Happy New Year with New Pay

New Year Money 2017

Our local, state and federal governments have been working tirelessly to enhance the lives of workers and attempting to meet their needs by making sure their pay is sufficient or comparable to the rising cost of living across America. Information regarding the changes to the federal overtime regulations was recently shared - however, since our web article on the topic, a federal district court in Texas has issued a nationwide injunction preventing the Department of Labor from enforcing the new overtime rules on Dec. 1.

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Money is Not the Only Thing That is Green

Marijuana

The general election has come and gone and while many of us are looking to move forward with the passing of 12 state ballot measures, many have questions on the impact of these measures. One of the most notable measures is Proposition 64 which passed with 56.1% of the votes now legalizing marijuana in the state of California. A “yes” vote for proposition 64 means adults 21 years of age or older can legally grow, possess, and use marijuana for nonmedical purposes, with certain restrictions. Many employers and employees are wondering how this will impact workplace drug policies, such as a drug-free workplace or safe operating practices.

 

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Safety First

OSHA's Top 10 Hazards/Violations

Creating a safety first culture may be easier said than done for some organizations, but for the hardworking agents of the federal OSHA it is just as easy said and done. OSHA has again released the top ten hazards or likely violations that all employers should evaluate and correct, if necessary. The list is as follows:

 

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Prepare to Shake, Rattle and Roll

Earthquake Safety

The Great California Shakeout recently took place on October 20, 2016 which is coordinated by Caltech, a leading research institution and home of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Caltech has held this event for several years with the intent to encourage families and businesses to “practice how to be safer during big earthquakes”. This orchestrated earthquake drill is intended to prompt review of emergency readiness and recovery plans, to inventory emergency supplies and to give overall awareness to how to react in natural disaster situations. It’s not too late for your organization to get ready and be prepared. Here are some helpful tips from the desk of Norma White, United Staffing Associate’s Director of Health & Safety on how to get prepared:

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America Got A Raise

American Dollars

Just a friendly reminder that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) final rule regarding overtime regulations will go into effect on December 1, 2016. This rule is anticipated to effect over 430,000 employees in California and Nevada combined, and is expected to impact over 4.2 million employees across the United States in the first year of implementation. According to the FLSA’s website, the final rule will:

 

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California, It’s Voting Time!

Vote November 8th, 2016

The California General election is here! November 8, 2016 is Election Tuesday and unlike year’s past the media and public sensation with this election is unsurpassed. We are all familiar with the candidates by now, but in case you haven’t read the newspaper, listened to the radio or turned on the television, the candidates are GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Party nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In addition to being an important election which will determine the next President of the United States of America, there are several ballot measures that are equally important to the citizens of California. Here are a few (chosen at random) from the Official Voter Information Guide:

 

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Please Pass The Tissue

Flu Cold Season

United Staffing Associates is fortunate to have a knowledgeable team of health and safety professionals that assist temporary workers and Clients with understanding and abating health hazards and minimizing risk exposure. Norma White, Director of Health & Safety, has more than 30 years of safety experience and has spent 7 years prior to joining the USA team working as a Federal Food Inspector. Part of Norma’s expertise is providing guidance on seasonal topics such as heat injury and illness prevention and cold and flu epidemic. Here are some helpful tips from the desk of Norma White in regards to how to limit your exposure to the cold and flu bug this season:

 

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Saving Trees One Paystub At A Time

Saving Trees

Did you know that some form of direct deposit or ACH transaction has been around since 1974? That is over 40 years that banking intuitions have provided a service to its customers to allow for reoccurring or one-time payments to be directly deposited into the recipient account. This means that over the past 40 years, employers and employees alike have had the opportunity to enhance green-initiatives that minimize the need for paper paystubs. The American Payroll Association estimates that approximately 96% of all employees receive their paycheck by direct deposit. However, many employers continue to provide the paystub in traditional paper form. More than likely this is unnecessary since many payroll processing services offer a web-based platform where an employee can log in to a secure site and access paystubs, non-negotiable copies of paychecks, W-2’s and other tax forms. Like United Staffing Associates, some employers will email you a copy of your paystub to reduce the use of paper and further the Company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

 

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The Fog Is Rolling In

Fog Rolling In

Tis the season for the annual rolling in of the fog. Throughout the nation several regions are seasonally impacted by intense and often vision-impairing fog that unfortunately can result in severe automobile accidents. According to the Federal Highway Administration, fog causes an annual average of approximately 30,000 crashes in the United States every year. As winter approaches it is likely that work commutes will be impacted by the change in weather conditions which may result in employee tardiness to work. If your commute will be impacted by a significant change in weather conditions, plan accordingly to minimize if not alleviate the need to rush to work. You can take these steps to forecast (no pun intended) for an altered or extended commute:

 

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Holidays Are Almost Here… Are You Ready?

Vacation Calendar

Every year it seems that time goes by faster and faster – and here we are in the final months of 2016! WOW! Very soon we will be surrounded by the sounds, sights and smells of the holidays – from enjoying holiday feasts to hearing familiar seasonal music. For as much joy and excitement that the holiday season brings, it can also be a complicated time for employers to navigate through the issues that often arise concerning leave of absences and holidays. A common scheduling issue that employers often face during the holiday season (typically starting around Labor Day and concluding around New Year’s Day) is an influx in leave of absence requests or use of already allotted leave time that may be covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). It goes without stating that an employer should honor an existing leave entitlement irrespective if used on a holiday, however, it is lawful and justified for an employer to request of the employee recertification for the medical necessity of family and medical leave [if the original leave period has ended and additional leave is requested] or to require the employee to obtain a second opinion from a health care provider [if the employee is taking leave for his own serious health condition] if the employer has “a good faith, objective reason to doubt the validity of the medical certification.” (CalChamber 2016). Instances that may prompt employer doubt may be when medical certification cannot be authenticated.

