Understanding COBRA in California


Health insurance is important for all people despite their age. Everybody wants to sign up for health `care plan that will take good care of your family. However, what will happen when you will divorce your spouse?


Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, it defines what should happen to children and dependent spouses in case a divorce occurs or when the child ceases to depend on the health plan of the employer. The health plan can continue if a child or non- employees spouse continues to pay his or her premiums. This article will help you to understand what COBRA is with respect to Californian laws.


Most people make a mistake of not sending relevant notices as stipulated in the law. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act states that the coverage, in terms of deductibles, coverage limits and benefits should be the same as those of active participants. Changes that affect active participants (such as a change in benefits, increased deductibles, plan termination) should also affect non-employee participants who are using COBRA.


Beneficiaries can make changes to their plans just like the ordinary employees. They are also able to obtain notices just like the active participants who are employed.



What Are the Types of Health Plans Covered?

The act stipulates clearly the criteria used to know whether your employees are eligible for COBRA insurance or not. Medical Spending Accounts require special attention.


The act applies to those employers who have 20 employees or more. However, calculating the number of employees can be a challenge because of part-time or full-time employment, staff turnover among other things.



Qualifying Events and Extent of Coverage

There are certain events that can make you to automatically to qualify for COBRA coverage as listed below:


  • Remarriage and divorce
  • Retirement status
  • Medicare entitlement
  • Reasons for termination


What Does the Law Say Regarding Issuing COBRA Notices?

The law stipulates that COBRA-related notices should be sent to qualified beneficiaries or employees at the start and at the end of their coverage. It should also notify them when they will cease to be eligible for this coverage.


Qualified beneficiaries are given two months to either to elect or waive COBRA coverage; employers should make efforts to ensure that such beneficiaries receive such notices in good time.


The act also states premiums beneficiaries must pay and when they start to become due.


Labor Unions in California

labor unions

Labor unions simply comprise working people who stand together. They do so to bargain with employers for improved pay, benefits, and allowances. Labor unions also enable working people to compel employers to provide a safe and conducive work environment. In essence, such unions provide employees with a mechanism to put employers in check.


Federal and state laws in California guarantee the right to form unions. It, therefore, means
that eligible working people are entitled to the right to:

Offer their opinions or views regarding unions.
Engage their colleagues about their interest to form a union.
Participate in union meetings
Adorn union buttons
Exercise their freedom of association and freedom of speech as spelled out in the constitution.



Frequently asked questions about labor unions

Under what circumstances can employers violate union laws?

There are several circumstances that employers can violate the law such as:

Threatening to sack employees for joining a union.
Threatening to close a company when employees choose a union to represent them.
Assigning employees to complex tasks due to their involvement in union activities.
Terminating or punishing employees due to their participation in an NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) led the investigation.


What criteria is used to determine “good faith” bargaining?

“Good faith” bargaining is the obligation to actively and sincerely participate in
discussions to come up with a platform to reach an agreement and a common ground.

In assessing if parties involved are bargaining in good faith, NLRB considers if the party shows the willingness to meet at reasonable times and intervals. Plus, the party has a representative who is capable of making decisions during negotiations.


Are there rules that guide collective bargaining for a contract?

When employees decide to use a union as their bargaining representative, bargaining in good faith between the union and the employer must be done.

It is inappropriate for either party to refuse to engage in collective bargaining. But either party is not compelled to reach an agreement.

If numerous good faith efforts do not yield an agreement, then the employer can declare a standoff and present the last offer proposed to a union.


What regulations govern union dues?

Basically, the federal and state laws and court rulings dictate the number of union dues collected from working people represented by unions.


What categories of working people constitute unions today?

Currently, people from diverse professional fields are joining unions. They include engineers, doctors and nurses, auto parts workers and home health care aides.


Have labor unions accomplished anything for working people in California?

Unions have continuously advocated for the rights of California employees. Union contracts persuade employers to offer employees better pay and working conditions.

