Common Wage Statement Errors

Employers know how important it is to stay compliant when it comes to promptly and accurately paying their employees. However, simple wage statement errors can result in expensive class-action or PAGA claims, even when the amount of pay is accurate and timely.

At a minimum, wage statements must include:

  1. Total hours worked by the employee (unless the employee is exempt from overtime).
  2. The number of piece-rate units earned, if applicable.
  3. All deductions made from wages.
  4. Net wages earned.
  5. The pay period beginning and end dates.
  6. The employee’s name and only the last four digits of his or her Social Security number (or an employee identification number other than a Social Security number).
  7. The name and address of the legal entity that is the employer.
  8. All applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and the corresponding number of hours the employee worked at each hourly rate.

In addition, California employers have many specific requirements not necessary in other states. Common wage statement mistakes include:

  1. Neglecting to list the total hours worked in the pay period.
  2. Leaving off the start and end dates of the pay period.
  3. Not having the employer’s complete legal name listed.
  4. Failing to include the employer’s address.
  5. Not keeping copies of wage statements.
  6. Listing overtime compensation or commissions for bonuses in a confusing or difficult to understand format.
  7. Not providing the amount of paid sick leave available for use.
  8. Not having a place on the wage statement for items like double time and any premiums that an employee was paid for a missed meal or rest period.
  9. For piece-rate employees; failing to show total hours of compensable rest and recovery periods as well as compensable non-productive time.

Penalties for wage statement violations start at $250 per employee and can go as high as $4,000 per employee.

Download September Benefits Buzz

HR Advisory – Job Applicants and Social Media

If you’re ignoring social media, you’re denying an increasingly common recruitment tactic While there can be benefits to screening the internet for public information about a job candidate, be aware of the many risks associated with this new-age method.

How to use social media effectively for applicant screening:

  1. Create a social media screening policy
  2. Prepare screening questions for the position
  3. Conduct the screening
  4. Prepare and provide a report to the hiring manager
  5. Retain the documentation

How to help minimize risk through social media screenings:

  1. If you’re screening, screen everyone. Don’t just review one applicant or certain types of applicants.
  2. Remember a decision should be made based on skill and experience above everything else.
  3. Conduct in-person interviews first before social media screenings.
  4. Make sure the screener is removed from the hiring process to ensure unbiased research.
  5. If you use a third party to conduct screenings, be aware of laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, that may require you to get authorization, provide notices or make certain disclosures.
  6. Allow applicants to explain any information you’ve found online that you find damaging.
  7. Managers should be forbidden from considering protected classes when making an employment decision.
  8. Managers must keep notes to demonstrate a hiring decision was based on legitimate business reasons.
  9. Follow the laws relating to retaining records during the application process.
  10. Ensure your hiring manager (and anyone involved in the recruitment process) is aware of the law prohibiting employers from requesting applicants to disclose personal social media.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at any time.

HR Advisory – Owning Your Interactive Process

The ADA and California’s FEHA disability regulations require employers to initiate the interactive process when any of the following events occur:

  • An applicant or employee with a known disability requests an accommodation.
  • The employer becomes aware of the need for an accommodation through a third party.
  • The employer becomes aware of the need for an accommodation by observation.
  • The employer becomes aware of the possible need for accommodation because the employee has a disability and has exhausted leave under the California Workers’ Compensation Act, the California Family Rights Act, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, but the employee’s health care provider indicates that further leave is necessary for the employee to perform the essential functions of his job. Employers who offer to engage in the interactive process when an employee has exhausted a leave of absence are not in violation of laws prohibiting inquiries into medical information.

To comply with FEHA, an employer may either:

  • Grant the employee or applicant’s requested accommodation, or
  • Reject the initial accommodation and initiate discussion regarding alternatives.

When the disability or need for accommodation is not obvious, the employer may require an employee requesting accommodation to provide reasonable medical documentation. Employers may consult an expert, such as a company physician, during the interactive process.

When needed to assess a requested accommodation, the employer shall analyze the essential functions of the employee’s job.

In consultation with the employee, the employer should identify potential accommodations for the employee, and consider the effectiveness of the accommodation to allow the employee to perform essential functions and, the employee’s preference in implementing an accommodation. A record of the interactive process should be maintained by the employer.

Download the Interactive Process Form

HR Advisory – I-9 audits

As many of you are aware, ICE enforcement has indicated they will be increasing their efforts, particularly in Northern California.

Effective January 1, 2018, The Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) provides California workers with protection from immigration enforcement while on the job.

Although I-9 compliance is just one piece of this discussion, Owen-Dunn would like to remind employers:

  • To maintain original I-9 forms for current employees and retain I-9 forms for former employees for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.
  • I-9 forms should be stored separately from other personnel files.
  • A “diary” system should be in place to re-verify all employees who present work authorization that bears an expiration date and to accurately dispose of old forms.
  • One recommended way of keeping I-9 documents separate is to use three separate notebook binders designated for:
    • Current employees for whom re-verification will not be necessary
    • Employees requiring re-verification
    • Terminated employees

Download I-9 Retention Worksheet

Download Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal I-9 Audits 

10 Common Employee Handbook Mistakes

Your employee handbook can be a critical tool to establish ground rules for your organization or a crack in your defense of an employment practice related claim. With the current political and litigious climate, a concise and compliant handbook with policies that employees can understand and managers can enforce is essential.

Avoid making common employee handbook mistakes and be proactive about compliance. If you haven’t done so in the past six months, consider reviewing and updating your employee handbook. You’ll thank us later.

Download Employee Handbook Checklist

HR Advisory – Termination for Violation of Attendance Policy

California’s mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law has made it challenging for employers to take disciplinary action with employees who have poor work attendance.

A recent court decision has boosted confidence in an employers’ ability to enforce good attendance policies that are administered fairly and in good faith.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at any time.