Unlike many other areas of employment law, there is a very small amount of “grey” area when it comes to the laws of payroll. Simply put, as a payroll professional you must be aware of payroll mistakes that can get you in trouble. Even the most attentive payroll professionals can make mistakes sometimes or overlook payroll laws; it can be easy to carry on business as usual when you are unaware that you are actually violating the law. For instance, did you know that under Florida law if an employee resigns or if they are involuntarily terminated they only need to be paid on the next regular payday? Some illegal payroll activities include: misclassifying worker status to avoid paying employment taxes, paying an employee in cash in efforts to avoiding income and employee taxes, discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, age and/or race, failure to pay for certain travel time, docking pay of salaried employees and inadequate record keeping.
As a payroll professional it is your responsibility to make sure you know the rules and laws of payroll for your company. You either do it right or you risk being caught with no real defenses and you had better be ready to pay to resolve a claim if one is finally raised because, that is not a fight your company is going to want be in. It can result in time and substantial funds lost. So brush up on what you shouldn’t be doing as a payroll professional and make sure you stay on top of any possible mistakes. We know it is hard to protect yourself against what you don’t know & that’s why we are here to help. We can process your payroll for you as we understand the laws governing payroll. We can also help you with any & all aspects of Human Resources. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Within the past few months the Obama administration has been issuing numerous regulatory actions that affect the workplace. As a company, it is vital to be aware of the new regulatory activities that are in place and to implement them into the human resources department. There are two developments that have just recently reached their effective dates and one that has an effective date coming up soon. The first development that individuals within the HR department should be aware of is the Federal contractor obligations on human trafficking. This new regulatory action was extended to an effective date of March 2, 2015 and works on strengthing the protection against human trafficking within federal contracting. This rule requires contractors to prove that they have implemented a compliance plan and procedures to help identify and remove human trafficking from their organizations. This rule also prohibits contractors from charging recruitment fees. Another regulatory action that HR needs to be aware of is the FMLA has updated the definition of “spouse”. The Department of Labor has ruled that the definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA to include same-sex marriage. This ruling became effective March 27, 2015. The final regulatory action that the HR department needs to be aware of is the immigration-related employment issues. This ruling extended employment authorization eligibility to H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are in the process of obtaining their green cards. This ruling will become effective May 26, 2015. Each of these regulatory actions contain necessary information and rules that companies will need to follow and therefore the HR department should be prepared on the rules of each of these regulations as well as future regulations.
Throughout the United States there are many different types of businesses. Some businesses are major corporations, some are small mom and pop shops, and then there are those that are in between. Small businesses are the back bone of the United States. When you decide to run to the store whether it is for groceries, to fix something, or anything else you might be in the need of more than likely to first think of running to a major store corporation but don’t shrug off those “mom and pop” small businesses just yet. Unfortunately, many times than not small businesses tend to be overlooked for all the wrong reasons. Many individuals believe that small business prices will automatically be higher than that of a corporate store, which is not necessarily true, plus they overlook the benefits of shopping at a small business such as customer care and community support. Making the decision to shop at small businesses instead of big corporations can be beneficial to not only yourself but also to your community. In 2010, there were 27.9 million small businesses registered within the United States that creates many jobs available to those in our communities. In fact, 49.2% of our nation’s private sector workforce is employed by a small business. Small businesses not only help our economy and create jobs for people but also create relationships. Within small businesses every person matters to that company, every person’s opinion of their company matters because they will go out and recommend that business to the next person. That is why within small businesses, the company is more willing to go above and beyond for the customer. If the corner store down the road is out of something they are going to be more willing to reach out to their vendors to help get that item for you as quickly as possible. Need to make a return, but past the return date? The local small business owner might be more willing to bend the rules of the return policy for you. Our world has become a place where much of our life is impersonal. When you call customer service you speak to an automated recording, your pharmacist doesn’t know you let alone your mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother, and grandfather. Small businesses build relationships within their community; they take the time to get to know you and your family. They ask “how are you today?” and genuinely care because each and every person that walks into their business is a person to them not just another customer. So when you need to run out to grab a gallon of milk or fill a prescription, consider going to your local small business instead of the big corporation because what we put into them they give us 100% back.
Technology, specifically social media & web sites such as glassdoor.com, have made organizational transparency more important than ever before. Glassdoor.com, a go-to website for potential employees, is one of many websites that can influence candidates before they decide to submit an application. By searching a specific company, you can access reviews from current & past employees, their personal rating of the company, average wages & salaries, and details of their interviewing process. Companies are being forced to become more accountable.
Even if your small business is not listed on websites such as the above, social media, & review sites have made it possible for employees to post anonymously & write not-so-nice things if they believe they have not been treated fairly in some way.
The best way to combat this is to open up your organization to your front line staff. Sharing knowledge and information as well as asking and listening to input improves employer/employee relations. Every employee should know the specific goals of the organization in order to play an active part in achieving them.
