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Qualities of a Great Manager

Qualities of a great manager

We’re sure you’ve had numerous managers throughout your career. Maybe you’ve even hired a few! Some have been great, others mediocre, but what sets the good apart from the bad? It’s important, however, that you know what to look for in a great manager moving forward.

Attitude Means Everything

You know what they say, “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier”. Hiring a manager with a good attitude is a great way to keep company culture positive. Keep your employee morale up with a manager who naturally inspires them to love their job.

Flexible & Accountable

Being the manager means that you get hit with all the unexpected emergencies. It lands on their shoulders to handle any and all crises that may arise. Having a manager who can be flexible, who you can count on, and who will help juggle any situation is a big asset.

Develop Great Talent

Part of being a great manager is developing the talent you manage. Helping to build and mold the next generation of your company is just as important as getting the current job done.

Love Company Culture

Company culture is set and maintained by those who lead. Be sure that your managers have not only bought in, but live and breathe your company culture. Without them, your teams will never live the culture you want.

Lead With Head & Heart

Staying focused is a talent most can’t claim, but one true sign of a great manager is that they have the ability to lead with their head and heart. Staying focused and using your their head to make decisions, but realizing that their heart has a place in management as well.

Get The Job Done

Are you ever worried your managers won’t get the job done? You have enough to worry about, you need the security of knowing that whatever you throw at your managers, they can and will handle it.

Effective, Not Productive

Productive and effective have two very different meanings. Just because someone is getting the job done and marking the check marks, doesn’t mean they are making effective use of your resources. Do your managers understand the difference?

As you can see, there are many qualities of a good manager, and these are only a small snippet of what we could say. The important thing to consider is that your manager has a greater impact on your business than you will ever think. Be sure you are hiring the right person for the job. What are some qualities you look for in a manager?

New Year, New Policies: What Should You Be Aware of?

New Year Policies

A new year brings on new changes, and your payroll is no different. With the start of a new year, we have new pension plans, tax revisions, income tax rates, retirement earnings, social security, FICA, and more. So what are some of the biggest changes you should be aware of this year? What will make the biggest impact on your payroll?

FICA Tax Increase

This next year brings in some FICA changes we’ve all been expecting. The amount of income that is taxable with FICA has increased to $128,400 for 2018.

HSA Contributions

2018 is also bringing in some more money to your HSA accounts. HSA maximum contributions will increase to $3,450 for individuals and $6,900 for family contributions. That is good news for your healthcare!

401K Limits

Are you ready for retirement? If not, you’ll have a better chance of catching up! 2018 will allow 401K limits to rise from $18,000 to $18,500. Plus for those 50+, catch up limits have risen to $6,000. Retirement is in sight!

These are just a few changes you can expect in the new year. What are some of the changes you are anticipating this new year? Let us know!

Benefits of Outsourcing Human Capital Management

outsourcing human capital management

Have you been considering the outsourcing of your human resources within your company? Not sure what impacts this will have on your business? Outsourcing any part of your business can be a scary process, but the benefits can far outweigh the risks. So what benefits can you expect from outsourcing some of your human resource responsibilities?

Reduce Liability

Keeping your human resources internal, holds you liable for any and all challenges that may arise. For many companies, that can be a scary thought. By hiring a company to help with these duties, you are also releasing some of the liability to them as well. It’s important when looking for a human capital management company that you make these liabilities known. You don’t want any surprises.

Save Money

How much time are you taking to manage your employees? And how much is your time worth? Often times, employers don’t like the idea of paying someone to help them with human resources because it is an added expense. The important thing to remember is how much money are you saving by not spending time on this? I think any employer would be surprised to do the math on this.

Lack of In-house Experience

You wouldn’t want a doctor doing your taxes or an accountant performing your surgery. That’s why you want a human resources professional doing your human resources. Most employers don’t have a human resources professional handling their internal services. If you elect to hire an external service to help with this, then you get access to a wide range of expertise you could never hire internally.

