Employer Guidance | Minimizing Risk and Liability

Employer Guidance | Minimizing Risk and Liability

While the purpose of any business is to provide products or services, the very act of being an employer opens the door to major risks and severe liabilities that many companies are ill prepared to handle. These are often referred to as the risks associated with “the business of employment.”

Overcoming the obstacles of being an employer can be even more formidable than any business’s bottom line and is often an unforeseen contributor to many business failures. It is important to protect your business and its assets by understanding, minimizing, and mitigating all risk factors.
Here are just a few of the high-risk liability categories employers must navigate:

Employee Taxation

The collection and reporting of taxes as required by acts of congress, i.e., Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA), State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA), Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), and others.

1) Income Taxes

Collection, transmittal, and reporting of income taxes withheld from an employee paycheck to the federal, state, and local jurisdictions must be done with precision and exactness. Once collected, it is no longer a company asset and must be protected, transmitted, and reported as designated by law.

2) Social Security Employment Taxes

Each employee contributes 7.65% of the paycheck, matched by an employer contribution of 7.65%, or 15.3% of wages to the federal government. These taxes must also be protected, transmitted, and reported as designated by law.

3) State Unemployment Taxes

One of the more complicated taxes to administer by an employer is state unemployment. The reason for the complexity is that each employer and each state have different rates to make the system self-sustainable. Employers with high turnover or seasonal employment have higher rates and pay more taxes. Managing this risk requires knowledge, experience, and attention to detail.

4) Federal Unemployment Taxes

A tax by the federal government to support the state unemployment systems, which must be paid and filed quarterly by employers.

5) Tax Credits and Exemptions

Failure to apply for or properly administer credits or exemptions can mean an economic burden, risking a costly loss of revenue.

 

Employee Rights, Safety, and Security

With origins in worker exploitation during the Industrial Revolution, a century-and-a-half of governmental acts, and government agencies such as OSHA, the rules and practices created to protect employees are riddled with risks for employers.

1) Workplace Safety

Every employee has the right, and each employer is required by law, to maintain a secure and safe workplace environment. Heavy fines and penalties can be levied for noncompliance of mandated workplace standards. Lack of understanding is not an excuse that is accepted. Every job has some inherent risk associated with the work performed, which must be considered in training and education. Protecting employees from harassment by management, or even by other employees, is seen as the employer’s responsibility. This broadens the category of workplace safety and puts companies at great risk for legal actions.

2) Income

Pay rules are continually modified, placing higher burdens on employers almost annually. Minimum work age, minimum pay, timekeeping requirements, overtime calculations, when and how an employee must be paid, and equal pay for equal work are just a few of the employee-income liabilities that employers face. And the rules vary by location and type of work.

3) Payroll Protection

An employee must continue to receive income if injured on the job or terminated as part of a layoff and not for cause. Two parallel systems, State Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation insurance, fund the system. Both are designed to be paid for by the employer. Failure to understand and manage these risks can cause costly and irreparable harm to a business.

Now more than ever, the business of employment should be managed by professionals who have the expertise to oversee a company’s employee administration and bring everything into compliance. The liabilities and risks employers face are only getting more complicated. Fortunately, there is an industry created to minimize these risks for small-to medium-size businesses that can’t afford to have the required large staff of HR professionals to manage that risk. An IRS Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) such as Employer Advantage provides the professionals in each of the disciplines necessary – Human ResourcesPayrollHealth and Benefits, Workplace Safety – to substantially minimize the risks, while saving companies time and money.

 

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About Employer Advantage

A New Path to HR Bliss – Trusted for more than 30 years, Employer Advantage frees you from the administrative and compliance burdens of having employees so you can focus on your business success. Versatile enough for companies of all sizes, our unique service combines comprehensive management of your employee administration and compliance with the latest software solutions, tailored to meet your individual needs and company culture. Our full-service management of Human Resourcespayrollhealth and benefits, workplace safety, and more enhance your profitability while reducing the costs and risks associated with employment law compliance. We provide your employees with top-notch assistance and benefits that help you increase productivity, save time and money, and attract and retain a talented workforce. And for small and mid-sized businesses, we bring you economy of scale with access to Fortune-500-level benefits, specialty assistance, and savings that would not be possible to attain on your own. Headquartered in the Midwest and serving more than 500 companies and 10,000 worksite employees throughout the country, Employer Advantage is an IRS-Certified Professional Employer Organization (PEO) (CPEO). Experienced, certified, and trusted. www.EmployerAdvantage.com

 

EMPLOYER INSIGHTS | The Business Dangers of Non-Compliance

EMPLOYER INSIGHTS | The Business Dangers of Non-Compliance

As part of Employer Advantage’s comprehensive suite of HR management and outsourcing services (HR, Payroll, Health & Benefits, Safety), we are assisting our clients in determining their best path during, and after, the Coronavirus pandemic. Please contact us if you would like assistance with any of your Employee Administration and Compliance responsibilities: Info@EmployerAdvantage.com | 877.476.9520

Many employers are unaware of the dangers of non-compliance until they experience the lawsuits, penalties, and fines that can result.

