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TPO Team at the Ren Faire last month!

If not, morale decreases, teamwork can be compromised and the bottom line can suffer! People like to accomplish a meaningful job…with people they trust…and in a way that is rewarding! The “FUN at Work Series” is more than just having a good time; it is about pausing long-enough to re-engage with your team, your job and your company’s vision!

Have you noticed that people are feeling stressed right now? Each of these 1.5 to 3-hour sessions focuses on giving employees necessary coping skills in a way that is fun and engaging!


Contact TPO to talk about scheduling the Fun at Work Series for your staff…you’ll be glad you did!

Too many times we hear in the news a tragic story about violence in the workplace. And always we think, "It can't happen here." Unfortunately it can. What can employers do to create awareness of the subject and an atmosphere of prevention? It can be very difficult to know when a person is going to be violent. While not all people will show the following signs, these types of behaviors and physical signs can be warning signs that a situation could turn violent. But remember to always take these behaviors in context. Individually they may not amount to much, but think twice if you see multiple warning signs or signs of escalation. If you are concerned about a person who shows some or all of these signs, take action. Depending on the seriousness of what you witness, you may choose to do any of the following:

  • Report the behavior to law enforcement and ask them to assess whether or not this would constitute a “credible threat” to your workplace

  • Investigate the extent of the violence/misbehavior either internally or through an external investigation firm

  • Talk with the employee about the behavior and do a further assessment of your risk with an outcome of any of the above, disciplinary action or increasing your vigilance


In some cases, there has been a clear pattern of warning signs before a violent incident. Pay attention to:

History of Violence

  • Fascination with weapons, acts of violence, or both

  • Demonstrated violence towards inanimate objects

  • Evidence of earlier violent behavior

Threatening Behavior

  • States intention to hurt someone (verbal or written)

  • Holds grudges

  • Excessive behavior (e.g. phone calls, gift giving)

  • Escalating threats that appear well-planned

  • Preoccupation with violence

Intimidating Behavior

  • Argumentative

  • Displays unwarranted anger

  • Uncooperative, impulsive, easily frustrated

  • Challenges peers and authority figures

  • Harassment of other employees

Increase in Personal Stress

  • An unreciprocated romantic obsession

  • Serious family or financial problems

  • Recent job loss

  • Recent diagnosis of serious medical condition

Negative Personality Characteristics

  • Suspicious of others

  • Believes he/she is entitled to something

  • Cannot take criticism

  • Feels victimized

  • Shows a lack of concern for the safety or well-being of others

  • Blames others for his problems or mistakes

  • Low self-esteem

  • Conveys feeling of helplessness

Marked Changes in Mood or Behavior

  • Extreme or bizarre behavior

  • Irrational beliefs and ideas

  • Appears depressed or expresses hopelessness or heightened anxiety

  • Marked decline in work performance

  • Unusually poor attendance for undisclosed reasons

Socially Isolated

  • History of negative interpersonal relationships

  • Few family or friends

  • Sees the company as a "family"

  • Has an obsessive involvement with his or her job

Abuses Drugs (prescription or illegal) or Alcohol

Include a Violence in the Workplace Policy in your employee handbook and provide training on the subject. And remember, employers have a legal obligation to provide employees with a safe workplace for their employees.

Have a Zero Tolerance approach to any threat of violence and investigate quickly, effectively and thoroughly. TPO is an investigatory firm – give us a call if you are assessing your ability to conduct an internal investigation or if you want to hire an external expert in such matters.

Let TPO help you with creating a Violence in the Workplace policy, and provide training at your location!

Article written by: Kathrine Parsons, SPHR-CA


Governor Brown decided the fate of nearly 500 bills before the October 9th deadline…many impacting employment in CA! While many of the specific details of the new laws are yet to be worked out, the status of important employment-related bills is as follows:

CA Legislation

Signed into Law by Governor Jerry Brown

  • Insurance Premiums – Pregnancy Disability Leave (SB 299) Requires employers to maintain and pay for health insurance premiums for an employee who is on Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) under the same conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment during the PDL leave. PDL is for the amount of the pregnancy-related disability, up to a maximum of 4 months.

