It turns out both businesses and their employees are upset about how health care reform butchered flexible spending accounts (FSAs). A recent survey by the Midwest Business Group on Health found that two provisions affecting FSAs fall into the top five provisions employers most want removed from the reform law.
This year saw the elimination of popular and widely accessible parts of what is still loosely called the “flexible” spending account. For one, the FSA can no longer be used to purchase over-the-counter medications unless prescribed by a doctor. When was the last time your doctor wrote you a prescription for Tylenol? This change alone rendered the account much less useful to workers with few health expenses beyond the annual sniffle. Gone are the days of contributing $100 for annual Advil and NyQuil needs. In addition to the ban on over-the-counter meds, in 2013, the reform will place a $2,500 annual limit on FSA contributions, making the account much less useful to workers planning large medical expenses. Gone are the days of buying Suzy’s braces with pretax dollars.
If the account won’t cover small daily expenses or large annual expenses, how useful is this program? And is FSA reform making health care more affordable and accessible, according to the goals of Obama’s health care laws?
These questions may have helped motivate Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) to introduce The Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act in the Senate and Representative Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) to introduce similar legislation in the House. The bills would repeal both FSA reform law provisions and return the “flexible” function to the flexible spending account.
Ah, December—a busy and tumultuous time for many businesses . . . a time of holiday office parties, secret Santa exchanges, and most important to many—time off to spend with family and friends. When December rolls around and employees are itching to clock out, does your company’s holiday pay policy look more like It’s a Wonderful Life or does it look more like How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Much of how your company shapes its policy will depend on the needs of the business (and of course, the holiday spirit!), but when it comes to legal requirements for holiday pay, this employer’s guide to common questions and answers can help.
Q: Must employees get paid time off for nationally recognized holidays?
Q: What about accommodating a religious holiday?
A: In short, yes, employers must accommodate their employees’ religious practices unless the business would suffer an undue hardship.
What is reasonable accommodation? Allowing an employee to use a floating holiday, a vacation day, or unpaid time off are all reasonable ways to accommodate religious observances.
Q: Must employees be paid for employer-provided holiday time off?
A: This answer depends on the employee’s classification. Employers are not required to pay hourly employees for holiday time off; employees must only be paid for time they actually worked. On the other hand, employers are required to pay salaried employees who work without regard to overtime for holiday time off if they worked any hours in the holiday week.
Q: Must paid time off be included in determining an employee’s entitlement to overtime?
A: No. Employer-provided paid holiday hours are not required to count toward an employee’s hours worked ,for the purposes of determining overtime eligibility. Typically, an employee must work 40 hours in a week to become eligible for overtime. This may be overridden, however, by collective bargaining agreements.
Q: Can conditions be attached to holiday pay?
A: Yes, but those conditions should always be in writing. As examples, an employer may prorate holiday pay for part-time employees or may require a certain amount of service time before an employee becomes eligible for holiday pay.
Q: If an employee works a holiday, must they get premium pay?
A: While a common practice (and a kind gesture) to pay a premium to employees who work holidays, it is not a legal requirement.
Q: Must the same holiday benefits be extended to all employees?
A: No, as long as any differences are not a result of potential discrimination, such as age or gender. Employers can, for instance, grant holiday pay to full-time employees only, or to office workers instead of field workers.
Q: What happens if a holiday falls on an employee’s regular day off or on a non-business day?
A: No legal requirement governs this area; however, a popular practice is to allow employees to take another day off during that pay period. This is typically seen when holidays like Christmas fall on a Sunday and employees are given the following Monday off.
When it comes to managing your company’s payroll services, GHRO can help! Our seasoned professionals have years of experience in Human Resources and can help you develop the best policies for you and your employees. For more information about how GHRO can meet your business needs, visit our website.
GHRO recently posted a blog about age discrimination and younger workers, and how Generation Y’s stereotypes unfairly prevent them from getting hired. While no law protects young workers from ageism, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 protects employees over age 40 from traditional age discrimination. Based on this law, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission received 22,778 charges of age discrimination in 2009 alone, of which the commission resolved 20,529 and recovered over $72 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals (not including monetary benefits obtained through litigation). Age-related charges make up roughly one quarter of all discrimination charges filed with the commission. Despite the number of age-related claims falling since 2008, ageism remains a potential problem for employers, particularly in this volatile economic climate. So what is age discrimination and how can it be prevented?
Under the ADEA, older workers may not be discriminated against in any aspect of employment, including hiring, termination, wages, job duties, promotions, layoffs, training, and fringe benefits. Even companywide policies that adversely affect applicants and employees over age 40 may be illegal if they are not based on a reasonable factor beyond age. While those factors are controlled at the management level, the ADEA also protects older workers against harassment, which can be perpetuated by all levels of the business: supervisors, coworkers, even clients and customers. Age-related harassment includes making age-related remarks. Even if such remarks don’t seem to be serious, they can have a severe impact on older workers and can create a hostile work environment.
Training can help raise employee awareness of discrimination and can curtail such remarks. It may surprise many employees to learn that extensive researched has shown no correlation between age and job performance. In fact, a seasoned veteran can bring hard-earned experience and positive mentoring opportunities to the business. Older workers typically show better judgment and care when performing their duties. They are also less likely to arrive late to work, to be absent, or to quit. To prevent age-related harassment, educate employees that all employment-related comments and actions should focus on job performance, not employee age. Also post an anti-discrimination policy that includes harassment definitions, solutions, consequences, reporting processes, grievance procedures, and anti-retaliation language.
