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How Department of Labor’s 2020 Final Rule Clarifies Employee Regular Rate of Pay Items Used to Determine Overtime Premium Calculations

How Department of Labor’s 2020 Final Rule Clarifies Employee Regular Rate of Pay Items Used to Determine Overtime Premium Calculations

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that takes effect on January 15, 2020.

The FLSA final rule clarifies what benefits and items should be included in an employee’s regular rate of pay to calculate overtime pay.

The final rule addresses certain confusions businesses may have regarding what to include in the regular rate of pay. In many cases, this confusion and fear of litigation risks impacted an employer’s decision to offer competitive benefits.

These clarifications may help businesses choose to offer additional employee perks and benefits without concern of adding to the cost of the regular pay calculations.

Since this is the first time in 50 years that the DOL has updated its FLSA definitions, businesses should consider conducting a regular rate audit. This may be a good opportunity to determine if the business if following FLSA requirements and if there is room for providing new employee perks.

Below, we’ve provided highlights on the FLSA final rule.

Frequently Asked Questions about Employee Regular Rate of Pay and Overtime Pay

What Employees Can Receive Overtime Pay in 2020?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), only non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay. The act requires employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage ($7.75) for up to 40 hours a week. Employees should receive a pay rate of 1.5 times their regular pay for hours worked over the 40 regular hours.

It’s important to note that many states have their own minimum wage requirements.

What is an Employee’s Regular Rate of Pay?

The employee’s regular rate of pay is determined by calculating their regular hourly rate and additional compensations received during the workweek.

What Should Businesses Include in an Employee’s Regular Rate of Pay in 2020?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, businesses should define their employee’s regular rate as “all remuneration for employment paid to, or on behalf of the employee, subject to several categories of exclusion.”

Remuneration may include the following:

  • Hourly wage
  • Nondiscretionary bonuses (including commissions)
  • Production bonuses
  • Cost of living adjustments
  • Shift premiums
  • Retroactive pay
  • Noncash compensation

What Can Businesses Exclude in an Employee’s Regular Rate of Pay in 2020?

Businesses may exclude the following compensation categories from an employee’s regular rate of pay:

  • Discretionary bonuses
  • Perks including parking benefits, wellness programs, gym access, employee discounts, etc.
  • Certain sign-on and longevity bonuses
  • Paid time off including vacation, holiday and sick time pay
  • Payments for unused paid leave
  • Business expense reimbursement including cellphone plans, membership dues, certain travel expenses, etc.
  • Contributions to benefit plans for accident, unemployment, legal services or other events that could cause future financial hardship or expense
  • Gifts including office coffee, snacks, etc.
  • Premium payments for work performed outside regular work hours
  • Extra compensation paid through an agreement between employer and employee
  • Income from grants or options

Consider Delegating Your Tasks to Business Solutions Unlimited

As a business owner or manager, your time is valuable. Not only must you run a business but it’s imperative to keep up with the latest regulations regarding employee compensation and other items.

Let Business Solutions Unlimited take some tasks off your plate.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of using a virtual assistant firm, give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s discuss how we can help your business.

What Small Businesses Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Decreasing Rates in 2020

What Small Businesses Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Decreasing Rates in 2020

Over the last couple of years, many states have decreased rates for workers’ compensation.

Here is a snapshot of just some of the states announcing decreased rates this year.

In December, Florida announced rates would be cut in 2020 by an average of 7.5%.

Delaware decreased an average of 12.55%.

Tennessee dropped rates by an average 7.1%.

Oklahoma cut rates by an average of 5%.

Oregon decreased rates by an average of 8.4%.

Montana cut premium rates by 8.6%.

Louisiana announced rates would drop by 8.4% by May 2020.

New Hampshire rates declined by 9.6%.

Decreased workers’ compensation rates mean a reduction in operating costs for businesses. As this trend continues, it may provide an opportunity for businesses to expand and hire new employees.

Since many states are modifying their workers’ compensation insurance rates, it’s important to conduct a yearly review of your policy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Compensation Insurance

We’re often asked questions about workers’ compensation insurance by the small businesses we support. Below, we’ve compiled a list of common questions and answers about workers’ comp.

