- By: Ruth Evans, Owner of Evans HR – Boardmember of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce
Health Insurance Benefits
Eligibility Periods: If you provide your employees with a fully-insured health insurance plan – you may need to change your eligibility period. Effective January 1, 2014, the eligibility period for California employers cannot exceed 60 days. This means that employees will be eligible for benefits the first of the month following 30 days of employment.
ACA Exchange Notice: By October 1, 2013, all employers covered by the FLSA were required to provide current employees with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchange Notice. Also effective October 1, 2013, each new hire must receive the notice within 14 days of the employee’s start date. The Department of Labor has two model notices available for your use – one for employers who do not offer a health plan and one for employers that offer a health plan for some or all employees.
Employee Access to Personnel Records
Effective this past January, Governor Brown signed into law new requirements specifying when and how employers must respond to their employees’ requests for inspection and copying of their personnel files. AB 2674 imposed the following changes to the Labor Code:
- Form: Employees must submit their request in writing, and employers must provide a form for this purpose.
- Representative: The request can be made by an employee’s “authorized” representative.
- Respond within 30 days: Employers must provide a copy of the requested personnel records or make them available for inspection within 30 calendar days.
- Maintain Copies for Three Years: Employers must provide a copy of the requested personnel records or make them available for inspection within 30 calendar days.
- Location: Inspection or copies must be provided at the place where the employee reports to work or at an agreed location, but there can be no loss of wages to the employee who must go to a different location.
- Former Employees: Inspection or copies must be provided to a former employee at the location where the employer stores the records unless they agree to a different location. Former employees may be mailed the records if they agree to reimburse the employer for actual postal expenses.
- Penalty: An employer’s failure to comply with the personnel records law can result in a $750 penalty, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees.
When disciplining employees for excessive absenteeism – use caution. Protected leaves cannot be included. Those include but are not limited to:
- School Activities Leave: When a parent or guardian of a child in grades K-12 or a child attending a licensed daycare facility takes time off for school activities. Employees who work for a company with 25 or more employees are eligible for 8 (unpaid) hours a month for this purpose. Time off for this purpose can include attendance at a school party, to help in the classroom, attend a school play or school-sponsored sports program.
- School Suspension Leave: A parent or guardian has to appear at the school in connection with his/her child’s suspension or to attend class when his student returns to school after a suspension.
- Kin Care: If you provide paid sick leave, employees are allowed to use one half of their accrued sick leave for “kin care” purposes including to take care of their a) sick child, b) a parent, c) a spouse, d) a registered domestic partner, and e) the child of a registered domestic partner.