Beware of Scam Targeting Small Businesses through Mailers and “Inspectors”

Inspector and Mailer Heading PhotoAll in One Poster Company, Inc would like to warn its customers as well as other small business owners to avoid mass mailer scams informing them that their labor law posters are outdated while pressuring them to purchase an overpriced product for their employee and business.

These mailers are false, misleading, deceptive and even threatening. As a part of this scam, business owners are demanded to pay varying amounts that range from $65 to $285 or face fines up to $17,000.

One mailer is marked with the company name “Corporate Compliance Services” and labeled “Labor Law Compliance Request Form.” Several businesses who receive these notices are just starting up and have yet to have any employees, and therefore are not required to post such information. Even when posting is required, the individual notices are provided at no charge by the U.S. Department of Labor as well as various agencies within your state’s labor department.Corporate Compliance Services Mailer

Another mailer comes from a “PCI – Customer Compliance Department” and is marked “Compliance Update 2016 (or current year) – URGENT”. Inside this mailer, an imposing phrase in bold letters says, “SUSPENSION OF COVERAGE” greets the unsuspecting reader. In a different strategy, this mailer actually offers similar posters at a much lower price of $10 for a non-laminated version and an extra $9.95 for lamination. Given that this mailer might get a much larger response due to pricing, the company comes back at the unsuspecting customer with an invoice that is well over $100, adding posters that they claim are also required. This company also makes constant phone calls to companies, whose information they most likely obtained through purchasing leads from the state. Please note that although this company uses “AIO Acquisition, Inc” as one of its several names, and calls its products as “Space Saver All-On-One Poster”, it is in no way affiliated with All In One Poster Company, Inc.Personnel Concepts Mailer2

Lastly, All in One Posters would like to warn against people posing as agents or “inspectors” who visit small businesses and threaten unknowing owners with fines and citations due to missing labor law posters, which they just so happen to be selling! Even if they show you a fake ID or citation sheet claiming they represent the “compliance department”, remember that real government inspectors DO NOT SELL POSTERS! Do not be fooled. Again, sole proprietors and business owners who have no employees, are not required to post labor law posters.

Related article: How do you know if your labor law posters are up to date? When you are one of our customers, you don’t have to worry!

 

Fake Inspectors2

DOL Releases New FMLA Poster and Employer’s Guide

new20fmla20banner200416The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released an updated version of the “Employee Rights Under the [Federal] Family and Medical Leave Act”poster (often referred to as the “General FMLA Notice”), along with a newemployer’s guide to help employers comply with the law.

Background
The FMLA provides eligible employees of covered employers with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. The law also includes certain family military leave entitlements.

Private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year must comply with the FMLA.

New Poster
The DOL released an April 2016 version of the FMLA poster that covered employers are required to display in a conspicuous place where employees and applicants can see it. A poster must be displayed at all locations even if there are no employees eligible for FMLA leave. If a covered employer has any eligible employees, it must also provide the general notice to each employee by including it in employee handbooks or other written guidance concerning employee benefits or leave rights (if such written materials exist—otherwise, the employer may distribute a copy of the general notice to each new employee upon hire).

(Note: According to the DOL, the February 2013 version of the FMLA poster is still valid and can be used to fulfill the posting requirement.)

Employer’s Guide
An employer’s guide was also released, which is designed to provide information about employers’ obligations under the law and the options available to employers in administering FMLA leave. Specific areas covered include:

  • Covered employers under the FMLA and their general notice requirements;
  • What to do when an employee needs FMLA leave;
  • Qualifying reasons for leave;
  • The certification process;
  • Military family leave;
  • What to do during an employee’s FMLA leave; and
  • FMLA prohibitions.

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Cal/OSHA Cites Tree Service Company for Fatal Safety Breach

Chainsaw LanyardRedding—Cal/OSHA has cited Wright Tree Service of the West, Inc. for serious safety violations following an investigation into a fatal tree-trimming accident in Humboldt County near Weitchpec. The proposed penalties total $31,750.

On December 30, 2015, Kenneth A. Williams, a foreman with Wright Tree Services of the West, died while trimming a bay laurel tree on Rock Ranch Road. Although Williams was using a flipline lanyard to secure himself to the tree, it had only one point of attachment when regulations require two. Williams was killed when he accidentally cut the lanyard with the chainsaw he was operating and fell 54 feet.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation revealed the employer had failed to ensure that workers were using a second point of attachment to secure the worker when operating a chain saw in a tree. Also, workers’ clothing, equipment and procedures failed to meet safety standards.

