San Jose Business Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Employment

Large companies frequently have corporate employee handbooks that are updated on an annual basis to reflect changes in employment laws or company policies. However, many small business owners with few employees may not see the need in having such a handbook that formally sets out employment policies and rules. While it is true that simply speaking to employees about your policies may be easier and more time-efficient than developing an official handbook, there are several reasons why it is worth taking the time and energy to do so.

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Assistance in developing your policies

Many new business owners have not taken the time to sit down and formulate official policies when it comes to employees. Owners may be tempted to “wing it” when it comes to worker management and develop rules along the way. This can be risky, however, and can lead to disputes if there are not rules set in stone. Developing a handbook will make it necessary for you to sit down and decide what types of policies you want for your employees. This can ensure that your policies are applied fairly and evenly from the start to all workers. Continue Reading

Employment in California is generally “at-will,” which means that either the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time without good cause. However, under certain circumstances termination may be considered unlawful, and an employer can be exposed to possible liability for wrongful termination. It is important to know when termination may be wrongful under the law so that possible legal claims by former employees can be avoided.

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If you have an employment contract

If you and your employee entered into an employment contract that provides job security for a specific duration, California law requires you to show good cause for terminating the employee in breach of the contract. At times, in the absence of a written contract, an employee may try to claim that an employment contract was implied based on promises or other statements made by an employer. In order to avoid any claims of an implied contract, be sure to include clear language regarding “at-will” employment in your handbooks, policies, and all communications with potential employees and employees. Continue Reading

Meal and rest breaks are mandated by the state and allow employees to re-energize and reset during their workday. Surprisingly, providing a lunch break is not a federal requirement, however allowing employees to take breaks can reduce safety-related incidents in many industries. Failing to give an employee adequate breaks can result in steep fines from the state.

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California Law: Meal and Rest Breaks

Employees in California are legally owed meal and rest breaks depending on the amount of time worked. Here are the standard requirements for meal and rest breaks under California law. Continue Reading

If you employ workers, chances are good that your business is subject to a number of labor laws enacted by the United States Department of Labor as well as the California Department of Industrial Relations. Failure to comply with these labor laws can cause a lot more than disgruntled workers; non-compliance can result in sanctions by the federal or state government and/or potential legal actions from employees to recover damages. Business owners are often not aware that they are violating the law until it is too late and they are facing costly legal consequences. The best way to preemptively avoid any labor law dispute is to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to ensure all of your policies and practices are in line with the law.

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Topics Covered By Labor Laws

Labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California Labor Code cover a wide variety of topics related to employees, compensation, and more. The following are only a handful of issues that labor laws may affect: Continue Reading

California has distinct wage and hour laws in place to ensure the proper pay of employees. Employers often need clarification on California wage and hour laws. Each industry is different but here is an overview of requirements in the state.

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California Wage and Hour Laws

Minimum Wage

California’s minimum wage is set at $9.00 per hour. Unlike some states, California does not allow for tipped employees to be paid less than the state’s minimum wage.

Overtime

Employers often ask when they need to pay overtime wages.  Whether or not an employee is “salary” or “hourly” is not determinative of overtime pay entitlement, rather, it matters if the employee is “exempt” or “nonexempt.” “Nonexempt” employees are entitled to overtime at the rate of one and a half times their regular rate of pay for:

  • All time worked in excess of 8 hours in a workday
  • All time worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek
  • The first 8 hours of work performed on a seventh (or more) consecutive workday

Continue Reading

California employees are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state laws. An employer cannot discriminate on the basis of:

• Race
• Gender, gender identity, or gender expression
• Sexual orientation
• Religion
• National origin
• Disability
• Medical conditions
• Sex, including pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding
• Citizenship status
• Age
• Genetic information
• Ancestry
• Color
• Marital status Continue Reading