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation provides employees medical and wage benefits if they are injured or become ill within the scope of their employment duties. Workers’ comp offers 5 basic benefits:

  1. Medical Care
  2. Temporary disability benefits
  3. Permanent disability benefits
  4. Supplemental job displacement benefits
  5. Death benefits

Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ comp protects employees of a business. Additionally, businesses are generally covered against lawsuit costs brought by employees injured on the job.

Where Do You Get Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

If allowed by the state you conduct business in, workers’ compensation insurance can be purchased through private insurance companies. In some states, workers’ comp can be purchased through a state fund.

Do All Small Businesses Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Every state except Texas requires small businesses to have workers ‘compensation insurance if they meet the requirement as specified in the state they do business in.

For example, in Florida, a business must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have more than four full-time or part-time employees. However, certain industries, like construction, must carry workers’ comp regardless of the number of employees.

Do Small Business Owners Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage?

In general, sole proprietors and partnerships do not require workers’ compensation insurance unless they have employees. Business owners can, if they choose, be covered by workers comp.

How Can a Small Business Be Exempt from Carrying Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

If a business does not exceed the number of employees required by the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance, they can file an exemption with the state. This requires an officer of the business to register the business as exempt.

Is there a Federal Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

The federal government provides its own workers’ compensation program covering federal employees and civilian contractors working for the federal government.

While small businesses are generally exempt from getting federal workers’ compensation insurance, some industries might require insurance.

For example, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (USL&H) requires employers of maritime workers to carry workers’ comp and USL&H coverage.

Consider Delegating Your Tasks to Business Solutions Unlimited

Do you have the time or staff necessary to find the right workers’ compensation insurance carrier for your business? If not, a virtual assistant firm like Business Solutions Unlimited can help.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of using a virtual assistant firm, give us a call at (904) 429-4588 to discuss the many ways we can help your business.

Google’s Best Practices for Your Lead Generation Landing Page

Google’s Best Practices for Your Lead Generation Landing Page

If you have a business website, lead generation would probably be its most important objective.

Google released its Lead Gen UX Playbook in 2019 filled with best practices on how to create a successful lead generation page that will motivate your visitors to take action.

Below are several takeaways from the playbook that you could use not just for a lead generation page, but throughout your website.

Make Your Call to Action Descriptive

For a business, the call to action (CTA) is the most important element on your webpage. After all, the ultimate purpose of your business website is to initiate some type of action.

Google suggests avoiding making generic CTAs. Instead, make your CTAs descriptive by stating precisely what the user should expect. Make your CTAs beneficial.

Instead of “Learn More”, or “Call Now”, try

  • Learn More About ‘this topic’
  • Get Started with Your Free Subscription
  • Call Now for More Information About…

Benefits of Descriptive CTAs According to Google:

  • Links will be more accessible
  • Links will be more enticing to users and potentially more persuasive
  • Users will feel more confident as they click from page to page
  • More keywords on the page will help search-engine optimization
  • Meaningful links will stand out and help users who are scanning the page

Communicate a Clear Value Proposition

This starts with a clearly stated headline that swiftly communicates to the viewer how your product, service, or information can solve their problem. The key is to get the viewer of your webpage to quickly understand the value of the content on your page.

Once they see value on your page, they’re more likely to take the next step as described in your CTA.

Gain Trust Through Social Proof

Psychologically, some form of validation may be instrumental for your website viewers before they make a decision to take action on your CTA. To quote the Google playbook:

“Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people reference the behavior of others to guide their own behavior”

Social proof can be communicated through a variety of methods, including:

  • Testimonials
  • Number of people using services and products
  • User ratings

Follow Google’s Guidance on Webpage Design Best Practices

Google includes several design best practices in their playbook. They include:

Remove automatic carousels: Basically, viewers will ignore image and content carousels on websites.

Don’t use full-page interstitials: Interstitials are used to cover webpage content the viewer was expecting with other content, such as a promotion. Usually, viewers must click to move past the interstitials. When viewers encounter these, they typically will hit the back button.

