To Access a Printable Copy of the Handbook click here: Employee Handbook
Bridges Equestrian Inc. Employee Handbook
INTRODUCTION TO COMPANY AND VALUES
Welcome to Bridges Equestrian Inc.!
Founded in 1981, Bridges Equestrian Inc. leads the industry in equestrian education and safety. Founded by Ruthanna Bridges, we pride ourselves in being a workplace that works hard, has fun, and serves our clients with unrivaled quality every day.
Bridges Equestrian Inc. policies may change from time to time, and staff employees are expected to comply with the most current versions. To the extent this Handbook conflicts with any applicable company policy, the policy will govern. If you have questions concerning this Handbook or a policy, consult the owner for clarification.
NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENTS
To protect company assets, we require all employees to adhere to our non-disclosure agreement and avoid any conflicts of interest.
Non – Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
Employees & contractors must not misuse confidential information, including internal and client information and communications. It is a condition of employment that the employee signs the Bridges Equestrian Inc. Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement, which will be provided under separate cover.
Confidential information generally consists of non-public information about a person or an entity that, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to place either the person or the entity at risk of criminal or civil liability, or damage the person or entity’s financial standing, employability, privacy or reputation.
The Company is bound by law or contract to protect some types of confidential information, and in other instances the Company requires protection of confidential information beyond legal or contractual requirements as an additional safeguard.
Confidential information includes but is not limited to:
- Payroll records, salary, and non-public benefits information
- Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, state identification card numbers
- Credit and debit card information, and financial account information
- Personnel records, including but not limited to information regarding an employee’s work history, credentials, salary and salary grade, benefits, length of service, performance, and discipline
- Individual conflict of interest information
- Computer system passwords and security codes
- Information regarding client accounts including client information
- Bridges Equestrian Inc.’s internal business plans, tools, products, and strategy methods
Conflicts of Interest
The Company understands that its staff employees may have or be involved in outside financial, business, professional, academic, public service, or other activities. However, outside activities or commitments, familial or other relationships, private financial or other interests, and benefits or gifts received from third parties may create an actual or perceived conflict of interest between the staff employee and the Company.
A conflict of interest is a situation, arrangement, or circumstance where the staff employee’s outside or private interests or relationships interfere or appear to interfere with those of the Company or cast doubt on the fairness or integrity of the Company’s business dealings. Every employee is responsible for disclosing to the Owner any financial or personal interests, activities, or personal or familial relationships that create an actual or perceived conflict of interest.
The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for conflicts of interest or commitment that might arise in the course of an employees’ duties and external activities. This policy does not seek to unreasonably limit external activities, but emphasizes the need to disclose conflicts and potential conflicts of interest and commitment, to manage such conflicts and to ensure that the Company’s interests are not compromised.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Giving instruction or holding clinics (paid or unpaid) anywhere but Bridges Equestrian Inc. regarding anything to do with horses (riding, horse handling, horse management, etc).
- Acting as a coach for students other than Bridges Equestrian Inc. students
- Riding horses for payment (monetary or otherwise) anywhere but Bridges Equestrian Inc.
- Acting as an agent (buyers or sellers) for the lease or purchase of a horse or horse equipment.
- Caring for equines for payment (monetary or otherwise) anywhere but Bridges Equestrian Inc.
- Working in the equestrian industry as a judge, announcer, steward, tack store employee, brand ambassador, horse show office, jump judge, veterinarian, etc.
Again, this is not meant to say that under no uncertain terms you cannot do any of the things above, but it must be disclosed in advance to the owner in writing and will be replied to in writing. We recognize the need for side jobs, volunteer work, helping out friends, etc but it does need to be disclosed in advance.
ANTI DISCRIMINATION POLICY
Bridges Equestrian Inc. provides equal employment opportunities to all employees, applicants, and job seekers, and is committed to making decisions using reasonable standards based on each individual’s qualifications as they relate to a particular employment action (e.g., hiring, training, promotions). No person shall be discriminated against in employment or harassed because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a physical or mental disability unrelated to ability, protected veteran status, military status, unfavorable discharge from military service, citizenship status, genetic information, marital status, parental status, ancestry, source of income, credit history, housing status, order of protection status, actual or perceived association with such a person or other classes protected by law.
