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2 months ago · by · 0 comments

How To Stay Safe When You Use Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi allows your team to stay connected on the go. You have to be careful, though, because public Wi-Fi is notoriously unsecure. Cybercriminals could also log into the free network you use and access data on your devices, such as your login information or confidential client files. Exercise caution and stay safe in several ways as you use your laptop, tablet or smartphone on public Wi-Fi networks.

Verify the Network Name

Before logging in, research the network. Only log into Wi-Fi that originates from a legitimate source as you avoid a man-in-the-middle attack. For example, cybercriminals may name their network “Free Wi-Fi” or mimic the establishment’s name as a way to attract users. Ask the barista, librarian or other staff member to verify the name of their public Wi-Fi network before you log in.

Turn off File Sharing

Your team relies on file sharing, but this feature is lucrative for cybercriminals, too. That’s why you want to turn off file sharing when you use public Wi-Fi. This step protects your files and data you don’t want criminals to access.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts data as it travels between your device and the server. Research free and paid VPN options, then add one to your devices for protection when you need it on the go. 

Check for HTTPS

If you see a lock symbol and HTTPS in front of the website address in the status bar, you’re browsing a secure site. You can also use an HTTPS extension for extra protection.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

With two-factor authentication, you add an extra layer of protection to your online browsing. Even if cybercriminals gain access to your password, they probably cannot get into your account since they need to enter a unique authentication code also.

Update Software

Browser and software patches can improve security. Make it a habit to install these patches when you’re connected to a trusted network. Never update software when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.

Forget the Network

After your public Wi-Fi session ends, log off all the websites you were signed into and tell your device to forget the network. This step prevents cybercriminals from connecting to your device automatically the next time you’re in the network area. 

Limit your Activity

It’s tempting to think that cybercrime couldn’t happen to you or that you can afford to be careless because you have cybercrime and business liability insurance. However, always use caution. Save sensitive or confidential work for when you’re on a trusted network.

Your company may utilize public Wi-Fi often to stay connected and get work done. Encourage your employees to use caution and follow these steps as they stay safe.

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2 months ago · by · 0 comments

In the Wake of the Deadliest Flu Season in Recent History, CDC Urges Public to Take Action

Over 700,000 people were estimated to have been admitted to the hospital during the 2017-18 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network. What’s even more alarming is the fact that epidemic levels of influenza or pneumonia persisted for 16 consecutive weeks. Using the CDC’s new methodology, the 2017-18 flu season was the first flu season to be classified as high severity across all age groups.

Due to last year’s deadly consequences and prevalence, the CDC is urging everyone to take extra precautions for the upcoming flu season, including getting vaccinated against the flu by the end of October.

When is flu season?

Flu season typically runs from October to May. However, most flu cases occur between December and February. The vast majority of those who were hospitalized for the seasonal influenza last season weren’t vaccinated. That’s why the CDC is strongly recommending that you get vaccinated as early as possible.

What vaccinations are available?

Each year, the Food and Drug Administration works with the World Health Organization to create a vaccination that contains three or four different strains of the flu. Most of the shots available this year provide protection against four different flu strains. For the 2018-19 season, the nasal vaccination, FluMist, will be available again after not being recommended for use for the previous two flu seasons.

Who should get vaccinated?

The CDC recommends that everyone older than 6 months should get the flu vaccine.

Where can you get vaccinated?

You can get vaccinated against the flu at your doctor’s office, in a clinic or pharmacy, and sometimes, at your employer. Some urgent care clinics or local health departments will provide flu vaccines as well. Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate where you can get a flu vaccine.

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2 months ago · by · 0 comments

The Dangers of Job Site Cellphone Use

According to a recent study, the average person checks their cellphone 100 times a day. While there is a time and a place for cellphones, using it at the job site can be extremely dangerous.

If you’re distracted for just a second while operating a power tool, working on a roof or driving a forklift, you can injure yourself or a co-worker. You can also face civil or criminal liability for damages you cause by operating a motorized vehicle while using a cellphone.

It isn’t only operators of machinery who need to be mindful of the dangers of cellphone use on the job site. Simply looking down at your cellphone and not paying attention to your surroundings could put your life in danger.

Cellphone Safety Tips When On-site

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prohibits cellphone use by operators of cranes and similar equipment. Most organizations prohibit any kind of cellphone use on the job site—not just for crane operators. It is your responsibility to know how your company’s rules apply to you and follow them accordingly.

If you struggle with the temptation to check your phone while working on a job site, consider the following safety tips:

  • Get in the habit of sending and receiving text messages before or after your shift, or during one of your breaks.
  • Remind family and friends that you may not be able to respond to their messages right away. Provide them with your workplace contact information in case of emergencies.
  • Turn off push notifications so you’re not distracted by any apps.
  • Don’t carry your cellphone on you if the temptation to check it is too much. Instead, leave it in a safe place where it won’t distract you from your job.
  • Follow your workplace policy for cellphone use at work and on the job site. Be aware of any cellphone-free zones.

