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Arizona’s New Paid Sick Time Law

Posted by on Jun 6, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Arizona’s New Paid Sick Time Law

Arizona voters approved the Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Time Off Initiative, better known as Proposition 206, in November of 2016. Proposition 206 immediately increased Arizona’s minimum wage to $10.00 per hour and requires Arizona employers to provide paid sick time to all employees.  The minimum wage increase took effect January 1, 2017; however, the paid sick time does not go into effect July 1, 2017.

Since July 1st is almost here, we wanted to highlight some critical elements that need to be understood in order for businesses to implement policies that adhere to the new regulations. Proposition 206 states that employees of employers with 1 or more employees accrue at least one hour of earned paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  However, employees’ annual accrual and use of sick leave is capped – 40 hours per year for employers with 15 or more employees, and 24 hours per year for employers with less than 15 employees.   Salaried employees are presumed to work 40 hours per week for accrual purposes.

Proposition 206 created new categories for employees to use paid sick time, including:

  • Employee mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • Time off related to abuse, stalking, sexual violence, or domestic violence of either the employee or the employee’s family member;
  • The mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of a family member;
  • When an unforeseen public health emergency forces the employee’s workplace to close, or the employee’s child’s school or daycare to close.

Proposition 206 broadly expanded the definition of a “family member” to include:

  • A biological, adopted or foster child of any age, in addition, legal wards and children of a domestic partner are classified as a family member;
  • The employee’s parents, including biological, foster, stepparents, adoptive parents, and legal guardians of the employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner;
  • Spouse and domestic partners of the employee;
  • Employee’s grandparents, grandchildren, or siblings of the employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner;
  • Any and all other individuals related by either blood or affinity whose relationship or association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

It is important for businesses to note that if an employee leaves the job, regardless of the reason, employers are not required to pay out unused accrued paid sick leave time to the employee. However, if the same employer rehires the employee within nine months of the employee’s termination or resignation, the employee is entitled to have all previously accrued paid sick time reinstated.

Therefore, seasonal employees, who are fired and rehired within nine months, are entitled to all of their accrued paid sick leave time.  Employees are entitled to roll over their unused paid sick leave time year to year; however, they are not allowed to exceed 40 or 24 hours, depending on the size of the employer.

Employers may use an existing paid time off policy to satisfy the law if it provides benefits at least as generous as Proposition 206, but that approach can be risky.  Many employers are choosing to separate sick leave benefits to leave no doubt that their policy is legal.

Proposition 206 is complicated and can be tricky to implement. Contact Boreale Law, PLC and let us help you ensure your business is complying!

 

We’ve Moved!

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on We’ve Moved!

Boreale Law is excited to announce our recent move to our new office in the Transamerica Building located at 177 N. Church Avenue, Suite 1100.

transamerica-building

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by for a tour; or better yet, schedule an appointment to find out how Boreale Law can be your partner in Smart Business Growth!

Business Growth in a Regulatory Environment

Posted by on Sep 4, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Business Growth in a Regulatory Environment

In years past, the fabric of our society was woven with wonderful success stories of entrepreneurs who embodied the American Dream. Starting a business from the ground up is the epitome of this pursuit. There are countless examples of pioneers who took out their life savings and risked everything to venture out on their own with little more than an idea. America saw the Wright Brothers as they defied gravity at the beginning of the 20th century. We marveled at Thomas Edison, who created many of the inventions that we enjoy today. Much later we saw a new breed of entrepreneurs, such as Steve Jobs and a host of other technological founders, propel America into the forefront of the internet age. These entrepreneurs all had one thing in common — a deep appreciation for the benefits of hard work, the spirit to succeed, and a social and business environment in which success could take place.

Much of this nearly endless opportunity stems from our historically capitalist system, along with few government regulations preventing entrepreneurs from getting their businesses off of the ground. Every large corporation you see today was once a small business.  Unfortunately, countless government regulations have created complex hurdles for would-be business owners, so far fewer entrepreneurs are willing to take the plunge.  Even after starting a business, all too often, the new business owner is caught in a web of bureaucratic regulations that stifles not only the ability, but even the will to follow in the footsteps of the American entrepreneurs who we hold in such high regard.

