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Quick! Melt That Ice!

February 13th, 2014

ice slips at workAs you’re probably well aware, most of the country is feeling pretty cold right now! In many states you’ll find ice and/or snow covering the roads, sidewalks, and stairs.

At your home you shovel and salt the steps and walkway for your family’s safety, but do you do the same for your employees at your place of employment? Same level slips, trips and falls are occupational hazards that can’t be ignored; these accidents occur nearly 4.0 million times each year! In fact, slip and fall claims continually make up 12-15% of all workers’ compensation claims.

Preventative Measures in the Workplace:

Preventing accidents in the workplace requires a combination of hazard identification and then correction. Have a Slip, Trip & Fall Handbook in the workplace for all property caretakers, managers, and business owners to review. A Slip, Trip & Fall Handbook will likely contain weather related strategies.

You’ll be surprised to see what the actual weather-specific hazards are – it’s not just ice covering the front walkway or stairs, but also melting snow and ice from employees’ boots and shoes that result in having slippery wet floors indoors.

If keeping the floors dry appears to be an ongoing battle, you may want to enforce a dress code (mainly a proper footwear code) to include shoes with a slip-resistant sole. For employees working outside, requiring a good work boot is advised.

If you currently work with a PEO, be sure to ask them what materials they have available covering OSHA-specific risk management and compliance. PEOs help protect employers from injuries, claims, costly fines, and lawsuits.

To learn more about workplace safety, visit our Safety Compliance section within the PEO Advantage Blog. For specific questions regarding accident prevention, contact our team at 877-636-9525.

Part 3 of 3: Ways PEOs Support Golf Course Businesses

January 27th, 2014

payroll processing for golf coursesWelcome to part 3 of 3 in our 3-part series regarding PEO solutions for golf course businesses. Now, let’s conclude by talking about the word most golf course owners can’t stand to hear, let alone work on: administration. Employees of all different job types, payroll, time off requests, taxes, government forms, scheduling, recruiting, compensation evaluation, hiring, disciplining, performance reviews, firing, exit interviews… the list of administrative tasks goes on and on.

The Challenge: 

Due to the diverse types of employees found within a golf course business, the various responsibilities and the various compensation structures, there are an increased number of HR challenges for the business owner. Each worker comes with their own specific list (it’s a long one) of administrative tasks.

Here’s How PEO Advantage Can Help:

PEOs have the ability to take away many of the tasks that may be slowing your business down and costing you a bundle—especially payroll processing.PEO Advantage helps find the perfect PEO for managing and delivering payroll to your employees, in addition to accounting for the necessary Federal, State and Local taxes. The PEO payroll responsibility also includes Social Security, Medicare, Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) and any other taxes that are applicable.

Many PEOs have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into their Payroll and Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) so that clients can enjoy the benefits of having access to industry leading cloud based systems.  Technological enhanced process efficiency is only one advantage of partnering with a PEO.  Your business will also offset employee liability, outsource payroll & HR and other tasks such as benefits administration which allow your staff to further increase productivity and focus on daily management and growth.  In some cases, PEO clients experience even greater savings by eliminating overstaffed HR departments.  PEO Advantage encourages business owners to redeploy excess employee capacity toward revenue generation.

Here’s a bonus regarding the number of job types you employ at your golf course: PEOs provide professionally written employee handbooks and policies that translate into clear expectations for each position and better job performance!

To learn more about how a PEO can help your golf course with its administration and payroll, contact PEO Advantage at 877-636-9525 and continue your research by downloading the “PEO Advantage “PEO Buyer’s Guide: Don’t Go at it Alone.”

Part 2 of 3: Ways PEOs Support Golf Course Businesses

January 17th, 2014

Health Care for Golf CoursesLast week we discussed workers compensation solutions specific to golf course businesses. This week, we’re talking health care! As we mentioned, golf courses employ individuals across a wide spectrum of job types. Groundskeepers, landscapers, servers, office personnel, event and banquet staff, and more! If you’re a golf course business owner you may very well have a combination of exempt and non-exempt workers.

The Challenge:

Keeping up with specific legislative changes and requirements, particularly surrounding health care and Affordable Care Act, is nothing short of a nightmare. Add in the fact that you don’t have a “uniform” employee type and the health care requirements for each may be very different from one another.

Here’s How PEO Advantage Can Help:

PEO Advantage is busy introducing golf businesses across the country to the PEO relationship. Here’s why the co-employment relationship is such an attractive business model:

Without even factoring in the rules and regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act, there are more than 60 employment-related governmental regulations; compliance alone is a full-time job. PEOs assume much of the liability associated with healthcare regulations and employee management.  Expert help with risk management and compliance protects business owners from costly fines and lawsuits, and with health care and compliance under control businesses can finally concentrate on their core competencies (managing the golf course) and put their growth plans in motion.