Trying to comply with employment laws, rules, and regulations can be viewed as a back-burner issue in comparison to the challenges that today’s business leaders face – especially for small to mid-sized businesses that often don’t have the necessary Human Resources to keep in compliance.

As any company that has been penalized for non-compliance can attest, business owners should be aware of the latest issues affecting employers, and what they can do to ensure they stay compliant:  

Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, this bill will radically change compliance concerns for employers defending common workplace disputes. With bipartisan congressional support, this new law has been passed and gives employees that have been historically subject to arbitration agreements the right to choose whether to bring covered claims in arbitration, or in court. This also includes employees that have signed mandatory arbitration agreements with third parties such as a PEO.

Arbitration agreements will no longer be enforceable against employees seeking to file lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and/or sexual assault, although employees can voluntarily decide to abide by the arbitration agreement.

This new Act will not invalidate the existence of employee arbitration agreements. However, existing agreements should be modified to remove any sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. Business owners should also be prepared for increased sexual harassment cases.

Wage and Hour Law Changes are Volatile and Carry Great Risk

With an empowered labor movement, an aggressive administration, and the ongoing workforce shortage, wage and hour law changes have never been more significant. The combination of these factors has heightened the consequences of even the slightest misstep. Employers should not delay in familiarizing themselves with the regulations they must comply with in their local jurisdiction and state.

Employer Liability for Release of Stolen Confidential Information About Employees, Clients, and Suppliers 

Cyberattacks against companies and organizations are on the rise. Through phishing emails, exploitation of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), and software vulnerabilities, many attacks have resulted in unauthorized access to company networks.

Employers are responsible for the protection of the data they possess. Here are steps businesses should take to be compliant with data security and workplace privacy requirements:

A) Protect your business with one of the many cyber liability policies available.

B) Maintain remote access vigilance.

Because of the pandemic, working remotely and the need for remote access have become necessities. So too should be vigilant RDP protocols.

  • Observe log-in locations and number of log-in attempts.
  • Ensure that RDP credentials are immediately disabled once an employee leaves the company or otherwise no longer needs the credentials.
  • Deploy Multifactor Authentication: Consider requiring multifactor authentication for employees working remotely.

 

Click here to see our other helpful “Blogs for All Employers” 

 

Not currently an Employer Advantage client? 

WE’D BE HONORED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A NEW PATH TO HR BLISS

Info@EmployerAdvantage.com | 877.476.9520

 

About Employer Advantage

A New Path to HR Bliss – Trusted for more than 30 years, Employer Advantage frees you from the administrative and compliance burdens of having employees so you can focus on your business success. Versatile enough for companies of all sizes, our unique service combines comprehensive management of your employee administration and compliance with the latest software solutions, tailored to meet your individual needs and company culture. Our full-service management of Human Resourcespayrollhealth and benefits, workplace safety, and more enhance your profitability while reducing the costs and risks associated with employment law compliance. We provide your employees with top-notch assistance and benefits that help you increase productivity, save time and money, and attract and retain a talented workforce. And for small and mid-sized businesses, we bring you economy of scale with access to Fortune-500-level benefits, specialty assistance, and savings that would not be possible to attain on your own. Headquartered in the Midwest and serving more than 500 companies and 10,000 worksite employees throughout the country, Employer Advantage is an IRS-Certified Professional Employer Organization (PEO) (CPEO). Experienced, certified, and trusted. www.EmployerAdvantage.com

 

Employer Advantage Holds Company-wide Food Drive, Collects 1.6 Tons of Food

Employer Advantage Holds Company-wide Food Drive, Collects 1.6 Tons of Food

AZ Food Donations
Employer Advantage recently held a food drive supporting local charities in each of the cities in which the company operates. Employees at the Kansas City, Mesa, Ariz., and Joplin, Mo., offices and one remote employee in Siloam Springs, Ark., collected 1.6 tons of non-perishable food for those in need.

To encourage teamwork and participation, Employer Advantage made the drive a friendly competition and divided employees among two teams: blue and orange, the company colors. Employees enjoyed the camaraderie, competition and giving back. Everyone felt like a winner!

