Put yourself to labor law test

   As an ongoing public service, I have done exhaustive research on the subject of California labor laws and have compiled the following quiz, complete with answers.
    Please be advised, however, that I get exhausted after about two minutes of research.
   Question No. 1: Bobby, an excellent employee of your business, has serious money problems. His wife is ill, his baby needs new shoes and his mother-in-law is moving in with him. He comes to you and asks if he can work seven days a week.
   You were about to hire a part-timer, anyway. What do you do?
   A) Give him more hours, of course. Heís one of your best employees and itís much wiser to have him work more hours with you than have him find a second job with someone else. And it beats hiring a part-timer who is unproven.
   But explain that because he asked for the extra hours, it would not be overtime pay, which you could not afford.
   B) Tell him to hit the pavement. You donít want any overworked, overtired, walking time bombs in the company. Suggest he join the armed forces.
   C) Donít fire him, but patiently explain that California law requires you to pay overtime for any work performed over 40 hours in any workweek, regardless of who requested the work. Then explain that you could hire two new people for the cost of his overtime pay.
   Then tell him to hit the streets to try and find a second job where he can start at the bottom in a part-time position.
   Answer: "C." The rationale behind the law is obvious -- to protect the employee from being coerced into longer hours without overtime pay. But the flip side is that many workers who desperately need more hours are forced to find inconvenient second jobs.
   Question No. 2: Sally, who is nearing retirement, has worked for you for 37 years. She now wants to take a two-week cruise to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary with her long-suffering husband. She asks if she might, please, have a paid vacation to enjoy this milestone.
   What do you do?
   A) Let her go on the cruise, of course. California law requires at least two weeks of paid vacation for any employees who have worked for more than one year.
   B) Tell her she missed the boat. Explain there will be plenty of time to cruise when she retires, so stop whining about the need for relaxation while sheís still on the payroll.
   C) Considering sheís worked 37 years without a paid vacation, reward her by announcing you will allow her to go on the cruise, but it will be an unpaid leave rather than a paid vacation.
   Answer "C" if youíve got any heart at all or "B" if youíre a complete jerk. Surprisingly, there is no legal obligation for a California employer to offer vacation pay, sick pay or severance pay to employees. It is up to the individual employer to set policy, and if you chose to offer no vacation, so be it. Just donít sleep too soundly.
   Question No. 3: Your sister calls. Her 17-year old son, Bruno, is out of school for the summer and needs work. You could use some help in your warehouse moving boxes from Point A to Point B and even Bruno can handle that job.
   What do you do?
   A) Hire the big oaf, telling him youíll give him $2 an hour under the table but he has to promise to take the earring out of his lip.
   B) Hire him and put him on the payroll, reluctantly paying him $3.61 per hour, which is the legal amount under Californiaís child labor laws (85 percent of the $4.25 adult minimum wage).
   C) Refuse to hire him, telling your sister that Bruno does not have the proper papers to be employed. When she sheepishly admits he has no pedigree, explain that you mean he needs a work permit from his local school district.
   Answer: Itís "C" again. No only does anyone under the age of 18, with limited exceptions, need a "Permit to Work," but the employer needs to apply for and receive a "Permit to Employ" from the local school district. California Labor Code Section 1304 states that failure to produce permits to work or to employ is prima facie evidence of illegal employment of minors. The penalty is a fine and/or up to six months in the county jail.
   If Bruno and the employer get the papers in order, then the answer becomes "B." And if Bruno demands a raise, you can always hold a match to your "Permit to Employ."


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