The Cincinnati Business Courier recently posted an article about five HR issues that demand your immediate attention: Cyberharassment and social media; the use of personal devices for work; misclassification of employees; the Affordable Care Act; and wage and hour lawsuits. Four Sheakley experts contributed to the story, representing four perspectives on HR today – operations (Rober Sinkhorn, COO), HR (Eleni Liston, VP Human Resource), legal (Harry Lydon, General Councel) and compliance (Sheila Schooley, Senior HR Consultant). Read the full article here.
The IRS recently issued final regulations for the employer shared responsibility provision, commonly referred to as the “Pay or Play” mandate, of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Two pieces of the mandate were affected, transitional relief and eligibility waiting period requirements. While the new rules for 2015 are similar to those currently implemented, they do throw in a few surprises.
Remember when gas surcharges were implemented? Now customers may need to pay a surcharge for ACA, too.
How can employers afford the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Ask their customers to help. One small business in Florida plans to pass the extra costs onto customers with a 1 percent ACA surcharge. Why would they do this? A sign at the restaurant answers this question. “The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors. Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.”
Click here to read more from CNN.
Every employer wants to retain good employees. Finding new employees is expensive, and when employees leave, there’s not only the time that needs to be spent to find a replacement, but also the lost productivity of a vacant position.
You can protect yourself by asking the right questions during the interview process.
First, while you’re screening resumes, note the time an applicant has spent at each previous position. If you see a trend of less than two years at the last several companies, you don’t necessarily need to remove them from your selection set. However, you do need address the issue.
Next, during the interview process, ask questions that allow the applicant to explain their history of short tenures. Questions you can ask (and be sure to ask every applicant the same questions) include:
- Why are you here?
- What is it about this position that you find interesting?
- Why did you leave your other jobs?
- What did you like best about your previous positions?
- Did you try talking to your previous employers about issues before applying for new positions?
- What aspects of your job did you not like in previous positions?
These questions can help you gain insight into whether the applicant was working to better themselves (which is a good thing), if their early departures were from factors beyond their control (like the economic downturn, or the company needing to scale back), or they truly are a job hopper and you can expect them to be looking to move on after about a year so in a new position with you.
Then, talking to references and previous employers to round out the story will help you make a good decision. If previous employers confirm the applicant did not leave amicably, or did not pursue opportunities within the company before applying elsewhere, consider yourself warned.
If you have not already started preparing, it’s time to get ready to file an H-1B work visa petition if you have foreign employees who need sponsorship for long-term work authorization in the U.S.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B work visa petitions on April 1, 2014. With an annual limit of 65,000 H-1B spots available each year for foreign nationals with bachelor’s degrees and an additional 20,000 for those holding U.S. master’s degrees, it is critical to have your application in on April 1. Why so soon? In 2013, the available H-1B spots were filled within seven days, and with the economy rebounding, there is reason to believe this year the spots will be filled even faster.
As an employer, before you file an H-1B petition with USCIS, you must register the company with the Department of Labor (DOL), post required notices, and obtain DOL certification of a Labor Condition Application. If not already in place, these prerequisite steps can take up to three or four weeks, so the time to act is now! And, make sure you work with an experienced business immigration attorney to ensure all prerequisites and application requirements are met.
The full application process and legal requirements are outlined on USCIS’s website.
President Obama signed an Executive Order on February 12th instituting a new policy to raise the minimum wage for workers under federal contracts for services or construction to $10.10 per hour. The order becomes effective January 1, 2015 and will apply only to new contracts and subcontracts signed after its effective date that provide the federal government with concessions, services, and construction.
The U.S. Department of Labor is required to issue regulations by October 1, 2014, to the extent permitted by law and consistent with the requirements of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, to implement the requirements of this order.
What does this mean for you if you are a services or construction contractor with federal contracts?