Use legible font sizes: Readability throughout a website site should be the goal for every business. The ideal font size for the main body text is 16 px.

The Google Lead Gen Playbook has many best practice tips and research on making a successful lead generation landing page. We suggest you take a moment to look through the document and see what you can use to increase conversion on your landing pages.

Do You Have Time to Implement these Best Practices?

If you don’t, we do. That’s why we’re here.

Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see how we can help your business today.

Lead Generation Landing Page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are FAQs about online searches.

What is a lead generation landing page?

Lead generation landing pages typically are focused on one value proposition with the intent on capturing visitor’s information through the lead contact form or phone call.

What is a CTA?

CTA is an acronym for call to action. On a website, commercial or printed advertisement, the CTA helps to convert the viewer to take a desired action such as a phone call or click.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition presents the benefit of your product, services, or information. It communicates what problem your business can solve for a client. Value propositions can be a key element that separates your business from competitors.

What are examples of social proof that can help increase credibility on a website?

Social proof can help guide people’s behaviors when making a decision to purchase from or contact a business through a website. Examples of social proof may include testimonials, the number of people using services and products, and user ratings.

 

What Your Small Business Needs to Know About Charitable Giving During the Holidays and Throughout the Year

What Your Small Business Needs to Know About Charitable Giving During the Holidays and Throughout the Year

Tis’ the season of giving. As the holidays arrive, so does the desire to donate to charities.

Below we’ve gathered the following small business tips and guidelines for charitable giving:

  • Why businesses should consider donating
  • How to choose charitable organizations
  • How to make sure donations are tax-deductible

Why Small Businesses Should Consider Donating to a Charity

Donating to local charities is a great way for small businesses to demonstrate their connection to their community.

Let’s face it, most small businesses are dependent on their community for their success. Showing that you care about local causes helps to connect your business to the community.

Local giving is excellent for your local PR. Plus it’s beneficial for the local charities that are making a difference in your community.

As a bonus, many local charities will publicize your support on their social media platforms and newsletters.

How to Choose Charitable Organizations to Donate To 

If you’re a small business, chances are local charities will seek you out for donations. While there are benefits to making contributions to several charities, it’s a good idea to put your time, effort, and energy into organizations that match your values and interest.

Consider connecting your business to a local charity as opposed to a national organization.

Consider finding an organization that makes sense with your brand.

For example:

  • Real estate office could connect with a homeless charity
  • Restaurant may consider working with a food bank
  • Outdoor recreational business could support an environmental cleanup organization

Take the time to learn about the organizations. Find out what their true needs are and how your business can help. Not just for the holidays, but year-round.

For example:

  • Does the charity need event sponsors?
  • Do they need volunteers?
  • Do they need ongoing financial support?

Another consideration in choosing a charitable organization might be ensuring your giving is tax-deductible.

How to Make Sure Charitable Donations are Tax Deductible 

There are tax benefits when donating to charities. However, there are rules on whether donations are tax-deductible.

As with most tax deduction questions, it’s a good idea to speak with a tax advisor about charitable deductions.

Below, we’ve provided frequently asked questions on what makes charitable donations tax-deductible.

How Does Charitable Donation Tax Deductions Depend on Your Business Type?

How you claim charitable deductions depends on how you’ve set up your business.

Corporations can include their charitable donations on their income tax returns. However, this does not include S corporations.

Owners of businesses that are not corporations would make their deduction through the personal portion of their tax returns.

What Types of Donations Can a Small Business Deduct from their Taxes?

Businesses can deduct the following donations:

  • Cash contributions
  • In-Kind contributions through gifts of property or equipment
  • Mileage and travel expenses incurred when working with a charitable organization
  • Supplies purchased and used while volunteering

It’s important to document your giving throughout the year as proof of your donations.

What Types of Charitable Donations Cannot Be Deducted by Small Businesses?

Your time spent volunteering for a charitable organization cannot be deducted. This includes time spent by your employees as well.

What Types of Charitable Organizations Can a Business Donate to for Tax Deduction Qualification?

