CA EMPLOYMENT ESSENTIALS (CEE) is a 6 module training series of employment essentials focusing on regulatory compliance and HR best practices. Hiring to Separation: What Management and HR MUST KNOW!

LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE SERIES (LES) is an 8 module training series focusing on practical leadership and communication skills to help managers DEVELOP OR REFINE THEIR EFFECTIVENESS AS LEADERS!

Dates of Upcoming Series:

CEE Begins: August 11 & October 13

LES Begins: September 8

TPO's popular prescheduled three-hour (9am - noon) workshops are presented on a wide range of important regulatory and leadership topics. Many are available to attend via webinar.

Dates of Upcoming Workshops:

Excelling as a Supervisor/Manager: August 9

World Class Customer Service: September 6

TPO brings you periodic briefings presented by knowledgeable subject matter experts on a variety of timely employment topics.

Dates of Upcoming Briefings:

External HR Support Briefing: June 1

Pay Equity: June 15

Just Tell it Like it Is: August 17

Applies to ALL CA Employers, regardless of size. This law has lots of complicated angles, up to and including employee relations!

Dates of Upcoming Webinars:

Pay Equity: June 22

TPO's H&D prevention training goes above and beyond to address all forms of harassment and discrimination (age, race, religion, disability, etc.) that today's managers must be prepared to prevent and address.

Dates of Upcoming H & D:

Harassment & Discrimination Prevention: June 8, October 4 & December 8


1. LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - California & Federal
      by Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP, TPO

2. HR Q&A - W-4 Withholding
      by Gina de Miranda, M.A, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, TPO

3. CA WAGE & HOUR QUICK TIP - CA Minimun Wage Increases
      by Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP, TPO

Califonia and Federal HR Legislation

by Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP, TPO

And we are off! 2016 bills are well-off on their race towards the finish line…which will become new laws? Stay tuned in the coming year for the results! If you want to impact the race, make your opinion heard by contacting your representatives!

SIGNED by the Governor - NEW laws!

Expanded Paid Family Leave (PFL) Insurance (AB908) - The Governor signed into law that state PFL insurance payments will increase to 60% of wages, capped at $1,100 a week (previously the amount was 55% capped at $1,011 a week). A new provision has been added that will allow for 70% of wages for earning $20,000 or less annually.

  • TPO Tip: PFL is a state-run insurance program. It does not guarantee a leave of absence; rather, it provides supplemental wage replacement where an employer has approved a leave of absence.

Minimum Wage Increases (AB10) – The Governor signed into law that CA minimum wage will increase from the current $10.00 per hour to ultimately $15.00 per hour on 1/1/2022 through yearly increases. Employers with less than 25 employees have an extra year to comply with the increase.

  • TPO Tip: For a complete breakdown of increases by year, including the subsequent increases in the minimum exempt salary threshold, see the article after this article.

Smoking – The Governor signed into law a package of bills relating to smoking. In part, the new legislation will:

  • Treat the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices that contain nicotine as “smoking” – thus extending existing smoking bans to cover such products.
    • TPO Tip: Most handbooks already address “smoking” in the workplace. Employers may want to revise the policy to specifically address e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
  • Expand smoke-free workplace protections by getting rid of most of the existing exemptions that permitted smoking in certain work environments, such as bars, hotel lobbies, warehouse facilities and employer-designated smoking break rooms.
  • Expand the workplace smoking ban to include owner-operated businesses.
  • Raise the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21, except for active military personnel.

Accessibility Violations (SB269) – The Governor signed into law allowing businesses with fewer than 50 employees time to fix certain accessibility violations within specific timeframes, among other protections.

In the Legislative Process - Stay tuned!

Flexible Workweek (SB368) – If passed, would eliminate the rigorous alternative workweek secret ballot election process and allow the employee the opportunity to request a four, 10-hour day workweek schedule.

Employer-Paid Three Days of School-related Activities (AB 2405) – If passed, would give parents up to three employer-paid days each year to enroll their children in school or help with other school-related activities. The bill would apply to businesses with 25 or more employees.

  • TPO Tip: California already provides up to 40 hours of unpaid leave for school activities for employers with 25 or more employees.

Scheduling Requirements (SB 878) – If passed, would require that employers in the retail, grocery, or restaurant workplace, including employers who have hybrid operations that include a retail or restaurant section, to provide a 21-day work schedule and then face penalties and litigation if the employer changes the schedule with less than 7 days’ notice, even when the change is at the request of the employee.

Maternity/Paternity Leave Requirement (SB 1166) – If passed, would require employers with more than 10 employees and fewer than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of protected employee leave for maternity or paternity leave.

  • TPO Tip: California already provides 12 weeks of bonding leave for employers with 50 or more employees, providing the employee has worked for at least a year and has actually worked at least 1250 hours in the past 12 months.


