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Huntington Beach Law Blog

Can employers require employees to give notice?

Businesses face a wide range of challenges, but few are more complicated on a professional and interpersonal level than handling the departure of an employee. Like many states, California is an employment at will state, which means that the employee can leave at any time for any lawful reason, with or without notice.

However, employers may want to keep an employee around to assist in the training of their replacement, finish up or reassign important work, or at least give them time to hire someone. While two weeks is the standard, companies often request executives or key employees with unique skills a longer notice, particularly if there is going to be a lengthy search process. Employers need to be careful about these requests because it may be interpreted to mean that there is a guaranteed right to work for that extended period.

Ten common employer missteps involving employment laws

Most employers would never intentionally try to violate the state and federal employment laws, but it could be a case of not being clear on the rules. Some reasons may even be in the spirit of helping the employee or making your job easier, while others involve poor business planning or choices. Here are 10 mistakes that the California Chamber of Commerce es.

  1. Classify all employees as exempt: Exempt employees are those paid a salary regardless of the number of hours worked. Employees may be exempt from overtime, meal time or rest breaks. The accounting is easier for the employer, but it may be illegal to not provide breaks and overtime.
  2. Flexible lunch breaks: California law stipulates that employers must provide a meal break to non-exempt employees no later than the fifth hour of a shift.
  3. Classifying your employees as contractors: With the rise of the gig economy, the improper classification of full-time employees as contractors has become a common mistake.
  4. Not training managers and staff on harassment and discrimination: This has also become a common talking point for businesses in the #metoo era.
  5. Terminating employees for taking a leave of absence: Small businesses can struggle if even one employee is not working, but family and medical leave (FMLA) ensures that workers can take leave if necessary. There are, of course, guidelines for qualifying.
  6. Letting employees choose when and how long they work: If you have a flex-time policy, employers need to ensure that employees accurately report hours to determine if overtime or back pay is owed.
  7. Not issue a final paycheck if they do not return company property:While the company may want to withhold a check because it wants back its laptop or phone, check with an attorney before doing this.
  8. Use non-compete agreements: While there are exceptions, California generally prohibits non-competes.
  9. Implement use it or lose it vacation policy: California prohibits a “use it or lose it” vacation policy. Employees must be paid out when they leave.
  10. Loan employees money and deduct it from their check: Bosses may think they are being helpful, but the legal way to do this is to have an attorney draft a promissory note and arrange a payment schedule.

Protecting your company with a severance agreement

One of the most unpleasant roles you have as a business owner or employer is terminating a worker. This may come about because of budget constraints, poor performance or other reasons, and it may be a shock to the employee. It may also stir up feelings of anger or vengeance in an employee who may be tempted to strike back at your company.

Some California employers find the use of a severance agreement may assuage those feelings and protect the business as well as providing some temporary security for the severed employee. No federal or state laws obligate you to offer severance agreements to employees you fire unless your employment contract promises such a package. However, you may find it gives you peace of mind to negotiate such a deal if the circumstances call for it.

Colin Kaepernick case to move forward

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused a firestorm of controversy when he chose to kneel instead of stand for the national anthem before football games. This was done to protest police brutality during a rash of killings of unarmed black men by police.

The former 49ers starter finished his contract with the team in 2016 and has not been hired by another team. He and his lawyer believe this lack of work is because of his political views, which he feels are protected by his First Amendment rights.

Obligation to taxpayers overrules state employees worker’s comp

There have been a 117 workers’ compensation claims involving cancer that have been filed by Texas firefighters over the last six years. According to the Texas Department of Insurance and media outlets, more than 90 percent of those claims have been denied. This is in spite of the fact that a 2005 state law requires governments to presume that cancer is caused by exposure to toxic carcinogens while working.

Union blames memo

Acclaimed brewery sues former head brewer

The community of craft beer brewers is often proud their own grassroots approach to doing business. Many are staunchly anti-big business at least until they get a purchase offer they cannot refuse. Many also strive to keep the business plan straightforward and to grow organically, choosing to focus on product rather than expanding their business footprint.

A ripple in the community

What small businesses tend to last the longest?

A common hope among California small business owners is that their company will last for a very long time. However, there are a range of things that could endanger this hope and put a company at risk of coming to an end.

How long do small businesses tend to last here in the United States? In a recent report, American small businesses were estimated to have a median life expectancy of 5.3 years. This estimate was based off of data regarding business account holders with JPMorgan Chase.

Legendary Ohio football coach put on leave

 It seems that not a month goes by where there are allegations of misbehavior by college coaches or support staff. Ohio State University has been mired in the scandals of former head coach Jim Tressel who stepped down in 2011 after failing to report student athletes bartering team gear for services like tattoos. There was OSU team doctor Richard Strauss, who allegedly abused students before killing himself in 2005. This has led to class action lawsuit. There is also a class action lawsuit involving diving coach William Bohonyi, who allegedly preyed on female divers, including at least one who was under age 18.   

OSU football once again unfortunately makes news

Have you updated your employee handbook this year?

Several new laws went into effect on Jan. 1 that may affect you and your employees. You may already be aware of them, but did you incorporate them into your employee handbook or update existing policies that may be affected by the new laws?

Employee handbooks are about more than just letting employees know what you expect of them. They also represent a first line of defense to an action by a current or former employee who claims that the company violated his or her rights under California employment laws.

Employer tips for dealing with employee divorce

Like it or not, employees’ personal lives will impact their general well-being and professional performance. With divorce rates hovering between 40 and 50 percent in 2018, managers, owners and HR personnel will not have to wait long before they get word that an employee needs to change their insurance or contact information because they are getting divorced.

How you handle this is important. Not only do smart business people understand that employees will have complicated personal lives at times, they find the appropriate manner to respond so the employee is supported without impacting the company too much.

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