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Friday, August 21 -Wildfire smoke requirements/N-95 Masks Available
In July, the California Department of Industrial Relations passed an emergency regulation to protect outdoor workers from wildfire smoke. When the Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM 2.5 is 151 or greater and employees could be exposed to wildfire smoke, employers must take precautions to limit employees exposure to wildfire smoke. This includes having available N95 masks, for employees to voluntarily use if they choose to. (8 CCR 5141.1). Employees are also to be provided with information on wildfire smoke protection, see https://www.dir.ca.gov/Title8/5141_1b.html.
MOST UP TO DATE BY THE HOUR WEBSITES FOR AIR QUALITY INDEX
Even though we are far away from the wildfires, the winds are blowing the smoke into the Central Valley triggering the need for growers and FLCs to comply with this emergency regulation. Please designate someone to monitor the AQI for PM 2.5 (its best to have a written plan). The most up to date by the hour websites are https://www.airnow.gov/ (type in your zip code) or https://www.valleyair.org/myraan/ (type in your address). It will provide the levels for PM 2.5, PM 10, and OZONE. Focus only on PM 2.5 level.
N-95 MASKS AVAILABLE
Nisei has been given a limited number of N-95 masks from the Fresno County Ag Commissioners Office to give to our members with workers in Fresno County. We will be giving them out on Monday, August 24th. Please call in advance and place an order before coming to the office to pick up. The masks are free. You will be required to sign a form that you will not sell the masks and distribute only to your workers, not to another company. 559-251-8468
For those of you outside of Fresno County, please contact your County Ag Commissioner to obtain the N95 mask.
Friday, July 31 -Tax Credit for COVID Sick Pay under the Families First Act
Many of you had questions on how to obtain the tax credits when an employee takes the supplemental paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This is the COVID-19 paid leave that is required for employers with under 500 employees. This tax credit DOES NOT apply the employers with 500 or more employees who are required to pay COVID-19 sick pay under California Executive order EO-N-51-20.
To claim the tax credit, deduct the amount paid out for employee COVID paid leave from your payroll tax contributions. For instance, if this past pay period $2,000.00 (two thousand dollars) was paid in COVID paid sick leave and $1,800.00 (one thousand eight hundred dollars) is due in payroll taxes; In this instance, no payroll taxes will be due and you can even apply the overage of $200.00 (two hundred dollars), to next pay periods payroll taxes. If the next pay period is a month away or you just need the money, you can obtain the overage, referred to as advance payment, by completing and submitting IRS form 7200 (link to the form and instructions https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i7200) .
Another example, this pay period $1,500.00 (one thousand five hundred dollars) was paid in COVID paid leave and $4,000.00 (four thousand dollars) is due in payroll taxes. Deducting the amount of COVID paid sick leave results in having to deposit $2,500.00 (two thousand five hundred dollars) in payroll taxes.
100% of FFCRA COVID paid leave is reimbursed. This includes the up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for any of the 6 qualifying reasons or the 10 weeks of expanded family and medical leave (to care for a child whose school or child care closed due to COVID). Eligible for reimbursement includes qualified leave wages, allocable qualified health plan expenses and the Eligible Employer’s share of Medicare tax on the qualified leave wages. For further information please click on the following link: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-tax-credits-how-to-claim-the-credits-faqs#40.
Any tax credit claimed will be reported on tax form 943 (this form is being updated) or 941 (this form has been updated to include the credits), depending on which one your company files. Records will have to be kept to substantiate the tax credits for at least for 4 years. For a description of what type of records to obtain to substantiate eligibility for the tax credits please click on the following link, the information required depends on whether it’s for sick leave or expanded family and medical leave. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-tax-credits-how-to-substantiate-eligibility-and-periods-of-time-for-which-credits-are-available-faqs#substantiate_eligibility.
For further information contact the NFL office or click on the link to the IRS frequently asked questions: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-tax-credits-for-required-paid-leave-provided-by-small-and-midsize-businesses-faqs.
The multi state acting manager of the Internal Revenue Service has agreed to provide an informational webinar to our members on any questions you may have on the tax credits. A representative from U.S. Department of Labor will also be on the webinar to provide information and answer any questions you may have on complying with the FFCRA. Please email the office by Friday, August 7, 2020, if you would like to participate in the webinar.
Tuesday, July 28 -BE AWARE Don't open package
Manuel Cunha received a warning today about an unsolicited package of seeds coming in the mail.
We have included a link, so that you will have more information. (it is safe to open the link)
If you receive this package in the mail, do not open the package and call your Ag Commissioner immediately!
These seeds appear to be coming from China and are showing up around the nation. WE CANNOT RISK HARMING OUR FOOD SUPPLY. DO NOT OPEN THESE SEEDS!!!!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call Manuel Cunha at 559-287-5610.
Friday, July 10, -Accurate Employee Info
We have been receiving reports that people who suspect they have the coronavirus are giving false names to the testing agency and incorrect information of their employer. Sometimes at the direction of a supervisor/crew leader.
Please inform your employees that the identifying information that is shared to health care providers and county department of health is kept confidential. Identifying information is NOT shared with any State or Federal agency. It is important they share accurate information so that the county and perform contact tracing and inform those who may have been exposed. Doing so can help protect their family, friends, and the entire community.
Thursday, July 9 -CAL OSHA Inspection
Cal-OSHA is investigating complaints against employers for claims that said employer is not implementing adequate COVID-19 safety procedures. First, have them report directly to your office. Treat them as other members of the public and require them to wear a mask and conduct the COVID-19 symptom checklist. The employer representative should also be wearing a mask and should maintain a 6 foot distance.
Unlike other Cal-OSHA investigations, such as when a reportable injury occurs, explain to the Cal-OSHA investigator to avoid the potential spread of the coronavirus to employees, they cannot enter the packing house or field. However, you are more than willing to discuss the company’s coronavirus procedures in a room separate away from other employees and can provide the company’s coronavirus plan and training records. If they want to talk with employees, you can provide phone numbers. Ask how many employees they would like to communicate with and is there any specific person or position.
For a normal workplace hazard or injury investigation limit the investigator to the spot of the facility subject to the investigation. Remove all workers from that area. Only the employer representative should be in that area. For the field, since the investigators go to the field, place the name and phone number of the employer representative on the clipboard, shade tent, and portable toilet. The Cal OHSA investigator will then contact the employer representative. In either case require the investigator to wear a mask and ask the COVID-19 symptom checklist, and temperature check if applicable.
Inform the NFL office immediately if Cal-OSHA wants to investigate your workplace.
Please make sure your written coronavirus plan is up to date and employees have been trained. Attached is the latest Cal-OSHA general checklist and guidelines for agriculture, in English and Spanish. Please make sure your company is performing the daily checklist (see attached), for the items that are applicable. With the high number of positive cases in the Valley, ALL agriculture employers should be doing the COVID-19 symptom prescreening. Indoor facilities such as packing houses, cold storage, green houses, etc. should be performing temperature checks before employees enter the facility.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the office.
Friday Jun 16 -Night Time Lighting Requirement
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal OSHB) has amended the illumination requirements for performing outdoor agricultural work during hours of darkness. Attached is the final regulation submitted for board approval. It goes into effect on July 1, 2020.
The regulation was changed even though there was no evidence of increased accidents. NFL worked with other ag organizations to limit the overburden and costs the updated regulation imposes on agriculture. For example in the original draft of the regulation, harvesting and irrigation were specifically listed as requiring 10 foot-candles.
Depending on the task or activity being done please follow the chart on page 2 for amount of illumination required. Employees working at night must wear ANSI Class 2 visibility vest.
Please be safe while working at night.