In addition to lowering workers compensation costs, they can also lower your health care costs.  With health insurance rates on the rise and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, businesses are looking for ways to continue offering robust benefits to their employees, but also keep their expenses under control. PEOs bring purchasing power to the table alongside access to Fortune 500 quality health insurance packages and previously unavailable benefits such as 401(k), Section 125 plan and Flexible Spending.

Is your golf course business looking to cut health care costs and ensure a Health Care Reform-compliant workplace in the upcoming year? Call 877-636-9525 to speak with a PEO Advantage representative today.

Part 1 of 3: Ways PEOs Support Golf Course Businesses

January 3rd, 2014

Ways PEOs Support Golf BusinessesAre you a golf course business such as a country club, golf course or golf community? If so, you’re well aware of the everyday struggles your business type faces: expensive workers compensation premiums, managing employees across a wide spectrum of job types (landscapers, office personnel, maintenance, cooks, servers, event planners, etc), upcoming compliance issues regarding health care, the cost of health care, administration of payroll and HR …. And more!

At PEO Advantage, we recognize these struggles specific to the hospitality industry, which is why we’ve introduced a program specific to country clubs, golf courses and golf communities. We invite you to join us for our upcoming 3-part series on golf business-specific solutions, particularly: Workers Comp, Health Care, and Administration.

This week we’re starting off with workers comp…

The Challenge:

Golf businesses have a unique challenge in that they employ individuals across all spectrums; management, office personal, landscaping, restaurant & bar, grounds keeping, maintenance and more. Traditionally, all employees are lumped into a single workers comp code to standardize the cost, but the golf business suffers higher rates than a traditional office scenario, since they do in fact employ a few higher risk positions such as landscapers and groundskeepers.

Here’s How PEO Advantage Can Help:

PEO Advantage’s new program for golf businesses focuses on providing turnkey solutions through the PEO relationship. PEOs offer numerous advantages when it comes to minimizing the cost of workers’ comp. There are no deposits or audits with convenient Pay-As-You-Go policies and clients see an immediate surge in cash flow since their premium is based on actual wages during that exact pay period.

Additionally, PEOs file and track claims, make sure claims are legitimate, manage safety reviews and OSHA compliance, and offload time-consuming documentation and reporting activities.

But, there are 700+ PEO companies across the country – which one can deliver exactly what you need including low rates?  Through a series of more than 200 questions that cover everything from payroll process, compensation structure, work comp claims history and documentation to HR compliance, technology and your three-year growth plan, we’ll identify and prioritize your current and future requirements. Once we have an accurate assessment of your goals and which services you need, we’ll put our industry expertise and 50+ years of business experience to identify the best PEO companies that are licensed in your location and specialize in what you need.

Don’t forget to tune in for part 2 and 3 in the upcoming days. If you need immediate support or have specific questions regarding workers comp, contact PEO Advantage today at 877-636-9525.

Health Care Reform Requires SBC’s

December 9th, 2013

 

Health Care Reform Requires SBC’sEffective January 1, 2014 the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be implementing and enforcing the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

What is the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)?

The SBC is a 4 page overview of health plan benefits, cost sharing and limitations. Its goal is to more easily convey standard information so that employees can easily compare medical plans and make informed decisions regarding which plan they’d like to enroll for.

Additionally, the SBC must include a required set of coverage examples showcasing how the plan works, as well as phone numbers and internet addresses for obtaining copies of the plan’s corresponding documents.

Under the PPACA, each Summary of Benefits and Coverage must be accompanied by the Uniform Glossary too.  The Uniform Glossary is a list of commonly used health care terms and their definitions that was designed for use with the SBC.

What’s Important for Employers to Know?

For employers, it’s especially important that the SBC states whether the plan provides “minimum essential coverage” as required by the individual mandate and also whether or not the plan meets the “minimum value” requirement, meaning that the plan pays at least 60% of allowed charges for covered services as required by the employer mandate.

Health insurers and self-funded group health plans must provide the SBC to employees when they enroll in coverage for the first time, prior to the beginning of each new plan year, and/or within seven days of an employee requesting it.

The Benefit of Working with a PEO…

Although the DOL and HHS have provided a new template that incorporates all of the above, there’s no denying that this is a lot of administrative work on top of your already busy schedule. But there’s good news for those that work with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). Liability is shared through the co-employment relationship which lightens the burden and limits the risk associated with the SBC non-compliance penalty (which is $1,000 per enrollee). And, HRIS technology made available by many PEOs makes current information (including SBC’s) available at the employee’s fingertips at any time through the employee self-service portal!

Is your business looking to ensure a compliant workplace in the upcoming year? In addition to reducing liability and risk surrounding health insurance, working with a PEO can also result in lower health care costs. Call 877-636-9525 or Get a Free Quote Online to find the best Professional Employer Organization for you.

