A 747 is landing in the San Fernando Valley in 2009 and it’s not the kind with wings. Starting in May, all new telephone numbers will receive the area code 747 rather than the 818 area code long identified with the Valley. With the number of cell phones, Blackberry devices and fax machines increasing it was expected that the numbers using the 818 area code will be used up by the end of 2009. The new area code is just one of a number of changes that business people and consumers will face. New rules on payment of temporary employees and political advocacy and expansion of who is eligible for unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act will take affect after January. Following on the requirement to use a hands-free device while talking on a cell phone while driving, the new year brings a ban on text messaging, instant messaging or sending e-mails while driving effective Jan.1. One date that may be on the mind of many consumers is Feb. 17, the day of the transition to digital broadcasting. For months now public service announcements and advertising have given forewarning about the change. Viewers with cable or satellite hookups don’t have to do a thing while those still using old-fashioned rabbit ears for their sets need to buy a special converter box. Encino-based advertising firm Inter-Media is not seriously concerned about the switch because much of its television ads are broadcast on cable, said Rick Pike, the senior vice president media director. The firm has been monitoring the situation to stay on top of it to make sure there is not anything that will make us revise our plans, Pike said. “We are ready to make adjustments if we find there is a potential segment we are trying to reach that is not ready for this conversion,” Pike added. Numbers that he has seen from Nielsen Media Research showed that less than 7 percent of the country is unprepared for the change, showing that there is increased awareness, Pike said. Congress mandated the change to digital to free up frequencies for public safety uses. Televisions made starting in 2007 were required to have digital tuners. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is administering a coupon program for the purchase of converter boxes. Nielsen changed its annual February sweeps period to March so as not to be affected by the changeover. But Wait, There’s More Using a new area code throughout the entire Valley, also known as an overlay, was done so as to minimize the impact to businesses and residents. The other option was to split the Valley in two between the 818 and 747 area codes. Customers with 818 numbers will keep them although they and other customers will need to dial 11 digits to make a local a call. The Valley Industry & Commerce Association took no formal position on the matter although President Stuart Waldman anticipates there will be some affect on business having to reprogram phones and fax machines. “The Valley is fine as 818,” Waldman said. “I don’t know what the 747 is.” There are other new regulations and rules of which business does need to be aware, said Waldman. For instance, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act now applies to families with members in the National Guard or Army Reserves and allows for up to 12 weeks of leave for specified reasons. “It changes who qualifies and anytime an employer is forced to lose an employee that is a detrimental affect,” Waldman said. Businesses using temporary employees will now be required to make payments on a weekly basis or daily if the employee is assigned on a day-to-day basis. The requirement is waived for employees assigned to clients for more than 90 consecutive calendar days. Starting July 1, national chain restaurants with 20 or more locations in the state are required to post nutritional information on calories, carbohydrates, saturated fats and sodium. That regulation was the result of legislation co-sponsored by State Sen. Alex Padilla, whose district includes the east and central Valley. More than 17,000 restaurant locations throughout California will post calorie information on menus and menu boards by January 1, 2011. Computer professionals will now be paid on a monthly or annual salary, a change from having been paid a minimum hourly rate. Physicians or surgeons performing duties requiring a license are exempt from overtime if they are paid a minimum hourly rate of $69.13. In the entertainment industry, a change starting in January will be an increase in the fees charged by FilmLA for on-location permits. A film permit application rises to $625 from $450; a still photography application to $60 from $45; and a still photography rider to $20 from free. The cost of monitors will also increase. This is the first increase in permit fees in 10 years. FilmLA, a not-for-profit agency, made the move to meet expenses and to allow the city of Los Angeles to stop providing funding in order to deal with its own budget deficit. Changes Businesses Should Know About Digital Television Transition goes into effect Feb. 17 New 747 Area Code goes into effect in May Family and Medical Leave Act defines when an employee with family member in the military can take unpaid leave Cell Phone Use ban on text messaging while driving Invalid Waivers employers prohibited from having worker sign falsified documentation of hours worked Temporary Employees requires payment either weekly or daily Minimum Pay for Exempt Computer Employees allow payment to computer professionals as a monthly or annual salary Exemption for Physicians Paid on Hourly Basis A licensed physician or surgeon who is primarily engaged in performing duties for which licensure is required is exempt from overtime if he/she is paid at least the minimum hourly rate set annually by the state Passport Cards for Identification on I-9 Passport cards can be used to verify employment on I-9 forms Political Speech new guidelines concerning employee participation in political advocacy activities and guidance on when disciplinary actions for these activities may be appropriate. Workers’ Comp Injury Reporting was amended to change the reporting of work related injuries and illnesses Chain Restaurant Nutrition Information national chains with 20 or more locations required to post nutrition information on menus and menu boards.