California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

Useful information for navigating legal challenges

This article was reviewed in July 2021 and is up-to-date.   As the summer season winds down, so do public agency departments that hire seasonal workers to staff summer camps, pools, extended park and recreation hours, and a myriad of season-specific facilities and activities. But, just how do seasonal workers impact the agency’s health and retirement benefit obligations? The Affordable Care Act (ACA), Seasonal Worker Exception The number of seasonal workers you hire may impact whether your agency is subject to certain ACA obligations. Under ACA, employers that have at least fifty (50) full-time employees, including “full-time equivalent” employees, on…
This article was reviewed in July 2021 and is up-to-date.   Often times, an employee may know that discipline or a poor performance evaluation is imminent. Occasionally, such an employee will engage in a preemptive strike—“You can’t discipline me or give me a poor performance evaluation now since I have submitted a complaint.” While this may not necessarily be the norm, it is also not unheard of, causing employers to go from being confident in their decision to being uncertain and worried about the possibility of costly litigation. Many believe retaliation claims are the easiest for employees to allege and…
On June 15, 2021, the State of California took a step towards returning to some normalcy when it officially reopened for business after over a year of restrictions and closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, the state announced it would be easing, for vaccinated individuals, some of the restrictions set in place regarding capacity limits, social distancing, and mask wearing. One of the significant changes in the restrictions is that fully vaccinated individuals can resume everyday activities mask-free in nearly all settings, except in certain settings such as public transit; healthcare and long-term care facilities; indoors in…
The problems facing public agencies, many of which are struggling just to keep their heads above water, may get much worse in the near future.  The California Legislature is currently debating Senate Bill (SB) 278 (Leyva), which if passed would create new and in some cases retroactive financial burdens and uncertainties for local public agencies already struggling to fund their pension obligations. Specifically, SB 278 would shift the responsibility for paying disallowed compensation reported to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) directly to local public agencies. For context, the Public Employees Retirement Law (PERL) provides a defined benefit retirement…
This article was reviewed in June 2021 and is up-to-date.   Prevention of liability starts with auditing your agency’s personnel rules.  Indeed, in an employment-related lawsuit, the applicable personnel rule is often “Exhibit A.”  Each year, public agencies face changes to employment laws and regulations, best management practices, and internal changes to procedures.  Thus, the outcome of a lawsuit may just depend on whether the agency has audited and updated their personnel rules to reflect these changes. A personnel rules audit is often a detailed, methodical and lengthy process.  As with most challenging projects, a personnel rules audit requires ample…
This article was reviewed in May 2021 and is up-to-date. Many public employers utilize 9/80 work schedules for non-exempt employees.  A 9/80 work schedule is essentially a two-workweek schedule of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off.  However, once the 9/80 work schedule is implemented, there are a number of mistakes unsuspecting employers often make which can inadvertently trigger overtime liability. These pitfalls, which can also apply to a 3/12 work schedule, and how to avoid them are described below. Pitfall #1 – Not Designating the Workweek Properly.  Although employers are required to designate a workweek for…
As public agencies head into the end of the 2020-2021 fiscal year and prepare for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, it is the perfect time of year for agencies that contract with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (“CalPERS”) to refresh their knowledge about upcoming deadlines and requirements.  Below are the key CalPERS deadlines and requirements agencies should know. End of Year Payroll Reporting Deadlines Public agencies must ensure that they meet CalPERS’ closing deadlines for accounts and records for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.  Reporting on time allows CalPERS to timely process the payroll earned period and adjustment…