Sunday, November 26, 2006

IRS Announces 2007 Mileage Reimbursement Rate

The new IRS mileage reimbursement rate for 2007 will be $0.485 per mile for business, $0.20 for moving or medical purposes, and $0.14 for charitable purposes. The IRS bulletin announcing these changes is here.

California employers must reimburse employees for expenses they incur. The state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement accepts the IRS rate as adequate compensation for employees' use of personal automobiles. Therefore, employers should adjust the reimbursement rate effective January 1, 2007.


Final AB 1825 Sexual Harassment Training Regulations

The California Fair Employment and Housing Commission issued its final AB 1825 regulations. They can be accessed here. They will now be reviewed by the Office of Administrative Law. If they are approved, the will be submitted to the Secretary of State and become effective 30 days later. The FEHC estimates they will be effective around February 1, 2007. The final regulations are essentially the same as the last version submitted for comments in October.
Most employers that completed their initial training in 2005 will be training supervisors again in 2007. So, employers should ensure their training programs comply with the new regulations.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Get ready for more posts in 2007....

We haven't been posting a lot lately. We're saving our strength.

After years of no major federal employment laws (save last year's Pension Protection Act), Congress is changing hands. And here come the unions, trial lawyers, and politicians with some fresh ideas for employers. Here is an AP article on the subject.

Of course, having carefully studied civics as a child, I know it will take a lot of work to pass even one employee-friendly bill. (I also know that conjunctions' function is to hook up words and phrases and clauses.)

But I think even a divided Congress can pass some new employment mandates, assuming the President is willing to horse-trade a judicial appointment or a military appropriation or two.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

SF Passes Paid Sick Leave Requirement

The SF electorate passed an initiative requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Although many employers provide paid time off, the measure applies to all employers (no matter how few employees), and it includes some provisions that could affect even large employers' sick time policies. Here are some highlights:

- "Small employers" of under 10 employees (counted as any 10 employees who perform any work in a week, must provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave; larger employers must provide at least 72 hours. Employers are invited but not required to be more generous.

- Sick leave begins accruing after 90 days of employment. An employee accrues one hour for each 30 hours' worked. The sick leave accrues until it reaches a cap of 40 hours for small businesses or 72 hours for large businesses.

- Employers that provide more PTO or sick leave than stated above under existing policies are deemed in compliance. However, employers will have to adjust policies to comply with the uses of sick leave, attendance policies, and the like.

- Sick leave may be used either for the employee's own illness, OR for the illness of a covered person: "child; parent; legal guardian or ward; sibling; grandparent; grandchild; and spouse, registered domestic partner under any state or local law, or designated person." Employees without covered relations may designate one "designated person" for whom the employee may take paid sick leave to care for.

- The sick leave appears to be available for use for absences of less than one day, including medical appointments.

- Sick leave accrues and "carries over" year to year if not used, but need not be paid out at termination. The accrual stops at the caps above (40 hours for smaller and 72 hours for larger employers).

- Employees must provide "reasonable advance notice" of the need for leave, presumably on occasions when it is used to care for others or for medical treatment. Employers may take "reasonable measures" to verify or document time off.

- Employers must maintain records for four years and make them available to the city for inspection.

- Time taken under this provision may not be counted as an attendance violation under company policy.

- Any adverse action taken within 90 days of an employee's engaging in any of a number of "protected activities" relating to this leave benefit (including filing a complaint or even telling other employees about the availability of paid sick leave) creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation.

- There is a provision for private civil enforcement, including penalties of up to 3 times the sick pay denied for violations or $250, whichever is greater, liquidated damages of $50, interest, costs and attorneys fees. Class actions are authorized only for equitable relief, costs, and attorneys' fees. And....

- Yes, there will be a new poster required to be posted.

Employers that do business in San Francisco must address the many administrative and payroll issues attendant to this law asap. It goes into effect 90 days from November 7, or about February 5.