 

Different Types of Salary Increases

November 12th, 2013

Different Types of Salary IncreasesEarlier in the year, PEO Advantage shared some tips for determining workplace salary grades (How Do I Determine What To Pay a New Employee?) But, once you’ve determined what to pay a new employee, that’s only half of the battle. Assuming you want to retain employees, you’ve got to provide them with something to look forward to or work towards – promotions and raises!

The following are standard types of increases and adjustments.

Merit Increase: A merit increase is a salary increase based on performance. Employees must meet or exceed preset business goals or performance criteria in order to receive an increase in pay.

Promotion: A promotion takes an existing employee and promotes them to a different position within the Company that often pays a higher salary and/or provides better benefits and perks.

Market Adjustments: Market adjustments do not have to do with performance but instead have to do with external conditions – market conditions to be precise. If an employer sees that Vice Presidents of Sales in similar companies make on average about $10,000 more each year than what they are paying their current employee, OR, the market is improving and the company is currently making more money than it has in the past, employers may increase the VP of Sales’ salary. This helps to strengthen employee satisfaction and retention.

One-time Incentive: A one-time incentive is a lump sum payment granted to recognize individual and/or department productivity. These can be given at any time and at any frequency over the course of a year.

Now, keep in mind that you can create a really competitive incentives program that combines two or more of the abovementioned salary increase opportunities. If you currently work with a PEO, be sure to run your ideas by them; PEOs are experts in attracting and retaining top talent – they help make sure the right talent is hired and stays put.

For more information on pay grades, payroll, or PEOs, contact PEO Advantage today.

Can Part-Time Workers Collect Unemployment?

October 15th, 2013

Can Part Time Workers Collect UnemploymentUnemployment … every business owner’s favorite topic….

Not quite! Unemployment, taxes, claims, and everything else that revolves around the topic is quite complex.

Most businesses with employees pay state unemployment taxes. Each business’s particular rate is affected by the stability of the business’s employment record. A more stable employment record almost always results in a reduced tax rate over time.

However, if unemployment claims are authorized or repeatedly filed against you, your rates could go up. Additionally, claims result in lost time and money due to having to provide timely, complete, and accurate information at the time of the claim. No wonder we want to avoid them!

So, who can actually file for unemployment? Are these benefits offered to full-time employees only? What about part-time employees? Can they collect unemployment as well?

In short, yes.  Your state’s department of labor will evaluate their eligibility based on past wages (most often the past 18 months). If the employee made enough money during the necessary timeframe, then it does not matter if they were working part-time or full-time.

In fact, those that have been demoted from full-time to part-time work can actually file a loss-of-work claim and, if authorized, receive partial payments.

What can you do to limit your chances of facing unexpected expenditures surrounding unemployment? First, document, document, document! If an unemployment claim is filed, you will be given the chance as the business owner to dispute the claim. If you can prove that the employee left voluntarily or transitioned from full-time to part-time by choice, the claim may be denied.

Second, if you work with a PEO or are going to be in the near future, you’re already in a pretty good position. PEOs assist business owners by significantly decreasing risk and liability. Through the co-employment relationship the PEO assumes many employee management responsibilities. They help clients win unemployment claims by keeping appropriate documentation and also help to ensure workplace compliance. Through frequent audits they can also help identify and protest erroneous charges or claims tied to state unemployment tax (SUTA).

Because employees are documented as employees of the PEO and not the client for tax filing purposes in a co-employment relationship, the PEO is responsible for unemployment taxes.  It is in everyone’s best interest to continually work to keep rates (and claims) to a minimum.

If you’re interested in unemployment claims support or are looking for employee management solutions to help further protect your workplace (and money), call 877-636-9525 or contact us online.

Workplace Investigations: Part 3 of 3: Drug Testing

October 10th, 2013

Legal Drug Testing in the WorkplaceThere’s reason to believe Sandra in Sales is under the influence of something at work each day. She just hasn’t been acting herself lately. But, now what?!

Drug testing is considered a workplace investigation. While some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees are required by law to drug test periodically to ensure a drug-free workplace (under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988), the majority of employers across the U.S. are NOT required to drug test.

Although not required by law to test, most private employers have the right to test for a wide variety of substances. Before requiring an employee to undergo mandatory testing, it’s important that you as the employer have familiarized yourself with various state and Federal regulations that may or may not apply to your organization, and have designed a drug-testing program that is fair and legal. Some state and local governments have statutes that limit or prohibit certain types of workplace testing.

It is critical to have a clear written policy letting employees know about the types of testing that may be done and what will happen to them if a test yields a positive result. This includes all types of pre-employment testing, for-cause testing, reasonable suspicion testing, post-accident testing and random testing.

If you are “in the clear” to test within the workplace, it’s also very important that you keep the results absolutely confidential. The documentation should be kept in the same confidential file of medical information that is used for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) purposes.

