n  Save the date! 2011 Employment Law and Leadership Conference

n  Sustainability

n  Training_Calendar

n  Happy Holiday's... But...

n  TPO's Leave Management Support Services

n  Green Teams

n  Legislative_Update

n  CA Wage & Hour Quick Tip

n  Wearing Many Hats?

n  New TPO Complete

n  Vegetable Growers Supply

n  HR Q & A



Training Calendar

Training Calendar

n FMLA/CFRA Compliance



By special request we have added a LAST CHANCE Harassment and Discrimination at work Program for 2010!

Harassment and Discrimination at Work

December 08, 1:00 - 4:00 PM

Give us a call at 647-7292 to save your seat!

Member Orientation

n Join us for breakfast

December 08

Join us for a quick overview of how TPO Membership can save you not only time, but money!

TPO and Littler will guide you through an informative day,
balancing both Legal and Leadership Best Practices

to prepare you for 2011!

2011 Employment Law & Leadership Conference


TPO Members attend FREE* as part of their Annual Membership!

(*Based on number of authorized representatives)
Type of Registration


Early Bird

(Must be paid by 12/17/10)


(3 or more)

Team Early Bird

(Must be paid by 12/17/10)

Non-Members $349 $299 $299 $269
Co-Sponsor $299 $249 n/a n/a
TPO Member** $299 $249 n/a n/a

 **Charge for participants above the number of your authorized representatives.

Click here for early bird registration!


It’s not just for tree-huggers anymore!

Over 80% of consumers & B2B customers say they consider the sustainability of products and services when making buying decisions and are willing to pay a premium for sustainable offerings.

Let TPO help you “green” your operations …from employment practices to products and services!

Call Michele Reilly, MSOD, SPHR-CA, TPO Sustainability Director for a free consultation

OFFER GOOD THROUGH November 30, 2010

‘Tis the season to remind all of our clients that though the Holidays are a perfect time to let employees know how much you appreciate their hard work by having company parties and celebrations, it is also a time when alcohol consumption, and thus potential employer-liability, is an unfortunate reality. You may have read articles where employers have been held liable for their employees consuming alcoholic beverages at company events, driving an auto, and then hurting or killing innocent victims.

Therefore, if you are in the process of planning this year's celebration for your employees, please consider the following points as part of that planning. Whether an official company-sponsored event or an unofficial couple of glasses of wine at the end of the day, certain measures should be taken to help minimize any related liability and most importantly, the safety of your employees and the public.

If your company often has informal or formal social events that include alcohol consumption “off-the-job,” it might be wise to include an appropriate policy regarding this in your employee handbook.

Because of the potential liabilities, many companies are choosing to coordinate family-oriented, non-alcohol celebrations for their employees. If you decide to serve alcohol, always make a good faith effort to limit intake, and consider these suggestions (some of which are based on actual court cases) to reduce risks of liability:

  • Move the party off-premises to a club or restaurant, and hold it during non-working hours.

  • Avoid conducting company business at the party. (Note: Even handing out turkeys or company bonus checks or presenting speeches by top management could be interpreted as company business).

  • Do not require attendance; make it voluntary.

  • Involve employees in the planning.

  • Be sure to plan activities to keep your guests active - if your guests stay active with some form of entertainment, they probably will have a better time and be less likely to drink too much.

  • If you plan on serving alcohol, budget to hire a professional bartender who will stay sober, serve only measured amounts, and is trained to cut off individuals who over imbibe; be specific with the bartender as to how long the bar is to stay open.

  • Avoid providing liquor purchased with company funds; do provide alternative, non-alcoholic beer, wine, and soft drinks.

  • Consider limiting alcoholic beverages to beer and wine, and discontinue all but nonalcoholic drinks approximately an hour or two before the party is scheduled to end.

  • Have employees purchase their own alcohol, ideally by purchasing controllable drink tickets.

  • Serve meals or snacks; high-protein foods, especially, which help retard alcohol absorption. Avoid salty snacks; they promote thirst, and people may drink more alcohol to quench that thirst.

  • Arrange for some non-drinking employees, taxis, or limousine drivers to take home those who may be unfit to drive themselves.

We hope your holiday season is full of fun and festivities, and that these suggestions will help ensure that 2011 is a safe and prosperous New Year!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Over the last few decades, environmental sustainability has become an increasingly important topic for organizations in every sector. During this time, Green Teams have proved to be an effective mechanism for helping organizations adopt greener operating practices, making them more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Often, organizational sustainability efforts have been conceived and launched by one or a few employees passionate about making their organization’s business practices more environmentally responsible. The earliest Green Teams grew out of such employee efforts. Increasingly, organizations have begun to encourage the formation of Green Teams.

