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HR

” Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training – What Employers Need to Know”

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On April 12th at 1:00 pm, we will be doing one of our most-attended webinars this year, ” Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training – What Employers Need to Know”. As you already know, this is a very hot topic and highly litigious area for all employers. For more details, see our website at www.strattonagency.com of contact an HR Representative at 925-556-4404 for more details.

Update on the 2018 Flu Season – What Employers Need to know

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  • As of 1/5/18, there have been 28 flu-related deaths under age 65;
  • As of 1/17/18, there have been 42 flu-related deaths under the age of 65;
  • What is mainly circulating this year is the H3N2 and tends too cause more severe disease;
  • As of 1/17/18, at least 3,269 people in the state have tested positive for the flu, however it is believed this is very much under-reported;
  • As the number of confirmed cases of influenza grows, it is important to increase employee health and safety protocols for each place of employment, including disinfection of all surfaces and continually washing hands;
  • Health officials have recommended a full seven days to stop the cycle of spreading influenza;
  • Some hospitals are starting to initiate “flu protocols”. At Loma Linda Medical Center in San Bernardino County, the medical staff has erected a triage tent outside the emergency room to handle the influx of flu patients. Some of you will remember similar protocols some years back for the H1N1;
  • Employers should review illness protocols with employees and start to address the need for additional help to cover for sick employees;
  • Start stocking up on required personal protective equipment as needed including gloves. If N95 respirators are used, please see us to assist you with meeting Cal OSHA requirements.
  • We can also assist you with flu and handwashing posters;
  • It’s not too late to get flu shots!

If you should have any questions, please contact us at 925-556-4404

Reminder! California Employers Must Provide Notice of the Federal and California Earned Income Tax Credit

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California employers should remember that they must revise their notice to employees regarding the federal Earned Income Tax Notice to include California’s version of it. Effective January 1, 2017, employers must revise their notice to employees regarding the earned income tax credit when issuing W-2 or 1099 forms.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

New California Law Will Limit Immigration Enforcement Agents’ Access to Workplaces, Records

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Employers in California will soon face several new requirements involving workplace inspections by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Effective January 1, 2018, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act will prohibit employers in California from voluntarily consenting to allow immigration enforcement agents to enter any nonpublic areas of their workplaces unless they obtain a subpoena or judicial warrant.

The Act also will prohibit employers from consenting to enforcement agents accessing, reviewing or obtaining their employee records (except Forms I-9 and other documents for which ICE has provided the required three days’ notice before inspection) without a subpoena or judicial warrant.

Employers also will be required to notify employees of any inspections of Forms I-9 or other employment records within 72 hours of receiving notice of the inspection, including:

  • The name of the agency conducting the inspections;
  • The date that the employer received notice of the inspection;
  • The nature of the inspection to the extent known; and
  • A copy of the Notice of Inspection of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for the inspection to be conducted.

By July 1, 2018, the California Labor Commissioner will create a template that employers may use to satisfy these notice requirements.

Within 72 hours of receiving inspection results, employers will be required to provide affected employees a copy of the written immigration agency notice and a written notice containing certain information about their collective obligations.

Employers that violate any of the aforementioned requirements will be subject to civil penalties of $2,000 to $5,000 for a first violation and of $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

In addition, employers will be prohibited from reverifying the employment eligibility of a current employee at a time or in a manner not required by specified federal law. Violations of this requirement will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Specialist at 925-556-4404.

Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Webinar

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On Wednesday Oct 25, 2017 @ 1:00 PM, we will be offering a 45 minute webinar titled “Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training”.

How timely is this?

As fas as I know, we are the only HR/Safety/Insurance company offering such a class for employers! This webinar spans across all employment types and I am sure if we get the word out, we will have some great attendance. Some of the areas we will be discussing include:

  • Definitions
  • OSHA-involvement
  • OSHA required Injury & Illness Prevention Program and an Emergency Action Plan and documented employee training
  • Workers’ Compensation due to injuries related to workplace violence
  • Legal ramifications including heavy fines and possible criminal involvement on the part of owners and managers
  • Hostage situations
  • Robberies/Burglaries and how are they different
  • Employee Assistance Plans
  • Business recovery – Can you business  actually survive an “active shooter situation”? and
  • And some mind blowing statistics!
 
Please let me know if you should have any questions.

Employers Must Use New I-9 Form Beginning September 18, 2017

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Starting September 18, 2017, employers must use the revised Form I-9 with the revision date “7/17/17” to verify the identity and work eligibility of every new hire.

The new Form I-9 version is very similar to the prior edition. It has updated the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, and it has removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.” USCIS also revised the List C documents section, specifically related to the Consular Report of Birth Abroad and the Report of Birth issued by the Department of State. The process of completing the I-9 remains the same, as does the deadline to complete an I-9.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

Mandatory Flu Vaccine Policies: Dealing With Employees Who Refuse the Shot

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Flu season is coming, and healthcare (and other) organizations may be asking whether they should have mandatory flu vaccine policies. If an employer decides to implement a mandatory program, the next question is how to administer it.