To be certain, some measure of governmental regulations are necessary for the common good. No one wants unsafe drugs on our shelves, asbestos in the walls of our homes, or glass in our vehicles that break into shards in the event of an accident. However, the common sense regulations that do, indeed, help us as a nation are eclipsed by a host of regulations doing seemingly little, but to keep bureaucrats in Washington or state capitals occupied. For instance, the small business owner of today hiring an employee is faced with a number of rules and regulations dictating the nature of the employment relationship, with stiff penalties for non-compliance. Many times business owners choose to stay small rather than deal with additional regulations.

There is hope, however.  It is possible to create and grow a successful business — provided we know the rules, understand the procedures, and avoid common pitfalls.  This is where Boreale Law, PLC can help. We focus on working with entrepreneurs and business owners, with the goal of helping them navigate the roadblocks set up by governmental agencies. A trusted legal advisor is a valuable asset for those who dare to venture out and seek the American Dream.  Boreale Law, PLC — Your Partner in Smart Business Growth!

Call for Small Business Nominations!

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Call for Small Business Nominations!

The Minority and Small Business Alliance of Southern Arizona (MSBA) is seeking nominations.  

This year’s event, presented by the Minority and Small Business Alliance of Southern Arizona (MSBA), will be held on September 29, 2016 at Westward Look Resort, 245 E. Ina Rd, Tucson, AZ 85704.

The MSBA is a non-profit 501c(3) organization composed of members from local, state and federal agencies as well as corporations and small business owners.  Throughout the year MSBA conducts and/or sponsors educational workshops focused on small business growth and development.  The MSBA also hosts an awards banquet to recognize the achievements of minority and small businesses in Southern Arizona.  The businesses that we recognize share their experiences that helped to make their organization successful.

We will be recognizing outstanding small businesses in Southern Arizona in the following areas:

Construction
Exporting
Manufacturing
Retail
Service
Supplier/Distribution
Technology
Advocates

MSBA also awards $1,000 scholarships to deserving students attending either the University of Arizona or Pima Community College.  To date, more than $78,000 in scholarships has been awarded to 78 students.  Funds are collected during our Live Auction/Raffle during the Awards program.

Please take time to review the enclosed packet and consider self-nominating or nominating a deserving small business or advocate. Nominations can also be found on the MSBA website at http://www.msbasa.org/

With its rich and diverse population, this is an important event for Tucson, as it lends valued recognition to aspiring and established small business entrepreneurs.

Making the Case for an Employee Handbook

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Making the Case for an Employee Handbook

The secretary’s voice beckons you to the reception area – there is a man with some papers for you.  You tentatively greet the stranger who then hands you a stack of paperwork including a summons and legal complaint against your company.  The complaint outlines a series of alleged missteps taken by your company related to the recent firing of a disruptive employee. Now you are looking down the barrel of a half-million-dollar lawsuit, not to mention the countless thousands of additional dollars needed for legal fees.  

 How could this have been avoided?  What could have been done in the days and weeks prior to the termination of the troublesome employee to reduce the risk of litigation?  There is no silver bullet that can completely prevent the dilemma presented, but there are things that a company can, and certainly should do to minimize the chances of litigation and to limit the company’s exposure to damages in a suit filed by an aggrieved  or former employee.

 At the core of every company is a standard philosophy; a strategic method to follow while conducting business. These procedures should be laid out in the employee handbook. A poorly written, or worse yet, complete absence of an employee handbook is a time-bomb waiting to explode. All too often companies have fallen victim to costly lawsuits regarding the failure, or perceived failure, to follow employee handbook policies.  Other times, companies are sued because an aggrieved employee believes he or she was not treated fairly and that there was no corporate guidance – that is, there was no set of defined rules to outline performance expectations. Do not fall victim to this trap in your business. Having a carefully crafted handbook to meet legal requirements and definitions is essential to the long-term success of any business. The handbook should be viewed in a sense as the “Bible” of the business.  