This policy includes the commitment to maintaining a work environment based on inclusion and free from unlawful harassment. Under this policy, no employee or applicant shall be subject to retaliation (including harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination) because he/she has engaged, in good faith, in the following activities:
(i) filing a complaint under this policy with the Company, or with federal, state or local equal employment opportunity agencies;
(ii) assisting or participating in an investigation or other activity related to the administration of any federal, state or local equal employment opportunity or affirmative action law;
(iii) opposing any act or practice prohibited by this policy or federal, state or local equal employment opportunity or affirmative action law; or
(iv) exercising any other right protected by federal, state or local equal employment opportunity or affirmative action law. Staff employees and applicants for employment should immediately bring any complaint or retaliation under this Policy to the business owner.
Bridges Equestrian Inc. complies with all federal and state laws concerning the employment of persons with disabilities and acts in accordance with such regulations and guidance including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees with any questions or requests related to the these laws and guidelines, including the ADA, should contact the Company’s ownership.
EMPLOYMENT AT WILL
Bridges Equestrian Inc. abides by the at will employment doctrine, which means in essence that employees have the right to terminate employment without notice and without cause, for any reason. They are employed at will. As an employer at will, Bridges Equestrian Inc. also has the right to terminate any employee for any reason, and also without advanced notice, except where federal or state law prohibit such actions.
The amount of compensation you will receive is provided in your offer letter. In addition Bridges Equestrian Inc. is required to deduct specific amounts from your paycheck. These deductions may be taken pre-tax or post-tax depending on IRS tax rules.
Required Deductions for Federal and State Taxes
As an employee of Bridges Equestrian Inc., there are certain mandatory deductions under federal law that must come out of employees’ paychecks. They are:
- Social security (pre-tax)
- Medicare (pre-tax)
- Federal withholding taxes (pre-tax)
- State withholding taxes (pre-tax)
- Court-ordered garnishments/child support (post-tax)
Some employees of Bridges Equestrian Inc. are considered to be exempt from overtime. Exempt status as classified by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is for those employed in professional roles, such as those at Bridges Equestrian Inc. with a salary (versus an hourly wage). Non-exempt status is reserved for hourly workers, and they are eligible for overtime. If you have questions about your status, please ask the owner.
Employees at Bridges Equestrian Inc. are paid on a bimonthly basis on the 1st and 15th via check or direct deposit. If a payday fallsl on a Saturday, Sunday, or bank holiday, the employee will be paid on the first non-bank holiday/weekend day following the payday.
Pay schedules are as follows – 24th to 7th and 8th to 23rd.
Pursuant to California Labor Code, we will give you a rest break of at least 10 consecutive paid minutes that are uninterrupted. These breaks should be taken on the 15 minute breaks between group lessons if you are an instructor or during down time if you are a yard worker/camp counselor. Please make sure that others are aware of your intentions and that your students have been handed off to a qualified individual before you take your break.
- If you work at least 3.5 hours in a day, you are entitled to one rest break. If you work over 6 hours, you are entitled to a second rest break. If you work over 10 hours, you are entitled to a third rest break.
- Rest breaks must to the extent possible be in the middle of each work period. If you work 8 hours or more, you should have a separate rest break both before and after your meal break.
- You cannot be required to work during any required rest break. [Cal. Lab. C. 226.7]. But, you are free to skip your rest break.
Lunch breaks are set in the morning when the board is written up. Although we are required by CA Law to provide a 30 minute unpaid break during your shift, we typically schedule an entire hour due to the length of time it takes to get to most places to grab food in this area. In some rare instances you may be asked to take just a 30 minute unpaid break. If you prefer to take 30 minute breaks instead of 1 hour breaks please alert the owner and we can adjust your schedule accordingly.
- If you work over 5 hours in a day, you are entitled to an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes that must start before the end of the fifth hour of your shift. You can agree to waive this meal period provided you do not work more than 6 hours in the workday. You can also agree with the owner to an on-duty meal break which counts as time worked and is paid.