You will have some time to review your contracts to determine whether you are covered by this order and prepare and price bids accordingly before the order goes into effect January 1, 2015. When in doubt seek counsel to determine what proactive steps can be taken in the event your company is subject to the Executive Order.
Read the official White House press release by clicking here.
As reported by BenefitsPro, the Save American Workers Act bill was passed by the members of the House Ways and Means Committee. This Act would change the Affordable Care Act (ACA) definition of a full-time employee from those who work 30 hours or more per week, to 40 hours or more per week.
Under ACA, employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must provide a minimum level of health coverage if one or more workers apply for coverage from the health exchange. Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., the sponsor, said the 30-hour limit is encouraging many employers to limit hours to avoid penalties. While Democrats on the committee said the bill would gut the coverage mandate by letting employers classify workers who work as many as 39 hours per week as part-time workers.
Your most dedicated, valuable employees are those that do NOT use all their vacation time, right? Perhaps not. What’s worse is that it’s possible you are losing productivity and employee satisfaction by allowing employees to skip their vacations.
Right Management surveyed 763 workers throughout North America via an online poll that ran from November 16 to December 15 and discovered that only 31 percent of respondents planned to use all their vacation in 2013. This is consistent with 2011 and 2012 surveys.
As reported on prnewswire.com, “Every employee at every level should be encouraged to take time to reenergize, recharge and relax to be more satisfied and productive on the job,” said Matt Norquist, General Manager at Right Management. “The importance of vacation cannot be understated in today’s workplace when companies are doing more with less and adding workloads to their teams.”
A more satisfied employee with proper work-life balance has more to give on a daily basis. And, taking vacations helps prevent burnout. Here are five reasons you should encourage your employees to use all their vacation time: (Source: Chubbworks.com)
- Vacations allow employees time to recharge and help avoid burnout among team members.
- Employees who take their vacations often come back with new and fresh ideas.
- When an employee is absent on vacation, it allows you an opportunity to evaluate workload to determine if the employee is doing too much or too little.
- When employees go on vacation, you have a chance to evaluate how other employees react when faced with new opportunities.
- Vacation is also important for discovering fraud and theft. When dishonest employees leave for vacation, it becomes more difficult for them to cover their tracks and their work can be verified.
Of course, be sure to schedule vacations to ensure customer service is not interrupted.
The IRS 2014 tax season has begun! 2013 business tax returns are now being accepted as of Monday, January 13, 2014. Business returns include any return that posts on the IRS Business Master File (BMF). BMF returns include a variety of income tax and information returns such as:
It also includes various excise and payroll tax returns, such as:
Exclusions apply for certain Unincorporated Small Businesses & returns filed by estates and trusts
The January 13 start date does not apply to Form 1041, the return filed by estates and trusts, and unincorporated small businesses that report their income on Form 1040.
The start date for 1041 and all 1040 filers is January 31, 2014. Although the IRS encourages these small businesses to begin preparing their returns, it will not be able to accept these or any other individual returns or begin processing them until January 31. This includes sole proprietors who file a Schedule C.
Here are some additional, helpful links from the IRS featuring employment taxes for business owners and employee free tax filings:
Free File Opens Today, Offers Free Tax Prep and E-filing
IR-2014-4, Jan. 17, 2014 — To help people get a jump on their taxes before the Jan. 31 filing season opens, the IRS announced the availability of Free File for most taxpayers.
Reminder: All W-2’s and 1099-MISC are to be mailed out no later than January 31, 2014.
The recent data breach at Target is a reminder to all companies to test and tighten their risk assessment plan. Today’s attackers are more aggressive than ever, and with technology changing rapidly, you need to make sure your compliance review timeline can keep pace. Do you really need all the customer data you have on file? While great data can provide tremendous insights into how to better serve your customers, it can also put your customers at risk if that data were stolen. Consider what you need the data for and how long you truly need to keep it. If you don’t have it, hackers can’t steal it! Your customers trust you with their information, make sure you are doing everything you can to keep that information safe.