In the healthcare industry, mandatory vaccination programs for employees are common. A number of states require healthcare employers to offer the vaccine or to ensure that employees receive it (with certain exceptions). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website tracks these various state laws and their requirements, and the CDC itself recommends that all health care workers get vaccinated (including all workers having direct and indirect patient care involvement and exposure).

However, “mandatory” doesn’t always mean mandatory. In some circumstances, healthcare providers may have to grant exceptions to their “mandatory” vaccination programs. Federal and state discrimination laws require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and sincerely-held religious beliefs. Some employees may be medically unable to receive the flu vaccine. Others may have religious objections. Absent undue hardship, healthcare providers will need to create exceptions to their “mandatory” policies for employees as a reasonable accommodation for the employees’ disabilities or religious practices.

Missteps in the accommodation process can open the door to litigation. Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued a hospital that declined to grant religious exemptions for six employees who refused the flu vaccine. The case settled for $300,000. Another similar case, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Baystate Medical Center, is still pending in federal court.

So how can healthcare employers implement mandatory flu vaccine policies? Every workplace and situation is different, but there are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Be prepared. Before rolling out a mandatory vaccination requirement, an employer may want to have a process in place for requesting accommodations. A carefully written vaccination policy can describe that process, so employees understand where to turn if they need to ask for accommodation. Employers may also want to have forms for employees to fill out to request a waiver as an accommodation.
  • Objections based on religion or disability. Employers have an obligation to accommodate only sincerely held religious beliefs or disabilities. But remember, “religion” and “disability” are broad terms. The EEOC and at least one federal court consider veganism, in some circumstances, to constitute a religious belief that could exempt an employee from a flu-vaccination requirement. The bottom line is that an employee’s objection to a vaccine might not appear to be “religious” at first blush, but it could be religious in the eyes of the law. Medical conditions or restrictions causing the need to forego a flu vaccine should be relatively rare.  Recently, non-egg options and versions of the shot that are safe for those with egg allergies have become available. However, valid medical objections may still exist.
  • Explore accommodations. Employers may want to have general reasonable accommodations policies, as well as procedures and request forms, to manage the interactive process. For an employee who declines the vaccine, the appropriate accommodation will depend on a variety of factors, including whether the employee’s position involves patient contact. Depending on the circumstances, appropriate accommodations may include modifying the employee’s work duties, finding an alternate version of the flu shot (or a nasal spray), having the employee wear a surgical mask, transferring the employee to a vacant position, or a leave of absence. Once the accommodation is in place, an employer can continue working with the employee to make sure it remains effective and feasible.
  • Document. In the context of vaccines and otherwise, employers will want to carefully document the accommodation process in writing. Specifically, businesses should keep clear records of precisely what accommodations have been requested, considered, negotiated, and either granted or rejected. Employers may also want to make sure documentation identifies who was involved in the process, when each step took place, whether disciplinary action was taken, and why each decision was made along the way.

Since mandatory flu vaccine programs have been a hotbed for litigation (and a source for the viral spread of misinformation), healthcare providers may want to proceed with caution and make sure their processes and procedures comply with applicable discrimination laws.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

California High Heat Advisory: Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers Shade Must Be Made Available for Outdoor Workers

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As temperatures are projected to hit triple digits across the state with
prolonged heat waves, Cal/OSHA reminds employers with outdoor workers that shade
must be made available at all times, and must be in place when temperatures reach 80
degrees or above.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings and high heat
advisories statewide, especially in inland areas. Periods of prolonged, widespread triple
digit heat is expected tomorrow through Thursday in downtown Los Angeles and much
of Southern California’s inland areas, as well as in the Bay Area, Monterey, Sacramento
and Central Valley regions.

Cal/OSHA urges workers experiencing possible overheating to take a preventative cooldown
rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers who have existing health
problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to
be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also
increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.

Staying properly hydrated throughout the workday is one of the most effective heat
illness prevention techniques. Cal/OSHA encourages all workers to drink at least one
quart of water every hour, preferably sipping an 8-ounce cup of water every 15 minutes.
Drinks such as soda, sports drinks, coffee, energy drinks or iced tea are not
recommended for hydration. Also, the lingering effects of alcoholic beverages can
contribute to quickly dehydrating the body in hot weather.

In addition to the basic steps outlined by California’s heat regulation for employers with
outdoor workers, heat at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit requires additional
precautions. Among other measures, it is crucial that workers are actively monitored for
early signs of heat illness. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment
immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into serious illness or death.

In case a worker does get sick, supervisors and coworkers must be trained on the
emergency procedures required to ensure that the sick worker receives treatment
immediately and serious illness does not develop.
Cal/OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and
other operations throughout the heat season.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.