Speaking with some clients, I sense their overwhelming confusion in setting up employment policies in California. While it can be a daunting task, I remind them that the key is to approach it in a systematic process, and once the system is in place, compliance can be very easy. While there are many issues employers need to review on an ongoing basis, there are five that are a good starting point:
1) Meal and rest breaks
Yes, California employers are still being sued for meal and rest break violations. This should be a primary concern for all California employers, and simply part of standard operating procedures by now.
2) New hire process and packets
Employers should review their hiring process, including:
- New hire documents (I recommend having a consistent package given to each new hire)
- Terms to include in offer letters
- Be careful about the use of background checks
3) Paid sick leave compliance
As of July 1, 2015, employers must allow employees to accrue paid sick leave under California law. I’ve written about the law, as well as the amendment to clarify the law signed by Governor Brown on July 13, 2015.
4) Exempt vs. non-exempt employee classifications
- Know the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees and the analysis that is required in order for an employee to qualify as exempt. There are many different exemptions, and I’ve written about a few in the past.
- If non-exempt, review to ensure the appropriate overtime is being paid at the proper rate, and that all overtime is being paid for work done over eight hours in a day and 40 hours in a week.
5) Uncompensated work-time
Employers need to be careful and have policies in place to address claims from employees that they were not paid for all time worked. These claims can take many different forms:
- Travel time may have to be paid
- Off-the-clock work
- On-call time
- Pre-shift or post-shift work. In 2014, Amazon workers sued their staffing company claiming that the post-shift security check employees had to undergo should have been compensated work-time. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the staffing company’s favor, but nevertheless, it was a costly case for the company and required protracted litigation.