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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.

Have a question? An attorney can help.

California and federal employment law can be complicated. If you have a question or are unsure about compliance, it is best to speak with an attorney who has experience handling employment law issues. They can often help avoid unnecessary fines and litigation.