“Tree work involves many hazards, and employers must develop and implement safety procedures and train their employees to prevent accidents,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Most accidents can be prevented.”

Both citations in this case were classified as serious. Serious violations are cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation.

Failure to develop and implement appropriate safety procedures is one of the major causes of serious workplace injury and death in California. Accidents related to tree work can result in severe traumatic injuries and death. Twelve fatal accidents related to tree work have been reported to Cal/OSHA since May 2015.

Commonly reported accidents include falls, electrocutions, and those caused by falling objects. Most accidents can be prevented by recognizing and controlling hazards in advance as well as training employees on safe work practices and effective use of personal protective equipment. Cal/OSHA offers a fact sheet on tree work safety.

West Virginia Enacts Social Media Privacy Law

Law Effective June 10, 2016

Under a new law in West Virginia, effective June 10, 2016, employers are generally prohibited from:

  • Requesting, requiring, or coercing an employee (or a potential employee) to disclose a username and password, password, or any other authentication information that allows access to the employee’s (or potential employee’s) personal account;
  • Requesting, requiring, or coercing an employee (or a potential employee) to access the employee’s (or the potential employee’s) personal account in the presence of the employer; or
  • Compelling an employee (or a potential employee) to add the employer or an employment agency to his or her list of contactsthat enable the contacts to access a personal account.

Under the law, “personal account” means an account, service, or profile on a social networking website that is used by an employee (or a potential employee) exclusively for personal communicationsunrelated to any business purposes of the employer.

Exceptions
Among other things, the law does not prevent an employer from:

  • Accessing information about an employee (or a potential employee) that is publicly available;
  • Requiring an employee to disclose a username or password or similar authentication information for the purpose of accessing:
    • An employer-issued electronic device; or
    • An account or service provided by the employer, obtained by virtue of the employee’s employment relationship with the employer, or used for the employer’s business purposes;
  • Complying with applicable laws, rules, or regulations; or
  • Conducting an investigation or requiring an employee to cooperate in an investigation.
    • Note: The employer may require an employee to share the content that has been reported to make a factual determination, if the employer has specific information about an unauthorized transfer of the employer’s proprietary information, confidential information, or financial data, to an employee’s personal account.

Employers are encouraged to read the text of the law for additional details.

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Cal/OSHA Urges Employers to Protect Outdoor Workers from Record-Breaking Heat Wave

CA Heat IllnessFresno—California heat of the past several years has shattered temperature records going back more than 100 years. With this year’s heat season approaching, Cal/OSHA hosted a news conference today to remind employers that prevention is the best defense for outdoor workers against heat-related illness and death.

A key component to Cal/OSHA’s prevention model includes annual trainings statewide in both English and Spanish. Two bilingual trainings, co-sponsored by the Nisei Farmers League and 11 other agricultural employers, were held today in Easton. The trainings highlight the need to protect outdoor workers from heat illness and the requirements under California’s heat illness standard.

“Employers at outdoor worksites must know the steps to take to prevent heat illness injuries on the job,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Cal/OSHA continues to focus on training and outreach, combined with enforcement targeting those employers who put their workers’ safety at risk.”

The risk of heat illness is generally highest for people who work outdoors. Therefore, Cal/OSHA’s approach to prevention includes inspections at outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping and construction during heat season. These targeted inspections check for compliance with the heat illness prevention standard and the injury and illness prevention standard, which require employers to take the following basic precautions:

  1. Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  2. Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8-ounce glasses of water per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  3. Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool‐down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. Shade structures must be in place when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon request.
  4. Closely observe all employees during a heat wave and any employee newly assigned to a high heat area. Lighter work, frequent breaks or shorter hours will help employees who have not been working in high temperatures adapt to the new conditions.
  5. Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard, including plans on how to handle medical emergencies and steps to take if someone shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.

The most frequent violation that Cal/OSHA cites during targeted heat inspections is for failure to have a proper written heat illness prevention plan specific to the worksite.  Serious violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade, and to a lack of supervisor and employee training.