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A Plan For Success

Performance Management

Managing employee performance can be one of the most difficult jobs as a supervisor. As an employee, not receiving timely critique from a supervisor can become frustrating and it may seem that the supervisor is setting the employee up to fail by not clearly outlining expectations. Performance Improvement Plans or PIPs are a type of coaching method that supervisors can use to provide a written outline to an employee highlighting areas in need of improvement. A common misconception is that a PIP is only a form of discipline, when in actuality it may accompany verbal or written discipline or it can be given to an employee as part of goal-oriented discussions. For example, a PIP can be a useful tool during succession planning to assist satisfactory performing employees grow to their full potential or to further improve upon existing good work traits.

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What An Alternative

Lawsuit

What is arbitration? Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution that takes place between two or more parties outside of a courtroom, judge and jury. The arbitration session[s] are facilitated by an arbitrator who acts in a similar capacity as a judge – he or she reviews the case file, listens to witness testimony and rules on the outcome. Arbitration is becoming increasingly more popular as a form of resolution of job-related claims between employers and employees as it typically results in lower administrative and legal fees and the proceedings are less formal and usually shorter in duration than litigation. Arbitration generally results in a binding decision, known as an award.

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“Hi! I Just Have A Few Questions For You!”

Questions

Most employees that have been with a Company for a reasonable period of time, will at one time or another encounter an interview with HR during a workplace investigation. This interview can be prompted by an employee’s own complaint or based on the complaint of another employee. At times the interview may be conducted by a third party licensed investigation firm, a state or federal agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or by an attorney hired by the Company. Regardless of who initiates the workplace investigation which leads to the interview, it is important to know how to navigate through the interview to avoid common pitfalls, such as talking too much, providing inaccurate information or unintentionally exposing yourself to policy violations. Here are a few tips on how to get through a workplace investigation interview:

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Setting The Expectation

Performance Reviews

Periodic performance appraisals are a beneficial tool to impact employee performance and an opportunity for an employee to know of management’s perception of his or her individual contribution. It’s important to make sure that a performance appraisal meeting is not the first time an employee is hearing the expectations of his or her manager or the requirements of the job. Being surprised by a manager’s expectations during this meeting can create an awkward, sometimes argumentative environment which can be easily avoided. Long before an employee receives a periodic performance appraisal, he or she should have adequate knowledge of their job function and responsibilities. This is typically made known via a job description.

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Tweet, Pin, Insta, What? ......The Age Of Social Media In The Workplace

Group of Social Media Users

Social media is no longer a foreign concept to any employer. For at least the past 10 years, the work environment has been integrated with some form of social media. Many companies have adopted tools and resources that promote its employees use of social media to connect across the organization. Whether your workplace utilizes an intranet, a social forum such as LinkedIn or Facebook, or allows for employees to freely search the internet, it is necessary that policies are in place to protect the integrity of the business, as well as recognize the individual rights of employees to express ideas and opinions through social media.

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Getting To Know Each Other

Communicating in the Workplace

Sentiments of the outside world often and unfortunately sneak into the workplace. Historically, our society has experienced cycles of contentious unrest related to perceived injustice. The workplace can become an unintended environment for the “spill-over” of hurt feelings and frustration that employees are harboring based on societal events. During intense times, it is important to foster an environment that firmly discourages and prohibits acts of workplace violence. All employees should be mindful of each other and show respect in the workplace to maintain positive peer relationships. It is necessary to know of and understand the risk factors that may lead to workplace violence, but equally important is to know and understand how to enhance positivity, teamwork and unity amongst employees. The more involvement they have with each other, the more they may notice if a team member is exhibiting uncharacteristic behavior which may need to be reported to Management. This behavior may take the form of increased expression of outward frustration, constant irritability over minor issues, bullying others, a persistent poor attitude towards organizational change, and more.
Here are a few activities to help your team stay positive and connect in a friendly way:

 

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NEW RULE On Drug & Alcohol Testing

Drug Testing

California law has long-afforded for employers to conduct drug and alcohol testing for employees in several situations, such as:
• Pre-employment
• As part of a physical examination
• Under reasonable suspicion
• Random
• Post-accident
However, as each year passes a new law or opinion is provided by a governing agency that narrows an employer’s options for which situations afford an adequate right of privacy to the employee and narrows the acceptable situations in which a test can be performed. For example, the legality of reasonable suspicion and random drug and alcohol testing have been intensely scrutinized in recent years, so much so that these testing programs have been discouraged by the Courts [except testing programs regulated by an official agency such as the Department of Transportation]. The Courts use a balancing test to determine if the employee’s privacy interests are outweighed by the employer’s safety interests. Additionally, it must be determined that the testing program does not dissimilarly impact a group of employees by being harassing or discriminatory.

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California Legislative Update…

Judge California

NOTE: Since our last update, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB3 on April 4, 2016, which will eventually raise the state’s minimum hourly wage to $15 per hour. SB3 can be found here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB3.

California legislators are hard at work revising and promoting several assembly and senate bills in preparation to conclude their work by August 31, 2016. Here is an update on a few pending bills during this current 2016 legislative session:

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