Month: November 2014

Pay Now or Pay Later.

Another update from the HR jungle….

9098832-a-set-of-tools-for-repairs-vector-illustrationBarb owns a small home repair business with six employees. She pays them wages higher than the industry average so that they won’t defect to larger competitors who can offer more benefits. She’d like to add a group health plan as another incentive to remain loyal to her company.

But, once again, the health insurance quotes Barb received gives her sticker shock. There’s no way she can pay the employer’s portion of the premium for a group health plan. She’s already paying a fortune for her worker compensation premiums.

She knows her employees can’t afford the employee’s portion of the premium on a group health plan. Don Juan Smith’s paycheck is subject to the maximum allowed payroll deductions due to the court-ordered child support he owes to two girlfriends. High Risk Randy’s wages are being garnished for old debts and he’s never paid voluntarily for any employee benefit.

What options are available to Barb?

  1. She can remind her employees that annual open enrollment for the Exchange (a/k/a Marketplace) began on November 15th. They can apply for individual health policies or apply for an individual exemption to the requirement of having health insurance.
  2. She can tell her employees to talk to a health insurance agent about coverage options for the employee or for the employee’s family.

Is your business struggling to understand the Affordable Care Act and how it affects your company and employees? Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can provide an overview of how the ACA affects employers and employees and answer specific questions you may have.

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Be Kind, Not Nice.

Another update from the HR jungle….

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“Be kind, not nice” is a favorite saying of one of my friends. Consider what that means for employers and their employees.

Leslie’s company has less than 50 employees, so the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does not apply to her company. This fact became important yesterday when Beth revealed that she has breast cancer and needs extended leave while she undergoes treatment. Beth also says that she wants to return to work full-time after completing her initial treatment.

Leslie counts Beth as a personal friend as well as an employee and wants to help. Beth was one of the first employees she hired and has always been a stellar performer. But Leslie knows that if Beth is granted extended leave, other employees will demand the same treatment later. She also worries that her staff is too small to cover for an employee who is absent for an extended period of time.

Leslie considers her situation and how she can be kind, but not nice to Beth. What options are available to Leslie?

  1. She can be kind to Beth by offering support as a friend and accommodating Beth’s treatment schedule as much as reasonably possible without disrupting the company’s work flow.
  2. She can protect her company by documenting the business reasons for making an exception to the leave policy for Beth. For example, Beth’s work performance and length of service could justify making an exception to the leave policy.

Distinguishing kind from nice may not be easy particularly when creating HR policies. Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you separate kind from nice in your employee practices with HR policies that are appropriate for your company.

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Seasonal Slush and the Office Party

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Another update from the HR jungle….

Patricia likes to offer plenty of perks to her employees, including free coffee and tea, catered lunches each quarter, a pool table and a workout room. There’s only one perk that concerns Patricia: the office holiday party. She can’t afford a repeat of last year’s fiasco.

Last year some employees enjoyed the wassail and eggnog recipes a little too much. One employee filed a worker comp claim after she fell and broke her arm while trying to dance on the pool table. Another employee fixated on a colleague’s smile and made a highly improper suggestion of how they could spend the rest of the evening. A couple of designated drivers slipped some rum in their cokes and she had to chase them across the parking lot to confiscate their car keys.

Patricia wants her employees to enjoy the season, but there’s a limit to what she can tolerate and what her insurance will cover.

What options are available to Patricia?

  1. She can cancel the office holiday party based on last year’s excesses.
  2. She can try to limit her company’s liability by requiring all attendees to sign a waiver of liability before attending the party. (She should consult an attorney about this option).
  3. She can build in safeguards, such as limiting the number of drinks allowed to each attendee or holding the event at a hotel and reserving rooms for those who over indulge.

Has your company faced similar problems and struggled for a solution? Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff when the policies are implemented.

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Happy Veterans Day!

Another update from the HR jungle….

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Cole retired from the Army after 20 years of service with lots of hash marks on his sleeves and medals on his chest for his combat experience. Cole thought he’d enjoy a break from educating second lieutenants on how to stay alive in a combat zone. But six months after he retired his wife ordered him to get a job because he was driving her crazy. A former sergeant can’t just sit around the house; he needs to stay busy.

With that encouragement, Cole started a company with a couple of former Army buddies. Since they all loved the uniform they once wore they decided to hire only people with military training. Their small workforce includes men and women who are former military as well as a couple of current members of the National Guard or reserves.

Cole’s company is a revolving door for some employees due to deployments to hotspots around the world. As a private sector employer, Cole and his co-owners know they must comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA).

This law requires that military personnel who are called up for active duty must be re-hired by their private sector employers with the same seniority, status and pay as they would have had without the deployment. This law also allows employees and their families to stay on the employer’s group health plan while the employees are deployed.

Next week on November 11th, Cole will celebrate Veterans Day, marching in a parade with other veterans.   To all the men and women like Cole, happy Veterans Day!

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