To remain in compliance with the standard, Cal/OSHA encourages employers and worker supervisors to learn more about the standard, which was updated in 2015. Please refer to the Cal/OSHA guidance on the new requirements and the Heat Illness Prevention Enforcement Q&A for more information on the updates.

All In One Poster Company has updated its California Heat Illness Prevention Poster with the most recent revisions in 2015. This poster is available in both English and Spanish. Aside from this, All In One Posters has also developed the California Indoor Heat Stress Poster which addresses heat illness prevention for indoor work environments. Displaying safety posters signify a commitment to safety and compliance.

 

New York Raises Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour Over Next Several Years

Increases to Begin by End of 2016

Under new legislation, the New York minimum wage is generally expected to rise as follows:

  • For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage is expected to rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on December 31, 2018.
  • For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage is expected to rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after,reaching $15 on December 31, 2019.
  • For workers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage is expected to increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on December 31, 2021.
  • For workers in the rest of New York State, the minimum wage is expected to increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another $0.70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on December 31, 2020—after which it will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule.

Click here for more information.

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California Raises Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour Over Next Several Years

 

Increases Begin January 1, 2017 for Certain Employers

Under a new law, the California minimum wage is scheduled to rise as follows:

  • For employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will be:
    • From January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017: $10.50 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018: $11 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019: $12 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020: $13 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021: $14 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2022 until adjusted for inflation: $15 per hour.
  • For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage will be:
    • From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018: $10.50 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019: $11 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020: $12 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021: $13 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022: $14 per hour.
    • From January 1, 2023 until adjusted for inflation: $15 per hour.

Click here to read the text of the law.

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EEOC Fact Sheet Outlines Responsibilities of Small Businesses Under Federal Nondiscrimination Laws

Equal opportunityFact Sheet Available in Multiple Languages

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a fact sheet that provides an overview of the legal obligations of small businesses under federal nondiscrimination laws.

Background
The EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, and genetic information. These laws also prohibit retaliation (punishment) for opposing or reporting discrimination, or participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The laws enforced by the EEOC apply to employers who employ a certain threshold number of employees.

Fact Sheet
In the fact sheet, the EEOC outlines the following responsibilities for employers:

  • Ensure that employment decisions are not based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
  • Ensure that work policies and practices are related to the job and do not disproportionately exclude people of a particular race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age.
  • Ensure that employees are not harassed because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
  • Provide equal pay to male and female employees who perform the same work (unless employers can justify a pay difference under the law).
  • Respond promptly and adequately to discrimination complaints. Stop, address, and prevent harassment and discrimination. Ensure that employees are not punished for complaining.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations (changes to the way things are normally done at work, such as permitting a schedule change so an employee can attend a doctor’s appointment or can observe a religious holiday) to applicants and employees who need them for medical or religious reasons, if required by law.
  • Display a poster that describes the federal employment discrimination laws.
  • Keep any employment records (such as applications or personnel records) as required by law.

Note: Employers may have additional responsibilities under federal, state, or local nondiscrimination laws.

The fact sheet also provides information about EEOC resources for small business owners, and is available in multiple languages. Click here to download the fact sheet (scroll down to the “Small Businesses” tab to view the available languages).

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Gov. Brown signs bill to raise California’s minimum wage

Jerry Brown

LOS ANGELES (KRON) — Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s new minimum-wage bill Monday morning in Los Angeles.

Governor Brown signed the bill at 9 a.m. in the Ronald Reagan State Building.

The landmark legislation SB 3 passed by both houses of the Legislature on Thursday, making California the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour statewide.

$15 an hour will be the highest-paid minimum wage in the nation.

“California is proving once again that it can get things done and help people get ahead,” said Governor Brown when the deal was announced earlier this week. “This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.”

California’s current $10-an-hour minimum wage is tied with Massachusetts for the highest among states. Only Washington, D.C., at $10.50 per hour is higher. New York’s minimum wage is $9.

The plan is to increase the minimum wage over time in phases.

Under the plan, minimum wage will rise to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017 for businesses with 26 or more employees, and then rises each year until reaching $15 per hour in 2022.

This plan also recognizes the contributions of small businesses – those with 25 or fewer employees – to California’s economy and allows additional time for these employers to phase in the increases.

Once the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour for all businesses, wages could then be increased each year up to 3.5 percent for inflation as measured by the national Consumer Price Index.

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