Emergency Leave Laws in California

emergency leave

Are you working in California and still not sure about what leave you are entitled to per year? Some workers are afraid of requesting an emergency leave because of fear of being victimized by the employer. It’s important to state that all employees must be provided with leave at least for some weeks every year. It could be because of an emergency or not. There are state leave laws in California that do protect you, and that’s why you should be aware of them to avoid being denied when there is need.


How to Know My Rights for the Leave

You could be in dire need of an emergency leave because of some reasons, but since you are not aware of how to start, you choose to
ignore or quit the job for good. That MUST never be the case when employment rights attorneys do exist. They are in a position to find out whether your situation warrants a leave or not. Besides that, they will ensure that once you are offered the leave, you should be in a position to be reinstated without fear or favor. Your health insurance coverage should also be taking care of your medical expenses during the leave even when you are not being paid your salary during the time off.


Your Family and Medical Leave Act Rights

You will be entitled to a leave of up to 12 weeks annually due to some various reasons. This can be available when you are seriously ill or a member of your family. The emergency leave can also be there when you want to bond with your child during pregnancy. Foster parents will also be offered emergency leave for the same. If one of your family members got injured while serving the country as military, you could still get the leave to go and look after them for some time.


Military Caregiver

Militaries are very important, and that’s why when it comes to FMLA laws, they haven’t been left aside. If it happens that one of your family members who served in the military needs a caregiver, you can chip in by being offered an emergency leave just for the sake of him/her. This leave can be as long as 26 months. It’s not easy to get another leave beside this when you have been offered unless another person in your family who served the military got injured again.

Paternity Leave Laws in California

paternity leave

Minimal worry on the part of the mother and father when a new child arrives is in the interest of the California state. Therefore, just like a mother takes time off work to tend for the pregnancy and the new child, paternity leave gives a father up to 12 weeks off to bond with the new baby without risking losing their job.


Which Employers offer paternal leave?


The federal laws and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) have the same stipulations regarding employers that can offer paternity leave. As long as an employer has 50 or more workers, they are required by law to give paternity leave to new fathers. The state has passed the New Parental Leave Act (NPLA) which now requires workplaces with 20 or more staff to offer paternity leave.


Who is eligible for paternity leave?

For a person to qualify for 12-weeks paternity leave in California, they must meet these demands.

1. Worked for the current employer for at least 12 months.
2. Must have been active for 1,250 hours for the 12 months preceding the leave.
3. Under the NPLA, one needs to be attached to an employer with at least 20 employees in a 75-mile radius.

Are those on paternity leave paid?

Currently, no Federal or California state law requires an employer to pay an individual on paternity leave. However, the employee can discuss with the management so that they are given the paid vacation, PTO, or Sick Leave money during the paternity leave.

California State has put mechanisms in place to support the new fathers financially during paternity leave. In this regard, the fathers get paid 55% of their wages for six weeks. Those who make one-third of the average salary of the state are eligible for 70% of their salaries. However, the state has set the maximum for this financial support at $1,173.


Right of Reinstatement

At the end of the leave, one is reinstated to the same job as before. The employer can decide to switch the worker to a different job description, but it should be on the same level as the one that preceded the paternity leave.


How does one request for Paternity Leave?

The employee is required by CFRA to give 30 days’ notice when they foresee the need for the paternity leave. In situations where the employee is caught unawares, such as in the case of an early birth, they are required to give as early a notice as it is practicable.

Severance Pay Laws in California

severance pay

Severance pay is an issue which is always very contentious in the job market. Severance, termination or continuation pay refers to the package that an employee receives when they resign or they are fired. The package can be money or benefits or even both.



The first thing and of utmost importance is that employees in California according to state laws are not entitled to severance pay. This means that the employer is under no obligation whatsoever to provide a severance package to the employee after the termination of the contract.



However, some employers do opt to provide severance pay on their own volition. There major reason for why employers provide severance pay even when it is not required under the law is because.




