11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
California Department of Industrial Relations
The DIR has published the following materials regarding wage and hour laws in the state:
Employers can use this DIR model poster to satisfy their posting requirements.
On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court adopted a new test for classifying workers as independent contractors for purposes of the California wage orders. In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, the Supreme Court ruled that employers must use a three-part “ABC test” to establish whether a worker may be properly classified as an independent contractor for this purpose.
Whether a worker is covered by a particular law or is entitled to receive a particular benefit often depends on whether the worker is an employee or an independent contractor. In general, employment laws, labor laws and related tax laws do not apply to independent contractors.
For purposes of federal labor and employment laws, no standard test has emerged to determine the true character of an independent contractor relationship. In fact, employers may have to apply various tests to determine how issues of employment benefits, workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, wage and hour laws, taxes or protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) affect their workforces.
In addition, employers should be aware that state and local variations of these tests may apply in certain situations.
California Wage Orders
Several federal laws regulate wage and hour requirements. California law also imposes state wage and hour requirements. When federal and state laws are different, the law that is more favorable to the employee will apply.
The Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), part of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), established wage orders to enforce and administer California’s wage and hour requirements throughout the state. Because the IWC is no longer in operation, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) currently enforces the wage orders.
In total, there are 17 California wage orders, plus a minimum wage order, that California employers must comply with. Each wage order covers a separate industry and imposes requirements relating to minimum wages, work hours and basic working conditions (such as meal and rest periods) for California employees.
Overview of Dynamex v. Superior Court
In Dynamex v. Superior Court, the California Supreme Court was asked to determine what standard applies under California law for purposes of determining whether workers should be classified as employees or as independent contractors under the California wage orders. In this case, a group of delivery drivers sued their employer, Dynamex, arguing that the drivers had been misclassified as independent contractors, rather than employees. The delivery drivers claimed that, due to this misclassification, Dynamex violated Wage Order No. 9 (the applicable order governing the transportation industry), as well as various sections of the California Labor Code.
Prior to 2004, drivers working for Dynamex who performed similar pickup and delivery work as the current drivers were classified as employees. In 2004, however, Dynamex adopted a new policy and contractual arrangement under which all drivers are considered independent contractors, rather than employees. Dynamex argued that, in light of the current contractual arrangement, the drivers are properly classified as independent contractors.
The Supreme Court’s ruling—The “ABC Test”
Historically, courts have applied a multifactor balancing test in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. However, the California Supreme Court abandoned the traditional balancing test, and instead adopted a new three-part test that California employers must use when determining whether a worker can be classified as an independent contractor for purposes of the wage orders.
This three-part test is commonly referred to as the “ABC test” due to its three factors to consider. Under this test, a worker is properly considered an independent contractor to whom a wage order does not apply only if the employer establishes that all of the following are true:
- That the worker is free from the control and direction of the employer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;
- That the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the employer’s business; and
- That the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed for the employer.
This test generally favors a determination that workers are employees, rather than independent contractors. The ABC test presumes that all workers are employees and allows workers to be classified as independent contractors only if the employer demonstrates that the worker in question satisfies each of the three conditions.
Impact on Employers
Employers that employ independent contractors in California will want to ensure that their workers are properly classified under the new ABC test adopted by this ruling. As a result, these employers should review their employment relationships and contractual arrangements to evaluate the impact that this ruling may have on their business.
Employers in California should also keep in mind that this ruling applies for purposes of the California wage orders only. Other existing worker classification tests continue to apply for federal law purposes.
Contact Scurich Insurance for more information on wage and hour laws in California.
11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
Why is job safety and health important?
In 2013, 4,585 employees died from occupational incidents, and there were a staggering 3.0 million total recordable cases of workplace injury and illness. On average, each of these 3.0 million cases required eight days away from work, which means U.S. employers as a whole paid for millions of days of lost work time. Experts estimate that workplace injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses more than $125 billion annually. Effective job safety and health programs not only help reduce worker injuries and illnesses, they save employers money in the long run.
How does OSHA contribute to job safety and health?
The primary goal of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to carry out the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which Congress originally passed in 1970. The OSH Act has undergone several amendments and revisions since its inception, but it is still in place “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” OSHA contributes to job safety and health by enacting regulations that forward this ideal.
Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 1902-1990, houses all the OSHA standards, though OSHA also allows states to enact occupational safety and health laws of their own under federally-approved plans. State-run programs are at least as strict, and sometimes more so, than federal standards. This ensures a minimum standard of job safety and health that all employers must follow to protect employees.
Are all employees covered by the OSH Act?
The OSH Act covers all employees except public employees in state and local governments and those who are self-employed. Public employees in state and local governments are covered by their state’s OSHA-approved plan, if applicable.Federal employees are covered under the OSH Act’s federal employee occupational safety and health programs, which are outlined in 29 CFR Part 1960.
United States Postal Service employees, however, are subject to the same OSH Act coverage provisions as those in the private sector.Other federal agencies that have issued requirements affecting job safety or health include the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and some agencies of the Department of Transportation (DOT), including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Employees in these industries are subject to their respective regulations.Additionally, businesses in the retail, service, finance, insurance and real estate sectors that are classified as low-hazard are exempt from most OSHA requirements, as are small businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Exceptions are discussed in 29 CFR Part 1904, which also explains which OSHA regulations exempt employers are still required to follow.
What are your responsibilities as an employer?
If you are an employer covered by the OSH Act, you must provide your employees with jobs and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm. You must also comply with the OSHA statutory requirements, standards and regulations that require you to:
- Provide well-maintained tools and equipment, including appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Provide medical assistance and guidance for employees sustaining workplace injuries/illnesses
- Provide required OSHA training
- Report accidents that result in fatalities to OSHA within eight hours
- Report accidents that result in the hospitalization of three or more employees to OSHA within eight hours
- Keep records of work-related accidents, injuries, illnesses and their causes
- Post annual injury/illness summaries for the required period of time
What are your rights as an employer?
When working with OSHA, you may do the following:
- Request identification from OSHA compliance officers
- Request an inspection warrant
- Receive a reason for inspection from compliance officers
- Have an opening and closing conference with compliance officers
- Accompany compliance officers on inspections
- Request an informal conference after an inspection
- File a notice of contest to citations or proposed penalties
- Apply for a variance from a standard’s requirements under certain circumstances
- Be assured of the confidentiality of trade secrets
- Submit a written request to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for information on potentially toxic substances in your workplace
What are employees’ responsibilities?
All employees are obligated to help prevent exposure to workplace safety and health hazards by becoming familiar with and adhering to all applicable OSHA requirements.
What are employees’ rights?
With regards to OSHA regulations, employees have the right, among other actions, to:
- Review employer-provided OSHA standards, regulations and requirements
- Request information from the employer on emergency procedures
- Receive adequate, OSHA-required safety and health training on toxic substances and emergency action plan(s)
- Ask the OSHA area director to investigate hazardous conditions or violations of standards in the workplace
- Have his or her name withheld from the employer when filing a complaint with OSHA
- Know what actions OSHA took as a result of the employee’s complaint and have an informal review of any decision not to inspect or issue a citation
- Have an employee representative accompany the OSHA compliance officer on inspections
- Observe monitoring and measuring of toxic substances or harmful physical agents and review related records (including medical records)
- Review the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300 Form), if applicable, at a reasonable time
- Request a closing discussion following an inspection
- Object a citation’s set abatement period
- Seek safe and healthful working conditions without your employer retaliation
Why is OSHA important to your business?
OSHA plays a key role in making your facility a safe, healthy place to work. Beyond providing the tools and guidance to work toward an injury- and illness-free workplace, OSHA is important in identifying businesses that are not committed to safety. Employers that do not carefully follow OSHA regulations often face hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in fines.
How can you get more information on safety and health?
OSHA provides free publications, standards, technical assistance and compliance tools to help you understand the nuances of the regulations. OSHA’s website also offers extensive assistance by way of workplace consultation, voluntary protection programs, grants, strategic partnerships, state plans, training and education to guide you in your quest for workplace safety. To learn more about OSHA and the critical elements of a successful safety and health management system in your workplace, visit www.osha.gov.
This document is an introductory guideline. It does not address all potential compliance issues with OSHA standards. It is not meant to be exhaustive or construed as legal advice. Contact your licensed commercial property and casualty representative at Scurich Insurance or legal counsel to address applicable compliance requirements. © 2009-2012, 2015 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.
11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
On April 30, 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it will require all establishments affected by the electronic reporting rule to submit their 2017 data to OSHA by July 1, 2018.
