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  February, 2017

 1st Quarter Update 

A belated happy new year to all of you! 

This newsletter will update you on some fundamental changes to rest breaks which hit on 12/22/16 as well as some plans the City has to "educate" workers on their rights which I think you should be aware of. 

Our last newsletter touched on some of the major changes new for 2017. Read that newsletter here: .

The November newsletter included information about the injuction stopping the new overtime rules which were to go into effect on 12/1/16, San Francisco Paid Parental Leave, SF HCSO changes and more. Here is the link to that n ewsletter: .

Wishing you all a successful, profitable 2017!
 Updates, News and Information

BIG Change to California Rest Breaks
In a disappointing decision for California businesses, the California Supreme Court ruled on 12/22/16 in  Augustus, et al. v. ABM Security Services, Inc., that on-call rest periods are not permissible. This decision will require many employers to re-examine their rest-break policies and practices.
The ruling said that California "state law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods. During required rest periods, employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time " during legally required rest breaks. The 10-minute rest break must be uninterrupted.   
Off-Duty Rest Periods : Although rest breaks are compensable time (unlike meal breaks), the employer must still relinquish control over the rest break. An employer cannot meet its rest-period obligations by requiring employees to remain on-call or forced to remain "on call, vigilant, and at the ready."
On-Call Rest Periods : The Court concluded that "one cannot square the practice of compelling employees to remain at the ready, tethered by time and policy to particular locations or communications devices, with the requirement to relieve employees of all work duties and employer control during 10-minute rest periods."
Impact on Employers : Employers may (a) provide employees with another rest period to replace one that was interrupted, or (b) pay the premium pay of one hour at the employee's regular rate.  
The Court noted that its ruling does not prevent employers from being able to reasonably reschedule a rest period when the need arises - although such circumstances should be "the exception rather than the rule."
One of our attorneys suggested that if an employer is unable to give a break as required because perhaps only one employee is scheduled for the morning shift, there is a possibility to modify pay so that the regular rate of pay is decreased (never below minimum wage though) and the penalty is taken as a matter of course so the financial outlay on the employer is the same (or similar) but the penalty is taken. If you're thinking about this, run it past your attorney or us to see if there are other tactical moves you could make to be in compliance without taking on these penalties.
You'll also need to update your Rest Break policy. If you have our 2017 handbook updates, this update is included. Otherwise, we can help you with a one-off policy.


Possible San Francisco Employer "Witch Hunt"
We recently received a "request for proposal" for a project that we feel may impact San Francisco small businesses negatively. The idea is an admirable one: The selected partner will receive up to $100,000 to work with San Francisco's Office Of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) to educate low-income, immigrant and limited English speaking workers about their rights under San Francisco's labor laws. The effort will focus on educating workers about subjects including:

-        increases to the San Francisco minimum wage;
-        changes to the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance;
-        rights under the Formula Retail Employee Rights Ordinances; and
-        their rights under the new Paid Parental Leave Ordinance.
Potential Impact to Employers: I wrote the OLSE and told them I think it's unfortunate that the same amount of money and effort isn't going to be spent educating employers about what their obligations are. Since your employees will be educated, you're going to need to educate yourselves and update your policies and practices to ensure compliance. If you have any questions about these items or others, please let us help you so you don't get caught in the OLSE's headlights. 

Tax Credits (My Favorite Subject!) For Growth and R&D
THIS IS A REPEAT FROM OUR JULY NEWSLETTER BECAUSE I HAVEN'T HEARD OF A SINGLE ONE OF YOU TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE GROWTH CREDITS! If you're growing by even ONE employee, you can apply for these credits. I'm told that so few businesses doing less than $2M per year are applying, that the ones who do are almost a shoo-in to get the credits. I know folks who can do all the paperwork for you - let's take advantage!

Those of you who know me well know I'm practically delirious about tax credits. Any program that allows me to legally take money out of the IRS's wallet and give it back to my small business clients is a huge passion for me. 
Several of these credit options can be applied to AMT or payroll tax so you don't even need to be profitable! They can also be "stored" and applied down the road when you do become profitable. 

There are lots of tax credit options out there but the two which seem to be the best fit  for our clients are these:
1. The California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC):  is an income tax credit available to businesses  that want to locate in California or stay and grow in California. In short, if you're going to grow headcount at all, even by one person, you can apply for this credit. You'll ask for the amount of credit you want per additional headcount, indicate what you're going to use the money for and maintain the additional headcount number for five years. That's it. If you downsize, you don't apply credits that year.

Who Can Apply?  Any business can apply for the CCTC and there are no geographic or restrictions that impact eligibility.  In addition, 25% of the total credits available each fiscal year are specifically reserved for small businesses.  
2. R&D Tax Credits:  If your company is involved with developing new products, processes or prototypes (reinventing the wheel, or making a better mousetrap as I like to say!),  and improving on an existing product then your company may qualify for the R&D tax credit. This tax credit is one of the  most valuable credits  a company can claim and you can earn both state and federal credits.
Previously, only companies engaged in operations such as pharmaceuticals or software development could claim the tax credit for R&D. Due to the strict requirements of the credits in the past, companies have been led to take their research activities overseas. Recent legislation, a revised method of computing R&D tax credits, and the desire of the IRS to increase domestic R&D activity has made it easier for companies to claim these tax credits.
Your organization may be eligible for R&D tax credits if it engages in these areas:
  • Food Processing
  • Apparel and Textiles
  • Construction and Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Architecture
  • Distribution
  • Electrical Contracting
  • Software
  • Wine Making
  • Brewing
  • Engineering Services
  • Life Sciences
Tax credits are a speciality and you may find that your CPA can't develop them for you. We've found a group that only charges a percentage of what they recover so there aren't any upfront fees or risk to you to find out more. They will work with your CPA to make sure you get the most out of your credits. Let me know if you need a referral.