 While developing an employee handbook, it is imperative to have self-awareness regarding any liabilities the company may face in the present, as well as the future. The main goal of the employee handbook is to establish company policies and goals to ensure legal protection – of both management and employees. The employee handbook serves in essence as a physical piece of insurance which the company can rely on in the present and in the future should a lawsuit occur. Business owners should invest in a legal professional who is aware of federal and state regulations. Further, they should be cognizant of any special requirements specific to their particular industry, such as the myriad requirements for HIPAA compliance in the medical field.    

 Finding the proper balance between employee rights and management discretion is an essential part of the employee handbook. Once again, consider a worst case scenario when deciding on tone and language. It is tempting to try to cover all your bases by anticipating future areas of liability, but the priority should be properly spelling out guidelines and practices of the business. Focus on the basics and be sure to carefully word the handbook to maintain management latitude and flexibility depending on the matter involved. This is especially beneficial when adjusting the severity of discipline to the variable circumstances of workplace misconduct; however, it is important to establish baseline procedures to minimize an allegation of disparate or discriminatory treatment.

In the constantly changing nature of business, your employee handbook should evolve with the times as well. At the very least, an annual review of the employee handbook should be included by management in every business. Consistent review of the employee handbook should include keeping up to date with any important federal or state regulations pertinent to your business practices and training your managers accordingly. A legal professional will be aware of the changes to the legal landscape, which are essential to keep up to date with in your handbook. Lastly, receipt of the employee handbook should be documented for each individual employee, including when any changes or updates are made.

Navigating the business world is complicated enough without the risk of a lawsuit, but employment attorneys like Boreale Law are here to help you find your way!

New DOL Rules – Change is in the Air

Posted by on Mar 25, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on New DOL Rules – Change is in the Air

A number of very significant changes are about to impact small business owners. The Department of Labor (DOL) is proposing a major change in “White Collar Exemptions” to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  These changes are expected to come into play much earlier than previously anticipated, and may be enacted as early as May 16, 2016 – well ahead of previous estimates of June or even later in the summer of 2016.

DOL is specifically proposing a significant increase in salary in order to qualify for white collar exemptions. Employees who meet specific criteria are exempt from federal laws governing overtime pay and minimum wage requirements. These employees must be executive, administrative, professional, or computer employees falling into the current salary threshold stated by DOL – currently $455 per week.  If the changes are approved, employers would have to ensure that exempt employees’ salaries are at least $921 per week, in order for them to remain exempt.  Further, exempt highly-compensated employees would see salaries rise from $100,000 per year to $122,148 per year to remain qualified for the highly-compensated exemption category.

The rush for DOL to implement the new policy changes is in part due to political considerations. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress up to 60 days to disapprove any major policy changes which have been implemented. In short, if DOL cannot pass these new, significant regulations prior to May 16th, the policy changes will be subject to the scrutiny of the next president and Congress. The current administration is likely to give the go ahead to these proposed changes; however, it is difficult to predict the viability of the changes under the next administration.

Businesses should be aware of these proposed changes, and take action to prepare themselves accordingly. These new rules are expected to impact service-based businesses the most; however all businesses should review their processes and policies to ensure compliance with these changing regulations. Misclassification of employees is a common source of employer liability under the FLSA and a high-priority enforcement area for DOL – emphasizing the crucial importance of taking time to understand federal regulations affecting employee pay.  Due to the complexity and changing nature of Federal, State, and Local employment rules, consulting a legal professional can lead to piece of mind in tackling future business endeavors, while minimizing the worry over potential liability.  Contact Boreale Law for a business compliance check-up today!

Everything you ever wanted to know about Employment Law

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Everything you ever wanted to know about Employment Law

If you need a comprehensive, business-oriented look at employment law rules, regulations, and best practices, you’ll want to attend this seminar on May 6th.  I am presenting along with 3 other employment law practitioners.  More information can be found here: http://www.nbi-sems.com/Details.aspx/R-68777ER|?ctname=SPKEM.

This seminar is aimed at business owners, HR professionals, and others who routinely deal with employee issues.  I hope to see you there!

We’re Moving!

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on We’re Moving!

I’m pleased to announce that Boreale Law is moving into Tucson’s historic El Presidio neighborhood.