Paid Parental Leave Ordinance - San Francisco passed an Ordinance for up to 6 weeks of paid parental leave through Paid Family Leave (PFL) Insurance with PFL paying up to 55% of compensation and the employer paying up to 45%. Amounts paid are dictated by the maximum paid by PFL Insurance with the employer’s portion proportionally capped. The ordinance is effective on the following phase-in schedule: Employers with 50 or more employees are required to comply beginning on January 1, 2017; Employers with 35 or more employees are required to comply beginning on July 1, 2017; Employers with 20 or more employees are required to comply beginning on January 1, 2018. For more information, go to

The Department of Labor (DOL) FINALIZED Regulatory Change to Exempt Salary Threshold. The Department of Labor (DOL), announced on 5/18/16 that the federal exemptsalary threshold for “white-collar” overtime exemptions (Administrative, Executive and Professional) will more than double from the current federal $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually) effective 12/1/16. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020. An employee still must meet both the salary threshold and a “duties” test to be exempt from overtime.

More information can be found on the DOL website at

  • TPO Tip: CA’s exempt salary threshold is $800 per week ($41,600 annually) with scheduled increases beginning in 2017 (see previous article).Employers must follow both state and federal laws.

Interested in reading more about the bills and the process?

Federal legislation:

California legislation:


Back to the top a Tricky Issue

by Gina de Miranda, M.A, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, TPO


QUESTION:   Is it legal for an employee to claim 99 dependents?  Will this cause problems?

ANSWER:  Employers often ask if a particular practice/action is “legal.”  Something can be legal without being a good idea.  In the case of 99 dependents, if someone does not actually have 99 dependents, and few people do, putting this number on a W-4 is not a “best practice” or “wise.” 

When the IRS encounters a “99 dependent” W-4, they have been known to review past taxes, withholdings and dependents listed on the tax filings.  Should the review reveal that there aren’t 99 dependents, and that this artificial number created an “underwithholding” condition, the IRS may issue a “lock-in letter.”


A “lock-in letter” is a notice from the IRS to the employer as to the actual number of dependents that the employee is entitled to.  Once the “lock-in letter” takes effect, the employee may not change the W-4.  Should the employee try to reduce the amount withheld, the IRS will reject that change.  If the employee wishes to withhold more than the “locked in” rate, the IRS does permit that change.  Employers that use electronic W-4s must make sure that the employee cannot override the “lock-in letter” to decrease withholding.   Employees that are rehired within 12 months of a “lock-in letter” must adhere to the provisions of the “lock-in.” 

This is the most important part of a “lock-in letter” activity:  “Employers that do not follow the IRS “lock-in” instructions become liable for paying the additional withholding that was not collected.”   For additional information on this topic visit:  or

In California, the state also cautions against “underwithholding,” and has an entire booklet related to this issue.  For more information, review  (California withholding guidelines).  There is a handy chart relating to the various penalties for “underpayment” of a variety of California taxes including personal income.

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...causing the CA exempt salary threshold to be $62,400 by 2022!

by Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP, TPO

CA Minimum Wage: The current CA minimum wage is $10.00 per hour as of 1/1/2016. Legislation has been passed into law providing for the following future annual increases:

1. $10.50 - 1/1/2017
2. $11.00 - 1/1/2018
3. $12.00 - 1/1/2019
4. $13.00 - 1/1/2020
5. $14.00 - 1/1/2021
6. $15.00 - 1/1/2022

CA Rate Changes for Employee Exemption: In order to meet the exemption from overtime, breaks, meals and other wage and hour provisions, the following CA minimum rates apply:

  • Administrative, Executive and Professional: The minimum salary threshold to be classified as exempt is at least 2 times the current minimum wage. As of 1/1/2016 at $10.00 per hour, that amounts to $800.00 weekly, $3,466.66 monthly, or $41,600 annually. Future increases are based on increasing CA minimum wage (offset by a year if fewer than 25 employees):
1. $10.50 = $840.00 weekly, $3,640.00 monthly, $43,680 annually
2. $11.00 = $880.00 weekly, $3,813.33 monthly,  $45,760 annually
3. $12.00 = $960.00 weekly, $4,160 monthly, $49,920 annually
4. $13.00 = $1,040.00 weekly, $4,506.66 monthly, $54,080 annually
5. $14.00 = $1,120.00 weekly, $4,853.33 monthly, $58,240 annually
6. $15.00 = $1,200.00 weekly, $5,200 monthly, $62,400 annually






Federal Considerations: The Department of Labor (DOL), announced on 5/18/16 that the federal exempt salary threshold for “white-collar” overtime exemptions (Administrative, Executive and Professional) will more than double from the current federal $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually) effective 12/1/16. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020. An employee still must meet both the salary threshold and a “duties” test to be exempt from overtime. More information can be found on the DOL website at

Practical TPO Advice: Because employers must follow both CA and Federal requirements, employers should identify any positions with a salary less than the above amounts and plan for future actions, which could include:

1. Raising the salary to meet minimum state and federal thresholds.
2. Changing the position to an hourly, non-exempt position which is then entitled to breaks, meals and overtime. This option requires considerable thought into how to change to an hourly rate, how to manage scheduling needs and how to comply with wage and hour requirements.




