As a small business owner with only 5 employees, you may not offer benefits. After all, it’s an added expense that isn’t necessarily needed for day to day operations. Many small businesses struggle with whether or not to provide their employees with benefits.

On the positive side, great benefits packages help attract and retain the very best employees. On the downside, as mentioned above, they’re an added expense.

Did your company file your taxes on time this year?  Does your tax bill leave you wondering how you can qualify for additional deductions?  The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit encourages small businesses to provide benefits for their employees by offering a generous tax deduction.  In the paragraphs below we’ll let you know just what you need to do to qualify and outline the potential impact to your bottom line.

What is the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit?

The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is aimed at encouraging small businesses, less than 25 full-time employees, at offering health care benefits. For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as non-profits or charities.

On Jan. 1, 2014, the rate will increase to 50 percent for small business employers and 35 percent for tax-exempt employers!

So, what does this mean for you? If you contributed 75,000 towards your employees’ health care premiums this past year (or previous years), and you qualify for a 20-percent credit, you’ll save $15,000! If you contributed 75,000 towards your employees’ health care premiums in 2010 and 2011 as well, that’s $45,000; a $15,000 credit for each tax year.

Even if you are a small company that did not owe taxes this year, you can carry the credit forward to upcoming tax years.

Does My Company Qualify?

If your company has less than 25 full-time equivalent employees, and you pay an average wage of less than $50,000 a year, then yes, you may be eligible for this tax credit. You must be paying at least half of employee health insurance premiums.

How Do I Claim This Credit?

You must use Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, to calculate the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. This form is available for download on the IRS website.

Need some help? Talk to your dedicated HR Advisor today at (877) 636-9525. New to HR Shield? Contact us for more information on strategically positioning your business for success through HR initiatives.

Rumors are circulating around the office and you couldn’t help but overhear that one of your employees was arrested (and released) over the weekend. He’s in work today going about his normal routine – can you approach him about the situation, assuming one even exists?

Beyond our natural desire to “know all,” as managers, we have an obligation to protect our workforce. What was he arrested for? Is he a potential threat to others?

When interviewing a candidate, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 limits us from making inquiries about prior arrests. In this case though, your person of interest is already an employee, and there are no federal or state laws preventing us from conducting an investigation.

If your company policy and employee handbook clearly states that an employee must notify the employer if they are arrested, and the employee does not notify you, they can be terminated for violating your company’s policy.

If you do not have an employee handbook or company policy that outlines the aforementioned policy, but would like to pursue termination, take precaution in moving forward and consult an HR advisor or employment law professional. An arrest record alone is not a valid reason for firing someone. The individual could have been arrested, but that doesn’t mean they are guilty.

Behavior on the other hand, is a reason to support termination, but only if the employee’s behavior (which led to the arrest) is job-related. If you own a trucking fleet and the individual was arrested for driving under the influence, that is job-related and poses a potential threat to your company and the employee’s day to day responsibilities.

Not all arrests need to lead to termination either. You may be able to temporarily suspend the employee or require that they take an administrative leave while the situation is under investigation. Again, the best approach before taking any action is to consult an HR advisor or employment law professional.

To get immediate answers, call (877) 636-9525 or click here.

If you’re reading this blog, hopefully your organization already has an employee handbook. Employee handbooks are extremely important for the following reasons:

  1. They provide prevention and protection from legal liabilities
  2. They provide tangible guidelines for your employees
  3. They minimize employer and employee misunderstandings
  4. They provide comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions
  5. They create an overall better working environment

One of the biggest mistakes we see small to medium sized businesses make is forgetting to update their employee handbooks. Because employee handbooks play such a crucial role in reducing a company’s legal liabilities, they must be revised yearly with legal updates to remain compliant with company, state and federal regulations.

Your employee handbook may be violating employment laws and regulations set forth by the EEOC and NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), and you may not even be aware of it. For example, did you know that it is unlawful to prohibit employees from talking about their wages or working conditions on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? The NLRB recently changed employer rights surrounding social media limitations; if your employee handbook contains a social media policy, you best review it!

Are you already a member of HR Shield? HR Shield Memberships include free employee handbook creation (and updates) – contact your advisor today!

If you’re new to HR Shield or interested in membership, call 1-877-636-9525 now and we’ll email you a user name and password that gives you instant access to HR Shield. There you’ll find a collection of forms and resources for your entire management team. You’ll also have immediate access to a dedicated HR Advisor to assist you with updating your handbook.

 

The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces the laws against job discrimination and harassment. Did you know that each year, they process about 80,000 job discrimination complaints having to do with race, sex, disability, age, national origin, pregnancy, religion and/or sexual harassment?

The Commission has the power to file lawsuits against companies with discriminatory practices. A number of laws preventing discrimination in the workplace demand equal pay for equal work, and prevent discrimination on the basis of the aforementioned factors. The EEOC is also responsible for investigating and pursuing companies or employers charged with sexual harassment.

Each year, the EEOC publishes statistics that reflect charges of employment discrimination and resolutions broken down by each of the statuses enforced by the Commission.

Here at the 2012 Employment Discrimination Statistics, outlining the total charges, by state, and breaking the charges down into different types of discrimination.

The highest number of charges was filed in the state of Texas, with 8,929 claims accounting for 9.0% of all US workplace discrimination claims. Florida is next, with 7,940 claims accounting for 8.0% of the total for the US.  California is close behind that with 7,399 claims accounting for 7.4% of the US total.  Other states with over 4,000 claims were Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois and North Carolina.

Alternatively, the state with the lowest number of charges was Montana, with only 13 complaints! Disability, Retaliation and Sex were the state’s primary complaints.  States with less than 50 complaints were Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine.

Does your workplace need help with specific employee situations? Looking for someone to manage discrimination claims or mediation hearings, and support an overall happier and healthier working environment? HR Shield’s expert team is ready to work for you, so that your organization doesn’t make this year’s list!

Wage and hour compliance can be confusing, especially when your state law requires one thing, and federal law requires another.

What happens if state law requires payment of a higher minimum wage than the federal law (which is currently $7.25 per hour for covered non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act)?

In states where the state law requires a higher minimum wage, the higher standard applies. But, did you know that the federal law only requires a minimum wage of $4.25 per hour for workers under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment?

After 90 consecutive days of employment (or the employee reaching his or her 20th birthday), the employee must then receive a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In this particular case, if you are the employer of employees under the age of 20, you are going to want to refer to your state law’s specifications. If the state requires a higher standard, that is what will apply.

If your company operates in multiple states, and has employees in multiple states, you will need to review each employee’s particular state minimum wage (the state in which they reside and work in).

Need some help? With HR Shield, you get instant access to all the information, training, forms and expert advice you need to keep your workplace in compliance and protect your bottom line. We’ll help you identify exactly which regulations you need to satisfy and what you need to do to stay compliant across the board including the Fair Labor Standards Act and minimum wage specifics.

For more information, just contact us!