HomerFor nearly 30 years Homer Simpson has been a big part of Sector 7-G at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. We can only assume the plant’s billionaire owner, C. Montgomery Burns did not have a very thorough background process. We’ve seen Homer involved in countless accidents, that have even resulted in the death of a co-worker. (Rest in Peace Frank Grimes.)

It’s not just pre-employment background checks that Mr. Burns (or any employer) should be concerned about. Employment Background Checks should be done annually to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone on the team. Pre-employment screenings are encouraged to avoid any potential problems, but as time goes on, you never know what issues may develop. Case in point…

While making the rounds one day at the plant, Homer is distracted and crashes his cart into a radioactive pipe. This action led to his immediate dismissal. However, Homer can be a convincing guy and after promising to clean up his act (and expose the plant) he is hired back as a safety supervisor.

But don’t let that title fool you. A more consistent watch of Homer by Mr. Burns and his management team would recognize more inconsistencies in safety. Homer has fallen asleep on the job more than once. One time his mid-afternoon nap resulted in him pressing the self-destruct button on the T-437 Safety Console he is supposed to be manning.

We’ve seen Homer steal from the workplace too. He has a collection of items that still have the Property of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant stamped on them. Homer has also been quoted as saying, “Another day, another box of stolen pens.” It’s this kind of behavior that could be quelled with better supervision and the use of annual background checks on current employees.

Homer’s work ethic seems to be lacking too. He’s never stayed particularly loyal to Mr. Burns. Homer has tried his hand at being an astronaut, a country music producer/manager and a voice over artist for a cartoon dog named Poochie. Could Mr. Burns just be desperate for the cheap labor or are their redeemable qualities in having Homer Simpson on the payroll that we’re not seeing?

We d’ohn’t want you to make the same mistakes Mr. Burns has made with his hiring of Homer Simpson. MBI Worldwide’s motto is Good Screening is SMART Business.

For quick, compliant and reliable background checks, contact MBI Worldwide at 1-866-275-4624.

thinkstockphotos 498422290New Year, new rules!  Are your forms up to date?  Are you paying the correct minimum wage?  Are you familiar with the new OSHA reporting requirements?
 
On Nov. 14, USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers may continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 03/08/2013 N. through Jan. 21, 2017. By Jan. 22, 2017, employers must use the revised form. Visit I-9 Central for more information.
 
New OSHA Provisions call for employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they already record. New reporting requirements and anti retaliation protections became effective Dec 1, 2016.  Learn more here:  https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/finalrule/
 
The state of Florida has just updated its minimum wage posting to reflect the new rate for 2017. Effective January 1, 2017, the new rate will be $8.10 per hour and $5.08 per hour for tipped employees, in addition to tips.  Not in Florida?  Check your state to see if your minimum wage changes for 2017! https://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm
 
On December 13, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the 2017 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. The charitable rate is set by law.  In 2017, the standard mileage rate is $0.53.5
 
Posters!! You’ll want to make sure you have the following posters hanging in a conspicuous place frequented by all employees. This can include a break room, near a time clock or somewhere all employees can reasonably see it.
 
Mandatory posting requirements can differ widely from state to state. The requirements are usually listed on state government websites. Mandatory federal posting requirements for covered employers are consistent. The following federally mandated posters and information should be clearly posted. A comprehensive list including these posters and others can be found on the DOL website.
  • OSHA poster
  • EEO is the Law
  • FLSA
  • Employee Right for Workers with Disabilities
  • Your Rights Under the FMLA
  • Your Rights under the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
 
Unsure if you are compliant?  Need help finding the forms, posters, or guidance?  Contact your HR advisor today!

Today the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released new rules dramatically increasing the new minimum salary level for the executive, administrative, and professional employee exemptions (salaried employees) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year.  This new salary threshold—which will become effective on December 1, 2016—more than doubles the current minimum salary level of $455 per week, or $23,660 per year, and will have a dramatic impact on employers.

