Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Law Now in Effect

Over the past many months, Seattle businesses have been preparing for the secure scheduling law to go into effect. Now that July 1, 2017 has come and gone are all businesses prepared for the changes?

To recap, here are the highlights of the law:

  • Businesses Affected
    • Food service and retail establishments businesses with more than 500 employees worldwide
    • Full service restaurants with more than 500 employees as well as 40 plus locations worldwide
  • Employee
    • Work at a fixed location within the city at least 50% of the time
  • Employers
    • When someone is hired, an employer must let the employee know the number of hours they will be working, whether there will be on-call shift work (good faith estimate)
    • Must provide a schedule 14 days in advance of the work date.
    • If a change occurs within the 14 day period, the employee has the right to decline the change and if they work, is entitled to premium pay

There are many other details that should be reviewed. In addition there are resources available from the city as well as the Washington Hospitality Association which has created an Employer Toolkit providing a summary as well as details on the new law.

Although the law is now in effect, there still is time to get onside if you are not read. In fact, the city sees the next six months as a “soft launch” period during which if a complaint is raised, compliance to the law will be done by education rather than levying penalties.

Technology can be used to help support businesses comply with the. One particular problem that scheduling software can help solve is the need to provide schedules 14 days in advance. Many employers are still using spreadsheets to try and manage their staff and schedules which lead to delays in letting employees know of their shifts as well as increasing the chance of errors.

Celayix recently released a whitepaper which highlighted the advantages and disadvantages with using spreadsheets to manage schedules. In addition to automating the creation of the schedule, software can also be used to manage staff when they call-off or quit. You can quickly see who is working and who is available to fill the open shifts.

In addition to providing shifts 14 days in advance, keeping track of the amount of time worked is also important under the new rule. For example, if employees work longer than their stated shift, you will need to pay them at the prescribed pay rate. This means that tracking actual check-out times to ensure staff are paid correctly is very important. An additional layer of automation that can be added on is letting your staff pick the shifts themselves. This empowers them to manage their own schedules.

Technology can also help your business support exceptions to the law and therefore avoid having to make premium shift payments. If a shift becomes available after you have published your 14-day advance schedule, you can make it available by sending out a mass electronic communication indicating the details, or ask for a volunteer in-person.

Any new law takes time to understand and to become compliant with it. Why not consider automating as much of the process as possible by using a scheduling and time & attendance solution?


JANUARY 17, 2017

New California Break Policy

New California Break Policy

As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that you are up to date on federal and state labor laws. Rest break laws are currently in the news following a California Supreme Court ruling prohibiting on-duty and on-call rest breaks for employees. What this means is that employees must be given the opportunity to take an uninterrupted break from their job duties. Although this ruling was against a security guard company, every employer will be affected as they need to ensure that employees are:

  • Relieved of all work duties and responsibilities
  • Provided the opportunity to take an uninterrupted break
  • Not discouraged from taking their break

The amount of time given for breaks and whether or not it is paid will depend on the length of the scheduled shift.

Impact

The main impact for California employers is that they will need to be extra careful when scheduling breaks to ensure adequate coverage is maintained for the sites where employees are located. This may require additional expense as other employees may be needed to relieve employees that are working. This will be especially challenging for companies where there may be only one employee on site or not enough employees to provide an adequate rest break.

Options

Now that this ruling has been made by the California Supreme Court, employers will need to consider what options they have. Below is a list and explanation of some of the options that an employer may consider.

  • Ensure that your employees that are scheduled are taking their breaks. This is easier to do when there are multiple employees working at a site. Your supervisor should ensure that each employee gets their rest breaks while ensuring that the site is adequately staffed.
  • Ensure your employees are aware that they need to be taking their breaks and the importance of taking them. This can be initially done when they are hired and followed up with continual checks on whether they are taking them.
  • Include breaks scheduled into employee shifts when you are building out their schedule. This can be done manually when you build a schedule, however it will be much easier if you have software that will create the schedule and insert the required breaks.
  • At the time the employees check out, ask your employees to confirm they took their breaks. This will provide you with a record that employees are taking their breaks. For the ones that do not confirm, you can introduce a process to retrain them on the importance of a break.
  • Verify that employees are taking their breaks. If you have a scheduling and time & attendance system, make sure you run regular reports to ensure that employees are taking their breaks. You will need to come up with a process do deal with cases where employees are not. If a break is missed infrequently, you could choose to pay it out and then follow-up with training. However, if it continues to happen, you will need to decide on what actions you will take and whether or not employees will be disciplined or not scheduled as often as others.
  • Schedule in a mobile or relief employee. This employee can be mobile who will travel between your different sites/locations giving employees a break. It could also be someone who is designated at one of your larger sites with the responsibility for relieving employees ensuring that there is no downtime. The key here is to ensure that the employee is given a schedule that includes adequate travel time between locations. Again, as with any of the other scheduling options provided, this is much easier with automated software which can generate the shift based on the rules that you require.