The KC office’s donations went to the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Overland Park, Kan. Donations from the Arizona office went to the C.A.N. Food Pantry at the Church of the Master in Mesa. The Joplin office’s donations went to Lion Co-Op (MSSU Food Pantry), Lafayette House and Watered Gardens in Joplin. Donations also went to Helping Hands Ministries in Carl Junction, Mo. Lastly, the donations from the remote employee in Arkansas went to the Manna Center in Siloam Springs.

emp

EMPLOYER INSIGHTS | PEOs Are Saving Businesses Through HR Outsourcing Services

EMPLOYER INSIGHTS | PEOs Are Saving Businesses Through HR Outsourcing Services

Businesses across the country have been experiencing the impacts of not having the Human Resources necessary to mitigate and manage the countless challenges employers face today. Many companies have turned to a professional employer organization (PEO), which enables companies to save money while offloading and streamlining the burdens of employee administration and compliance with HR outsourcing services such as payroll, benefits, and workers’ compensation.

PEOs can also play an important role in helping businesses recruit and retain talented employees. Bringing all the advantages of the economies of scale, PEOs provide a company’s workforce with more robust and affordable benefits packages than a small or even mid-sized company offering HR services on their own.

Not All PEOs Are Alike

Of the thousands of businesses in the US that have trusted a PEO to handle their employee administration and compliance responsibilities, many are unaware that only 11.5% of them are IRS-certified.

PEO IRS certification matters because it requires annual renewal to ensure that a PEO is financially sound by, among other things, requiring evidence of business experience and audited financial statements and quarterly reports prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) that reflect positive working capital.

More than anything, businesses should be able to trust that their management of Human ResourcesPayrollHealth and Benefits, and Workplace Safety are being handled by an experienced PEO operating under the highest standards, certifications, licenses, and accreditations.

The Best Time to Begin Working With a PEO

There really isn’t a “bad time” to start working with a PEO, especially if your company has an urgent need for Human Resources management.

When just considering an annual business cycle, there are timeframes that make sense to begin HR management services with us:      

1) Filing Federal and State Employment Tax Returns

Each quarter, businesses are required to file reports on employee wages, federal and state taxes, and unemployment insurance. To avoid splitting quarters, January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st would be great times to begin service with us.

2) Major Medical Plan Renewals

Changing medical plans can be a major task. Since many new clients qualify for Employer Advantage’s Major Medical Health Plan, another ideal time to begin service would be just before your existing medical plan is set to renew. We take care of all the underwriting and will complete employee enrollments before your plan ends. If you choose to keep your existing medical plan, we can also assist with open enrollment and administer the monthly billing.

3) Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy Renewal

Each Workers’ Compensation policy has an annual renewal and a payment schedule in which all the premiums are paid at the beginning of the policy term, or by making a large down payment along with monthly payments. Since many businesses qualify to be included on Employer Advantage’s Master Workers’ Compensation Policy, a good time to start with Employer Advantage would be at the end of your current WC policy. This would avoid the early termination fees the other insurance companies charge.

4) Internal Personnel Changes

If you have an HR manager retiring or a payroll specialist getting a promotion, you may be ready to look at outsourcing. Employer Advantage will assume those duties (and many more) so you won’t have to hire or train any replacements. Just as with any profession, the skill set required to perform the “business of employment” is beyond the capabilities of just one person.

Although we have seen an influx of clients needing our assistance in navigating their workplace through the COVID-19 pandemic, for more than 30 years, hundreds of businesses have left the perceived comfort of self-service HR to join the ever-growing advantages of Human Resources outsourcing and management provided by Employer Advantage.

 

Click here to see our other helpful “Blog for All Employers” 

 

Not currently an Employer Advantage client? 

WE’D BE HONORED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A NEW PATH TO HR BLISS 

Info@EmployerAdvantage.com | 877.476.9520

 

About Employer Advantage

A New Path to HR Bliss – Trusted for more than 30 years, Employer Advantage frees you from the administrative and compliance burdens of having employees so you can focus on your business success. Versatile enough for companies of all sizes, our unique service combines comprehensive management of your employee administration and compliance with the latest software solutions, tailored to meet your individual needs and company culture. Our full-service management of Human Resourcespayrollhealth and benefits, workplace safety, and more enhance your profitability while reducing the costs and risks associated with employment law compliance. We provide your employees with top-notch assistance and benefits that help you increase productivity, save time and money, and attract and retain a talented workforce. And for small and mid-sized businesses, we bring you economy of scale with access to Fortune-500-level benefits, specialty assistance, and savings that would not be possible to attain on your own. Headquartered in the Midwest and serving more than 500 companies and 10,000 worksite employees throughout the country, Employer Advantage is an IRS-Certified Professional Employer Organization (PEO) (CPEO). Experienced, certified, and trusted. www.EmployerAdvantage.com 

 

EMPLOYER GUIDANCE | Avoiding Confusion Over Employers Rights to Implement COVID-19 Safety Mandates

