By Erica A. Stewart, PHR / President / Human Resources Association of the Central Coast

As a small business owner, you are your own Human Resources (HR) designee. Staying current on employee issues impacting your company and your employees can be a full time job. So here are a few things to ponder as you plan for 2016.

Sick Leave Update

Hopefully, you’ve already updated your sick leave policies and distributed notices to all of your employees explaining their new sick leave rights. This new California law became effective July 1st of 2015. Just in case you’d like a refresher for your office, the policy and the notice are available online at

Some people feel their business is covered because they already have a sick leave or paid time off policy. Unfortunately, the government isn’t always that simple. Double check your policy and make sure it includes the following:

  • For every 30 hours worked, your employee needs to accrue 1 hour of sick time. This applies to your part-time and temporary employees.
  • Once your employee starts working for you, they can take at least 24 hours of paid sick leave per year of employment, calendar year, or 12-month period.
  • Make sure that your employee can see their available days of sick leave on their pay stub.
  • If your employee leaves and returns within a year, they will receive their accrued sick time immediately. So don’t zero out their balance.
  • As always in HR, Document, Document, Document! Keep records of accrual and used sick leave for three

Minimum Wage Increase and Salary Changes

Enough with the refresher on 2015’s Sick Leave. This January, the California minimum wage will be increased to $10/hour for non-exempt employees (sometimes known as ”hourly employees”) and the Federal Government has proposed new overtime rules. I want to applaud the government for attempting to “modernize and streamline” overtime regulations. Yet, in California this could confuse things a bit.

You may have heard people refer to California as the employee state. Usually, this is because California is considered a state that contains more favorable conditions for employees. So, when both state and federal laws govern the same issue, we are to follow the law that is more favorable to the employee. Most employers can usually focus on California’s overtime laws because they are currently the most favorable. For example, California law says that an employee should receive overtime, if they are working over 40 hours a week and 8 hours in a day. Federal law only focuses on weekly hours, not daily. And California has a higher salary threshold before an employee can be classified as exempt. But all this may change if the proposed federal overtime rules pass.

What could this mean for your company? Be prepared.

  1. Analyze how your employees are currently classified and determine who will really be exempt with the new rules.
  2. Exempt employees’ salaries will most likely increase. Currently, an exempt employee must earn a minimum monthly salary of two times the state minimum wage, which will be $41,600 in California.
  3. For the first time ever, the Department of Labor is proposing to automatically raise the minimum salary level. The proposed rule could increase the exempt employee’s annual salary even higher than the two times minimum wage.
  4. Workplace Flexibility could be reduced due to exempt classification, which could result in lower employee morale.

Employment regulations are often complicated. If these topics spark your interest OR you’d like someone in your office to know more about how to protect your business and your employees, please visit, come join us at one of our monthly luncheon presentations, on the second Tuesday of every month. Or join us at the HRCC annual conference featuring employment attorney, Richard J. Simmons, on October 13th from 7:30-noon. Mr. Simmons will discuss pertinent topics to your business, such as, Sick Pay Updates, Wage and Hour Laws, Employment Discrimination, Wrongful Discharge, Leaves of Absence and more.


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