- If you work over 10 hours in a day, you are entitled to a second unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes that must start before the end of the tenth hour of your shift. You can agree with the manager to waive the second meal break if you do not work more than 12 hours and you did not waive your first meal break.
- You will be allowed to take your meal break off work premises and spend your break how you wish, since it is off the clock.
- The owner/manager has an affirmative obligation to ensure that breaks are made available to you but the actual taking of meal breaks is left to the employee. You are responsible for “breaking” yourself.
GENERAL EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION
The probationary period is a time for you to learn about your job and become familiar with Bridges Equestrian Inc.. During this time, your supervisor will explain Company policies and procedure, your job duties, and your performance expectations. Your performance will be closely evaluated by your supervisor to ensure that you understand and are able to meet the performance expectations. The probationary period is considered to by the employee’s first 90 days. Probationary periods may be extended or reenacted on a case by case basis.
If you decide to terminate your employment, it is recommended that you give at least a two week notice to your supervisor in order to maintain a mutually respectful relationship. All resignations must be submitted in writing or email to the Company Owner.
COMPUTERS, PHONES, AND TECHNOLOGY
When on the clock, all employees are required to carry a charged cell phone on their person at all times. Employees are required to answer phone calls from the owner, manager, and other staff during working hours, even if currently teaching a lesson. Calling employees while they are teaching a lesson or with clients should be reserved for emergencies only. Yard staff should be ready to answer their phones at all times as it could be an instructor needed materials or assistance.
If another employee, owner, or manager needs to speak with another employee about something that is not urgent, a text message should be sent to that employee asking them to call when it is convenient. It is expected that the employee will then call back in a timely manner.
Instructors should not answer text messages or phone calls (non emergency) during lessons. Additionally, it is important that we do not give our clients reason to think that we are on our phones while teaching when in reality we are looking at the time. It is suggested that you wear a watch for this reason.
In the yard, phone calls and text messages should be made out of view of clients and never while supervising someone grooming or tacking, while leading a horse, lunging a horse, or while riding a horse.
If an instructor finds it necessary to take a call or answer a text during a lesson, they are to excuse themselves from the rider by telling them “I am so sorry, this is a call from the yard, just walk (or stop) and I’ll be right with you. We’ll make the time up.” The instructor must then make sure they do make the time up, and the student(s) receives their full riding time.
Online Schedule System and Signing In Your Students
An online schedule system must be utilized by all employees. This system may be accessed by phone app or computer. A computer is available in the office that you may use at any time. You may also use your home computer for access.
All lessons are expected to be signed in prior to you leaving the premises for your shift. A 30 minute “closing time” is scheduled into most shifts. Please use this time to sign in your students and send an email to the manager regarding any schedule changes and no-shows.
An employee schedule is available on Google Sheets. You can access this by going to the Google Sheets App on your phone or on a computer by going to drive.google.com and using the email address that you use for all reciprocation with the owner/manager.
Every effort is made to have the employee schedule out 2 weeks prior to the next month. After the schedule for the month is *live*, any changes will be emailed to the employee. It is expected that the employee will respond within 24 hours to requests unless the employee is off work when the request is sent, in which case it should be answered in a timely manner upon the employee’s return.
Timesheets are available on Google Sheets. You can access this by going to the Google Sheets App on your phone or on a computer by going to drive.google.com and using the email address that you use for all reciprocation with the owner/manager.
Please update your timesheets as soon as your shift is over during the 30 minute “close out” time.
Employees are expected to answer emails from managers/owners in a timely manner. You are not required to answer work emails during your off time, but you must find a few minutes during your scheduled shift to respond to emails from managers/owners. This can be done between lessons and in the 30 minutes at the beginning of your shift and the 30 minutes at the end of your shift. If you would like to answer emails on your off time you are welcome to.
Employees are expected to never call/email/text clients without express permission from managers/owners. If a client asks for your personal information please direct them to the barn contact information. Should you choose to have a personal relationship with any client, you are welcome to do so, although please make the manager/owner aware.
FALLS/INJURIES TO CLIENTS
Bridges Equestrian Inc.’s policy for rider falls is the following:
- Instructor will call for all riders to immediately halt their horses.