To remove the chances of a lawsuit by employees. Under California law, an employee can sue their employer for many types of legal infringements and by paying severance pay, reduce the legal liability of the employer.



Bargained Agreement

Although a severance package is not necessary under the state law, they can be upheld by a court of law. For a severance pay to be legally valid, a bargained agreement must be in place. A bargained agreement, in this case, is the agreement that contains the benefits that the employee and employer will agree to the severance pay and is enacted early on when the employee is still working.



72 Hour Payment

Under California law, when an employee is discharged they must be paid all wages due during the time of the termination if the employee did provide a notice. If there is no prior notice of resignation, the employer is then expected to pay the employee within 72 hours. The wages must be payed at the place of work. Any unused vacation pay should also be paid by the employer.



Forced Signatures

An employer has no right to make an employee sign a severance pay agreement through any unlawful means such as fraud, unfair duress or excessive influence. In providing a severance package, an employee will expect a release of non-waivable claims.


This may include any claims of privacy, discrimination, defamation among other federal and state claims. However, there are claims that cannot be released even with a severance pay. Such claims include all claims which involve overtime, minimum wage, and compensation benefits.


It is recommended that an employee consult an attorney in case of job termination or resignation. This is because an attorney will be in a better position to explain the best way forward after such an eventuality.


Drug Testing Laws in The State of California

drug testing

When it comes to drug testing for employees, the federal government places a few limitations on sensitive sectors such as aviation, transportation, and contractors working for the DOD and NASA, but for the most part, it does not specifically require or prohibit such tests.

In the case of California, the state’s constitution includes a right to privacy that extends to both government and private employees. However, despite the courts applying this right, it does not make the process illegal, and therefore the judgment is normally rendered based on the merits and demerits of each case.

• Drug testing regulations for job applicants in the State of California

In California, employers may compel their employees to pass a drug test as one of the requirements of their employment. However, for such a mandate to be lawful, it must be applied to all those seeking particular job vacancies and not just a couple of people because of their protected characteristics such as disability or race.

California also has a compassionate use law that permits residents to use marijuana for medical issues. However, such individuals have to get a physician’s written authorization. This means that any patient with a valid prescription for the use of marijuana may not suffer prosecution under California’s state laws for offenses related to the possession, use, or cultivation of a certain portion of marijuana. On the other hand, the Supreme Court of California declared that an employer may decline to hire an applicant who gets positive results for the use of marijuana, regardless of whether the drug had been legally prescribed for a particular disability.

• Drug testing regulations for job applicants in the State of California

When trying to establish whether or not a drug test was lawful, California courts take into account the employer’s reasons for undertaking the test against the employee’s legal expectations of privacy. The state acknowledges the fact that employees in such situations start with a stronger claim. This is because they already possess a job and have a working a history that the employer can use to properly evaluate their performance. This situation also assigns them more of a stake in the process since it gives the employer more of a reason not to test.

It is also important to note that when an employer has reasonable suspicion that one of their employees is using drugs, they may have legal merit to ask for a drug test. However, this may only apply if the suspicion is based on valid and objective facts.

Despite random testing being controversial in nature, California courts have still upheld the process when it comes to highly sensitive safety-positions.

• Notice and procedural drug testing rights for employees in the state of California

California statues do not provide for any specific drug testing protocols, which means typically rely on a balancing act when deciding such cases. As a result, employers are more likely to get a favorable outcome if they take the necessary steps to lessen the merits of an employee’s legal expectation to privacy. For instance, they can put in place a written policy clearly indicating when drug testing will be done for employees.

Lawful Firing Process in California


Do you have to terminate a worker? In the case that you have found a way to enable the worker to enhance his work execution – and they are not working – it might be time. These are the lawful, moral strides to take when you fire workers.


Guarantee that the organization’s activities, as you get ready to release a worker, are unquestionably sound. How you fire a worker sends a message to your staff that lasts – either positive or negative.


Employment firing is the last thing in an included procedure. Utilize it if all else fails, and when the instruction hasn’t worked.