This announcement clarifies the requirement for establishments in states with an OSHA-approved plan. These establishments must submit electronic reports, regardless of whether the state has ratified or incorporated the electronic reporting rule into its OSHA state plan.
Establishments in all states, including those with an OSHA-approved state plan, should prepare to submit electronic reports by July 1, 2018. Affected establishments can accomplish this by:
- Becoming familiar with the requirements in the electronic reporting rule; and
- Transitioning their OSHA records to an electronic format approved by the Injury Tracking Application (ITA).
OSHA Electronic Reporting
OSHA’s electronic reporting rule was issued in 2016. The rule requires establishments to report data from their injury and illness records to OSHA electronically if they:
- Are already required to create and maintain OSHA injury and illness records and have 250 or more employees;
- Have between 20 and 249 employees and belong to a high-risk industry; or
- Receive a specific request from OSHA to create, maintain and submit electronic records, even if they would otherwise be exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements.
The electronic reporting rule applies to establishments, not employers. An employer may have several worksites or establishments. In these situations, some establishments may be affected while others are not.
To determine whether an establishment is affected, employers must determine each establishment’s peak employment during the calendar year. During this determination, employers must count every individual that worked at that establishment, regardless of whether he or she worked full-time, part-time, or was a temporary or seasonal worker.
OSHA-approved State Plans
The final rule required OSHA-approved state plans to adopt the electronic rule or “substantially identical” requirements within six months of the final rule’s publication date.
This means that OSHA-approved state plans have the authority to adopt reporting requirements that go above and beyond what is required by the federal rule. For this reason, establishments located in OSHA-approved state plan jurisdictions should consult with their local OSHA offices to make sure they are satisfying all electronic reporting requirements.
The OSHA-approved state plans shown on this map have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically.
As a result, establishments in these states were not required to submit their 2016 data through the reporting website in 2017. However, OSHA has now clarified that they must submit their 2017 data in 2018.
12 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
You’ve probably heard a lot about opioids lately, and for good reason—the CDC estimates that more than 115 people die from opioid overdoses every day.
One of the biggest reasons for widespread misuse of these drugs is that they’re both effective at short-term pain management and highly addictive.
Luckily, to combat what some now call the “opioid epidemic,” researchers from the American College of Physicians (ACP) have published guidelines that promote alternative noninvasive and therapy-based pain treatments.
Although these guidelines recommend the use of opioids and other medications as a last resort, therapeutic treatments may help strengthen your body and help you heal naturally. However, you should always consult your physician for the best way to treat your pain.
Here are some common pain treatments based on the ACP’s guidelines:
- Use heat or ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Regulating how much blood flows into affected areas can be a simple and effective way to reduce pain.
- Avoid overexertion. Rest will allow any injured tissue and nerve roots to begin to heal. However, too much rest can cause your muscles to weaken.
- Exercise when possible. Although exercising to relieve pain may sound strange, even low-intensity activity like stretching or walking can help strengthen your muscles and relieve pain. Consult with a health care or fitness professional to customize a safe and effective exercise routine for any severe or chronic pain.
- Engage in relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation. Research has shown that the mental aspect of physical pain can cause it to be much more intense than it would be otherwise.
- Explore your options. Talk with your doctor about alternative pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. You could also discuss when to use or how to wean off strong narcotics. Opioids should only be considered as a last resort.
12 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
ad diets have been around for decades. New ones surface regularly while some older weight-loss solutions fall in and out of popularity.
Popularized by the promise of quick and dramatic weight-loss results, fad diets need to be fully researched before trying. Generally, diets or diet products can be considered a fad if they fit any of the following criteria:
Claiming to help you lose weight very quickly, more than 1-2 pounds per week.
Promising you will lose weight and keep it off without giving up fatty foods or starting an exercise program.
Basing their claims only on “before and after” photos.
Offering testimonies from clients or “experts” in weight loss, science or nutrition who are usually being paid to promote the diet plan.
Drawing simple solutions from complex medical research.
Limiting food choices and not encouraging you to get balanced nutrition by eating a variety of foods.
Requiring you to spend a lot of money on things such as seminars, pills or prepackaged meals in order for the plan to work.
Instead of turning to a fad diet to achieve weight-loss results, try implementing lasting lifestyle changes. Contact a health care professional to get started