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It’s Go Time….The Employer Mandate is Here

After controversy, debate, and delays, the Employer Mandate has arrived. This provision of the Affordable Care Act (also known as the “Play or Pay” provision) requires all employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to offer a certain level of health insurance coverage at an affordable rate to all full-time employees or face a possible penalty.Large employers (those with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees) that do not comply with the Employer Mandate may begin incurring penalties in each month of the 2015 tax year. Midsized employers (those with 50-99 full-time equivalent employees) enjoy an additional year of reprieve (to 2016) as long as the organization did not re

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Increase in Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors

While the general federal minimum wage remains unchanged at $7.25 per hour, as announced earlier this year, the minimum wage for federal contractors will increase to $10.10 per hour as of January 1, 2015. This increase is pursuant to an Executive Order signed by President Obama and applies to all employers covered by the Service Contract Act or any employer who handles concessions and services in connection with Federal property or lands. The initial scope of this Order, however, will be limited; it will only apply to employees employed under new and replacement federal contracts and who would otherwise make under $10.10 an hour. Contracts that are in place prior to January 1, 2015 are not a

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Is It Time to Reconsider Performance Appraisals?

Performance appraisals are a staple of performance management. Most companies — 88% of U.S. employers — conduct them at least once a year, reports the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Even so, performance appraisals are typically less productive than they could be for employees and supervisors. Room for improvement A 2014 SHRM survey found that a majority of HR professionals believe their performance management processes could be better. In the survey of 400 U.S. HR professionals, only 2% gave their organizations an A grade for their method of handling performance management. The majority — 53% — gave their organization a grade between C+ and B, followed by 21% who rat

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2015 Labor Laws: Coming Soon to a Courthouse Near You

With the Affordable Care Act, midterm elections, and other scheduled labor law changes, there are several new major pieces of legislation heading our way in 2015. Below is a summary of some of the key labor laws and trends to keep in mind as we approach 2015: 1. The Employer Mandate - The Employer Mandate is the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires all employers with 50 or more full time equivalent employees to offer a certain level of health insurance coverage at an affordable rate to all full time employees or face a penalty.  An Employer Mandate penalty is triggered if the company fails to comply with the requirements and at least one full‐time employee of a covered empl

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Enforcing Rest and Meal Periods in Hectic Work Environments

Restaurants, coffee shops, hair salons, call centers, and customer focused offices often have “just enough” staffing on hand at any given time. Limited staffing makes it challenging to relieve an employee for a rest period or meal break. An employee who leaves the work area, even for a small amount of time often causes stress and increased workloads on his or her colleagues. This factor, though understandable, does not release an employer from providing mandatory rest periods and breaks to its employees. Breaks and meal periods should, therefore, be scheduled in accordance with state law requirements; for example, some states require that employees receive a paid ten minute break for ev

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New Year’s HR Resolutions

For many organizations, the beginning of a New Year is the perfect time to address the to-do list from the previous year or set goals for the new one. It’s a great way to focus the organization on the key priorities for the year ahead. As you make your list of resolutions, consider these three small changes you can make to your workplace to increase productivity and reduce turnover. One: Think positively for 5 seconds. Small and mid-size organizations are constantly under stress. You need to do more with less. Stay on top of the recent changes – business and regulatory – in your state and industry. Keep employees happy and motivated. The list goes on. It’s easy to feel the burden a

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Do You Reimburse Employees For Individual Health Insurance?

If you do, please read this important information.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin impacting employers of all sizes with additional changes in just another week.  One of the lesser known regulations that will impact employers relates to offering reimbursements to employees to purchase individual health insurance outside of a company plan.  The IRS issued guidance last year (Notice 2013-54) stating that tax-free employer payment arrangements are considered group health plans subject to the ACA restrictions. With a few minor exceptions, these plans fail to meet ACA requirements for a variety of reasons, the most important being that group health plans that are used to purchase

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Safety & Health in the Workplace: Pandemic Planning

With increased media coverage about the Ebola outbreak, employers may wonder what workplace action should be taken. This is also a good time to discuss keeping your workplace germ free as the flu season gets into full force. Keep in mind that the likelihood of Ebola affecting your workplace may be small, so consider this a good time to revisit pandemic protocols.  Chances are you will have a much better chance of flu and cold germs around and the protocols are virtually the same. Employers are encouraged to consider the following controls to help protect the workplace: Develop policies that encourage ill workers to stay at home without fear of reprisal. Understand state and federal leave

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Upcoming Changes to OSHA Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements

On January 1, 2015, a final rule from the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will take effect that will change the current injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping requirements. This new rule adds to the number of situations in which employers must notify OSHA of injuries and illnesses as well as modifying the list of low-hazard industries that are exempt from the annual recordkeeping requirements for illness and injuries. Reporting Requirements Under current requirements, employers must notify OSHA in the case of a work-related fatality or if three or more employees were hospitalized. The new rule will require employers to report single wo

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