Your Safety Plan Requirements
Another repeat because this is important stuff and I know many of you aren't compliant.

Here is what is required from you in regard to your company safety plan:
  • All California employers with ONE or more employees are required to have a written Injury & Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).
  • IIPPs include the following: 
    • Management commitment/assignment of responsibilities; 
    • Safety communications system with employees; 
    • System for assuring employee compliance with safe work practices; 
    • Scheduled inspections/evaluation system; 
    • Accident investigation; 
    • Procedures for correcting unsafe/unhealthy conditions; 
    • Safety and health training and instruction; and 
    • Record keeping and documentation.
  • You must retain documentation showing inspection and training information related to your IIPP.
Next Level Strategies can help you with these mandatory requirements to secure your workers' safety. We're here to help you comply. 


Poster Requirements for California Employers 2017

Your posters have to be updated every year. The good news is they aren't expensive: $35. Call us for information or to order. 

  REQUIRED! Harassment Prevention Training!   

Employers with 50 or more employees  are required by AB1825 to offer Sexual Harassment Prevention training to management staff every two years. AB2053 requires a component of the prevention of "abusive conduct" as defined in the law. All new supervisory employees must be trained within six months of promotion or hire to ensure compliance. We have made this training as fast moving and entertaining as possible so please keep us in mind when you're ready to schedule your mandated 2017 session. 

We can come onsite to your location and conduct this training for your entire management team or if you prefer, managers can attend our quarterly training at the NLS office. 
Requirement Reminders 
Important reminders about previous year's legislation:
Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) - Employers must administer and provide specific timely pregnancy-related notifications, leaves, transfers and accommodations to their CA employees as of 12/30/12. 

Detailed Written Commission Plans are required as of 1/1/13 with certain stipulations and inclusions.
Written offers of employment for all Non-Exempt employees are required as of 1/1/12 also  with certain stipulations and inclusions
Let us know if you need more information or help with either of these requirements.  

As always... call us if you have any questions or need assistance with policy development!

In This Issue
Updates, News and Information
Upcoming Workshops
Open Position Spotlight
Rent Our Space!

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Stay Ahead:  Check out Our Upcoming Workshops

Workshops offered through Next Level Strategies, 1748 Clement Street, at 19th Avenue. (Free street parking or easy bus access.) 


Recruiting and Hiring 101:  Wednesday, April 5, 10:00 - 12:30. It's a candidate's market right now - there is no two ways about it. As a result, many of you are settling for mediocre employees because you don't have a lot to choose from. You're taking our Performance and Termination class in the hope that you can turn an "C" player into a "B" player. Well what if you knew the tricks and process to hiring (and RETAINING!) an "A" player? We'll teach you how to properly identify your needs, write an effective posting, ask the right questions, and hire the best without spending a ton of money. 

Performance & Termination 101: Wednesday, April 5, 1:00 - 3:30. Clients requested we create a training to assist in employee performance management and the termination process. Topics include: coaching, feedback, conflict resolution, proper termination techniques and beyond. 

You can take our, Recruiting and Hiring 101 workshop in the morning, stay for lunch, and take "Performance & Termination 101" in the afternoon (or take one or the other!). A discount will be offered if you take both. BRING YOUR QUESTIONS AND SCENARIOS!

You're welcome to call in to the training if you can't make it in person. 

$139 per session or $250 for both sessions, including materials. Snacks and beverages provided for those attending in person. Lunch included for those attending both sessions in person.

HR 101:  Monday, April 3, from 10:30 - 1:00 p.m. This is a great training for new managers and overwhelmed entrepreneurs. Topics include: paperwork requirements, tip laws, defining exempt and non-exempt employees, defining independent contractors, a variety of wage and hour issues such as meal and rest breaks, what you can and can't ask during an interview, harassment prevention information, safety requirements, discrimination issues, final check and termination requirements, and much more! You're welcome to bring your lunch and we'll provide beverages and snacks. $139.

Sexual Harassment "Make-Up" Training: MondayApril 3, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.  If you have 50 or more employees and any newly hired or promoted managers, you have six months to get them trained under CA's AB1825 law. You may also have managers who missed your company-wide training. This is a great opportunity to get these folks trained and your company compliant. $125

RSVP to Taune Lima, 415.876.NEXT or to reserve your space. Space is limited to 10 attendees per training!

We are open to offering weekend or evening workshops by popular demand or be onsite at your location if you have a group to train. Let us know what works for you! 
Open Positions We are Seeking to Fill

A client specializing in windows and doors is looking for an Accounting Manager in San Francisco. 

Recruiting for Architectural positions for a firm in San Francisco. Seeking Project Architects/Project Designers. 

An acupuncturist client is looking for a part time front desk person in San Francisco.

Please let us know if you know of anyone with interest. You're welcome to forward this information along to friends and associates. 

Rent Our Deck or Conference Room!

We have a beautiful deck and conference room available for meetings or workshops.  Our space is a converted Victorian - very homey, peaceful and comfortable - in the Richmond District.  The conference room has a large table which seats eight easily around the table but there is plenty of additional room for participants within the room. There is a large white board and other tools available for your use.  The deck table seats six comfortably, with plenty of room for others, pretty plants and a view.

Call us for photos and rental details!
If any of this is news to you or you need support managing any of the changes, please call us - 415.876.NEXT.  Thank you for reading!

Julie Chendes, Taune Lima, Joy Vail, Cecilia Reynoso

This information is for general use only.  Please consult a licensed attorney for legal analysis and advice.