Preparation

This ruling will have far reaching effects as employers who were providing on-duty breaks will now need to change existing processes. Fortunately, there are many options available to help you comply with this ruling. The first thing you will need to do is an assessment of your current processes. Once you understand your existing process, decide on what changes you need to make.


DECEMBER 30, 2016

The End of On Call Shifts?

Recently in the news, you may have seen an uproar against on call shifts. On call employees endure the burden of uncertain work schedules and have to keep their days open for the possibility of work.

A coalition of state attorney generals has been pushing to abolish on call scheduling. Recently, Aeropostale, Carter’s, David’s Tea, Disney, PacSun and Zumiez have all agreed to end the practice and four of the companies (Carter’s, David’s Tea, Disney and Zumiez) have agreed to set schedules at least one week in advance.

New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, praised the retailers for their effort in improving the work-life balance of their employees.

“On-call shifts are not a business necessity and should be a thing of the past,” he said. “People should not have to keep the day open, arrange for child care, and give up other opportunities without being compensated for their time.”

According to a 2015 Economic Policy Institute Report, roughly 17% of workers in America have uncertain schedules, and many of these works are employed in low earning fields such as retail.


December 7, 2015

Evention and Celayix Software Integration Deployed at MGM Grand Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay

By leveraging the integration of Evention Tips & Gratuities and Celayix Scheduling, two MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) properties in Las Vegas aim to streamline payroll processes and enhance their payroll technology. Linking the schedules in Celayix to the automated service charge distributions in Evention not only provides improved payroll accountability, but also simplifies the management process. By removing the previously required manual data entry, this direct integration is intended to save management time and resources every day. Evention and Celayix proudly piloted the integration at MGM Grand Las Vegas, followed by a roll-out to Mandalay Bay.

“Through this integration, Evention and Celayix are able to provide MGM Grand Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay, some of the world’s largest hotels and casinos, with a complete flow from the moment an employee is scheduled, to the point at which the employee receives his or her paycheck,” Erik Nejman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Evention states. “Celayix provides an incredible workforce management solution, and it made perfect sense to create direct integration, resulting in even more value for these hotels.”

This past June, Evention and Celayix Software announced their collaboration to provide seamless integration of scheduling, time and attendance, and gratuity payroll. The partnership cohesively integrates scheduling to payroll, eliminates the reentry of data, and greatly increases payroll accuracy. The result is more precise gratuity payroll in less time based on optimized scheduling.

“For Celayix, integrating Evention’s hospitality expertise and gratuity software solution into our product enables a complete schedule-to-payroll solution that has not been available within the industry,” said Richard Metcalf, Vice President of Partner and OEM Sales at Celayix. “For the hospitality clients, gratuity and tip payroll is a vital component of workforce management, and Evention brings this capability to our solution.”

This integration built between Evention and Celayix demonstrates how the two companies truly collaborate with their customers to continuously increase value and streamline processes.


JULY 25, 2014

How to Comply with New Home Care Worker Legislation

With last year’s decision to overturn a decades old exemption that excluded home care workers from many of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s laws, it is now time to start seriously considering your compliance with the new legislation. As of January 1, 2015, all home care workers, regardless of their duties, are entitled to minimum wage and overtime under the FLSA. As an employer, you are also required to keep basic record keeping for these workers as outlined by the government. Failure to do so can result in arbitration from both employees and from the government. Here are three steps to ensure you comply with new home care worker legislation.

