Last year around this time we provided 5 Fashion Tips for the Professional. It was a workplace apparel guideline for employers or HR professionals to share with their employees to ensure that their working environment remains professional, while still giving individuals the right to express themselves through personal fashion.

But, every now and then you may encounter an employee who just “doesn’t get it” or continues to wear outfits that are inappropriate for the workplace.  Let’s define “inappropriate.”  It really depends on your workplace or industry. In the office, “inappropriate” may be apparel that’s too revealing or distracting, or a shirt that conveys some type of contradictory message or graphic. If you’re in the hospitality industry or the owner of a restaurant, “inappropriate” may be khakis that are dirty or wrinkled.

It is for this reason that we strongly recommend having a dress code outlined within your employee handbook. It is not uncommon to skip this section when compiling your employee handbook for the first time. A lot of employers think that if their workplace does not require uniforms or special safety clothing, that a dress code does not exist or need to be included.

But, a clearly conveyed dress code outlined within your employee handbook will make situations like this a lot easier. Rather than having to “suggest” to your employee that their wardrobe is questionable or inappropriate with nothing to back up your reasoning, you can instead refer to your Company’s handbook and policies which specifically address standards of dress and hygiene.

Confronting an employee about their apparel can be an uncomfortable situation, but don’t forget that every employee represents your Company’s culture, level of professionalism, brand and more. Workplace apparel is important! And, you don’t need to handle this on your own! If you need help revising or updating your handbook, or confronting an employee, please contact your HR Shield Advisor.

Many of us are taking our businesses to the cloud, and limiting the amount of paper scattered about the office. Some of us see filing cabinets as a thing of the past – and that’s no problem at all; in fact, it’s good for the environment! But, operating online doesn’t dismiss us from our record keeping responsibilities.

Did you know that Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires you to keep certain records for each and every one of your non-exempt workers for at least 3 years?

Fortunately, FLSA does not require a particular form or method of record keeping. You just need to be able to provide the following in the event that a DOL representative asks you for it. Records should always be accessible at your place of employment, or headquarters/main location if you have multiple locations.

The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain*

  • Employee's full name and social security number.
  • Address, including zip code.
  • Birth date, if younger than 19.
  • Sex and occupation.
  • Time and day of week when employee's workweek begins.
  • Hours worked each day.
  • Total hours worked each workweek.
  • Basis on which employee's wages are paid (e.g., "$9 per hour", "$440 a week", "piecework")
  • Regular hourly pay rate.
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
  • Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee's wages.
  • Total wages paid each pay period.
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

*This list is provided by the Department of Labor and can be accessed in its entirety at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs21.htm.

The Department of Labor and Fair Labor Standards Act require by law that this information is accurate; keep this in mind as you review your business’s record keeping and payroll practices. Are you recording data as accurately and efficiently as possible or is there a better way to organize information each pay period?

Your HR Shield Advisor can offer assistance in selecting small business payroll or record keeping software, or, if you’re in the market for a payroll service provider; we can also help. HR Shield has many great referrals and partners for payroll processing – whether you’re a big company looking to make a switch, or a small one engaging a service provider for the first time.

A payroll service provider will keep all of the aforementioned data on record for you, and often sets up joint-access to all information so that it can be accessed anytime anywhere by the business owner or management.

To learn more, contact us today.

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.