Does your Company currently have a drug-testing program and policy in place? PEOs  provide professionally written employee handbooks and policies that translate into clear expectations and peak performance within the workplace. If you don’t already work with a PEO and are interested in the co-employment relationship – or – need a second opinion on workplace testing and an existing scenario, contact PEO Advantage today.

Workplace Investigations: Part 2 of 3: General Searches

October 1st, 2013

Workplace SearchesLast week we discussed workplace investigations regarding computer files and communication, and as you learned, the right to search most often lies with the employer. After all, it is your equipment and your office the employee is utilizing. However, general searches are a bit more complex.

The need to search someone’s personal belongings may arise for a number of reasons – perhaps there’s a suspicion of employee substance abuse…or there’s been some type of vandalism committed during today’s lunch break. Or, in a much more serious situation, perhaps there’s been a threat made against others and there’s reason to believe someone is planning to harm someone else or themselves.

Under OSHA, employers must investigate problems and prevent future similar problems from occurring, to the best of their ability. In regards to the prevention of workplace violence, employers have a duty to investigate threats and prevent acts of violence from occurring within the workplace. However, we’d like to stress that in violent situations or threatening situations, local law enforcement should be contacted before attempting to handle on your own as the employer.

So, what about a less serious search – for example – looking in an employee’s briefcase or purse for something? In short, this is not recommended. In general, employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy surrounding their own personal items…. unless of course the employee was told otherwise before accepting a job at your Company.

The key in protecting yourself as the employer in general searchers is to have a good search policy in place BEFOREHAND. If you have made it well known (this includes outlining everything in writing within your employee handbook or company policy) that the entire workplace is subject to search at any time, you have the right to search personal areas when there’s reasonable cause. This includes locked desk drawers or lockers.

A very good search policy will also include personal items that are brought on to the worksite including purses, briefcases, containers, and even cars parked on company property!

Did you know that most PEOs can help you establish your own search policies in addition to employee handbooks and company policies?  Call 877-636-9525 to find the best Professional Employer Organization for you. But, if you are in immediate need of a workplace investigation at this time, it is recommended you contact an employment law professional before proceeding.

Join us next week as we dive further into workplace investigations with employee drug testing.

Workplace Investigations: Part 1 of 3 : Computer Files

September 26th, 2013

Video Monitoring EmployeesAt some point in time nearly every business owner will find themselves in need of conducting a workplace investigation. Whether you believe an employee is stealing confidential company files, or is bringing illegal substances into the workplace, it’s certainly “your business” – but is searching them actually legal or is it an invasion of privacy?

There are many types of workplace investigations that can occur in the workplace. We invite you to join PEO Advantage in the upcoming weeks for our 3-part series reviewing 3 of the most popular types of investigations: computer files, general searches, and drug testing (yes, testing – not just searching- is considered a type of investigation).

So, let’s start with computer files and forms of communication.

You’ve heard from other employees and suspect yourself that Mike in Marketing is in cahoots with a major competitor. Could he be stealing confidential data from your company and passing it along to the “enemy” right in front of your own eyes?!  Before searching his computer or opening up an investigation it’s important to know what is and is not legal.

The very first step is to review your company policy. In the event that this issue is brought to a court of law, it’s important to note that the majority of courtrooms will side with the employer on a search, if  the company policy was known to the employee. Most employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy at their desk and employers have the right to search.

Email: Many courts have found that employers are generally free to read and monitor company email communications. A survey conducted by the American Management Association (AMA) back in 2008 revealed that more than half of the responding companies monitor employee email, and one quarter of them have fired an employee for misusing email. While it’s highly recommended to have a company email policy, you as the employer still probably have the legal rights to read employee email messages sent using your equipment and your network. Always consult with an employment law professional beforehand if you do not have an email policy in place and are unsure.

Video Monitoring: Here’s another way to try and figure out if Mike is putting confidential files on a zip drive and leaving the workplace with them – but is it allowed? There is little limitation on the use of non-audio video recording. Some states have limitations regarding privacy laws, but in most instances video monitoring in the workplace is permitted.

Keylogging: Because the computer belongs to the company, employers have the right to install keylogging programs. These programs record every single keystroke an employee uses on their computer – including passwords.

There’s no denying that employee management and compliance takes valuable time away from focusing on strategic growth and exposes you to huge financial risk if not handled to the letter of the law. With more than 60 employment-related governmental regulations, compliance alone is a full-time job.

This is why thousands of business owners choose to hire a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO, to save time and money. Not to mention that a PEO provides expertise in an otherwise confusing arena: employment law. If you need to conduct an employee investigation, it is highly recommended that you consult your PEO in advance or contact an attorney that practices employment law.

For more information on workplace investigations or a specific scenario, contact PEO Advantage. And don’t forget to join us next week as we take a look at “general searches” and their limitations.