- Instructor will go immediately to the fallen rider to help and assess. If the fallen rider gets up immediately and is clearly fine, grab the horse and the lesson can proceed.
- Should there be a more serious injury, call any other available staff to either take the other riders into another arena or assist with the fallen rider.
- If the rider requires an ambulance, call the ambulance first, and see to the injured rider, then call Ruthanna IMMEDIATELY.
- If the rider does not require an ambulance but there is any risk of head injury or broken/sprained bones, stay with the rider until a parent/guardian/spouse/etc has come to get the person
- If you are at all doubtful if the person should drive home, have them call someone to drive them home
- Never dispense medication to a client. We can only offer ice packs.
- Never assess injury.
- Email or text Ruthanna a short email with all falls- just the horse, rider, any specific important things so that we can follow up with the parents.
Working with horses carries a unique set of safety considerations. As such, it is expected that all Bridges Equestrian Inc. employees will operate around horses with the utmost care and attention to safety at all times. Bridges Equestrian employees are expected to wear the following personal protective equipment (PPE) when working around horses:
- Closed – toed, leather boots with a hard sole and reinforced toe
- Long pants
- Shirt with sleeves
- Hair tied back
- No dangly or excessive jewelry; no hoop earrings
- Weather appropriate outerwear and headwear
When riding a horse, even when off the clock or at another facility, Bridges Equestrian Inc. employees must wear a certified SEI and/or ASTM, well fitting helmet. Riding without a helmet is grounds for immediate termination.
Gloves are provided for lunging and riding or you may choose to bring your own pair.
Proper safety education for the myriad of tasks you will complete around horses will be given to you. The United States Pony Club Safety Module and Lunging Presentation are required materials for onboarding. Should you knowingly put a horse, client, staff member, or yourself into an unsafe situation it is considered negligence and will be subject to the disciplinary policy. If you are unsure if you are doing something correctly, ask the manager, Lead Instructor or owner.
Bridges Equestrian staff must wear the following:
- Breeches – Conservative colors
- Very dark wash, boot-cut jeans with no holes or wear along the cuffs
- Bridges Equestrian T-Shirt or Polo Shirt with no alterations to the sleeves
- Conservative colored long sleeve undershirts may be worn
- Boots – closed – toed, leather (Riding boots must be worn when riding)
- Hair tied back
TRAINING AND BACKGROUND CHECKS
Within 30 days of employment all employees are expected to do the following onboarding activities. A separate onboarding packet with access to these will be provided to you.
- Get a Livescan
- Youth Protection Module (through USPC)
- CDC Heads Up to Youth Sports Module and Quiz
- CDC Heat Illness Module and Quiz
- Online CPR Class
- Online First Aid Module
- Online USPC Safety Module
- W4 or W9 depending on terms of employment
- Signature of receipt of handbook
- Direct deposit form (if desired)
Bridges Equestrian Inc. provides the following kinds of leave after the employee has completed their 90 day probationary period. Any leave prior to 90 days will be up to the discretion of management to approve on a case-by-case basis. All leave is on a use-it-or-lose it basis that resets on January 1st of each year. Individual contracts may specify additional types of leave as employee benefits.
Bridges Equestrian complies with local, state and federal laws for sick leave. In accordance, we offer the following:
- Employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Paid sick leave will carry over from year to year, but the cap is upon accrual of 48 hours.
- A cap of 24 hours (or three days) will be paid per year.
- Employees must take sick leave in at least two hour increments.
- California’s sick leave law allows employees to take sick leave for their own health condition or the health condition of a family member, including preventative treatment. “Family member” is defined and includes a spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. Employees may also take sick leave if they are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- We will not pay out accrued sick leave when an employee leaves the company. However, if an employee leaves and is rehired within one year, accrued sick leave will be reinstated.
After 2 consecutive days of sick leave, or if the employee has called in sick more than once in a 30 day period, Bridges Equestrian Inc. reserves the right to request proof of illness with a signed doctor’s note.
Sick leave should be requested by 7 am or at least 4 hours before your shift begins, depending on what is later on the day in question via email AND phone call to the owner. Please include the manager on the email.