TINYpulse, a company that provides weekly employee engagement surveys, found that transparency is the #1 factor when determining employee happiness. Management transparency had a correlation coefficient of 0.94 with employee happiness. The survey summary also noted that “…The cost of improving transparency is almost zero, but requires an ongoing dialogue between management and staff” (https://www.tinypulse.com/resources/employee-engagement-survey-2013).
Forms of Transparency
- Helps staff understand how your company makes and spends money
- Increases accountability
- Motivates staff to keep spending in check
- Can strengthen an employee’s sense of investment in the company
2. Social & Environmental
- Recognize that your business decisions have the potential to impact surrounding communities and the environment.
- Make a commitment to be environmentally and socially responsible
- Build consumer trust & loyalty
3. Products & services
- Disclose ingredients, materials, methods for installation or use, etc. to enhance customers’ understanding and usability of products and services
- Embracing ratings and reviews (a forced transparency via Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.) & proactively responding to negative ones can allow you to provide better customer service
- Foster a culture of integrity and high ethical standards
Have any questions regarding the advantages or challenges associated with increasing transparency in your organization? Contact our office at (904) 429-4588.
Oftentimes, important things can go by the wayside as you make your clients and/or customers your first priority. However, one way you can improve your company in the New Year is by updating your company employee handbook. If you do not have an employee handbook yet, now is the time to create one.
Document, Document Document. Tired of answering the same questions over and over again? Put your policies in writing. An employee handbook answers employees’ questions and keeps them informed of your company’s policies and expectations.
It is important to have your At-Will Statement in writing. Every state, except Montana, allows employers to hire At-Will.
Include a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy in compliance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 to help ensure the safety of all employees and to promote productivity.
A disciplinary procedure should also be outlined to protect your company from claims of discrimination. Since disciplinary issues can vary in severity, reserve the right to administer any level of discipline if an employee’s behavior merits it.
Avoid litigation. A well written handbook includes policies such as an Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Anti-Harassment and Discrimination policy-avoiding misunderstandings that can lead to potential lawsuits. State not only that your company does not tolerate harassment and discrimination, but also outline the process for how to report complaints.
Update your e-mail, social media and technology policy. Set boundaries on who should be speaking on the company’s behalf on social media. Don’t get too restrictive, just list simple “Do’s & Don’ts” for electronic communication. For example, create a policy that employees may not post obscenities or personal attacks about the company, its employees, or clients that could damage its reputation.
Keep your business on track. Taking the time to sit down and write/update your company employee handbook can help you better manage your employees. Then, if issues do arise, you already have policies in place. However, be sure to reserve the right to change, add, or terminate policies at any time.
Creating and putting policies in writing is not enough; you need to follow through and enforce the policies you create. Courtrooms will hold you accountable if you don’t.
Whether you need help creating a handbook, making a few simple updates, or a complete handbook overhaul, our Human Resources team at Business Solutions Unlimited, LLC can help. Please give us a call at (904) 429-4588 or email us at email@example.com. We’d love to work with you.
Ensure your data is being stored securely in the Cloud
The Cloud is a great, cost-effective and convenient tool for businesses to store and sync data. The ability to access data from anywhere with an internet connection has changed the way businesses and their staff can operate. However, it is important to take precautions and make sure that the Cloud solution you choose will keep your data secure and encrypted. One question to ask when looking at cloud providers is, “Will my information be destroyed securely if the relationship ends?” One Cloud provider we recommend is Box, a platform that provides safeguards to support your organization’s compliance with HIPAA.
According to a new study of 4,300 U.S adults by the research firm Gartner, 40% of U.S. employees of large enterprises use personally owned devices for work. Although this can be great for efficiency purposes, it is very easy for a smart phone to become a security risk. For example, malicious software can be loaded onto phones through downloaded apps or virus laden e-mails. If the infected phone is plugged into an office computer, the malware is free to infiltrate the organization’s computer system.
What you can do to minimize the risk of a security breach is:
- Make your employees aware of the security risks.
- Ask your employees to use passcodes on their mobile devices.
- Consider a mobile device management product.
- Wipe employer information remotely if a phone or other mobile device is lost or stolen.
Stay Informed of the Latest Hacks
One of the best ways to prevent a hack is to stay informed. The FBI routinely advises private industry of various cyber threats found during investigations. To avoid infection, be sure to install quality, business-grade anti-malware software. Anti-malware software won’t work unless it is kept current and up-to-date, so it is critical to stay on top of updates.
One simple reminder to staff that can protect company computers is to turn them off at the end of the work day. Computers that are always on are more susceptible to attacks.
Is it imperative for businesses to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to cybersecurity. A data breach can not only be stressful and costly, but can turn into a legal matter if employee or customer’s personal data is compromised. What you can do to minimize the risk is stay informed and have policies in place if a security incident occurs. For more information, you can check out the Federal Communications Commission’s Small Biz Cyber Planner. This free online resource can help you get started creating your customized cybersecurity plan. Questions? You can always contact our office at (904) 429-4588.