This article is brief overview of a very complex matter. Please contact TPO with any questions!


Introducing Our Newest TPO Team Members

Tonja Posey, IPMA-SCP, HR Consultant

An accomplished Human Resources (HR) Professional with a career encompassing nearly 20 years in HR management, support and operational improvements, Tonja has extensive private and public sector experience in both small and large employer operations.

She is a certified Executive Human Resources Professional by the Human Resources International Public Management Association (IPMA-CP). The IPMA-SCP is a public sector focused and competency-based credential for qualified HR professionals symbolizing excellence in the field of human resources as an HR expert, a business partner, a leader and a change agent.

Tonja quickly partners with clients to identify HR issues and needs and skillfully coaches them through difficult and sensitive employee relations issues. She considers alternative options, and focuses on risk management, empowering managers, and caring about what is best for each organization and its unique HR objectives. She specializes in recruitment (TPO’s HireRight Systemssm), policy development, employee/labor relations, contract negotiations and conflict resolution.  Examples of Tonja’s record of success are:

  • Developed and managed an efficient and compliant Human Resources Department.
  • Reduced Workers Compensation expenses and liability by applying best practices in case management, risk and safety programs.
  • Negotiated changes to employee benefits programs, providing employer medical cost savings while still remaining competitive in the labor market.
  • Designed and implemented employee recognition programs.
  • Introduced practices, procedures and programs to Executive Management and Board of Directors which resulted in measurable cost savings and increased employee morale and productivity.
  • Conducted exit interviews and turnover analysis, creating action plans to address turnover issues with business partners.
  • Monitored employment policies, programs and procedures of administration, training compensation, compliance and benefits to attract, retain and motivate employees.
  • Developed and presented impactful regulatory and leadership skills training programs for employees, supervisors and managers.
  • Conducted time-sensitive and highly confidential investigations related to harassment and/or discrimination and safety matters.















To Contact Tonja, click here.

Amy Becker, Administrative Support Specialist / Director of First Impressions

Amy Becker comes to TPO with extensive experience and expertise in the Administrative Support field and Retail Customer Service.  During her employment at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare Systems (SVMHS), Amy spearheaded a number of complex projects which involved collaborating with different departments such as Information Technology (IT), Marketing and Audio/Visual, to name a few.  In a fast-paced environment, Amy is able to maintain a professional and cheerful demeanor. She possesses exceptional interpersonal skills, a positive outlook on life, adapts quickly to change and accepts new challenges with a “can do” attitude.

In 2012, Amy was presented with new opportunities and was very successful in her various Retail roles.  As Clarins Counter Manager for Macys, Amy was responsible for launching and introducing Double Serum to the new product line.  The enthusiasm Amy presented to clients was the key driver for exceeding sales goals.  As a Sales Associate at White House/Black Market (WHBM), Amy was top sales associate leading in units per transactions (UPT) and bonus per hour (BPH).  Her ability to build long lasting relationships and to provide extraordinary customer experience increased the customer base and was instrumental in exceeding sales over a million dollars which resulted in WHBM’s best year ever.

  • In collaboration with the IT department at SVMH, Amy implemented, created and designed screen savers for distribution on all computers hospital-wide. This powerful resource tool was designed through Adobe Illustrator to educate staff in regard to National Patient Safety Goals, Quality Indicators (QIs). Employee safety, Joint Commission.  In addition, this tool was also used to inform staff of individual department news, construction projects, policy fairs and other important communications.
  • She also joined a team of experts to create a complex spreadsheet consisting of linked formulas from sheet to sheet to track department budgets and position control. Amy was instrumental with training staff and working one-on-one with directors, senior administrators and supervisors as well as various groups.
  • Amy was awarded the Humanitarian award by her co-workers for going above and beyond her duties to both employees and clients. Her friendly and professional demeanor toward staff and clients made it easy for anyone to approach her and ask for assistance.
  • During the first year of employment as Clarins Counter Manager, her team exceeded product sales for Clarins Double Serum making us number one in the district and region. Their exceptional sales elevated our counter to Platinum level.
  • Amy has volunteered her time at fundraisers and community events for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) and “Read Across America”. She is always eager to support the community as time permits.













To Contact Amy, click here.

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We look forward to the opportunity to provide you with unlimited phone/email access, reduced consulting and training rates, eCompliance notices, attendance to our Annual Employment Law & Leadership Conference at no additional cost, and priority status when you require TPO support from any of our highly qualified team of nationally certified HR experts!
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