Implement New Wages
Obviously, the first step to this process is adopting the federal minimum wage of $7.25. In many states that have their own minimum wage laws, if the worker is protected by both state and federal minimum wage laws, the worker is entitled to the higher minimum wage. Check your state’s minimum wage law here.

Start Record Keeping
In order to comply with new home care worker legislation, you must keep basic records for worker. The FLSA requires no particular form for the records, but does require accurate data about the employee and the hours that they work. This information includes but is not limited to:

Employee’s full name and social security number.
Hours worked each day and the total for the week.
The rate of pay for which they are paid.
Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
Total wages paid each pay period.
Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.
With employee hours changing often weekly, it will become increasingly difficult to monitor hours worked as well as the HR and payroll information mentioned above manually. Look for a system that keeps track of very basic employee data such as their address and SSN, but has advanced time tracking and scheduling capabilities.

Prevent Overtime
On the same note as record keeping, you must also monitor and pay overtime for in order to comply with new home care worker legislation. Home care workers now covered under federal overtime pay protections must be paid for time and a half after they work 40 hours in a workweek. However, rather than pay out employees for their excess time, a better approach is to limit overtime in the first place. Planning tools available in scheduling programs allow you to schedule only home care workers that will not cause overtime. A good scheduling program will also have advanced replacement tools that will only replace sick employees with workers that have enough hours left in the week.


MARCH 25, 2014

The White Collar Exemption

This week the Obama administration announced plans to change what is often referred to as the “white collar exemption”. This regulation falls under the Federal Labor Standards Act and mandates that white-collar workers, or workers who work administrative or managerial jobs, are exempt from receiving overtime pay if they make more than $455 a week. This works out to roughly $23,000 a year.

The last time the threshold was changed was in 2004 under George W Bush. If the threshold is increased it would largely impact restaurants and retail organizations. These types of companies often classify employees as assistant managers, and require them to work over 40 hours a week, even when their jobs require little administrative work.

A salaried employee who works 20 hours of overtime a week makes less than the national minimum wage.

What will the New Threshold be?

The Obama Administration will not announce what the new threshold is until formal regulations are proposed and finalized. However, the Economic Policy Group in Washington has recommended that it be raised to $50,000 a year, or about $961 a week. There is no word on whether Obama supports this level of change, but to provide perspective, California has a higher threshold of $640 per week and was set to boost that to $800 per week in 2016.

What is Means for Employees

According to the Economic Policy Group, raising the threshold would mean a lot. “It changes your quality of life when you know you can’t be required to work an extra 20 hours a week without being paid for it,” according to the group’s president. However, some economists have stated that the new regulation will mean little to workers if their employers do not actually comply with the new rule, which has been a problem in the past.

What it Means for Employers

Many business groups have likened the proposed new overtime regulations to efforts to raise the minimum wage. They have called it anti-business and that it would have a job killing effect.

There are two other theories that hypothesize what the new overtime regulations would do for businesses and the economy. One is that employers will hire more people at straight pay and not utilize overtime hours, and the other is that they will reduce base pay to compensate for being forced to pay overtime. However, the threshold will not be raised until an official review occurs, which would likely take at least a year.

We won’t know exactly how it will impact the American workforce until it is implemented, therefore workers and their employers should listen for changes and start formulating plans now.


NOVEMBER 26, 2013

Off Duty vs. On Duty Meal Breaks in California

Most employers in California know that they must provide meal breaks to employees who work 5 hours or more. However, there are many nuances in Meal Break legislation that make interpreting the law less than black and white.

Off Duty Meal Breaks

Off duty meal breaks are the standard type of break offered to employees who work 5 hours or more.

According to the Brinker Case, these breaks should:

  • Be uninterrupted,
  • Occur for no less than 30 minutes,
  • Allow the employee to leave the premises,
  • Relieve the employee of all duty. This means the employee should be able to take a nap during their meal period.

According to the California Brinker case, “an employer’s obligation is to relieve its employee of all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty to use the meal period for whatever purpose he or she desires.”

If no records show that a meal break was taken, the courts can assume that no meal break was provided and that the employer is liable.

On Duty Meal Breaks

However, if your business model does not allow for employees to take off duty meal breaks, an on duty meal break can be used. Some examples of this would be a sole worker in a coffee kiosk, a worker in an all-night convenience store alone, and a security guard alone at a remote site.

