The Sonoma County Farm Bureau will be hosting a free labor and legal requirements seminar for small farms in late May.

The aim of the seminar is to present owners of such farms with sound legal council as the season draws closer. Of particular concern for small farms, the bureau said, are issues such as determining when interns, trainees, apprentices and volunteers are considered employees and the subsequent safety measures that must be taken.

Other key employment issues such as requirements for California Agricultural Workplaces that will be discussed include tax payments, employment verification, wage-and-hour rules and health and safety standards, among others, the bureau said.

The topics will be presented by Carl Borden, associate counsel for the California Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Employers Labor Services. He specializes in agricultural employment law and has held numerous seminars for farmers and ranchers throughout the state, many of which were done in conjunction with government agencies, according to the bureau.

The seminar is free, but advance registration is required by May 19 for the May 24 event. More information about registration can be found by e-mailing info@sonomacountyfarmbureau.com or by calling 707-544-5575.

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While certain sectors of employment continue to lag behind others, the restaurant industry, particularly large chains, is increasing staff nationwide, according to a recent People Report Workforce poll.

More than 40 percent of restaurants surveyed are planning to add both management and hourly positions in the second quarter, the report said, while 4 percent plan to cut hourly employees and 6 percent anticipate cutting management staff.

The poll, the People Report Workforce Index, gauges “market pressure on employment, including recruiting, vacancies, headcounts and turnover.” The total index for the second quarter was at 53.2, up from 48.3 in the previous quarter this year. An index above 50 indicates a higher degree of difficulty in work force issues, People Report said, and more than 70 restaurants and other food service businesses participated in the second-quarter study.

The restaurant industry as a whole added 43,000 jobs within the first three months of this year after losing jobs in 2009.

Large restaurants have been able to operate with little turnover in the past year, according to the report, with operator expectations  on the turnover metric standing at 21.1 during the second quarter, which indicates that employers foresee little difficulty retaining employees. Low turnover is indicative of a bleak job market overall, the report said, adding that it will likely remain low given the high unemployment rates throughout the country.

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Submit items for this column to Dan Verel at dverel@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4257 or fax 707-521-5292.