EMPLOYER GUIDANCE | Avoiding Confusion Over Employers Rights to Implement COVID-19 Safety Mandates

As part of Employer Advantage’s comprehensive suite of HR management and outsourcing services (HR, Payroll, Health & Benefits, Safety), we are assisting our clients in determining their best path during, and after, the Coronavirus pandemic. Please contact us if you would like assistance with any of your Employee Administration and Compliance responsibilities: Info@EmployerAdvantage.com | 877.476.9520

 

“WHAT DO WE DO NOW?” – A common question among employers as the Supreme Court blocked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from enforcing the vaccine mandate-or-test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for non-healthcare provider businesses. OSHA responded on January 25, 2022, by shelving the emergency rule altogether.

 

 

There Still Could Be an OSHA Vaccination Mandate Rule in the Future

OSHA announced they will push forward a proposed rule under the rulemaking provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and not as a temporary emergency measure. This means that OSHA will pursue a permanent rule requiring “vaccination or testing” through the normal rulemaking notice-and-comment process. It is likely that the agency may also attempt to tailor the rule to a narrower group of employers by targeting specific industries. Long term, OSHA will likely use the framework of the ETS as the basis for a broader infectious disease standard in the workplace, going well beyond just COVID-19

 

Employers Don’t Have Wait to Act

OSHA has been gearing up for enforcement of workplace safety obligations. Last year, the agency hired and trained hundreds of additional investigators poised to ensure the nation’s employers are complying with COVID-19 protocols as well as general workplace safety.

 

Here are some answers to questions employers have about their right to implement Coronavirus safety mandates.

 

Q: Can we still mandate the vaccine for our workforce? A: In most states.

In most states and locations, it is still permissible to impose your own vaccine mandate. The Supreme Court said OSHA can’t require employers to implement a vaccine policy – but the Court did not say businesses may not implement a policy on their own if an employer believes it is right for their workplace.

Check to determine if your state law permits employer vaccine mandates or requires a broader set of exemptions than provided under federal law.

 

Q: Can we require regular COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated workers? A: Yes.

Like the mandates, the Supreme Court ruling in no way prevents employers from implementing a policy that requires regular COVID-19 testing of all non-vaccinated personnel if you offer a vaccination alternative.

 

Q: Are we allowed to ask the vaccination status of our employees? A: Yes.

One of the most common myths is that the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevents employers from asking about vaccination status. This is not true. In December 2020 the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stated that businesses may lawfully ask employees their vaccination status without violating federal anti-discrimination laws – provided the question is limited to a yes-or-no response.

 

Q: What should we do with workers’ vaccine cards we collected? A: Keep them.

We recommend holding onto employee proof of vaccination cards in expectance of future permanent vaccine rules. Keep them safely stored and guarded from theft and cybercrime. Do not reveal them to personnel who aren’t on a need-to-know basis.

We do not believe that OSHA will end up requiring employers to hold COVID-19 vaccine cards for the full 30 years, like the requirement for other similar employee records during non-pandemic times.

 

Q: Can we implement heightened safety obligations for non-vaccinated employees? A: Yes.

While OSHA may not currently be enforcing this, employers have the right to require staff to show proof of vaccination or comply with additional safety restrictions as deemed necessary to maintain a safe working environment.

 

The time is now to get your house in order. As discussed in our blog – “COVID-19 Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Personal Injury Claims May Be on the Horizon for Many Employers” – workplace safety and COVID-19 protocols are one in the same, and must become a culture, not just an event.

 

Click here to see our other helpful “Blog for All Employers” 

 

Not currently an Employer Advantage client? 

WE’D BE HONORED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A NEW PATH TO HR BLISS  Info@EmployerAdvantage.com | 877.476.9520

 

About Employer Advantage

A New Path to HR Bliss – Trusted for more than 30 years, Employer Advantage frees you from the administrative and compliance burdens of having employees so you can focus on your business success. Versatile enough for companies of all sizes, our unique service combines comprehensive management of your employee administration and compliance with the latest software solutions, tailored to meet your individual needs and company culture. Our full-service management of Human Resourcespayrollhealth and benefits, workplace safety, and more enhance your profitability while reducing the costs and risks associated with employment law compliance. We provide your employees with top-notch assistance and benefits that help you increase productivity, save time and money, and attract and retain a talented workforce. And for small and mid-sized businesses, we bring you economy of scale with access to Fortune-500-level benefits, specialty assistance, and savings that would not be possible to attain on your own. Headquartered in the Midwest and serving more than 500 companies and 10,000 worksite employees throughout the country, Employer Advantage is an IRS-Certified Professional Employer Organization (PEO) (CPEO). Experienced, certified, and trusted. www.EmployerAdvantage.com