In order for a donation to be tax-deductible, the charity needs to be an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) organization.

What are the Limitations for Business Tax Deductions for Charitable Donations?

According to the IRS, limitations on deductions for charitable donations are 50 percent of adjusted gross income computed without regard to net operating loss carrybacks.

The 50% rule applies to the following types of charitable organizations:

  • Public charities
  • Private operating foundations
  • Private foundations that distribute donations to private foundations
  • Private foundations that distribute donations to public charities within 2.5 months from time business donations were made
  • Private foundations that pool contributions to pay to public charities

Contributions to certain types of private foundations are limited to 30 percent adjusted gross income computed without regard to net operating carrybacks. These organizations may include:

  • Veterans organizations
  • Fraternal societies
  • Cemetary organizations

How You Could Use Our Services for Charitable Donations

Finding a qualified charitable organization to connect your business with may take the time you don’t have. A virtual assistant firm like Business Solutions Unlimited can help you search for the right organization plus find out what needs they have.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of using a virtual assistant firm for this as well as many other tasks, give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us get to work for you.

Is Your Business Optimized for Zero-Click Online Searches?

Is Your Business Optimized for Zero-Click Online Searches?

It’s starting to look like an optimized Google My Business profile may be just as important to local businesses as their website.

Nearly half of Google searches resulted in zero clicks. That means searchers (your potential customers) found the information they were looking for straight from Google’s search results.

Less than half of Google searches resulted in an organic click to non-Google-owned websites. These searchers proceeded to click-thru to a website—hopefully yours.

Those were findings based on data provided by a marketing analytics firm, Jumpstart, earlier in 2019.

Here are the stats for searcher clicks that are creating a buzz among marketers and businesses:

  • Zero-Click Searches: 48.96%
  • Organic Clicks to Non-Google Sites: 41.45%
  • Organic Clicks to Google Sites: 5.90%
  • Paid Clicks to Google Sites: 0.11%
  • Paid Clicks to Non-Google Sites: 3.58%

What are Google Sites?

A while back, that would be Google properties like Youtube.

Now, Google serves up a variety of search result options that can impact businesses in the travel, hotel, flights, shopping, and food delivery fields. That list will continue to grow over time.

Where are those Zero-Click Searchers Going?

Google has been on a mission to provide searchers with as much value as possible in the search results.

When a searcher requests information on a local business, Google likes to serve up the following on their results page:

  • Your business phone number plus a click to call button
  • A way to send a message to your business
  • Ability to ask a question about your business
  • Ability to read or posts reviews
  • Your menu if you’re a restaurant
  • Your special offers and prices

Not too long ago, your potential customers would have to visit your website to find this information.

Now, Google is showing this information from businesses that have provided this information through their Google My Business profile or markups on their websites.

Smart businesses understand that a high-performance Google My Business profile can increase their online visibility in both searches and maps.

More visibility means more customers and revenue.

So, Are Websites Necessary?

They sure are.

As the stats above show, there are still considerable clicks to non-Google sites.

Additionally, Google and other search engines will consistently crawl your site seeking answers to searcher questions and queries.

Businesses can make it easier for Google to gather this information by providing Schema markups on their websites.

Schema markup provides structured data that search engines use to show searchers facts and particulars about topics they’re searching.

There are thousands of schema markups that can be built into websites. Businesses can use markups to share:

  • Business info such as hours, location, etc.
  • Restaurant menus
  • Events
  • Products and pricing
  • Articles

Providing Schema markups on your website is a good way to make your site the hub of your online presence.

Do You Have Time to Manage Your Online Presence?

If you don’t, we do. That’s why we’re here.

Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588; so we can start helping you today.

Online Search Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are FAQs about online searches.

What is a Zero-Click Search?

Zero-click searches generally occur when a search engine result page displays the answer a searcher is seeking. When the search result page satisfies the searcher’s intent, there is no need for further clicks.

What is Schema Markup Code?

Schema markup is code placed on websites that helps search engines understand the data presented on webpages. This helps search engines provide informative data for their users.