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New Year, New Company Policies

As companies grow and evolve over time, it soon becomes clear that they will outgrow their employee and operations policies–that is, if they even had any in the first place! The best time for a CEO, COO, CFO, and Human Resources Department is to reassess these policies is at the end of the year, and to roll out new policies at the start of a new year. Every January, there are changes that will take place anyway (such as updated IRS mileage reimbursement rates and local minimum wage rates), so it’s a good time to include policy updates when you provide this information to employees all at once. There are numerous policies you can begin revising now to issue to your staff in January. Read further to begin your end of year action plan:

1. Employee Handbook

The first item that should be addressed is the company Employee Handbook. If your company does not have one, or has not updated an existing one in more than a year, it’s time to speak with an attorney about creating or updating your Handbook. In fact, for companies that have more than 5 employees, a Handbook is a no-brainer because it will have clauses in it that you are required to provide to employees (for example, Pregnancy Disability Leave is available for employees at companies with 5 or more employees, and the Employee Handbook is the best place to provide this information to employees). Besides using the Handbook as the opportunity to explain all of the California mandatory leave-laws, paid sick leave time, and cell phone reimbursement policy, you can use this as a forum to explain the company’s social media, use of technology, dress code, tardiness, absentee, and drug/alcohol use policies. You can also outline which behaviors will result in discipline or termination.

2. Other Company Policies

Other policies that you may want to have employees review and sign are the following:

  1. Anti-Harassment and Corrective Action Policy

  2. Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement

  3. Arbitration Agreement

  4. Stock Options Plan

  5. Employment Agreements

We recommend that you hold an paid employee meeting (with lunch provided) to discuss the new policies and provide the employees with an opportunity to ask you any questions. After all, it does you no good if the employee signs the document without reading it and throws it in the trunk of their car for months. You want the employees to actually understand the new policies so that they are more likely to follow them.

3. Sexual Harassment Training

The beginning of the year is also a good time to schedule your sexual harassment training. SB1343, signed by Governor Brown in September 2018, now requires an employer who employs 5 or more employees, including temporary or seasonal employees, to provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and once every 2 years thereafter, as specified. Supervisors must receive training within 6 months of hire or promotion to a supervisory position. The training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation, and may be completed in shorter segments, as long as the applicable hourly total requirement is met.

4. Updated Posters

Employers are required to post certain federal, state, and local ordinances in a conspicuous place where employees can see them, such as a break room or common area. Often, it’s most convenient to buy on laminated poster that includes all the relevant items (be sure to include the local minimum wage and paid sick leave posters, which can be found online on official city websites for free). You can purchase posters online, at office supply stores, or from payroll companies (sometimes payroll companies provide these posters to their customers for free). Ask what the company’s policy is for sending you updates if any laws change during the calendar year.

5. Updated Minimum Wage Rates

As of January 1, 2018, the California minimum wage is $11.00 for employers with 26 or more employees, and $10.50 for employers with 25 or fewer employees. This will increase to $12.00/ $11.00 respectively on January 1, 2019.

In addition, some cities and counties have their own minimum wage ordinances that go into effect on January or July each year. The following California cities have their own minimum wage rates that will change effective January 1, 2019: Cupertino, Los Altos, Mountain View, Oakland, Palo Alto, Richmond, San Diego, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale.

For assistance with updating your policies, Employee Handbooks, and posting requirements, consult a qualified California employment law attorney.

About The Grady Firm, P.C.

JGrady Firm-Logo-2016

The Grady Firm works with dynamic employers and employees across the country to prepare successful employment-based visa and Green Card applications. In addition, we help individuals, families, employees, business owners, and investors obtain non-immigrant and immigrant visas (B-1/B2, H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, E-2, E-3), as well and Green Cards and citizenship based on family relationships, investment, or employment.

This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.


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