Monday, March 30, 2020

FAQ’s for Employers - Effects on business operations due to COVID-19

March 25, 2020

As the situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, businesses are experiencing many unforeseen and unprecedented situations and finding ourselves at a loss as to how to ensure employee safety and continue to conduct business under the instability that COVID-19 has brought us to.

Below are some frequently asked questions that address some of these concerns. Due to the rapidly changing circumstances, the below should only serve as a guide and is subject to change.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
  • Employers will be able to recover payouts in the form of payroll tax credits, and may be able to get funds on an emergency basis (contact your trusted advisor for more information)

Emergency Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • 12 weeks of PAID leave
  • It is important to note that the current bill only provides paid leave for school/child care closures.
  • Employees must have worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days.
  • Employers may exclude health care providers and emergency responders.
  • The first 10 days may be unpaid.

Public Health Emergency Paid Sick Leave
  • Full-time employees must receive 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave. This can be used for any employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19, who have symptoms, seeking medical treatment, or high risk.
  • Part-time employees must receive a prorated amount equal to the number of hours the employee works, on average, over a two-week period. All employees are immediately eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave; there is no 30-day requirement.

What if an employee appears sick?
  • Employees should be encouraged to stay home if they are sick, even if it’s just a common cold.
  • Have a Coronavirus policy that states if employees appear to be sick, they will be sent home and allowed to return once they are symptom free.

An employee of ours has tested positive for COVID-19. What should we do?

  • You should send home all employees who worked closely with that employee for a 14-day period of time to ensure the infection does not spread.
  • Before the employee departs, ask them to identify all individuals who worked in close proximity (three to six feet) with them in the previous 14 days to ensure you have a full list of those who should be sent home.
  • When sending the employees home, do not identify by name the infected employee or you could risk a violation of confidentiality laws.
  • If you work in a shared office building or area, you should inform building management so they can take whatever precautions they deem necessary.
  • It is recommended to close off areas used by the ill persons and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.

Can I take an employee’s temperature at work to determine whether they might be infected?
  • Yes. The EEOC confirmed that measuring employees’ body temperatures is permissible given the current circumstances. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) places restrictions on the inquiries that an employer can make into an employee’s medical status, and the EEOC considers taking an employee’s temperature to be a “medical examination” under the ADA, the federal agency recognizes the need for this action now because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions. 
  • However, as a practical matter, an employee may be infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus without exhibiting recognized symptoms such as a fever, so temperature checks may not be the most effective method for protecting your workforce.
  • If you elect to take employee’s temperature, ensure the safety of those administering the test as they will be coming into contact with each employee and will be at higher risk. 

Monday, December 9, 2019

California Expands anti-discrimination law based on employee hair textures and styles


California is taking a step toward equality on all levels by passing the CROWN Act, effective 
January 1, 2020. The new statute adds an amendment to the existing anti-discrimination CA Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which specifically bans employers from discriminating against employees who wish to wear an Afro, braids, locks and twist. This protective hairstyles & hair texture amendment now protects individuals who wish to wear natural hairstyles in the workplace.


Bridging the Gap

There have been many recent instances of students being singled out because of their natural hair, or ethnic hairstyles that have been deemed “unacceptable” by a particular school. Although this law mainly benefits African American employees who wear natural hairstyles, it also protects students through amendments to the California Education Code. In fact, The CROWN Act prohibits schools and employers from enforcing policies which disparately impact the black community. This also provides leverage for employees who have gone through adverse employment action cause to take action for being an object of discrimination.

Human Resources departments must be vigilant in ensuring management knows and understands not only the law, but the ramifications that will ensue if violated. This means certain things must take place: 

  • Inform management

A special meeting should be called with all C-suite and other management levels to train them on the new law. The training should be in-depth, addressing instances of hiring discrimination, snide remarks regarding hairstyles, and language on social media and any other external platforms that could be a potential risk for the organization.

  • Inform employees

A company-wide communication should go out informing employees of the law, advising employees to contact their manager or Human Resources with questions. For those employees who wish to take action against a manager, they should immediately inform Human Resources.