Procedure for Ending Employment


In the event that you trust that the employee is unwilling to enhance his execution, you will need to begin a dynamic disciplinary procedure. Once more, documentation is basic so you have a record of the means you took simultaneously. Utilize a Progressive Discipline Warning Form to archive each progression.


In the event that you don’t trust that the worker is equipped for enhancing their work, what reason do you have for keeping the employee? Firing them will save everybody the misery of a long, drawn-out process. Certainly, now in your relationship with the worker, if the boss has done her job, you have adequate execution directing records and disciplinary activity frames on a paper to terminate the employee.


Following the process out to be standard every representative you fire, once you choose to begin in this way unless a strange occasion happens. You may likewise supply the worker with any number of choices, beginning with the execution modification.


You can inquire as to whether he can willfully stop as opposed to taking part in a disciplinary action. You can concede to a timetable by when the worker will have the desired performance changes. This may be that as it may, meddle with the person’s capacity to collect unemployment.


You can concur that, for reasons unknown, the representative is unequipped for doing the activity, give two or three weeks of severance pay, and say farewell.


Converse with a lawyer to see the greater part of your choices. In situations where you give any severance pay, for instance, you will need to request that the leaving representative sign a discharge that is distinctive for workers more seasoned than forty and under age forty.


Hold the Employment Termination Meeting


In the end, you will need to hold the work end meeting. I would not give a representative more than a couple of minutes see before the meeting. You will cause the representative superfluous stress and surprise. By and large, nonetheless, this minute is normal.


Finish the means in the Employment Ending Checklist. A few stages, you will need to have finished before the end meeting. Consider the end meeting to be the worker’s post-employment interview.


Lawful Hiring Process in California


Applicants for jobs in California have lawful rights even before they move toward becoming workers. Under government law, a business can’t make a change in its process of hiring in light of an applicant’s race, national origin, pregnancy, age, disability, or religion.


Download FindLaw’s Guide to Hiring to keep a handy manual for your rights in the employing procedure.



Interview Questions For An Employer


Employers ought to maintain a strategic distance from questions that identify with classes that are secured by segregation laws. Following are sorts of inquiries that ought to be avoided during an interview by employers:


  • Whether the candidate has youngsters or expects to have kids


  • Marital status of the candidate


  • The candidate’s race


  • The candidate’s religion


  • The candidate’s sexual inclination


  • The candidate’s age (other than ensuring they are old enough to work in California)


  • Whether the candidate has any disabilities


  • The candidate’s citizenship status


  • Inquiries concerning medication or liquor use by the candidate


A candidate may bring up issues identified with the above mentioned upon a prospective employee interview. Assuming this is the case, the business may talk about these items to the degree vital to answering the candidate’s inquiries.



Process Of Hiring


At whatever point a business tries to procure another representative, there is an assortment of things the business must do before the new worker can start work. These include:


  • Acquiring a government business distinguishing proof of citizenship for each new representative, from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)


  • Enrolling with their state’s business office for an unemployment file for each new representative


  • Setting up the worker’s compensation framework to withhold duties to be paid to the IRS


  • Getting laborers’ pay protection


  • Setting up an Illness prevention plan for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)


  • Posting the required employment law notifications in the working environment as required by the Department of Labor (DOL)



Among the hiring procedure, bosses ought to abstain from making guarantees to an upcoming or newly hired representative to any proclamations or guarantees as any denial of these can bring an “inferred contract” claim up for review. For instance, a guarantee that investment opportunities will be justified regardless of a given sum, that the representative has worked for, or that the worker will get noteworthy boosts in salary may bring about such a suggested contract.


This way, if these guarantees are not kept, the business can be said to have broken the suggested contract and will be mindful to the representative for any harm the worker acquired, depending on the business’s guarantees. Avoid making promises and you will save the company from a potential lawsuit down the road.

What You Need To Know About Domestic Violence Leave In California

domestic violence

Domestic violence is common in most homes. You will note that there are several reasons that cause abuse. These include unfaithfulness, mistrust and so forth. Violence at home can make the victims get injured and even die in the process.