Does your company have a social media policy for employees? Policies regulating Internet use in the workplace can be very effective for maintaining your business’ positive reputation online. Last week, we discussed the first 3 items to think about when writing a social media policy. Here are 3 more considerations for writing an effective and appropriate company-wide policy.
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3 More Considerations When Drafting a Social Media Policy
1. Define “Appropriate”

Your employees need to know what is acceptable to say online and what isn’t. Make sure you set clear boundaries on what business and trade information is private and for internal-use only, and what information is acceptable for online discussion or even marketing purposes. Continue Reading

Instituting a company-wide social media policy is one of the best ways to protect your business’s brand and image on the Internet. Disgruntled employees may say negative things about your business online, harming your reputation and putting your company at risk. A well-written social media policy sets reasonable restrictions on your employees’ use of the Internet. Here are 3 considerations to think about when drafting a social media policy.
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3 Considerations When Drafting a Social Media Policy
1. Read Other Policies

It’s important to do your research when writing a social media policy for employees to make sure yours is in line with current industry standards. You don’t want to institute a policy so unforgiving that you drive potential talent away from your business. Search for other social media policies and contact an experienced lawyer to make sure your policy is appropriate. Continue Reading

An employment contract can be a useful tool to protect your business while providing clarity and structure for your employees. An effective agreement should clearly spell out the terms of both employment and termination. In this post we’ll take a look at the basics of creating an employment contract.

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Understanding Employment Contracts

A well-designed contract outlines an employee’s roles and responsibilities. What tasks is the employee expected to perform? What does the job pay? What benefits will the employee receive? Clearly stating this information upfront will protect your business from future lawsuits, provided you abide by the contract.

You’ll want to be specific that the employment relationship is at-will. This means either the employer or the employee can terminate the agreement at any time for no reason. If instead it is not at-will, you should be sure to spell out the grounds for termination.
One thing to keep in mind is what happens after an employee is either terminated or leaves. Who owns the right to any material he or she produced? What about confidentiality? An employment contract can protect your business by safeguarding its intellectual property.

Advantages of Employment Contracts

Besides offering reassurance, an employment contract can be a great way to attract new talent. Think of a contract as an offer sheet. You’re providing a prospective employee with job security and a clear path to success.

Contracts can also make it easier to manage employees. The expectations can be laid out for all to see, which means there’s less gray area. Unfortunately, not all employees work out and a contract can avoid any confusion between employer and employee as to whether it is working out or not. make it easier to terminate employment should the need arise.

If you’re thinking about putting together an employment contract, contact the professionals at Structure Law Group. We can help you create something that is specific to your business and adheres to the law.

About Structure Law Group
Structure Law Group is a San Jose based firm that specializes in business issues including business formations, commercial contracts and litigation.

rules.jpgOne of the first things any newly formed corporation should do is draft bylaws. Bylaws are a corporation’s operational blueprint. They identify what the business does, how it is run and who is in charge. Here then are five steps to drafting a set of bylaws.

5 Steps to Creating Corporate Bylaws

1. Detail relevant information concerning shareholders. This includes who holds stake in your corporation, what rights they hold and when and where meetings are to be held.

2. Identify the Board of Directors. Include information on meetings, procedures for resignation and removal or addition of directors.

3. Outline the procedure by which officers are elected. Officers are people like the CEO or CFO. Detail their roles and responsibilities as well as how they will be compensated.

4. Indemnification of Officers, Directors, and Agents. In order to protect those who labor on behalf of the corporation, the bylaws should spell out who is indemnified for acts taken on behalf of the corporation, as well as the procedure for handling claims.

5. Finally, bylaws are made to be amended. What’s the process look like? Deciding on this issue now will prevent headaches down the road. You’ll want to figure out who has the authority to add, alter or completely remove a bylaw.

These five steps are really just a working model. There are fine points that should really only be handled by a professional. An attorney can help you craft a set of bylaws that are clear, sensible and legal. In reality, this process consists of at least six steps with the first being contacting a local lawyer to help get you started.

About Structure Law Group

Structure Law Group is a San Jose based firm that specializes in business issues including business formations, commercial contracts and litigation.