  • “Gender Expression” (AB 887) – Includes “gender expression” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, defined as “a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

  • Organ and Bone Marrow Leave Clarification (SB 272) — Provides employers with clarity on these mandatory leaves, including that: 1) the one-year period referenced in the statute is 12 consecutive months from the date of the employee’s request for leave, not a calendar year, 2) the days of leave are business days, as opposed to calendar days, and 3) the benefits of an employee must be maintained at the same level during the paid leave, as if he/she had continued to work during that period.

  • Wage Notifications (AB469) — Requires an employer to provide each employee, at the time of hiring, with a notice that specifies the rate and the basis, whether hourly, salary, commission, or otherwise, of the employee’s wages and to notify each employee in writing of any changes to the information set forth in the notice within seven calendar days of the changes unless such changes are reflected on a timely wage statement or another specified writing.

  • Credit Checks (AB 22) — Limits employers’ ability to use consumer credit reports to only where the information contained in the report is “substantially job-related,” which is narrowly defined to managerial positions; employees of the city, county, or state Department of Justice; law enforcement; or a position for which a report is required by law.

  • Commissions (AB 1396) — Requires that all employers put commission agreements in writing, clearly stating the method computed and paid. Employees must sign a receipt of the commission agreement, to be retained by the employer.

    • Commission defined per the text of the law: “Commissions does not include short-term productivity bonuses such as are paid to retail clerks; and it does not include bonus and profit-sharing plans, unless there has been an offer by the employer to pay a fixed percentage of sales or profits as compensation for work to be performed.”

  • Independent Contractors (SB 459) — Imposes new penalties for the willful misclassification of someone as an independent contractor.

    • IRS Voluntary Classification Settlement Program: Employers that choose to voluntarily reclassify their independent contractors as employees for federal tax purposes and may be eligible to pay a fee covering a portion of their past payroll obligations and can escape certain tax liability for improper misclassification under the IRS's new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP). Employers interested in participating in the VCSP can apply by filing Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program, at least 60 days before the employer wishes to treat the workers as employees.

  • Farm Labor Contractors Itemized Statements (AB 243) — requires that the written statement include the name and address of the legal entity that secured the employer’s services in addition to the currently required semimonthly itemized statement.

  • Minors Employed in Agricultural Packing Plants (AB1398) — extends the exception to hours now allowed for this employment in Lake County and modifies the reporting required for the same.

  • Agricultural Labor Relations Procedural Revisions (SB126) — changes and clarifies procedural matters where Unfair Labor Practices have been identified and the resulting legal review mediation or other actions.

  • Unemployment Insurance in the Motion Picture Industry (AB55) — Extends the current UI requirements for this industry beyond the original repeal dates of January 1, 2012.

  • Gender/Sexual Orientation Protection in Contracts (SB117) — Extends coverage of the current law prohibiting state entities from contracting with any organization that does not provide same health benefits coverage for a domestic partner as for a spouse to include any contractor that discriminates on the basis of the gender or sexual orientation of an employee’s spouse or partner.

Not Signed into Law

  • Card Check Bill (SB 104) If passed, would have eliminated the secret ballot election and replaced it with the submission of representation cards signed by over 50% of the employees. Bill Status: Vetoed by Governor.

  • Bereavement Leave (AB 325) — If passed, would have required employers to provide an employee with up to three days of unpaid bereavement leave. Bill Status: Vetoed by Governor.

  • Medical Marijuana (SB 129) — If passed, would have prevented employers from firing, or refusing to hire workers who use medical marijuana, as long as they are not impaired on the job. Pre-employment drug testing would have required exceptions for employees who have a prescription for medical marijuana. Termination of any employee who uses marijuana at the workplace, during working hours, or who is impaired during working hours would have been allowed. Bill Status: Failed Deadline.

  • Payroll Cards (AB 51) — If passed, would have put restrictions on the use of payroll cards. Bill Status: Failed Deadline.