As of April 1, 2015, our new address will be:

290 N. Meyer Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701

Our new phone number will be (520) 334-2069 and our new fax number will be (520) 441-2797.

For all of your business, employment, and international law needs, let Boreale Law help you find your way!

In Praise of Doctors and Directives

Posted by on Feb 23, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on In Praise of Doctors and Directives

I recently lost a close family member. I write this not for sympathy or to sell something, but to point out two observations that became very apparent through this process.

The first is the care, compassion, and dedication shown by the medical staff – from attending physicians, to residents, to nurses, to technicians, to housekeeping. Virtually, everyone we came in contact with had a kind word, a knowing glance, or obvious skill – usually all three.

As an attorney, I could only watch helplessly as these medical professionals deftly practiced their crafts in the face of life and death consequences. Yet, they always remained cognizant of the human element; for both patient and family alike. As the outlook for my family member dimmed, my appreciation and respect for these medical professionals grew.

One area where I could be of service arose toward the end of the experience. When it became clear that the end was in sight, the hospital needed to ensure that they understood my family member’s final wishes if the situation demanded it. In other words, were advance directives, a living will, and a health care power of attorney in place?

While you might think that an attorney’s relatives would be all set in that department, you’d be wrong. Some members of my family apparently view the creation of a will and related documents as tantamount to a written invitation for Death to come knocking. Fortunately, when the time came, I was able to quickly prepare the documents, with only one week to spare.

While I know that many people, whether through superstition or busy lives, don’t have these documents prepared, I also know that not everyone has a lawyer in the family to prepare them quickly. Trust me, the last thing you want to do with a relative in the hospital is to scramble around trying to get final directives in order.

So, the purpose of my article is this: have a living will, health care power of attorney, general power of attorney, and will prepared by a competent professional. Yes, it is an expense, but the stress, aggravation, and worry that you will save your relatives is immeasurable. Make it a point to get these done as soon as you can, and I hope it is a long time before you ever need them.

Operating Agreements: Who Needs ‘Em?!

Posted by on Feb 13, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Operating Agreements: Who Needs ‘Em?!

agreementWhen I form Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) for my clients, I always highly encourage them to create an operating agreement at the same time.  Some clients say: “Yes, of course we want an operating agreement.”  Others say: “Nah, I’ll just download one off the interweb.”  And still others say: “What the heck is an operating agreement?”

First, the basics.  An operating agreement is a contract between the members of an LLC that outlines how the company will be run, who can make decisions, how and when members get paid, and what happens when the company dissolves or a member decides to leave.  They can, and do, get significantly more complex than that, but in a nutshell it is how the members define their vision for the company.

A good operating agreement protects you and your company in a number of ways.  Most importantly, it ensures that the members are on the same page regarding key decisions.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best time to plan for the end of a company is when you are starting a company.  Some of the most expensive, complicated, and messy litigation occurs in so-called “business divorce” cases.  The reality is, a lot of those lawsuits could have been avoided if a good operating agreement was in place.

Another benefit to an operating agreement is that it helps to show that you are following the formalities required for an LLC to protect your personal assets from creditors or lawsuits.  I have counseled many clients to ensure that they are treating their LLC as a separate and distinct legal entity, not merely as a personal alter ego.  That means not mixing personal and business funds in the same bank account, keeping clearly defined business records, and having an operating agreement in place.  This is especially true for single-member LLCs.  Many people form LLCs, but don’t take or keep up with these steps, which puts them at risk of losing the legal protection that an LLC can provide.

Lastly, if you have no operating agreement, you are stuck with the statutory rules.  You might not like how the rules apply to your business, and the operating agreement is your opportunity to customize things.  In that same vein, downloading a template from the internet is not going to be crafted to your specific needs, industry, and situation.

If your LLC doesn’t have an operating agreement, don’t worry; Boreale Law can prepare an operating agreement for you starting at just $500.00!  Plus, as your business grows, Boreale Law can be your trusted partner in smart business growth, without breaking the bank.  Check out our other services and price list.

Whether you need a new operating agreement, want to revise an existing one, or just want us to review your internet special, call or email Boreale Law today.  Boreale Law – Let us help you find your way!