  • Review policies

Every internal policy should be revisited and revised if needed, along with any written communications within the company. Every employee handbook, website and intranet should reflect the new policies to cover any potential liability.

By being proactive in disseminating this information and training employees prior to the law going into effect, companies will start the new year in compliance and enhance the company’s culture on diversity and inclusion.

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 provides professional, tactical and strategic human resources support; ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

CA New Regulations to protect outdoor workers from wildfire smoke



Wildfires in California are increasing in nature, putting people, companies and their employees within harm’s way. As a result of these wildfires, the California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR)
Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHA) adopted an emergency regulation protecting outdoor CA employees from wildfire smoke. This regulation took effect in July 2019 and is effective for one year. What does this mean?

Work sites that are indoors and where air is filtered by mechanical ventilation is exempt. Additionally, firefighters are also exempt from protection under the regulation, and outdoor work sites where the AQI level does not exceed 151, or where the AQI level is 151 or greater for one hour or less during a shift.

Employer responsibility

Employers in California are responsible for determining employee exposure and protecting those workers who may be exposed to forms of wildfire smoke. These are the protocols they must follow:
  • Identification of any harmful exposure to airborne particles or matter from wildfire smile before each work shift begins, and periodically during that shift by checking the AQI for PM 2.5 in any region workers are located.
  • Reduction of harmful exposure of wildfire smoke. This may require relocating workers to an enclosed building with filtered air, or to another location where the AQI for PM 2.5 is 150 or lower.
  • Provide respirators for employees where they can voluntarily use them if working conditions do not allow the removal from harmful exposure to wildfire smoke. Employees must also be trained on the new regulation, provided information on the health effects of wildfire smoke, and the safe use and maintenance of respirators.
A follow-up comprehensive review of this regulation will be done by Cal/OSHA with an advisory committee using the normal rule making process to permanently adopt these regulations. Until that time, the emergency regulation remains in effect.

Training is necessary

Because this regulation requires so much from employers in terms of them anticipating when wildfire smoke may become harmful to employees, it is important to have a team in place who has expertise in this area to keep the organization in compliance. There are federal and state websites that report the AQI levels daily, allowing employers to record when they visited the website and AQI level. If the level is above 151, the employer must communicate to the staff the next steps in limiting their exposure to wildfire smoke. For more information, employers may visit www.airnow.gov.

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 provides professional, tactical and strategic human resources support; ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Expanded CA Paid Family Leave Act



Beginning July 1, 2020, the CA Paid Family Leave Act (PFL)will see an expansion that will once again set the bar for other states to follow. 

When it was passed, the CA Paid Family Leave Act was the first legislation of its kind to offer paid leave to those who took time off work to care for seriously ill family members or to bond with a new child. Since then, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation to compensate workers who take time off under these circumstances. 


PFL - Current Limits


Currently, California residents are entitled to compensation during leave from where they are caring for a seriously ill family member. By definition, this includes a parent, child, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner. They may also do so to bond with a new child, whether the child enters the family via foster care, adoption or birth. These benefits include partial pay for up to 6 weeks, administered by the Employment Development Department. 

PFL - New Benefits

Beginning July 1, 2020, the CA Paid Family Leave Act will extend its maximum leave duration from 6 to 8 weeks. If there are two caregivers, each who take off 8 weeks in turn to care for a family member or new child, the family as a whole has the potential to benefit from four months of paid leave. California's governor Gavin Newsom has plans to expand CA Paid Family Leave Act benefits in the future to allow caregivers to benefit from a potential six months of paid leave, when taken in turn. 

Things to consider

Like any legislation of this type, there are other factors for HR professionals to consider. Many employers have opted to make up the difference in salary for employees taking leave under the CA Paid Family Leave Act. The expansion of benefits from 6 to 8 weeks may unintentionally discourage employers from following suit. 

Currently, the CA Paid Family Leave Act benefits are well funded through the state's temporary disability insurance program. As the state continues to expand benefits, payroll taxes may be the first area tapped to fund any expansion. Currently, California's payroll tax rate is 1.0 percent of the first $118,371 in wages.  As it is currently written, the law authorizes a tax rate of up to 1.5 percent. Analysts expect an increase to 1.1 percent as early as 2020 in order to fund expanded benefits for more workers, with additional increases possible in future years.


