Archive | August, 2014

Do you have employees (even executives or managers or sales staff) who use personal cell phones for company business? If so – California may have a costly surprise for you!

23 Aug

Hopefully you know that under California law, employers must reimburse employees for “all necessary expenses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties…” (California Labor Code Section 2802).

A California Court of Appeals has just ruled that an employer must reimburse an employee if that employee is required to use a personal cell phone to make or accept work related calls, even if the employee did not incur an extra expense because of the unlimited data plan in use (or even if the employee did not pay anything for the cell phone because someone else paid for the phone.)

The employee does not have to prove he incurred expenses over and above what he would have incurred absent his use of the phone on the job, nor does he have to prove he even paid his cell phone bill. The Court ruled that if the rule was otherwise, the employer would receive a windfall by being able to pass on some of its operating expenses to employees. The court ruled, “The employer must pay some reasonable percentage of the employee’s cell phone bill” if the employee uses a personal cell phone for work purposes.

This is a most surprising development because, Samsung recently found: among companies with Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies, 28 percent of the companies paid nothing for employee phones and plans. Samsung found that 39 percent of the companies formally paid for mobile costs or reimbursed them. Thirty-one percent informally either reimbursed or paid for mobile phone and services. And of course, the principle doesn’t stop at cell phones, it can apply to home computer and internet costs if the employee access the internet for work purposes, and on and on and on.

This ruling applies to salaried or “exempt” employees just as it does to hourly or “non-exempt” employees.

Some important things to think about right now:
1. This is only a Court of Appeals decision and the case could ultimately be appealed to the California Supreme Court, so this ruling might change.
2. The court did not define what a “reasonable percentage” of phone costs are, even though it ruled that “reimbursement is always required”. You have some choices in setting your company’s policies regarding cell phones.
• You might want to survey your employees to determine what use they actually make of personal cell phone, smart phones, other mobile devices. Use the results of such survey to plan an appropriate policy for your firm.
• You could furnish cell phones and prohibit use of personal cell phones
• You could prohibit use of personal cell phones
• You could write a policy specifying when, where and how personal cell phones can be used to control costs, promote safety and other important company policies.

The team of Don Dressler Consulting is keeping up on the legal developments on this issue, and here to assist and advise you on compliance with this and other important human resources and safety matters. Just call or email us. Visit our websites: http://www.dondressler.com and http://www.calworksafety.com

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August 15th is the start of National Stop on Red week- Let’s all observe it!

10 Aug

red light running causes crashes

Red light running causes hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries each year. Red light violations cause roughly 10% of all traffic fatalities. An estimated 133,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running, and more than half of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists, or occupants in other vehicles.
Most people run red lights because they are in a hurry, when in fact they only save seconds.
• Almost all drivers (96%) fear being struck by a red-light runner.
• Majority of Americans (56%) admit to running red lights.
• Red-light runners can be any one of us who drives.
A crash caused by a driver who runs a red light is more likely to result in serious injury or death.
• Deaths caused by red-light running are increasing at more than three times the rate of increase for all other fatal crashes.3
• More people are injured in crashes involving red-light running than in any other crash type
A recent study of urban crashes found that red light running was the most common type of crash (22 percent). Of those accidents, injuries occurred in 39 percent of them. Over 93 % of drivers believe that red light running is a serious hazard, but around 23% admitted to doing it in the past month. Among drivers involved in 2012 fatal red light running multiple-vehicle crashes, the red light runners were more likely to be male, younger, and have prior crashes or driving convictions.
All of us must take responsibility for our driving and it’s important for employers to encourage safe driving among all of their employees by displaying posters or including safe driving tip paycheck reminders. Employees should take the responsibility to avoid impaired driving and plan their schedules to allow extra time when commuting to avoid the need to rush. Of all traffic accidents, red light running is the most preventable, and it needs to be everyone’s priority. This is especially important now that school is starting up.