These advantages are just the beginning! The benefits you will gain by hiring an external company to handle your human resource needs will continue and continue. It is important; however, that you do your research and find the right company for the job. If you’d like to learn more about how PayLogics could help bring these benefits to your business, give us a call at 385-482-0380.

How Payroll Software Can Improve Effectiveness for Small Businesses

As a small business owner you have a million and one things to think about at any one time. The last thing you need is another important task to be added to your to-do list. So when it comes to payroll, is your small business running as effectively as it could be?

Time

Time is not something you have extra of as a small business owner. Therefore it is important that you save time anywhere you can. Payroll is a great opportunity to save you time. Not just payroll, but payroll taxes as well. According to a survey done by NSBA, business owners spend 80 hours a year just on payroll taxes. That is 2 full work weeks you could be spending on other tasks, not to mention the time you could save running payroll every few weeks.

Mistakes Cost Money

Payroll and payroll taxes can be very complex. There are lots of rules and regulations that differ based on industry, state, and income. Rules and regulations are also always changing, making it difficult for business owners to stay up-to-date on them.

According to an article by Forbes, the IRS penalizes 1 in 3 business owners for mistakes made in their taxes each year. Don’t be on the wrong side of that statistic. If you hire a payroll software company, typically they will take full responsibility for any mistakes made, and they can stay up-to-date on any changes in laws and regulations. Once less thing for you to worry about.

Focus On Bigger Things

As a business owner, you are the fuel and fire behind your business. Your time and energy is best spent focused on running and growing your business. Outsourcing your payroll gives you the opportunity to spend that time elsewhere in your business. Check this off your to-do list and focus on the parts of your business that need it.

Employee Self Service

While we’re discussing places you can better spend your time, let’s talk about employee management. Onboarding new employees, training, company announcements, etc. Most payroll softwares can take care of all of these tasks. That means the next time you hire a new employee you won’t have to spend a few hours going over new employee paperwork, let your software take care of all of it before they even start!

With all this time you’ll be saving, who knows what kind of business genius ideas you can think up! You just might be the next Steve Jobs!

Big Changes Happening Here

By:Samantha Durfey

We have some exciting changes taking place at Payroll Experts. We are​ now officially renaming to PayLogics. Your same amazing payroll service that you have known and loved is still here, but PayLogics gives us the opportunity to offer even more to you.

In addition to our already excellent payroll service, we are working to expand some of our other services. Some of you may know that we have offered some of these services in addition to payroll, but for those of you who don’t know, here are some services we will be expanding in the future: time tracking, benefit management, background checks, applicant tracking, retirement management, ​and more.

Over the last 18 years of service we have learned that your relationship with your employees is about much more than just payroll.To help service that relationship we want to provide a complete employment experience for your business.

A note from our owners: “Time has been a great teacher for us at PayrollExperts. We are extremely grateful for all those who have paved the path we have walked and treasure our friendships we have created with thousands of inspiring businesses. We have learned a lot and have come to understand that the employee/employer relationship is about far more than just payroll. Our passion is burning brighter than ever to be your complete Employment Experience Experts. We are thrilled to be introducing PAYLOGICS to the marketplace, a new addition to the Payroll Experts umbrella, our faces and names will stay the same but we will be introducing the “LOGICS” to better connect employees and employers through engaging interactions and empowering solutions.”

We are so grateful for all of our clients who have loved and supported us over the 18years of our business, but we are also very excited for all of the companies we will continue to help with these added services. We know that this move will allow us to be come a much bigger resource to our already dedicated clients.

If you have any questions about our expanding services, how they can benefit your company, or how Pay Logics service will impact your business, please feel free to email us at sets@mypayrollexperts.com.

EMPLOYEE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: IS IT PROTECTED?

By:  Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law

One of your managers walks into your office visibly upset.  “I just found out that my employee ‘flamed’ me on Facebook,” he said.  “She called me all sorts of derogatory names, spread a bunch of lies about me, and encouraged other employees to get me fired.  This is defamation, I’m going to fire that <blankity-blankity-blank>.”

