The pandemic has brought on many changes in the workplace. So, it is a good time to revisit wage and hour policies during these uncertain times.
Running a business can be tough, especially during these tough times. However, a business owner needs to always be in the know and keep up with new policies. They also need to adapt and make any changes needed to keep up with the new circumstances. Remember, always look to better your business and keep the best interest of your employees in mind.
Since telecommuting has become more popular, more employees working from home means policies need to be updated. These policies need to describe these changes and set new telecommute policies and boundaries in place.
Keeping Track of Time Worked
Even though employees are working at home, punch clocks and other protocols need to be enforced. It can be difficult to manage hours worked, any overtime worked, and any breaks taken. Luckily, you can easily amend these policies to better fit the current telecommunication circumstances.
How can you achieve this? By setting schedules, using timekeeping management, and establishing clear work hours. The key is to be consistent with these new policies and communicating them to your employees.
Make sure to set clear expectations of responsiveness and availability to avoid any conflicts. Changes may need to be made as things continue, but you can still roll with the punches for an efficient workday.
Help Employees Avoid Distractions
It may seem strict, but setting schedules and making sure that work is actually done on the clock and not off the clock, might be needed for some employees.
Employees face many additional distractions when working from home. This can make it difficult for them to manage their time. Help them eliminate distractions and stay on track by sticking to a strict schedule.
To help keep track of things even more, always require approval for overtime work since this is very hard to manage remotely, especially for hourly workers.
Of course, you want to encourage employees to document everything accurately. This is when you might want to invest in management software to help keep track of projects, deadlines, and hours… all in one place. Have questions regarding current labor laws or employee wage policies? The team at Hernandez Law can help point you in the right direction.
Things are changing and a new norm is being created after the pandemic. Covid-19 has impacted all aspects of our lives, but how is it impacting places of employment and employment labor laws in Arizona?
Just recently, Maricopa County announced that masks are mandatory in public. This includes where you work. Some companies already made it mandatory, but for the time being, now everyone in the county must comply.
Some places are even limiting the number of people allowed in an establishment and making clear marks of social distancing.
Working During a Pandemic
Some people do not feel comfortable returning back to work just yet. So, then what?
Well, the employer actually has leverage when requiring employees to return to the actual workplace.
If the worker refuses, the employer can either offer to separate the worker from the public and other employees, lay off the worker, or find a replacement for the worker.
However, keep in mind that federal law does require the need to provide a safe workplace for all employees, especially right now.
There are some fine lines that employers need to be aware of. Allowing certain employees to continue to work at home because they have compromised immune systems and requiring others to return to a workplace is actually looked down on according to federal law. This is because you cannot decide who is allowed to return back to work based on disabilities, only using seniority and disciplinary history.
State of Arizona
In the state of Arizona, if you resign voluntarily, you usually can’t receive unemployment. But what happens if you feel unsafe to return to work? That is a different story.
If you can provide real proof of unsafe conditions at your workplace, you could receive compensation and be justified for leaving your job. Before doing so, always talk with the Department of Economic Security to address all of our concerns and report any safety concerns to OSHA.
Talk With an Employment Law Attorney
If you are unsure about your rights during a pandemic, as an employer or an employee, it is always best to talk with an experienced employment law attorney. They will be able to walk you through everything to ensure all of your questions are being answered, even during the pandemic.
We specialize in employment law at Hernandez Law Firm and can provide you the advice you need to fully understand your rights during these times.
It can be confusing, but when being treated unfairly at work, it could actually be considered retaliation. Either way, you could have some sort of claim on your hands. Before moving forward with any legal action, speak with an attorney and learn the difference between retaliation and unfair treatment.
Did you know that retaliation in the workplace is actually very common? The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives plenty of complaints each year.
The EEOC’s official definition states that retaliation in a work setting comprises a narrower set of circumstances than what is considered everyday retaliation. Three things must be present for a valid retaliation claim as stated in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964:
- You have engaged in protected activity
- Your employer took adverse action against you
- Your employer did this because you engaged in protected activity
Those who have filed a discrimination in the workplace claim are always encouraged to do so and should be protected from fear of being fired or punished for doing so. A retaliation reaction to filing a claim could be in the form of being denied a promotion, denied job benefits, a demotion, a suspension, or even a discharge from your job.
To move forward with a retaliation claim, you must provide evidence. Keep in mind that direct evidence can be very hard to find, but with the right attorney, like the skilled team at Hernandez Law, they will be able to prove it.
