California Employers – Know Your COVID-19 Obligations

Employers in California have new reporting obligations related to employee COVID-19 cases under California legislation AB 685. The purpose of AB 685 is to allow the state to more closely track COVID-19 cases in the workplace.

The new law goes into effect for California employees on January 1, 2021 and requires employers to provide written notice to all employees who worked at their worksite during an infectious period who may have had exposure to the virus. It also enhances the reporting requirements to local health authorities in the event there is an outbreak of COVID-19 at your worksite.

Required Notice to Employees and Employee Representatives

Under the new notice requirement, employers in California are required to take action within one business day of a “potential exposure” based on a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 by someone at the worksite. The notice must be provided in writing to all employees and any subcontractors who were at the worksite during the infectious period and may have potentially been exposed to COVID-19.  Written notice should also be provided to any employee representatives such as union representatives or attorneys.

The notice can be delivered in person or distributed via email or text message if the employee is anticipated to see the notification within one business day. The notice should be both in English and any other language that is understood by the majority of your employees.

Notices should include information related to any COVID-19 related benefits such as workers’ compensation benefits, COVID leave of absence such as that provided under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), paid sick leave, etc. You should also include the company’s anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-retaliation policies. In addition, the notice should include details regarding the company’s protocols for disinfecting the worksite and the safety plan to prevent any further exposures per CDC guidelines.

 Required Reporting of a COVID-19 Outbreak at Your Worksite

If you have multiple COVID-19 positive cases at your worksite, you may be subject to new reporting requirements related to outbreaks at the worksite. Local public health authorities determine the number of positive COVID-19 cases are considered an outbreak. Upon learning of the outbreak, employers are required to report the required information to their local public health agency within 48 hours.

In the event of a COVID-19 related fatality, California employers are required to notify their local health department of the name, number, occupation, and worksite location of any employees who have died due to COVID-19 exposure.

Employers are encouraged to create an action plan for their company and worksites related to COVID-19. You should identify the risks of COVID-19 exposure at your worksite(s) and decide how you will act to prevent exposure (looking at things such as improved ventilation, providing personal protective equipment such as masks or face shields, requiring social distancing when possible, etc).

Preparing for Payroll in 2020

As 2019 winds down there are a number of things that you need to be aware of going in to 2020 to ensure compliance with federal and state wage and hour rules and other payroll related laws. Continue reading

Encourage Your Employees to Take Breaks

Many states require that employees are allowed breaks for rest and/or meal periods (see our previous blog post here for information on your state’s requirements, if any).  But even for employers in states with no requirements, there are many reasons you should encourage your employees to take regular breaks.

While taking breaks may seem counterproductive when you want your employees to be as productive as possible during their work time, there are actually several benefits, both for the employee and the employer, when employees take breaks.

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3 Common Myths Concerning Exempt and Salary Employees

With the new minimum salary threshold for exempt employees taking place later this year (Read more about that here), employers should concentrate on mausdol_seal_circa_2015_svgking sure they are in compliance with the new rules and also confirm that their exempt employees are correctly classified.  In addition, employers should make sure they fully understand how exempt employees should be paid.

To help employers with understanding payment of exempt employees, we’re debunking three common myths associated with exempt and salary employees.

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Collaborative Goal-Setting Drives Performance

startup-593343_1280All too often, the process of establishing goals for employees in the context of a performance evaluation slides into an uninspired exercise of just going through the motions, only to provide an easy reference point for future compensation decisions.  But it can instead be an opportunity to inspire your staff to high levels of productivity and achievement.  Accomplishing that can only happen if you take the process seriously, and move beyond some entrenched myths about setting performance goals.

Here’s how you can do it.

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Employee or Independent Contractor? Two Tax Court Cases

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Does your firm use outside workers for some jobs?  This can result in significant tax breaks if the workers are properly classified as independent contractors rather than employees.

Key point: If a worker is an employee, your company must withhold federal income tax and employment taxes from his or her wages.  In addition, your business is responsible for paying the employer’s share of federal payroll taxes.  Conversely, if a worker is characterized as an independent contractor, your company isn’t liable for these payroll tax obligations.

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