This can make such individuals not to be productive in the workplace. This is the reason why these individuals require domestic violence leave. You will realize that issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are all over the news.

California basically requires employers to notify employees about rights to domestic violence leave. Although the law provides protected time off to victims of domestic violence, most workers are not aware of these rights.

You will realize that the new bill basically requires the employers to inform each employee of his or her rights upon being hired and any time thereafter upon request.


The following are some of the frequently asked questions about domestic violence leave:


  1. Are employees entitled to domestic violence leave?

Employees who work in California are entitled to domestic violence leave. There is a bill that requires employers to inform all the employees of this right.


  1. When should the employees be notified of this leave?

The employees should be notified about this leave upon being hire and at any time thereafter upon request.


  1. What are the circumstances that can make an employee take a domestic violence leave?

There are several circumstances that can make an employee go on this leave. You will realize that most of these issues will be related to how you relate to your partner. If you normally have conflicts in your family, you are likely to encounter violence in the home. If you have been sexually assaulted, you should take a domestic violence leave.


  1. Once you have encountered violence at home, what should you do?

Once you have encountered abuse, you should seek medical attention for the injuries. You should also consider obtaining services from a shelter, program or rape crisis center. You can also consider going for psychological counseling. In addition, you can participate in safety planning and take necessary action such as temporary or permanent

During your leave, you should pursue the above-mentioned activities. This can help your health and get over your problem. Such issues should be forwarded to the Human Resources in order to address any employee concerns about retaliation for actually taking the time to address such serious personal matters. This can help you a great deal.

California’s Minimum Wage Increase

minimum wage

In California, employees are supposed to be paid the minimum wage stipulated in the state law. If employers fail to remit the set minimum wage, it is a violation of California labor and employment laws. The minimum wage is set to increase annually in all industries from January 2017 to January 2022. Of specific focus in this increase is employers with 26 or more employees. As for employers with 25 or fewer employees, the increase will take effect from January 2018 to January 2023.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  • What are the new federal regulations with respect to the minimum salary level?

According to these regulations, 10% of the minimum salary level has to be allocated to incentive payments, commissions, and non-discretionary bonuses. This was previously not a requirement.


  • Which minimum wage laws should employers follow among local, state and federal minimum wage laws?

In California, most employers have to adhere to federal as well as state minimum wage laws. Cities also enact their own local base pay laws. This creates confusion on the part of employers. Under such circumstances, employers must follow the law that greatly benefits employees. For instance, California’s law demands a higher minimum wage rate compared to the federal law thus employees must be paid the state minimum wage rates.


  • What does the term minimum salary thresholds mean?

Simply put, the term refers to minimum wage requirements for exempt employees. There exists “white collar” exemptions for employees in job categories such as administrative, executive and professional categories. Initially, California’s minimum salary threshold was $41, 600. However, this has changed with reference to the new Federal Overtime Rule which puts it at $47,476. As a result, an employee is only entitled to this exemption under the “white collar” exemptions if he is paid not less than $47,476.


  • What factors qualify an employee for exempt status or the minimum salary thresholds?

Employers consider a number of factors when determining exempt status. Factors such as if the employee is responsible for the management of the business, charged with decision making or owns a special state license are used to guide employers’ decisions.


  • What action should I take if my employer fails to pay me the required minimum wage?

You can file a lawsuit to compel your employer to pay the wages. Alternatively, you can file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.


  • Which employees are categorized as learners and should they be paid the proposed minimum wage level?

Learners are employees who have little or no experience in the occupations they are in. The law requires that these employees irrespective of their age be paid at least 85% of the base pay.


As a final point, employers must conform to California’s minimum wage requirements. Of key concern should be having precise pay policies that address the interests of both exempt and non-exempt workers. Doing so will avoid the risk of costly lawsuits which can be filed by employees if they feel their right to the set payment has been violated.


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