Green Teams are a grassroots collective of cross-functional employees who volunteer to develop and implement sustainability practices and to educate and inspire other employees on corporate environmental sustainability issues and practices.

For many organizations, hiring dedicated sustainability staff is not a viable option. Green Teams allow such organizations to develop and adopt greener operating practices through their existing staff. Another advantage of Green Teams is the breadth of perspective their members bring to discussions about developing more sustainable operating practices. Because many functional areas and staff levels are represented in Green Teams, a broad spectrum of experience informs the development of these practices. Potential challenges can be anticipated and averted.

The National Environmental Education Foundation agrees that engaging employees at every level of the company is essential to the success of sustainability efforts. Case studies have clearly shown that employees must not only understand, but also embrace, green business practices in order for them to succeed. Green Teams have emerged as a highly effective tool to optimize employee engagement in organizational sustainability efforts. Since Green Teams design many of the sustainability practices, their buy-in and support develop organically during the process. The stakeholders who will be impacted by new, sustainable practices have input into the process which results in employees at every level of the organization becoming champions of the change.

Want to learn more? TPO can help you establish and/or lead your Green Team. Our experience spans helping a small on-line marketing organization develop and lead a Green Team of 5 individuals focused on overall operational and supply chain sustainability to helping a large biotech company establish and lead a 50-person team dedicated to reducing on-campus bottled water consumption, saving the organization over $200,000.00 annually! Call us today for a free consultation. 

Article written by: Michele Reilly, SPHR-CA, MSOD, TPO Sustainability Director

The 2009-2010 legislative session has come to a close. Following is a recap of employment related bills that have passed into law (effective January 1, 2011 unless otherwise noted) and those that the Governor vetoed. The 20011-2012 regular session convenes on December 6, 2010 and you can expect that some of the bills that failed in the 2009-2010 session will be resubmitted for review.

New Employment Laws Passed

  • New Organ and Bone Marrow Donations Leave Mandate (SB 1304) — This new law requires employers with at least 15 employees who have exhausted all sick leave to provide paid leave of up to 30 days for organ donations and 5 days for bone marrow donations. Such employees have a guaranteed right to return to their job and retaliation is prohibited. This time is in addition to existing sick and vacation policies and does not run concurrently with CFRA or FMLA.   

  • New Domestic Violence Victims - Unemployment (AB 2364) — This new law revises the Unemployment Insurance Code by revising it to specify that a claimant is eligible for benefits where he or she left employment to protect his or her family from domestic violence abuse. This law brings California law into compliance with federal eligibility guidelines, and makes California eligible to receive federal funding for unemployment insurance benefits.    

Bills Vetoed by the Governor

  • Mandatory Bereavement Leave Mandate (AB 2340) — If passed this bill will would have required every employer to provide every employee with up to 3 days of unpaid bereavement leave. This bill was introduced by Mr. Monning (D-Carmel).

  • Payment of Wages (AB 2187) — If passed this bill would have created a prohibition against a person or an employer who, having the ability to pay, willfully fails to pay all wages due to an employee who has been discharged or who has quit within 90 days of the date of the wages becoming due and would impose additional criminal penalties for such conduct.

  • Agriculture – Collective Bargaining (SB 1474) — If passed this bill will have removed the requirement for secret ballot elections in the collective bargaining process with agricultural employees.

  • Change in Overtime for Agriculture Employees (SB 1121) – If passed this bill would have removed the overtime exemption for agricultural employees and changed it to time and one-half for over 8 in a day and double time for over 12 in a day. 

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

“Travel Pay for Non-Exempt Employees”
… required when “suffered or permitted” to work.

Offsite events are common in many organizations and may take employees hours or days away from the regular worksite. Employees in non-exempt positions must be paid for all time “suffered or permitted to work.” In order to determine how to pay for the different types of work, follow these guidelines:

  • Time Spent Traveling The time “suffered” in a car or plane must be paid since while traveling by vehicle or plane, the employee is unable to fully engage in his/her own personal pursuits, however that time could be at a reduced hourly rate (but not less than minimum wage).

  • Time Spent at the Event – The time spent at the conference, meeting or event is time worked and must be paid as regular wages.

  • Off-Duty Time – Time spent off-duty includes meals, at the hotel between time worked and overnight. However, if employees are required to have meals with clients or other employees, then such time would be regular time worked.

Voluntary Events: If attendance at the event is truly voluntary and the employee performs no work, then wages are not owed.