Such simple, proactive measures can go a long way toward eliminating ageism in the workplace. The goal is to create an environment where employees of all ages feel welcomed, included, and valued.
As a small business owner, how much do you enjoy thinking about payroll management? Let’s face it—getting payroll just right requires time and effort. Upcoming federal health care reform is about to create more payroll work while you’ll already be worried about W-2 distribution and year-end figures. That leaves less time to stay on top of other changing regulations and to make sure your numbers are accurate. Whether you think payroll isn’t so bad or whether you call it the dreaded P word, wouldn’t you rather concentrate on your already busy schedule and let GHRO take care of your payroll needs?
Here’s a look at the many ways your small business can benefit from outsourcing payroll management.
Does your small business pay a premium for an in-house payroll service? Perhaps you have one employee saddled with all your business’ payroll operations. However you manage your payroll, is that method the most efficient and cost-effective choice? If your business has fewer than 20 employees, outsourcing your payroll operations could likely save you money. Crunch the numbers for yourself. Calculate the wages dedicated to payroll-related activities and be sure to include time and money spent on paycheck printing, paycheck distribution, and tax document preparation. Compare your business’ numbers to the payroll service packages offered by GHRO. You might be surprised!
Payroll errors can wreak havoc on your books, anger your employees, or worse—cause you to receive a certified letter from the government. With over one hundred years of combined HR experience, GHRO’s experts will keep your payroll error free and will help your business avoid costly IRS penalties caused by late or incorrect filings.
Government forms, regulations, and withholding rates are changing at a pace that makes it tough to keep up! Something as simple as using outdated tax tables can mean hefty penalties for your business. GHRO’s staff works to stay on top of the latest federal, state, and local requirements. You can feel confident the latest knowledge will always be at hand; it won’t rotate out with your business’ bookkeeper or payroll officer.
Cost reduction, accuracy, and consistency are just a few ways that outsourcing can improve your business’ payroll management. Most important, outsourcing with GHRO provides peace of mind that your payroll services are in good hands. If you’re ready to spend less time worrying about the dreaded P word, contact GHRO today.
Treating your employees well, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, is something every company must do in order to attract the best employees in their field.
The Human Rights Campaign recently gave Cox Enterprises and Delta Airlines top honors for its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees and consumers.
The award was given to the two Atlanta-based companies, both of which received a perfect 100 percent score on HRC’s 2011 “Best Places To Work.” This is the third year in a row Cox has received a perfect score, which is based on employee benefits, diversity, training programs and community outreach. Cox Enterprises also reiterated its expenditures of over 320 million in 2009 to minority and women-owned suppliers.
The Human Rights Campaign rated 618 businesses for their 2011 report. It evaluated each company’s polices and practices related to LGBT related topics, non-discrimination policies, domestic partner benefits and overall support of the LGBT community.
In addition to offering payroll services, and managing employee benefits and government compliance issues, GHRO offers recruitment services for businesses looking to outsource their human resources needs. Recently, we received a letter from one of our clients telling us how GHRO was able to help her out.
You went above and beyond! I appreciate it.
I am doing great. I have to say I absolutely LOVE working for Job Corps.
The people are fantastic, and the Center Director is amazing. I love her
spirit and she is quite the mover and a shaker.
Working for an organizations whose core values that parallel my own is a
breath of fresh air and the students are absolutely delightful. I think
you did an excellent job of pairing us together and hope this is the
beginning of a very long relationship!
If you’re looking to hire professional caliber employees, or you’re looking for the next step in your career, Global Human Resources Outsourcing may be able to help you on your way!
It’s usually very clear why a company would invest in hiring an excellent law or accounting firm to represent their interests. These two industries offer services that save their clients countless amounts of money annually. Business owners easily see the intrinsic value of investing in these firms, yet often have a hard time seeing the benefits of investing in their company’s human resources.
Recruitment Services: Attract Better Talent
It is necessary for a firm to identify the skill set that they are seeking in a potential employee in order to target their search appropriately. An empowered Human Resources team is able to clearly identify their firm’s hiring needs and is less limited in the tools available when seeking out the best ways to fill those positions. In the long run, better hiring practices will bring better employees.
Employee/Labor Relations: Minimize Employee Turnover
Maintaining high levels of job satisfaction amongst staff is the key to keeping long-term employees, especially in this tumultuous economy. By investing in Human Resources, companies are able to stay on the leading edge of benefits; employees can trust that their employer cares about their health and happiness, adding to their overall opinion of their workplace.
Human Resources Management: Increase Productivity
By identifying and targeting productivity goals, firms are able to set realistic expectations for growth and monitor progress over time. Additionally, maintaining long-term staff allows for growth and development within a position, allowing employees to bring more beneficial skill sets to the table and positively impact their work environment.
By putting these ideas into practice with Human Resources Outsourcing, companies are able to focus directly on the task at hand and become more productive and thus, more profitable. What would your company be capable of accomplishing if you streamlined your operations through HR Outsourcing?