Federal Pending HR Legislation

  • Automatic IRA Act of 2011 (S. 1557) - Would establish an automatic individual retirement account (IRA) enrollment program for employees at firms with more than 10 employees that do not already offer retirement plans. Employees could contribute to these IRAs on a voluntary basis through automatic payroll deductions and employers would be provided a $250 tax credit for each of the first two years of the program’s operation to offset costs associated with its establishment. Bill Status: Referred to Committee.

  • Wounded Veteran Job Security Act (H.R. 2875) - Would amend the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) to prohibit acts of discrimination and reprisal against an employee who is absent from work to receive medical treatment for a service-connected illness, injury or disability. Bill Status: Referred to Committee.

  • Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (H.R. 2364, S. 1283) - Would expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage to a same-sex spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, son- or daughter-in-law, child of a domestic partner, or adult child or sibling who has a serious health condition. Bill Status of Both: Referred to Committee.

  • Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act (H.R. 1440) – Would expand FMLA to allow both private and federal employees to take parental involvement leave to participate in or attend their children's and grandchildren's educational and extracurricular activities, and to clarify that leave may be taken for routine family medical needs and to assist elderly relatives, and for other purposes. Bill Status: Referred to Committee.

  • The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) - Would allow employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours (seven days) annually. Bill Status: Referred to Committee.

  • Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1519, S. 797) and the Fair Pay Act (H.R. 1493, S. 788) - Would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to promote pay equity. Bill Status: Referred to Committee.

  • Payroll Fraud Prevention Act (S. 770) - Would impose new reporting requirements on employers, increase penalties for classification violations, and establish new protections for workers who believe they have been misclassified as non-employees. Bill Status: Referred to Committee.

  • Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act (H.R. 2000) – Among other provisions, would create a four-year phase-in period during which all employers would eventually be required to use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of their potential and current hires.

  • Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act (S. 1196) - Like the House employment immigration bill (H.R. 2000), the Senate version would require all employers to use the E-Verify electronic employment verification system, increase employer penalties for violations of immigration law, and eliminate the current Form I-9 process. Bill Status: Referred to Committee.

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

“Alternative Workweeks”
…the challenges of being flexible!

  • Your employees want you to understand that they have busy lives where flexible work schedules could help them achieve a better work-life balance.

  • You do understand, however, that for private employers in California, flexibility sometimes comes with painful consequences.


Such is the case for many employers when they “thought” they had an alternative workweek, only to find that the formal procedures were not followed to the “T.” The end result: no alternative workweek, but a lot of back pay for unpaid overtime due!

Most CA private employers must pay overtime for any time worked in excess of 8 hours in a day. Where employers and employees want to work 4, 10-hour days a week (for example), that is only allowed when the specific provisions are followed.

A common error is to go through all the steps (to the right) with the exception of mailing the results to the Division of Labor Statistics and Research. When this is the case, the payroll records clearly show the hours between 8 and 10 as needing to be paid overtime - often for years at a time!

DLSE has a new on-line database that is cited as being, “very accurate.”


If your organization doesn’t come up in the database, some research is going to need to be done to determine your best next step! Ouch…not so flexible!


TPO can help create (or recreate) correctly implemented

Alternative Workweeks – give us a call!

Article written by: Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA

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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: "Armanasco Public Relations has been a TPO member for over 8 years. How do you feel TPO contributes to your operation's success?”

David Armanasco, President: "TPO contributes to our success by providing us with the information and tools to help guide us through the specialized world of human resources. They are truly the experts! The Annual Employers Conference enlightens our firm on the changing laws, and cuts through the legalese so it makes sense and helps us understand how they affect our business. The yearly updates help ensure we have the tools we need to manage our team, and the one-on-one support is essential when dealing with employee issues big and small. Having TPO on our team lets us focus less time on the administration needed to run a small business and more time on our clients. The relationship and partnership with TPO has been invaluable and has allowed us to grow to become the largest full service public relations firm on the Central  Coast!”


About Armanasco Public Relations, Inc.

Established in 1985 by David Armanasco, Armanasco Public Relations, Inc (APR) is an associate of Hill & Knowlton, Inc., one of the world’s leading public relations firms. APR has grown to become the largest privately owned public relations firm on California’s Central Coast. APR’s client roster cuts across a variety of industries, including agriculture, foodservice, education, hospitality, real estate development and utilities. Services include: public affairs, community relations, strategic planning, marketing communications and crisis management.

