For COVID-19, as of January 2021, the EDD has paid out about $5.5 billion, the EDD is not sure how much of this was overpayments, and is about to begin the process of auditing these payouts. We have already heard the horror stories of how much has been paid out fraudulently, but this is probably very conservative, and many employees are about to find out that free money was not so free. If the EDD finds any errors in the way paperwork was completed the EDD will try to get the overpayments back including wage garnishments.
Currently in Ventura County about 52% of the population is fully vaccinated and the goal is to get to 70%. The problem is that the people who wanted the vaccine have received the vaccination. Now comes the hard part, to motivate the ones who have not to get the vaccine. We are receiving many questions about if an employer can require COVID-19 vaccinations. You can but at what expense? Based on the numbers are you prepared to terminate about half of your employees? You also must keep a person’s religious beliefs in mind when making these decisions. A more prudent approach might be to offer incentives such as an extra paid day off, $100 discretionary bonus, gift cards, etc., if you get the COVID-19 vaccination.
Some businesses have become accustomed to transitioning a part of their workforce to remote and some employees have become accustomed to remote working. For businesses who need their employees this is creating some friction in their workforce because some employees do not want to return to the office. This is a decision that each company will have to make, but there are many factors that need to be taken into account before this should be done. Such as Worker’s Compensation Insurance, productivity, time keeping to name a few.
Wage & Hour
Keeping accurate time records is a huge burden on businesses trying to manage a remote workforce. How do you keep accurate time records, records of breaks, records of meal periods?
This has nothing to do with COVID but boils down the issue of keeping accurate time records. We received a case study this week about an employer who had a 12-year employee who was the best employee until the employee quit.
Then the ex-employee filed a wage and hour violation for alleged unpaid overtime, missed meal periods and missed rest periods for 12 years. The employer did not have any timecards, no schedules, no way to support their claim that this employee never worked overtime and was allowed all their breaks and meal periods. The judgement against the employer was $250,000. $170.000 to the ex-employee and was facing more than $80,000 in attorney’s fees.
This is only the tip of the iceberg…the biggest liability the employer has now is every person that ever worked for them. The precedent has been set and now the door is open for any one of those people to file a similar claim.
This is why keeping accurate time records is so vitally important.
Reduction in Force
Despite unemployment being so high, it is difficult to find people who want to work at this time. There are jobs out there, but for whatever reason, children, afraid of COVID, I’m making too much on unemployment… people are just not applying for jobs. What this is doing is it is forcing employers to find ways to do more with less. You have all seen on job descriptions the sentence “Or any other duty as assigned”? Well, that is becoming a fact of just doing business right now. And it has made some employers aware that they can be more efficient with less people. So, we are expecting to see this repeating itself with more and more businesses unless people start looking for and applying for jobs.
The key to navigating these pitfalls is “Compliance”. Proper policies and procedures and a good handbook will provide you with the framework to defend yourself when an employee tries to take what you have worked so hard to grow, your business!
It’s not if it will ever happen to you, but when.
If you have any questions or would like to talk about any of these pitfalls, give us a call!
(805) 853-FIRM (3476)
If you have employees…You have issues!®