The new salary requirements will apply to the salaried employees you have in executive, administrative, and professional exemptions. Employees who do not meet the new salary requirements (those who do not make at least $913 weekly) when the final regulations become effective will no longer qualify for one of these exemptions, which means they will have to be paid overtime compensation when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Other major highlights from the final regulations include the following:

  • Increase to the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees from $100,000 to $134,004 per year.
  • Future automatic updates to the above thresholds will occur every three years, beginning January 1, 2020.
  • The salary basis test is amended to allow the use of nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

The final regulations will become effective on Thursday, December 1, 2016.

How Can Organizations Prepare?

Determine Who Needs to Be Reclassified

Employees who are currently classified as overtime-exempt (salaried) may need to be reclassified as nonexempt under the new regulations, especially if they:

  • Earn less than $50,000 a year
  • Hold the same position occupied by many other employees in the company; or
  • Work in jobs as accountants, assistant managers, sales and sales support workers, help desk employees, customer service representatives, technicians and business analysts.

Develop a New Compensation Plan for Reclassified Employees

Employers should compare the cost of giving raises to employees who are currently exempt but make less than $50,000 per year against the cost of reclassifying those employees as nonexempt and paying them overtime, given the number of hours those employees are currently working. Another option is a cost-neutral solution under which hourly pay is set at a rate will result in the same weekly compensation as the formerly exempt employee’s salary. This only works if an employer can accurately estimate how many hours per week a reclassified employee will work.

Review Wage and Hour Policies and Processes

If exempt employees are reclassified as nonexempt, it is crucial to implement timekeeping processes. The time worked by nonexempt employees must be accurately tracked and documented. Employers should also adopt policies on unauthorized overtime work, meal and rest breaks, travel time and mobile device usage.

Communicate!

Employers should develop a strategy for communicating any changes in classifications, policies or procedures to employees. Identify who will deliver the news, when the news will be delivered, and the format in which the news will be delivered.

Train the Reclassified Employees and Their Managers

You might have employees who have been exempt forever, and all of a sudden you have to start tracking their time, or managers who never managed hourly employees.  Supervisors and managers need to know what constitutes "working time", and employees need to know what the company’s policy is regarding overtime.

Fact sheets and other materials to help employers and workers understand how the rule will affect them and the broader economy are available dol.gov/overtime.

What is COBRA? COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. In short, it is a federal law that ensures that employees can maintain Healthcare coverage that they might otherwise lose after something like resigning from a job or filing for unemployment.

COBRA guarantees employees the right to keep their group health care coverage for up to 18 months after leaving their job. Unless they were fired for “gross misconduct,” it generally covers any employees who were terminated.

While employees are guaranteed the option of continuing on with their previous health care coverage, they have to pay for it themselves. The employer does not have to subsidize any of the payments, so employees should understand that the cost can be expensive.

In order to secure COBRA coverage, employees should contact their HR department and HR is required to take the necessary steps to offer COBRA coverage. If an employer elects to take COBRA coverage, the payments will be made through either your company or through their healthcare provider.

Your HR Shield Advisor can offer assistance in setting up insurance plans and managing COBRA coverage. Contact us today for more information.

Doc

What is HIPAA?

You may have heard the term “HIPAA Compliant” but aren’t really sure what HIPAA is or what exactly that term means.

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which is about health insurance and the importance of privacy when it comes to medical information online. Privacy laws tend to make businesses anxious because it creates anxiety about the dangers of non-compliance. But HIPAA just exists to make personal medical information more private and inaccessible online, which is ultimately a good thing.

So who has to comply with HIPAA standards? The Privacy Rule applies to anyone who is involved with these medical records to have certain administrative, physical and technical safeguards in place that meet the standards of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you work in the health care industry, you most likely need to adhere to HIPAA standards, particularly if you store health information or medical records online.

Basically, what this means is that your company has to be able to prove that this information is secure in a variety of ways, including:

• Workstations and servers having up-to-date antivirus software • Encrypted emailing • Screen lock password for phones and tablets that access sensitive email accountsFiles • Complete migration from Windows XP • ..and other security measures.