While it is easy to empathize with this manager and his frustrations regarding the actions of his employee, cooler heads need to prevail before any actions are taken.  Back in 2010, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the first of a string of controversial decisions holding that certain uses of social media by employees can be viewed as “concerted activities” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), thus protecting the employee from adverse actions taken by the employer. 

What is a concerted activity under the NLRA?  First of all, the NLRA is the main federal law protecting the right of employees to unionize.  But many employers don’t realize the NLRA goes beyond just unionizing issues—employees also have the right to engage in concerted activities regarding their “mutual aid or protection,” which can include a whole lot of different work-related issues.  A concerted activity is when employees act in “concert with each other” (e.g., employees acting together, or an employee speaking on behalf of a group, or a “call to action” by one employee to others).  So, if an employee approaches a manager and says, “I’ve passed this petition around to my coworkers about having to work too much overtime,” the employee has engaged in a concerted activity.

The NLRB has now applied this rule to employee use of social media, including outside of work.  It is important to understand that not all comments made by employees on social media are protected.  To be protected, the following general conditions (broadly defined) must be met:

  • The comments relate to the terms and conditions of the workplace;
  • The employee appears to be acting with or on behalf of other employees.

Generally speaking, employees are not protected by the NLRA when they engage in “individual griping” (rather than interacting with or on behalf of other employees), or denigrate products or customers, or disclose intellectual property of employers or others.  However, it is important to note that since this is a new development, NLRB decisions are not always consistent, nor have the courts had the opportunity to rule on NLRB decisions.  It will likely be some time before this relatively new development in the law settles down into more concrete principles.

In next month’s article, we’ll discuss some of the NLRB’s decisions to get a better sense for what types of employee social media use are protected… and trust me on this, prepare yourselves to be a bit shocked and surprised with NLRB’s reasoning.   In the meantime, keep an eye out for me on Facebook as I flame my boss (woops, that’s me!)

This article should not be construed as legal advice.  Copyright ©2013 by Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law, P.C.  All rights reserved.  Jonathan K. Driggs is an employment law attorney with over 20 years of experience, including 3 years with the Utah Labor Commission.  www.jkdlawpc.com

 

Call an HR Attorney as often as you need, for a low, fixed monthly fee!  In partnership with Payroll Experts, Jonathan is offering his “HR Legal Compliance Service” to Payroll Experts clients at discounted rates.  For a low, fixed monthly fee, you can call Jonathan as often as you need to get answers to your HR legal compliance and employee relations questions.  Get rid of the attorney’s ticking clock!  For more information, please contact Payroll Experts at (801) 221-3732 and ask about the “HR Legal Compliance Service.”

HOW TO CONTROL YOUR BUSINESS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

By Burke Brown, PayLogics, Inc

With the New Year many of you have received or will be receiving shortly your updated unemployment rate for 2014.  As many of us set goals with each new year, I thought the below article that I came across in the HR support center had some good ideas to help control your unemployment in the years to come.

Here are a few best practices to consider prior to terminating an employee: 

Of course, there are times when the potential cost of an unemployment claim is insignificant when compared with the financial, emotional or opportunity cost of continuing to employ the individual.  Therefore, there are certainly strategic elements to consider in conjunction with these best practices when making termination decisions.

This information was provided through our HR Support Center, which can be a valuable resource for you and your business. If you have HR needs that we can help with please let us know.

EMPLOYEE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA (part II)

By Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law

Last month, I discussed how the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—which enforces the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—has issued controversial decisions over the past few years finding that certain types of statements made by employees on social media websites are “concerted activities,” thus protecting employees from termination and other actions.  As discussed last month, to be protected, employees’ comments on social media must meet the following two conditions (broadly defined in favor of the employee): 

Now, let’s take a quick look at some NLRB decisions to get a feel for what they’re thinking (and you’ll notice that some cases go for the employee and some go for the employer):

A paramedic vented on Facebook (FB) about her boss after he allegedly denied her the opportunity to seek help from her union before she responded to him about a customer compliant.  Among other things she referred to him as a “scumbag” and a “mental patient.” Other employees commented on her posts.  

