Trying to keep up with new workplace laws is never a small task in California – and 2019 is no exception.
To get a jump on the learning curve we went to HR expert June Jeong, founder and CEO of eqHR Solutions Inc. eqHR is an SBS partner providing California businesses with a wide range of HR services and expertise, from training and development to help with compliance by conducting HR assessment, recruiting, hiring, performance management and the creation of policies and handbooks.
With more than 20 years’ experience in HR, Jeong has helped companies of all sizes navigate the increasingly tricky terrain of workplace compliance. Today, she says, it is easier than ever for employers to find themselves out of compliance, with new workplace regulations cropping up at every level of government.
Jeong provided an overview of three problem areas that tend to generate a lot of questions from employers – and some potentially expensive compliance hazards.
1. Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Previously California required companies with 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors. A new law extends the requirement to any company with five or more employees – which includes independent contractors along with part-time and temporary employees – and adds a one-hour mandatory training period for non-supervisory employees. The law sets a deadline of Jan. 1, 2020 for current employees. New employees will have to undergo training within six months of their start date and every two years after that. The law has employers scrambling to set up training sessions, Jeong says, keeping the company very busy.
2. Independent Contractor Classification
A California Supreme Court ruling last year narrowed the definition of who can be classified as an independent contractor, which means California employers will have to tread carefully in designating employees as contract workers who are not entitled to things like minimum wage, overtime and lunch breaks.
The court adopted a three-part test for distinguishing between an employee and an independent contractor. The presumption is that all workers are employees unless all of the following conditions are established:
- The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity
- The work performed is outside the usual course of the hiring company’s business
- The worker is in an independent trade or business of the same nature as the work performed
The bottom line according to Jeong: “Nine out of 10 independent contractors are probably an employee,” Jeong says. “Working from home or on a temporary basis is not necessarily an indication that the employee is an independent contractor.”
3. Lunch Break Compliance
Jeong says she also sees many employers still failing to comply with workplace laws around meal breaks. Businesses can find themselves out of compliance because employees don’t take a sufficient break or take a meal break too late. California law, with some exceptions, gives non-exempt workers a 30-minute meal break if they work more than five hours, unless their day ends after no more than six hours. They are also entitled to 10-minute rest breaks after four hours. Employees are free to skip their breaks, but they shouldn’t be encouraged to do so. It’s a standard that can be open to some interpretation, but it can also get you into trouble.
Some businesses find themselves struggling with compliance because they don’t have sufficient HR resources to keep up.
“A common misconception is that you can still get by with part-time HR,” Jeong says. “People think they can Google whatever they don’t know and get the answer.”
HCM Software Can Help Streamline Compliance
SBS Payroll offers a suite of HR support services that can help reduce the compliance burden, with HCM software that combines benefits, payroll and HR services and access to live HR support. Our clients also have access to an array of other solutions through our partners and through our sister companies Time Rack and Payroll Tax Management.