Monday, May 20, 2019

California SB 1343 Harassment Training Requirement


If your workplace has five or more employees, you are required by California law to provide sexual harassment and workplace bullying training. Find out what's required to meet California's new law, which takes effect January 1, 2020

Under SB 1343, California employers with five or more employees are legally mandated to provide sexual harassment training within the first six months of hire, and every two years thereafter. The law requires that all employees receive at least one hour of sexual harassment training and supervisory employees receive at least two hours of training from a qualified trainer.

Training must be completed before January 1, 2020, including employees trained in 2018 or earlierFor additional information on this new regulation, refer to the DFEH  SB 1343 Fact Sheet or call us.

We offer the supervisor and staff live harassment training in English or Spanish at your Southern California location or via a webinar.

eqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic human resources support; ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.


CA SB 63 - Updated Poster Requirements


A reminder - California SB 63, the New Parent Leave Act (NLPA), now applies to California employers that have twenty (20) or more employees.
The new leave of absence law requires employers to allows for time off to bond with a newborn baby.  This change requires an updated poster and you can obtain an updated poster from the DFEH website (click here).
Also, if 10% or more of an organization’s employee base speaks a language other than English, the employer must post the notice in that respective language.  The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) furnishes these posters in various languages (click here).
Your employment posters should be displayed in a common area visible to employees and applicants as required by the DFEH.  Do not forget to update your handbooks to include the new SB 63 requirements.

eqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical, and strategic human resources support; ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Bulleit Group Named Technology Agency of the Year


We congradulate our client, The Bulleit Group, for being named the 2018 Technology Agency of the Year and The #3 fastest growing PR firm in the country and #11th in the world. 


Comments by founder, Kyle Arteaga 

Last night we were named Technology Agency of the Year. Of the finalists, we were by far the smallest. However, it certainly didn’t feel that way.

Every person we met had heard of us before, whether they worked in tech in Atlanta, telco in New Jersey or Clorox in Chicago. Our win came as a result of our consistently high standards for creativity and experimentation, our broad mix of clients and the impact we have made on their respective businesses. In parallel, we were also lauded as the #3 fastest growing PR firm in the country and #11th in the world.

This is a testament to each of you. We seek two consistent traits for our employees: curiosity and ambition. That’s how you impressed us during the interview process. You’ve translated those traits into delivering high-quality work for some of the most discerning people in the world. More importantly, you’ve taught us how to build teams. Alex and I work for you, our job is to ensure the world knows what you are capable so that there are opportunities to grow and develop.

Teamwork is a learned trait. With employees spread in 5 states, all from different backgrounds, it put a smile on our faces to see how fast people form bonds with their colleagues and clients.  Jessica and Taylor both joined us within a year of graduating college. Now both of them are building growing teams, they are undisputed experts at message development and distribution and their clients (business leads at Google) consistently remind us of this. It’s not surprising though since these are the standards that Paul and Leslie set for the team.

We have incredible developing talent. Due to the work we win, everyone here gets the opportunity to learn something new with each project. Every single one of us is client facing. One day we might be prepping to launch an airship, the next we are managing the damage when the airship blows into pieces from 100mph winds.

When Proctor & Gamble wanted to get credit for their advances in technology, they called us.

Some of our clients are famously accomplished. This week alone I met with the founder of Watson, the founder of Internet Explorer and the board of the world’s largest hedge fund (Bridgewater). Both founders are working on their second companies, and both trust us to manage their reputation. 

People trust Bulleit to manage their reputations. Think about that for a second. Think of the struggles they have gone through to get to where they are, to squander that is not an option. Oftentimes how the public perceives their mission or product is the deciding factor in whether their company succeeds or not. And that’s our responsibility.

Public Relations isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is for those of us who remain curious about the world around us and determined to be successful. Thank you all for joining us on this incredible journey!

And thank you for trusting us to manage your reputation. We don’t take that responsibility lightly.  Kyle Arteaga