NLRB Holding: Concerted activity—her firing violated NLRA.

Takeaways: Her references to her union and the comments made by her coworkers on FB helped her case.  Remember, just because the employee is “rude and crude” doesn’t mean it isn’t a concerted activity.  The NLRB is pretty tolerant of “rude and crude,” within certain limits.

A tour bus driver complained on FB about his working conditions (lack of health insurance, minimal PTO, unsafe buses) and praised a competitor as a “workers’ paradise.”  His comments included praise for the benefits of labor unions. There is no evidence that his coworkers had access to his FB page. 

Holding: Concerted activity—his firing violated NLRA.

Takeaways: The lack of involvement with other employees (prong #2 above) makes this a curious case, but shows how far the NLRB is willing to stretch things (I don’t think they could bear to not help him out since his comments were so union-oriented).

An employee sought assistance on FB from four coworkers to respond to criticism from another employee.  She wrote that this employee felt that “we don’t help our customers enough” and posted, “my fellow coworkers, how do you feel?”  This resulted in a vigorous discussion on FB (which apparently got pretty intense).  Some of the coworkers discussed concerns with employer staffing practices.  Five employees were fired for violating bullying/harassment policies (regarding how they responded to the employee who originally made the criticism).

Holding: concerted activity—the firing of employees violated the NLRA.

Takeaways: Her reaching out to her coworkers to get their input is a strong potential sign of a concerted activity (as is discussing working conditions such as staffing practices). 

 

A BMW dealership employee posts picture on FB of a car driven into a pond at a sales event by another employee’s 13 year old son.  The employee openly mocked the dealership over it (as well as for the cheap hot dogs they served at the event).

Holding: Not a concerted activity—his firing did not violate NLRA.

Takeaways: A good example of individual griping not related to working conditions (despite the negative impact that cheap hot dogs must have on any workplace!)  Last of all (add this to your list of things not to do): NEVER let your 13 year old son drive an expensive German-built automobile owned by your employer!

An employee was responsible to care for homeless people with mental health issues.  While working a graveyard shift she conversed with two friends on FB.  She commented on how “spooky” it was being alone at night in a mental institution and made unprofessional comments about the mentally disabled clients.  A former client of employer saw the postings and complained to employer. 

Holding: Not a concerted activity—her firing did not violate the NLRA.

Takeaways: Statements made about third parties (customers, clients, etc.) often aren’t protected.  Worse yet, revealing information about medical patients clearly doesn’t fly, even with the NLRB.

A construction contractor fired five employees after several of them appeared in a YouTube video complaining of hazardous working conditions. As the NLRB hearing opened, the case settled, with the workers receiving full backpay.

Takeaways: While there was no NLRB decision on this case, it was clearly heading in favor of the employees.  This is a good example about how it’s not always about FB, but social media sites such as YouTube could be involved.  Could one of your employees walk through your facility and make a movie about it?  This could easily happen.

At this point, NLRB decisions are still inconsistent and at times confusing (not to mention frustrating).  Nevertheless, hopefully the cases mentioned above give a general sense for what is protected and what is not.  This area of the law will continue to develop over the coming years, but in the meantime, be sure to use caution when dealing with employee-related social media issues, lest you become the next test case!

This article should not be construed as legal advice.  Copyright ©2014 by Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law, P.C.  All rights reserved.  Jonathan K. Driggs is an employment law attorney with over 20 years of experience, including 3 years with the Utah Labor Commission.  www.jkdlawpc.com

Jonathan’s popular “Employment Law for Managers Seminar” is being offered by the State of Utah’s “Custom Fit Programs” in Davis County, Salt Lake County and Utah County during February and March of 2014 (“Custom Fit Programs” are run by the state of Utah and use state funds to offset the cost of training programs for employers).  Significantly discounted rates are available for “for-profit” employers.  This is the same seminar Jonathan presents for major corporations throughout the United States.  Click here for details: http://www.jkdlawpc.com/seminars/

PAYROLL DOCUMENT RETENTION GUIDELINES

By Mark Ward, Payroll Experts, Inc

This time of year prompts many of us to clean out our filing cabinets and organize our documents.   The temptation to have a shredding party sometimes is more than we can resist.  However, BE CAREFUL!   Payroll Experts hasn’t yet been able to convince Federal and State Agencies to adopt our philosophy and commitment to “SIMPLIFYING.”

