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.


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!


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.

best sites for recruiting talentSmall businesses should never have to settle for anything but the best when it comes to recruiting new hires. But competition can be tough and on top of that; it’s not always easy to know exactly where to find the best talent. Here are some sites that can help you navigate the recruiting landscape and come out on top.

LinkedIn LinkedIn is quickly becoming one of the top hiring sites. It connects over 330 million professionals and allows you to easily search through jobs, post jobs and check out the backgrounds of prospective hires.

Simply Hired Simply Hired is one of the world’s largest search engines for jobs and is a great place for employers to post openings and conduct performance based advertising for open positions. Businesses can reach millions of job seekers on the web as well as social media networks.

Glassdoor Glassdoor is a trusted site for companies seeking talented new employees. Job seekers can see if they have any Inside Connections at your company and also read reviews about your company, see office photos, etc. You can check out the profiles of job seekers and access public information about their employment history.

CareerBuilder CareerBuilder is one of the top recruiting boards. It allows users to post their resumes for employers to view and also to access job listings and search through jobs relevant to their background.

When you need additional help to ensure you are recruiting the best prospects, give a quick call to your HR Advisor! Our team of licensed experts each have a minimum of ten years HR experience. Need help? Contact us!

CareerMany small businesses face challenges when it comes to recruiting new talent. The job market has changed drastically and in order to keep up with it, you have to do things a little differently. There are now many creative ways of recruiting great hires that are proving to be more effective than previous methods. On behalf of HR Shield, here are some of the best new recruitment strategies.

Self-Selection In order to get to the employees that are really interested in the job, give them an opportunity to prove their interest in between sending in a resume and showing up for the interview. You could invite them to an open house for prospective employees and see who shows up. This will help reduce the applicant pool to the ones who actually take the first step.

Avoid Job Fairs Job fairs often turn out to be huge crowds of people that don’t quite fit the role you’re looking to fill. Instead of attending events like these, look for other types of events where talent might be gathering. Even if these events aren’t necessarily recruitment events, you can still network and potentially find people that are qualified for roles in your company. Platforms like Meetup are a great place to start.

Look Back at Past Candidates There’s a reason why former candidates made it through the first round or two of interviews. If you passed on a good candidate in the past but it was a close race, they could be a good person to get in touch with now to see if the timing might be better suited for you both.

If you don’t have an in-house HR department, an HR Shield Advisor can offer assistance in recruiting talented new hires. Contact us today!

Last week HR Shield had the opportunity to attend an annual event hosted by the Society for Human Resource Management called “The Day in the Beltway.”  Each year members of the association are able to take a trip to Washington DC to have one on one time with our senators and congressmen and their staff.  We were there representing the HR field, and the employers we work for, to lobby for or against legislation that would have a direct impact on business.

United States Capitol BuildingWhen Congress or state legislatures are developing workplace policy, HR’s voice needs to be heard. As advocates for the HR community, SHRM members understand and can communicate how public policy issues may affect employees and employers. By working together, we can help advance effective workplace public policy.

We were there to address specific issues related to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are to be paid a rate of at least one and a half times their regular rate for any ours over 40 in a week, unless they have been classified as exempt (salaried) under certain specific statutory categories or meet other requirements in the regulations.

Under section 541 of the FLSA regulations, an employee may qualify as exempt from overtime requirements if he or she satisfies a “primary duties test” (performs specific job duties under the executive, administrative, professional, computer or outside sales regulations), and if he or she is paid on a “salary basis.”  Under current regulations the employee must be paid a salary of at least $455 weekly to meet the salary basis test.

President Obama directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to “modernize and streamline” the FLSA overtime regulations.  What does this mean to you? Potential changes include raising the salary basis amount to possibly DOUBLE what it currently is.  Meaning you would have to pay your salaried employees a minimum of $910.00 a week to classify them as exempt!  The DOL is also looking at changing the primary duties test for many of the otherwise exempt employees, which could result in those employees losing their exempt status, and therefore being subject to overtime, costing you additional monies in overtime pay!

Are your exempt (salaried) employees classified correctly?  It pays to know!  If these changes come to fruition, it will end up costing you more to run your business!

For more information on the legislation currently being tracked by SHRM, visit http://www.advocacy.shrm.org/home

Ray Rice (Image: File) Ray Rice (Image: File)

Running back Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL, the same day a shocking video surfaced showing Rice punching Janay Palmer, who was his fiancée at the time, inside an elevator at a hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, seven months ago.

The NFL has previously said that Rice entered a pretrial intervention program in May. Under the program, he won't be prosecuted, and the felony charge -- one count of third-degree aggravated assault -- will be expunged after one year.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has already been scrutinized for suspending Rice for just two games, months after the first video aired. Many felt the suspension wasn't enough, and in August, the commissioner himself agreed.

Goodell stated “my disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

What do you think?  Did the NFL get it right?  Should the initial reaction and punishment have been more severe?  Many feel that Rice should have received a lifetime suspension from the NFL as soon as the domestic violence was discovered, others feel the punishment too harsh and the NFL should have been more sympathetic and offered counseling.

Ray Rice is not the only professional sports player to have been involved in a domestic abuse case, he's just the most recent and most publicized.  Teams and leagues take the stance that domestic violence is not their issue to address and that the should not intervene with the criminal justice system.

Each year more than one million people in the United States report a violent assault by an intimate partner.  Domestic violence, and how to handle it, should be a concern for every employer.

Domestic violence affects the employee’s health and safety, increases employer’s health care costs and decreases productivity.  As an employer, you may be hesitant to address domestic violence because of a desire to respect the employee’s privacy, uncertainty of the employer’s role, and the need for guidance.

Domestic violence in the workplace is broad and can happen both on and off the worksite.  Domestic violence in the workplace includes all behavior that interferes with the employee’s capability to safely and securely perform their duties at work.  The conduct can include harassing phone calls, showing up to the victim’s worksite, to homicide. Domestic violence off the worksite can also affect the employee through sleep deprivation and physical injuries, which can affect their ability to perform their job.

Supervisors face one of the most challenging aspects of domestic violence as a workplace issue: what to say to an employee who the supervisor believes is being abused or is an abuser, and how to say it in a way that is respectful of his or her privacy.

What can you do?  Treat domestic violence as a business issue.  The workplace is where victims of domestic violence spend 8 hours a day, and it can be an ideal place for them to get help and support. When employers address domestic violence as it affects the workplace, they have the power to save money…and save lives.

For more information on how you can develop policies on domestic abuse and provide training to your supervisors and managers please contact us!