California Employment Manuals

A written at-will employment policy is enormously useful in litigating wrongful discharge claims because it can rebut an employee’s claim that he or she could be fired only if your company had good cause. It is also the law in California. Cal. Lab. Code §2922.

Your company’s handbook should:

  • Include a precise definition of the terms of the at-will nature of the employment relationship; and
  • Clearly explain that employment can be terminated:
    • At any time;
    • With or without cause; and
    • With or without notice, either by your company or the employee.

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Five Strategies to Avoid
Being Sued by your Employees

These five strategies you can implement immediately to limit your risk and exposure to employee lawsuits.  Useful tools are provided to you to use as checklists, tips and worksheets.  This is the first part in a five part series.  If you desire the entire series immediately at no cost, please contact Tamara L. Harper directly.

Strategy 1:
Make Sure Employees are Taking Meal and Rest Breaks
It is the employer’s responsibility to track employee’s work hours and to maintain all records, even if using an outside payroll or administrative agency. Timecards are vital to an employment litigation defense, especially in light of the fact that most outsourcing payroll agencies contain an indemnification and hold harmless clause in their contracts with employers.

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Nine Tools to Implement
to Achieve Labor Law Compliance

These nine strategies you can implement immediately to limit your risk and exposure to employee labor lawsuits.  Useful tools are provided to you to use as checklists, tips and worksheets.

Make Sure Employees Take Meal and Rest Breaks
One way to ensure such is to pre-print the following statement upon on all timecards, “I hereby certify that [insert employer name] has made a 30 minute meal period available to me that and I have been afforded the opportunity to take such period free from [insert employer name] control.”

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Effectively Terminating an Employee

Arrange a time to talk with the employee in person.  Do not procrastinate once you have made the decision.

Decide who is going to deliver the message.  The employee’s manager is the best person to terminate the employee.  The manager should be coached and receive guidance about how to conduct a termination meeting. Sometimes a witness should be present.

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How to Define an Exempt Employee

For an employee to be exempt as a manager s/he must: 

1. Have primary duties and responsibilities that involve the management of the enterprise.

2. Customarily and regularly direct the work of two or more other employees.

3. Have the authority to hire or fire other employees or make suggestions, which will be given particular weight, about personnel decisions regarding other employees.

4. Customarily and regularly exercise discretionary power.

5. Spend more then 50 percent of his or her time engaged in managerial duties that meet the tests in items 1 through 4; and

6. Earn a monthly salary equivalent to at least two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.


Meal Break Checklist for Employers

Updated for 2013 – 2014

1. Establish and communicate clear policies regarding meals and rest periods. You must clearly communicate to employees that you have the obligation to provide meal and rest breaks.

2. Train supervisors to make sure employees get all meal and rest periods that the law and applicable wage orders require. There are Wage Orders which apply to different industries. For example, Wage Order 12, which applies to the motion picture industry, requires meals and different intervals than Wage Order 4, which is the most common.  Review the specific Wage Order which applies to your employees with your employment counsel.

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Checklist to Help California Employers
Comply with New Labor Laws

The beginning of the year is a good time for all employers to review their policies and practices to be sure they comply with any new legal requirements and to consider necessary changes. Here’s a labor law checklist to help employers comply this year.

□  Review and Update Employee Handbooks
Employers who have not recently updated their handbooks should review them now to be sure they have included changes that took place in the past year, such as paid family leave benefits.  Employers should also update their handbooks in light of the numerous new rules recently implemented for the 2014 year, including the various policies impacted by the new domestic partners’ laws.

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Tips to Help Employers
Correctly Classify Sales People

Employers should take the following steps to help be certain they have correctly classified members of their sales force as exempt or non-exempt.


1. Examine whether the employee meets the exemption requirements on a weekly basis.

2. Pay close attention to guaranteed draw programs and whether they are in fact meeting the requirements for the inside sales exemption.

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