Medical and Family Leave
As a company with fewer than 50 employees, please note that we are not required to comply with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, should a situation come up where leave might be required for a personal or family medical issue, we will review providing unpaid leave or flexible working arrangements on a case-by-case basis for employees in good standing.
Maternity/Paternity and Pregnancy Leave
Please note that Bridges Equestrian Inc. is a small business who’s employees number under 10. As such, we are not required to comply with the California New Parent Leave Act and California Family Rights Act.
We will not refuse your request, on the advice of your doctor, for a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, so long as the transfer request can be reasonably accommodated without an undue hardship. We cannot create a new position for you, discharge any other employee to accommodate a move, transfer any employee with more seniority, or promote an employee who is not qualified to perform the job.
There are a number of resources through the State of California for paid disability. Talk to your doctor and they will get you set up.
Under no circumstances will a Bridges Equestrian Inc. employee ride a horse while knowingly pregnant.
HOLIDAYS AND TIME OFF REQUESTS
California employers are not required to provide employees time off or extra pay for holidays. Hours worked on holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays are treated like hours worked on any other day of the week. California law does not require that an employer provide its employees with paid holidays, that it close its business on any holiday, or that employees be given the day off for any particular holiday. Likewise, there is no requirement that employers pay employees extra pay or “holiday pay” for work performed on holidays.
Bridges Equestrian Inc. is committed to finding reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot work on certain holidays due to religious observances. Employees are expected to notify Ruthanna Bridges through email at least two weeks prior to desired time off.
Time Off Requests
Time off should be requested at least two weeks ahead of time. Every effort will be made to get your time off requests fulfilled if they are at least two weeks ahead of time, and not during summer camps. If other staff members have taken off the same time period already, it could be impossible.
Most of our employees are hourly. Every attempt will be made to give hourly employees the amount of hours they require, however, during slow times we may find it necessary to cut hours.
Should your hours requirement or availability change, please email the owner as soon as possible to that we can try to find a workable solution.
PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINARY POLICY
Corrective action is a process designed to identify and correct problems that affect an employee’s work performance and/or the overall performance of the department. The progressive corrective action process should be handled consistently within each unit and for each problem. However, progressive discipline is not guaranteed, as Bridges Equestrian Inc. is an at will employer, and may choose to terminate an employee at any time with or without cause.
The Progressive Corrective Action Process refers to the following actions:
- Counseling or verbal warning
- Written reprimand and warning
- Suspension pending investigation and final determination
- Specific warning of discharge
Depending on the situation, any step may be repeated, omitted, or taken out of sequence; however, the Company reserves the right to effect immediate termination consistent with our rights as an at will employer.
Each case is considered on an individual basis. Typically, a preliminary meeting is held with the employee to allow the employee an opportunity to understand the nature of the concern and to explain his/her position on the matter. If necessary, the corrective action documentation would then be put together which would summarize the issue, taking into account any additional information the employee may have provided during the preliminary meeting. When issuing corrective action, there should be clear and direct communication between the employee and his/her immediate supervisor. This communication should include a meeting between the employee and the supervisor. However, in cases of serious workplace misconduct an employee is likely to be discharged immediately.
Serious workplace misconduct includes, but is not limited to:
- Behavior/language of a threatening, abusive or inappropriate nature
- Misuse, damage to or loss of Company property (including horses)
- Falsification, alteration or improper handling of Company-related records
- Unsatisfactory customer service
- Disclosure or misuse of confidential information
- Unauthorized possession or concealment of weapons
- Insubordination (e.g., refusal to carry out a direct assignment)
- Misuse of the Company’s electronic information systems
- Possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase or working under the influence of nonprescribed or illegal drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants
- Any action that violates federal, state or local law.
The Employee Handbook contains important information about the Company, and you should consult the Company Owner regarding any questions not answered in the handbook. Since the information, policies, and benefits described herein are subject to change at any time, revisions to the handbook may occur. All such changes will generally be communicated through official notices, and revised information may supersede, modify, or eliminate existing policies. Only the Owner of the Company has the ability to adopt any revisions to the policies in this handbook.