birth and then a few more weeks later in the year. As with most things, communication is key and appreciated during this exciting time for your employees.

Lauren Sims is the article author and the Director of Human Resources Consulting for eqHR Solutions.
Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no obligation consultation.
eqHR Solutions offers professional, tactical and strategic, human resources support, ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.