Ring in 2021 With Our Exclusive 2021 Compliance Checklist for California!
We eagerly welcome this new year, however, 2021 does bring new challenges for employers and new rights for employees that you need to know.
As always we are here to help navigate the complexities of the laws and regulations that impact your business! We provide this complimentary 2021 New Year’s HR Checklist for your information so you can remain compliant. Read on to learn more about what is in store for you and your employees in 2021 and download the checklist below to see if you are in compliance.
Updates to Employee Handbook Needed
The last few years have been busy ones for the California Legislature. Many new laws have been passed that impact your business and require you to make updates to your Handbook.
One of the recent and more impactful changes became effective on January 1st, 2021. Employers with 5 or more employees are now required to provide up to 12 weeks of medical and family leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to eligible employees.
Even if your company has been covered under the CFRA, there are new requirements which will significantly expand who is covered and the reasons for which they are eligible to take leave and you will need to update your Employee Handbook accordingly.
This is not the only change over the last few years. If your Employee Handbook has not been updated within the last 2 years, there will be other compliance topics that will need to be included in your Handbook.
SDHR Consulting can work with you to provide a customized and employee-friendly Employee Handbook.
Deadline for Harassment Training Has Passed
The deadline for employers with 5 or more employees to conduct harassment training for both their supervisors and employees was January 1st, 2021. While some employers were hoping the deadline would be extended in light of the pandemic, the legislature chose not to do that since they had extended the deadline once before.
Even though you may have missed the deadline, this is not a reason to skip providing this training for your employees. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is still requiring employers to provide it.
SDHR Consulting can assist with developing the best plan to ensure all of your employees have received the required training. Whether it is a customized and engaging workshop in person or via live webinar, or whether it is an online individual self-paced training, we can help ensure your company remains in compliance with this very important requirement.
COVID Prevention Requirements: Some Existing and Some Brand New!
While all California employers are required to maintain an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), most employers now must add a COVID Prevention Program (CPP) to their process.
The CPP must include steps the employer will take in assessing the risks related to COVID in their workplace, implementing preventative measures, training employees on how to stay safe and responding should an employee have a positive COVID test or exposed to a positive case.
For more information, see our blog COVID-19 Prevention Program and Why YOU Need One.
In addition, new laws require employers to notify employees in writing within 1 business day when they are exposed to someone, whether it is another employee, contractor, vendor or other visitors with a positive COVID diagnosis. This notice must include information on the COVID-related benefits the employee may receive such as paid sick leave, leave under the California Family Rights Act, workers compensation benefits and the company’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
Wage and Hour Issues: Independent Contractors and Misclassification of Exempt Employees
Independent Contractors vs. Employee classification has been a hot topic both in California and across the country. Employers should review how they classify and pay individuals to ensure compliance… and avoid heavy fines.
In addition, the New Year brings an increase in the minimum wage for non-exempt employees, which in turn increases the salary to be paid to exempt employees. For more information on the minimum wage see our blog here.
SDHR Consulting can assist with ensuring your employees are classified correctly to avoid any problems with the wage and hour laws which can bring huge fines if done incorrectly.
New Posters Required for 2021
Usually each year, updates to the required employee labor posters require new posters in the workplace. We can help ensure your posters are up to date. This includes all Federal and State posters and even some local posters required depending on the city where your company operates.
Hiring Practices and Legally Compliant Interviewing
Over the last few years, California has implemented new requirements such as Ban the Box and a Salary History Ban. Hiring managers should receive essential training so they do not violate any applicants’ rights during the hiring process.
These rules along with other discrimination laws can cause multiple legal headaches if managers are not aware of how to avoid problems in this area.
SDHR Consulting can provide a Legally Compliant Interviewing and Hiring workshop to your managers and assist them with feeling confident they are able to find the best candidates for their positions without causing any legal issues for the company.
Employee Files: Maintaining and Retaining
The new year is a good time to review your Employee File maintenance to ensure compliance with California law. If you are keeping any confidential or medical files in your regular Employee Files, these records need to be removed and stored in a separate Confidential File for each employee.
It is also a good time to check how you are retaining files, especially for terminated employees. You may be able to dispose of files beyond the required retention periods and thus make more room in your filing cabinet…physical or digital!
One Last Little Tidbit
The IRS has released the mileage reimbursement rate for 2021. The rate is 56 cents per mile for business use of a car, van, pickup truck, or panel truck. This is another decrease after decreasing to 57.5 cents per mile in 2020 and down from 58 cents per mile in 2019.
How SDHRC Can Help
Need help checking any of these items off of your HR compliance checklist? SDHR Consulting is here to help! Our HR experts specialize in making sure your business is in compliance and ready to start the new year. Contact us today to learn more and to get the process started!
About the Author
Traci Hagan, “Treasure Trove”
Traci is an HR Consultant who has been with SDHRC for over 2 years but has over 32 years of experience in employee relations, conflict resolution benefits administration, training and development, workers’ comp and staffing! Traci is also a Professor who enjoys traveling and spending time with her 16-year-old “puppy”.