Agree to the pay schedule PRIOR to the employee leaving!

Following is a common scenario to help explain the travel pay policy:

  • An employee works 3 hours at his/her regular work place in Monterey, leaving work at 11:00 am.

Pay: 3 hours regular rate.

  • She then drives to the San Jose Airport and flies to Los Angeles, arriving at the LA hotel at 4:00.

Pay: 5 hours regular or travel rate.

  • She performs no work that evening and stays the night in the hotel. In the morning, she is at the assigned workplace for the day at 8:00am. All time unpaid

  • She works for 10 hours (not including a meal period on her own for a half-hour) and then immediately flies to the San Jose airport, arriving at 9:30 pm.

Pay: 8 hours regular rate plus 2 hours overtime rate plus 3.5 hours overtime rate based on either the regular rate or travel rate.

  • She drives from the San Jose airport, to her home, arriving at 10:30 pm. (Note: Her normal commute to work in Monterey is .75 hours.)

Pay: .25 hours regular rate or travel rate* (1.0 hours, less her normal commute)

A “Travel Time” policy is available for your Employee Handbook – give us a call!  

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA



TPO will manage your leave administration, including Workers’ Compensation claims, from beginning to end.

WHAT DOES LEAVE OF ABSENCE SUPPORT MEAN? For a low monthly fee, a designated TPO expert will manage every aspect of an employee’s leave. What we like to call “Leaves from A to Z”. As soon as you are made aware of an upcoming leave, simply notify TPO and we will take it from there! We’ll even take over for leaves in progress.

 Click here for more information!

Traditionally, organizations have tried to minimize the cost of support services internally as those are cost centers rather than profit centers. The result of these efforts is that employees and, sometimes, owners or general managers find themselves faced with doing work in an area where they have little or no expertise. Human Resources is one of those areas.

Organizations may have the human resources function done by an office manager, accounting manager, executive assistant, operations manager or the CEO. While this practice is more common in smaller companies, even larger companies may have all or parts of these included in the duties of many individuals. This practice allows employers to minimize the number of individuals who are not delivering direct service to customers or direct impact to the product being offered.

Over the time our country, state and area have been experiencing financial challenges, these individuals have had to take on more and more responsibilities which squeezes their time on any single area creating more opportunity to make potentially costly errors. Further complicating this in the area of human resources is the fact that many new legal requirements and changes have occurred over the past 18 – 24 months and busy professionals have little time to research, integrate and update in order to comply. Even large organizations have been challenged in this area.

Here are some tips on how you can manage all of that:

  • Understand your core business. You should have a strategic plan that focuses on exactly what you do best and find a way to get others to do the ones you don’t do well. For example, if you have facilities you must manage; consider outsourcing those tasks to a company that manages property for owners.

  • Match talent and interests of your employees. If you must keep a non-core function internal, then try to find the person or group where there is a natural affinity. A person who enjoys and has interest in a non-traditional area is more likely to actively find support systems and information to make the best decisions in that area.

  • Check to see what support systems you may already be paying for. In support areas, organizations frequently find that they are already paying for some support systems without being aware of it and are not taking advantage. For example, many CPA firms who do an employer’s tax filing may also offer some types of basic audits on cost savings, fiduciary review for your retirement plan, etc. for free or very low cost.

  • Strategically partner with companies who provide excellence in the areas you need to outsource. Many savvy organizations have found that outsourcing human resources either fully or for additional resources is much less expensive that hiring additional staff or paying high legal costs when something goes awry. TPO has developed very flexible systems to allow employers to get the level of outsourcing that benefits the organization for an excellent price.

  • Invest in training and technical support for those who manage such areas. Scrimping on the necessary training and support materials for individuals who are already stretched thin and dealing with programs or systems that are not their primary strength is false economy. These can make the difference in making the choice of doing the work internally smart vs. imprudent.

As organizations experience more affluent times again, these items do not become irrelevant. By putting these into practice during times when it is necessary, organizations can leverage growth in the areas of the business that will make them more profitable or meet the mission better.

At TPO, we are glad to partner with you on developing this kind of strategy. We have many strategic partners who offer complementary services to what we have always offered our Members and clients. Give your TPO Representative a call to talk about how you can strategically situate your organization using these tips and other information we can assist you in reviewing.

Article written by: LaTonya Olivier, SPHR-CA

REINVENTING your organization?

Looking for ways to STREAMLINE your operation and costs?

TPO has always been a leader in evolving to meet our Member and client needs. Now we have moved to a new level. We are introducing our newest response to what we hear from you about service!