Unfair treatment in the workplace is when you have either been denied a promotion, denied job benefits, a demotion, a suspension, or even a discharge from your job for no reason and before filing any workplace discrimination claims. When this happens, you should always speak with an attorney to know your rights.
Have you suffered from an illness where you need to take time off of work? Or maybe you just had a baby and need some time to adjust. As an employee in Arizona, you should know your rights and what the employment law says about taking a medical leave of absence.
Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA, is available in Arizona. This program allows for eligible employees to take unpaid and job-protected leave. Some states have other laws surrounding medical leave, however, Arizona is not one of those states. This means employees in Arizona only have rights to FMLA.
Who is Eligible
To be eligible for FMLA, your company must have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in either the previous or current year. Employees that are eligible have worked for the company for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year.
Eligible Reasons to Take a Leave of Absence
The following reasons are covered by FMLA.
– Recoup from serious health conditions
– Care for a family member with serious health conditions
– Bond with a new child
– Handle qualifying situations for a family member that is in the service
– Care for a family member that is in the service and has been injured
Length of Leave of Absence
The length of time off varies and depends on the circumstance. Employees are allowed up to 12 work weeks in a 12 month period for serious health conditions, bonding with a child or handling family member issues. This renews every 12 months. If you have suffered a personal injury or need to be a caregiver to a family member in the service, you are allowed up to 26 weeks in a 12 month period.
While on Leave
While on leave under FMLA, you will still receive health insurance. The time off is unpaid, but if you have PTO hours saved up, those can be applied. Once your leave is over, you are entitled to be reinstated to either the same or an equivalent position.
If you do need to take a medical leave of absence, you should inform your manager or human resource department right away. Obtain a copy of the FMLA policy and complete all necessary forms. Always speak with an attorney if you have any questions or concerns with your leave of absence. Hernandez Law has the employment law experience you need to provide sound legal advice and representation when needed.
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There are some new changes when it comes to collecting unemployment pay in Arizona. The new law took effect on August 3rd and requires anyone who has been unemployed for four or more weeks to take any job, or risk losing unemployment benefits.
Did you know that Arizona has the 2nd lowest unemployment benefits in the country? The updated law now states that if you do not take ANY job after being unemployed for almost a month, you could lose those little benefits all together.
What exactly does ANY job mean?
The old law states that if you are unemployed, you must accept any SUITABLE job. This means that if you are overqualified for a job, you aren’t forced to take it. Other things that are always taken into consideration include a job that has a risk involving your health, safety or morals. Also, if your physical fitness, experience, previous wages or length of unemployment doesn’t match well with the job offered.
Things have now changed in Arizona. Back in May, Governor Doug Ducey signed the new law stating that if after four weeks, an unemployed person must take ANY job offered to them where they are earning more than 20 percent of the benefits they currently collect for unemployment.
Currently, if you have been laid off or fired in the state of Arizona, you can collect up to half of what you earned over a 26 week period. However, the state law has limitations. Arizona will only limit benefits to a total of $240 per week. Mississippi is the only other state in the country that actually has a lower cap.
This means that you must take any job that is offered to you, even if it is only $288 per week, which totals only $15,000 per year. If you fail to do so, you could lose your unemployment pay and benefits.
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It still isn’t quite official, but some states are looking to be granted more rights when it comes to drug testing for unemployment benefits and pay.
Under current law, drug testing for unemployment compensation is conducted under two circumstances. If someone loses employment due to illegal drugs or worked in an occupation where they had to get regular drug testing. However, under the new Trump administration, they are hoping to make changes and give the states more power to administer drug testing for unemployment pay and benefits.
The current administration feels that the regulations in place are not good enough and actually don’t address their key concerns. One of those concerns is that many pass through the initial screening of job applications, but go on to fail the drug tests and then end up applying for unemployment pay, without having to pass a drug test. The argument from the other side is that it is unconstitutional and could actually cost more for the state to drug test all trying to collect unemployment pay. Plus, they say in the end, it won’t help with poverty or the unemployment rate.
As of right now, all states already disqualify those from unemployment compensation if they have lost their job due to a failed drug test. Mississippi, Texas and Wisconsin already have laws in place where they can drug test those applying for unemployment pay, but none of them have implemented it yet. With the new laws looking to come into effect giving states more rights, then many more states could jump on board and start drug testing for unemployment pay and benefits.
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