Besides creating enormous safety risks, employees who are texting at work are not doing what they are getting paid to do. For this reason, these workers may be subject to disciplinary action.

If you have questions about ’s workplace cellphone policy, or if you notice inappropriate cellphone use on the job site, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your supervisor or HR.

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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

3 Tips for Hiring Farm Labor

With some farmers struggling to find reliable farm labor, it is important to invest some thought in the hiring process. Here are some tips for finding the right help:

Examine your needs. You might have a general idea in your head of what work needs to be done, but it’s best to be specific. Narrow down broad processes into specific jobs so you can determine how much help you truly need.

Think about desired traits. Do you need someone to fill a temporary need, or are you hoping that person can go on to fill a managerial role? You’ll have to determine whether people skills are more important than manual labor or machinery skills, and list those traits in your job description.

Consider hiring for a trial period. If you’re hesitant about a candidate but need immediate help, consider hiring them for a short-term trial period. This saves you from high employee turnover while buying you time to recognize your needs. It allows both you and the worker to communicate any frustrations and expectations after the trial period before considering whether the working relationship is worth investing in long term.

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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

Low-wage Labor Workplace Violations

An extensive survey of more than 4,000 low-wage workers in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) reached these conclusions:

  • More than one in four workers surveyed (26%) were paid less than minimum wage.
  • Among these workers, 16% were underpaid by more than one dollar per hour.
  • More than three in four (76%) workers who worked overtime were not paid for their time. The average worker had put in 11 hours that were either underpaid or not paid at all.
  • Women and foreign-born workers were victimized more than anyone else.
  • The average wage theft was 15% of earnings.

Additional violation categories included:

  • Off-the-clock
  • Meal breaks
  • Pay stubs
  • Illegal deductions
  • Tips
  • Illegal employer retaliation
  • Workers Compensation violations

It is hard to balance this economic suffering with the fact some executives are making tens of millions of dollars during a failing economy. You don’t have to be of any political persuasion to realize that something’s out of whack. Not only do these employers deprive good people of a fair day’s pay, they’re also at war with companies who strive to grow their business the right way; perhaps even going above the call and actually empowering their workers rather than oppressing them. If we can fight overseas to assure basic human rights, we should be able to do the same here.

For more information on the survey, click here.

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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

DOL Updates Model FMLA Forms

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released updated model forms to help employers administer employee leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The DOL’s model FMLA forms contain an expiration date in the upper right corner. The expiration date relates to a regulatory approval process; it does not relate to the forms’ actual content. Every three years, the DOL must submit its model FMLA forms to the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval for continued use.

The DOL’s model FMLA forms expired earlier this year, on May 31, 2018. The DOL extended the forms’ expiration date on a month-to-month basis while it waited for the OMB approval’s to release updated forms. After receiving the OMB’s approval, the DOL released the updated model forms, which contain a new expiration date—Aug. 31, 2021

Employers that use the model FMLA forms should start using the DOL’s updated models as soon as possible. Although no substantive changes were made to the updated FMLA forms, they contain a new expiration date. The updated model FMLA forms are available on the DOL’s FMLA webpage.  

Model FMLA Forms

The FMLA gives an eligible employee the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave in certain situations, including the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child, his or her own or a family member’s serious health condition, and a family member’s military service.

To administer FMLA leaves, employers must provide certain notices to employees, such as a notice designating whether a requested leave will qualify as FMLA leave. Employers may also require that employees provide certifications to substantiate their eligibility for certain types of FMLA leave.

The DOL has provided model notices and certifications to help employers administer FMLA leaves. The DOL’s model FMLA forms are optional; employers may decide to customize the DOL’s model forms or create their own FMLA forms. The model FMLA forms are available on the DOL’s FMLA webpage.

The DOL’s model FMLA forms include:

  • A notice of FMLA eligibility and rights and responsibilities (Form WH-381);
  • An FMLA designation notice (Form WH-382);
  • A health care provider’s certification form for an employee’s serious health condition (WH-380-E);
  • A health care provider’s certification form for a family member’s serious health condition (WH-380-F);
  • A certification of qualifying exigency for military family leave (WH-384);
  • A certification for serious injury or illness of a covered service member (WH-385); and
  • A certification for serious injury or illness of a veteran for military caregiver leave (WH-385-V).

 

Updated Model Forms Released 

The DOL recently released new model FMLA forms that have an expiration date of Aug. 31, 2021. This expiration date is not associated with the FMLA’s requirements or the content of the model forms. Rather, it is associated with a regulatory approval process that requires the DOL to submit its model FMLA forms to the OMB for approval for continued use every three years.

The prior model FMLA forms had an expiration date of May 31, 2018, in the upper right corner. In April 2018, the DOL requested that the OMB reauthorize the model FMLA forms for another three-year period, until 2021, without proposing any substantive changes to the forms. The DOL released its updated model FMLA forms after the OMB approved this request.

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

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783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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(831) 661-5697

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