To learn more visit www.armanasco.com or call 831.372.2259.

The Northern CA Human Resource Association (NCHRA) provides training opportunities for HR professionals. TPO has facilitated many of their programs with the following upcoming opportunities:

Seminar -- 11/16/2011 9 AM – 3:30 PM

Motivating and Retaining Employees: What They Really Want Cost $329 non NCHRA members
It has become more challenging to ensure your employees are satisfied in their positions. Are they motivated to do the best job they can for your organization? Are they being honest about their needs in the workplace?

If you find yourself taking stabs in the dark to develop employee recognition and retention programs, this course is for you!

California Certification Test Preparation Course (Monterey – TPO Offices) 2-day course 12/2/2011-12/3/2011 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM Cost $625 non NCHRA members

Seminar – 12/13/2011 9 AM - 3:30 PM

Working Across Generations: We're Not So Different Cost $329 non NCHRA members
Take an amusing, yet enlightening look at the differences and similarities of today's workforce, and gain a better understanding of what each generation needs from their leaders. Specifically, you'll learn to:

  • Identify and work within different values and preferences

  • Explain and live by "The Platinum Rule"

  • Tailor your communication messages appropriately

My employees spend a lot of time on Facebook and other social sites. I am worried about claims of harassment not to mention complaining about our company for everyone to read. What can I do about all of that?

Wow. That is a lot of stuff in three sentences. I’m going to break it down into the different areas so that it is a bit more digestible. Any one of these areas could easily involve much more conversation, but this should at least help.

  1. Employees spending time on Facebook – You didn’t say whether or not it was at work, but that is one potential problem area. Some employers don’t have a problem with employees spending a reasonable amount of time on social sites during the day and some are not able to allow it due to business demands. Each employer must determine the tolerance level of the organization for using company time to interact in this way. There are both advantages and disadvantages to allowing it. You should have a clear policy in your handbook about what your requirements are in terms of computer use keeping the following in mind:

    1. Employers have the right to require employees to spend all paid time on business activities other than required paid breaks for non-exempt employees.

    2. Computer equipment, internet access, etc. all belong to the employer and the employer may restrict how those are used by employees.

    3. If you put a lot of restrictions on employee behavior, you then have to monitor it and enforce your requirements.

  2. Harassment online -- Although an employer cannot be responsible for employees’ behavior outside the workplace and work hours, what “Happens in Vegas doesn’t Stay in Vegas” as we all know. If employees are having such interactions in the evenings or on their off time, that becomes a problem if it spills into the workplace. Employers should remind employees that they are held to certain standards when working together regardless of their activities outside of company time or premises. Drawing a clear distinction between personal time and business time behavior should be done in your Harassment Policy in the handbook and appropriate workplace behavior emphasized without getting into the personal lives of employees. Remember, they can always “UnFriend” the guilty person.

  3. Complaining about company – First, keep in mind that the opposite can also happen. Employees can also rave about great companies. I’m sure your first choice would be to get that distinction. Some employees, however, will inevitably be unhappy with any company. Things to consider include the following:

    1. If an employee is complaining about an employer on one of the sites like Facebook where the information is not truly public since only certain people are able to view what someone posts, that is not unlike having them bad-mouth you at parties.

    2. The same sorts of rules apply as with any “free speech” outlet. Employees can certainly voice discontent privately, but are limited by the laws regarding libel and/or slander.

    3. You should include in your handbook policy additional language noting that employee may not represent that they are speaking for the company and that employees may not disclose any confidential information as well as a prohibition against posting any pictures, recordings, etc. made on company premises without prior permission.

If you have concerns that any of the above lines have been crossed, you may want to consult an attorney. If you need assistance with developing policies for your handbook, contact your TPO Consultant. TPO can also come to your workplace and meet with your employees to discuss what is “inbounds” or “out of bounds” with their online presence.

Article written by: LaTonya Olivier, SPHR-CA

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