If you have any questions about meeting these compliances, don’t hesitate to reach out to our HR professionals. We can help you implement changes to ensure that your business stays HIPAA compliant.

ACA Updates

If you own a small business, you’re already aware of how the Affordable Care Act has changed the healthcare landscape in America. But what exactly do you need to know about what you need to tell your employees about Affordable Care?

If you or your employees choose to forego insurance, you might have to pay a penalty tax to the IRS. In 2014, the penalty was $95 per adult and $47.50 per child but in 2015 it will be raised to $325 per adult and $162.50 per child.

Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act lasts from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. You must enroll by December 15, 2014 if you would like your coverage to start on January 1, 2015. If you don’t sign up for a health plan by February 15, 2015, you will not be able to qualify for enrollment unless you meet the restrictions, such as having moved out of state recently or having a qualifying life event such as having a child or losing a job.

You can preview the available plans and rates before you apply to get better acquainted with what your options will be or contact your HR Advisor at HR Shield to see what your best options are.

It’s important to keep your employees advised of changes to their healthcare plans and options. If you need assistance with managing your healthcare plans and other HR needs, do not hesitate to contact your HR Professional today!

Pills

HSA Enrollment is Increasing An HSA is a Health Savings Account, and more and more people are signing up for them as of late. Before now, many people weren’t signing up for HSAs because they can be confusing on top of already confusing insurance policies, but HSA enrollment has been increasing because they are a great way to get tax savings on medical expenses.

HSAs are savings accounts that cover your medical expenses. You can contribute to them throughout the year in order to have excess money to cover any planned or unforeseen medical bills. You can deduct HSA expenses from your taxes or else employer’s take contributions directly from employee’s paychecks.

For example, if you contribute $3,000/year to and HSA and have fairly average tax rates in your state, you could save up to $750 per year on your taxes. You can also earn interest on the money you put into an HSA and you can take it with you when you change jobs so you never have to worry about losing money. Employers can also make contributions on their employees’ behalf.

However, in order to contribute to an HSA, you have to be on a specific type of insurance plan which involves a High Deductible. This is usually at least $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for families. This scares people away sometimes, but the good news is that with an HSA the money continues to earn interest and act as a savings account which you can have set aside for medical expenses when you’re older.

If you have any questions about setting up insurance plans for your employees, contact one of our HR agents. We have years of experience with HR needs such as this and can help your company deal with HSAs and other insurance-related issues.

For many employers, minimum wage plays a big role in determining just how much help you can afford to hire. You may have various entry-level exempt and non-exempt positions available at your company, but what if minimum wage increases in the upcoming year – will you be able to afford all of your non-exempt workers?

Here’s your head’s up for 2014! If you weren’t already aware, the following states will have mandatory increases:

State minimum wage changes effective on January 1, 2014:

  • Arizona: $7.90 per hour (currently $7.80)
  • Connecticut: $8.70 per hour (currently $8.25)
  • Florida: $7.93 per hour (currently $7.79)
  • Missouri: $7.50 per hour (currently $7.35)
  • Montana: $7.90 per hour (currently $7.80)
  • New Jersey: $8.25 per hour (currently $7.25)
  • Ohio: $7.95 per hour for businesses with annual gross receipts in excess of $292,000 per year (currently $7.85)
  • Oregon: $9.10 per hour (currently $8.95)
  • Rhode Island: $8.00 per hour (currently $7.75)
  • Vermont: $8.73 per hour (currently $8.60)
  • Washington: $9.32 per hour (currently $9.19)

 

Additionally, California’s state minimum wage will increase on July 1, 2014 to $9.00 an hour. Right now it is $8.00 per hour.

When you need one-on-one support with payroll, compliance or hiring, a quick call to your HR Advisor is all it takes to tap into our team of licensed experts—each with a minimum of ten years HR experience.  Need help? Contact us!