Being a business owner in California can be a frustrating experience at times. Not only do you have to worry about keeping your day-to-day operations running smoothly, but you also need to ensure that you are complying with each and every employee-friendly labor law California has to offer.
Sadly, many business owners learn the hard way exactly what type of protections California employees are entitled to. No matter how big or small your business is, you could likely benefit from an employee handbook that clearly and concisely lays out your employment policies and practices.
Common Misconceptions That Lead to Claims Against Employers
Often times as an employer you try to be flexible and considerate when it comes to your employee’s needs. For example, your employee comes to you and says that he has a doctor’s appointment at 3pm so he would like to work 8am-3pm without a break to get as much work done as possible and limit the time lost on the clock. Sounds like a win-win, right? As the employer you don’t lose productivity from the employee and the employee limits his time off of the clock. Problem is, generally speaking, in California, non-exempt employees are entitled to an uninterrupted meal period after five (5) hours of work (unless working less than 6 hours total and a signed waiver is in place). (Cal. Labor Code §512.) As a result of your effort to accommodate the employee you have now placed your business at risk for potential claims and penalties.
Another common pitfall of California employers is to allow employees to decide their own schedule. This often results in employees working irregular hours and can result in overtime accruing that goes unrecognized by the employer until it is too late. In California, non-exempt employees are typically entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over eight (8) hours in one day and forty (40) hours in one week. (Cal. Labor Code §510.) However, when it comes time to do weekly payroll, many employers simply add up the hours worked, but fail to realize that some of those hours may need to be paid at a premium rate. Consequently, the employer is haled into Court and/or a claim is filed with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Well-Crafted Employment Handbooks Can Limit An Employer’s Exposure
The best time to create an employee handbook is before potential claims arise. In order to effectively create an employee handbook, it is important for you to have a full and complete understanding of your business polices and procedures. Once you have a firm grasp on these matters, our office can assist you in drafting an employee handbook that puts your employees on notice of their rights under California law, as well as your expectations as an employer.
If you already have an employee handbook, it is a good idea to have a legal professional review the policies contained in the Employee Handbook on a periodic basis to ensure that it complies with all current laws and regulations, as well as the ever-changing needs of your business.
Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our San Diego Employment Lawyers to discuss how we can be of assistance in limiting your exposure as a California employer.
466 W. Fallbrook,
Fresno, CA 93711
T: (559) 431-4888
F: (559) 821-4500
San Diego Branch:
10509 Vista Sorrento Pkwy., Suite 430
San Diego, CA 92121
T: (619) 399-7700
F: (619) 819-8400
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