On duty meal breaks considerations:

  • Should not be deemed as evidence of the employee “waiving” their right to a meal break – it is an agreement to take a meal on duty.
  • Employees who take on duty meal breaks should be paid for their time.
  • Should be permitted only when the nature of work prevents the employee from being relieved of all duty. Furthermore, the employer has the burden to establish the facts that would justify an on-duty meal period.
  • Rules change further for shifts longer than 10 hours.

For more information on this topic, please watch Managing and Understanding Meal Breaks in California.


SEPTEMBER 18, 2013

Obamacare will begin to take full effect Oct. 1, when the law’s health insurance exchanges are scheduled to open.

Most small businesses—those with 50 or fewer full-time employees—are not required to offer health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and larger businesses with more than 50 full-time employees have been given some reprieve with the one-year delay of the employer mandate.

However, all small businesses, regardless of size, are required to notify their employees about the health insurance exchanges and their options for coverage.

Employers must distribute a Notice of Exchange Coverage Options document to all employees by Oct. 1. Businesses that don’t provide this notice could be subject to penalties. Employees hired after the Oct. 1 deadline must be given the notice within 14 days.

Any business regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which applies to firms with at least one employee, must fulfill the notification requirement.

Information about the notification requirement has been posted on the Labor Department’s Web site, where the notification forms can be downloaded. There are separate forms for employers who provide insurance and employers who don’t.


August 8, 2013

West Virginia Title XIX Waiver Program: What Providers Need to Know

The Medicate Title XIX Home and Community Based Services Mental Retardation/Development Disabilities program, also known as West Virginia Title XIX Waiver Program, has gone through recent changes to ensure greater accuracy and satisfaction in healthcare services. The State and Federal funded program provides compensated healthcare to individuals with mental or developmental disabilities in their homes and communities. The applicable individuals are given a specified amount of funding for healthcare services. Once completed, Medicaid pays the agency or provider directly for services.

The West Virginia Title XIX Waiver Program provides compensation for a variety of services including:

  • Service coordination
  • Nursing
  • Pre-Vocational Training
  • Therapeutic consult services
  • Residential habilitation
  • Transportation
  • Respite care
  • Adult companionship

Recently, monitoring compliance with qualifications has become a priority. With the changes, healthcare centers and other providers will face large penalties for failing to have employees with correct and up to date certifications and training. Organizations can be forced to pay up to 100% of services if employees do not have appropriate qualifications.

To be qualified all Support Workers must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • The ability to perform the participant-specific required tasks
  • Documentation of initial and renewals of training requirements, such as:
    • First Aid
    • Emergency procedures such as crisis intervention
    • Emergency care such as a crisis plan
    • Infectious disease control

Failure to maintain all required documentation could result in large payments for your business. When the above qualifications for the West Virginia Title XIX Waiver Program are not met, the Bureau of Medical Services can opt out of reimbursing all services. This could mean thousands of lost revenue monthly.

To ensure this does not happen to your organization, keep employees information up to date and only schedule qualified employees.


August 6, 2013

Apple retail employees are suing their employer due to unpaid time waiting for security checks.

As one of the highest valued and frequently reported on companies in the world, the fact that Apple has time and attendance problems comes as a surprise.

Former Apple retail employees have filed a class action suit against the company, citing that they were forced to wait in line for 30 minutes a shift for their bags to be searched for stolen goods. Because they were not paid for this extra time at the store, it amounts to $1,500 a year in unpaid wages. It also means that Apple has potentially violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and as well as various state laws.

Many companies have implemented policies against employee theft. At Apple, where the merchandise is often worth thousands, it is understandable that the company may have wanted to check their employees’ bags. In fact, many Apple retail stores have had problems with employee theft and even making a game of destroying merchandise. However, as the time staff spent waiting amounts to off the clock work, Apple was setting itself up for liabilities.

Instead, the company should have had its retail workers clock-out after their bags had been searched, and paid their employees for the wait time.

An advanced scheduling and time & attendance system can report discrepancies between time scheduled and time worked. If Apple had implemented such a solution, they would have easily been able to see that employees were working past their scheduled shift times waiting to have their bags searched.

With a stock price of $460 and a market value of $400 billion, they can certainly afford it.