Shivani Sutaria Law Offices is pleased to provide an Employment Law 2015 Year-End Checklist to employers as they prepare for the coming year. This checklist hits on a few important employment law issues to be considered at the end of the year; for a comprehensive audit of all of your businesses’ employment policies, practices and procedures, contact Shivani Sutaria Law Offices at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408/406-8208.
Confirm Employee Headcount: Count your total number of employees for purpose of determining what laws are applicable to your company. Significant milestones to cross are 5, 15, 25 and 50 employees (i.e. Family Medical Leave Act applies to companies with 50 or more employees, ADA applies with 15 or more employees, California’s discrimination law applies with 5 or more employees).
Verify Posters and Notices: Verify that you have up current versions of all the required posters and notices especially in light of California’s minimum wage increasing to $10/hr on January 1, 2016, the paid sick leave notice requirement of 2015 and the forthcoming new workers’ compensation benefits poster.
Review and Update Policies: Policies in the employee handbook should reflect your company’s culture, expectations and practices as well as the current state of employment laws including those going into effect on January 1, 2016. To learn more on new employment laws for 2016, see Shivani Sutaria Law Offices’ previous article on “5 New Employment Laws Going on the Books”. Policy updates may also be required if your company has grown or shrunk as different laws apply based on size.
Check Job Classifications and Job Descriptions: Job responsibilities, essential functions and compensation can change throughout the year. Employers should assess whether employees are properly classified (non-exempt v. exempt). With California’s minimum wage increasing to $10/hr, employees will need to earn at least $41,600/yr to meet the minimum salary test for exempt classification. It is also a good time to assess whether independent contractors are still properly classified as such, or more closely now fit the “employee” status.
Ensure Vacation and Sick Leave Carryover: California law prohibits a “use it or lose it” vacation policy so ensure unused accrued vacation is carried over to 2016. Also, if your company is using the accrual method under the new California paid sick leave law, unused accrued sick leave must be carried over to 2016.
Conduct Compensation Analysis: In light of California’s new toughened amendments to the Equal Pay Act that go into effect on January 1, 2016, employers should consider: 1) Evaluating employees’ job responsibilities and compensation across the company by gender; 2) Identifying objective criteria used to determine compensation, raises and bonuses; 3) Reviewing and updating, if necessary, company policies on confidentiality and discipline to allow discussion of wages among employees; 4) Making adjustments to employees’ compensation if objective criteria cannot explain pay disparities among the genders; and 5) Training managers and HR on what acceptable objective factors to utilize when making compensation-related decisions. See Shivani Sutaria Law Offices’ previous article on this new law, “California’s New Equal Pay Protections: 5 Must-Knows for Employers.”
Audit Personnel Files: Ensure that each employee’s personnel file is up-to-date and complete (i.e. Labor Code Section 2810.5 form for non-exempt employees; emergency contact information form, disciplinary write-ups; performance evaluations, etc.). Remember, personnel files must be maintained for three years.