Flexibility for YOUR Business Needs

Elements you can select/combine:

  • World class TPOHR support for your employment needs

  • Outstanding and cost effective payroll outsourced

  • Completely outsourced leave management including all legally required leaves and Cal/COBRA administration

  • Management of your Workers’ Compensation and back to work program

  • Excellent range of employee benefits, workers’ compensation and other insurance needs through one of our insurance partners

  • Varied options for your retirement benefits needs through one of our outstanding partner organizations

  • HRIS selection and implementation

  • On-site administration of files and routine HR duties

  • Ability to include various a la carte services in your annual Membership

Sounds great, right? Contact your TPO Consultant with your “shopping list” and let us show you how flexible we can be.

n 1st Capital Bank - Monterey

n Advantacare- Monterey

n NorCal Harvesting - Salinas

n Tri California Events - Pacific Grove

We look forward to the opportunity to provide each of 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 HR experts! Thank you for joining!

TPO: "Vegetable Growers Supply has been a member of TPO for over 9 years! How do you feel TPO contributes to the company’s success?”

Ron Huff, President/General Manager - Vegetable Growers Supply: "Vegetable Growers Supply began its business relationship with TPO over nine years ago. That relationship has allowed VGS to keep pace and current with the ever increasing regulations and protocols necessary in California and Arizona employment law and practices. TPO has provided insight and guidance in the areas of policy development, interview protocol, succession planning, training and investigations in connection with the workplace. Working with TPO is akin to having your own HR Department fully staffed with expertise in all areas of employment law, policy, and regulations.”


About Vegetable Growers Supply

Vegetable Growers Supply Co. Inc. (VGS) was established in January 1948 as a fabricator and distributor of wooden crates for the packing sheds in Salinas. The founders of the Company were all early pioneers in the growth of the fresh produce industry. In the past 60 years the Western vegetable industry has expanded to include a wide variety of fresh vegetables grown in many locations throughout California and Arizona. Operations have moved from the packing sheds to mobile field units and Vegetable Growers Supply has expanded and kept up with the changes. In addition to its Salinas Headquarters, the company also has locations in Greenfield, Huron, Santa Maria, El Centro, Oxnard, California as well as Yuma, Arizona. The company offers a full line of corrugated containers, flexible packaging materials, hardware, harvesting supplies, and yes, even the wooden crates that started the business over 60 years ago.

To Contact VGS, please call: (831)759-4600

I think having a handbook is more of a liability to my company. I want to keep things casual and informal so that I can make decisions when a situation arises. Not to mention, we only have 20 employees and we’re like a family, everyone knows the rules and we’ve never had any type of issues. Why should I have one in place for my organization?

There is as much danger in saying too much as too little. In the absence of policies, past and present activities become policy through precedent. Because of a lack of consistency in application, many of these practices are, or can be, considered discriminatory. This might place the employer in greater danger of law suits and claims with government agencies than if they had carefully spelled out the organization’s expectations employees.


Here are some specific reasons to have an employee handbook in place:

  • INFORMS EMPLOYEES. An employee handbook represents a key component to any sound employee relations program. Handbooks communicate essential information about benefits, policies, and performances standards to all employees. Openly communicating with your employees results in enhanced morale, productivity, and loyalty.

  • REDUCES DISCRIMINATION AND LEGAL PROBLEMS. Handbooks promote fairness and consistency in the manner in which employees are treated, and thereby reduce the possibility of discrimination. Although written employment policies cannot completely shield an employer from legal problems, a properly drafted and implemented employee handbook gives an employer more favorable legal positioning. We recommend that all employees sign an Acknowledgement of Receipt form for the handbook which indicates the employee agrees not only to familiarize themselves with the contents, but to abide by the contents and ask for clarification as needed.

  • ASSISTS OWNERS AND MANAGERS. An employee handbook guides managers in making employment decisions, such as implementing corrective action, hiring, firing, and promoting.

  • SAVES TIME. Having your policies and standards set out in writing can be a real time-saver by eliminating the time taken by managers researching what the policies are and employees going to managers to ask questions that could be answered by a handbook.


Employee Handbooks represent a key component to any sound employee relations program. Call your TPO consultant to discuss the state of your employee handbook.


Article written by: Robyn Schiller, SPHR-CA

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Employment Upd@te is a publication of  TPO HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Copyright ©2004-2010. All rights reserved.
TPO's Employment Upd@te may not be reproduced or re-transmitted without change or modification of any kind. The information provided is designed to be accurate in content. TPO provides human resource consulting and is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. Readers are advised to consult legal counsel on matters involving employment law or important personnel policies & practices before adoption or implementation.