California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)

Yesterday, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued a press release announcing that it was launching a Criminal Investigation Unit to investigate “wage theft and other criminal activities against workers.” 

“Wage theft” is part of the DLSE’s new lingo (see, for example, The Wage Theft Protection Act). Presumably, it’s intended to suggest that employers who don’t correctly pay employees are stealing from them, as opposed to being confused about the myriad vague and shifting payroll requirements in California.

So how do you combat crime? With armed cops, of course! “The CIU is made up entirely of sworn peace officers who have completed the police academy[,] . . . report directly to the Labor Commissioner[, and are] . . . permitted to carry firearms.”

The only way I can make sense of any of this is if the sale of the TV rights to CIU: Criminal Investigation Unit will be used to pay down the state’s massive budget deficit.

As I write this, the press release isn’t available online.  So I’ll reproduce it below the picture of CIU officers moving in on an employer who miscalculated the regular rate of pay.

Continue Reading Not Satisfied With The Threat Of Crippling Financial Penalties, Labor Commissioner Adds Armed Cops To Her Arsenal

As we reported here, a newly enacted California statute (excitingly named “The Wage Theft Protection Act”) requires employers to give new employees a written notice specifying the rate or rates of pay, the basis on which the wages are to be calculated (such as hourly, piece rate, commission, etc.), the applicable overtime rates, the designated regular pay day, and the name and mailing address of the employer. The statute also specified that the notice had to contain “any other information the Labor Commissioner deems material and necessary.”

Well the Labor Commissioner, through her alter-ego the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, has taken the ball and run with it.  As the year was winding to a close, the DLSE made a template available here and posted FAQs here that say that all the information included in the template is required in any notice given to employees.

So in addition to what is specified in the statute, the notice must contain the following:

  • The employer’s form of business (e.g. corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship);
  • Whether the employer uses another company to hire employees or administer wages or benefits and, if so, information identifying that company;
  • The form of the employment agreement (more on this below); and
  • Information identifying the workers’ comp insurer (including the policy number) or, if the employer is self-insured for workers’ comp, the “Certificate Number for Consent to Self-Insure.”

There are also four paragraphs of language at the end of the DLSE template about the employer’s obligation to notify employees of changes, what categories of employees don’t need to receive the notice, how to find the complete statute online, and the legal significance of the employee’s signature.

There are a number of issues here, but I want to focus on the part of the form that reads:

Employment agreement is (check box):  ? Oral    ? Written

Continue Reading Beware Of Traps In New DLSE Template

If you are an employer trying to follow all the rules, getting notice of a wage and hour complaint filed by one of your employees with the DLSE can be frustrating.  However, good preparation  and a solid set of employer policies will usually help you win the day.  If you’re not familiar with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), they are the state agency responsible for enforcing statutes related to wages, hours of work, working conditions and payment of overtime.  Frequent wage-related complaints handled by the DLSE include nonpayment of wages at termination, underpayment of wages, nonpayment of overtime, and payments for missed meal and rest periods.  Read on for some ways that employers have found to prepare them for a successful DLSE outcome. Continue Reading Got DLSE?