This article could turn into volumes of information if we were to discuss all the rules regarding the type of records that must be kept, and the length of time you must keep the records.  To further complicate things, every state is different. For example – Utah State has published the following Retention Schedules:

Type of Document Years Type of Document Years
Accident reports, injury claims, settlements 7 Injury frequency charts 10
Applications, changes, terminations 3 Insurance records, group and employee 6
Attendance and time sheet records 5 Medical folders, employee P
Disability and sick benefits records 4 Payroll records after termination P
Earnings records P Pension plan applications, claims and correspondence P
Employee service records P Salary and rate changes 10
Employee contracts 7 Performance records 7
File for individual employee 3 Withholding exemption certificate 3
Garnishments 7 Workers compensation reports 11
Legend: “P” means permanent

“The following retention periods are general rules or guides for determining how long to maintain important business and tax records. The lists are representative of types of records companies may be required to keep. The lists are not all inclusive, and your business needs may require other records such as advertising, manufacturing, sales and marketing, and transportation and shipping. If you have a tax or business advisor, you might want to have the advisor review your records retention practices.”

*Retain for at least four years and preferably seven if space is not critical. Once the period has elapsed, the supporting documents may be discarded, but the returns and W-2s should be retained indefinitely.

We all know how long winded the Internal Revenue Service can be.  The link to their Record Keeping regulations is http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98575,00.html.

In relation to payroll reports and payroll tax reports, the Employment Tax Recordkeeping  guidelines are:

Keep all records of employment taxes for at least four years after filing the 4th quarter for the year. These should be available for IRS review. Records should include:

Employee and Payroll Records are very extensive and are obviously not limited to the payroll reports and tax filing reports we provide to you.  We do have a significant amount of recordkeeping information that you are required to maintain.  Over the course of the year, we have provided you with paper copies of the Payroll Reports and Tax Filings that we have done on your behalf.  A service that has become very popular among our clients is our Annual RePortfolio CD.
Our REPORTFOLIO Service provides you with a CD that is packed with:

  1. All 2013 payroll reports
  2. All 2013 tax filings (940 Filing, 941 Filings, State Withholding Filings, State Unemployment Filings, W-2’s, W-3)
  3. Dozens of additional company and employee reports
  4. All faxed information submitted to Payroll Experts during the year (such as W-4’s, I-9’s, etc)

The information is organized for quick searchable/printable access  in Adobe. The cost is $150 for us to prepare your 2013 information and put it in this electronic format.  If you are interested in receiving the RePortfolio CD please contact us.

Keeping Payroll and Employment Records is an extremely important aspect of our businesses. While it would be nice to clean out our filing cabinets, we must be careful amid the myriad of federal, state, and local laws that govern employment recordkeeping.  If you are not already a Payroll Experts customer, we’d love to help you simplify and save on your payroll processing. Learn more about our Payroll Services.

We appreciate and value working with each and every one of you.  Thank you for your trust.  We are committed to you and your businesses and love seeing the growth and progress of your businesses.  We are excited about 2014 and look forward to continuing our work with you.

HARASSMENT ISN’T JUST ABOUT SEX: PREVENTING RACIAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

By Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law

Does $230,000.00 sound like a lot of money to you?  How about $450,000.00?  Would your business like to write out a check for one of these amounts when it could otherwise be avoided?  Probably not.  But in 2013, one Utah employer settled a racial harassment/retaliation case for $230,000.00, and another Utah employer settled a national origin/retaliation case for $450,000.00 (the largest settlement for a national origin case ever in the state of Utah).  Ouch.                                                                                                                                                

You see, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued each of these employers on behalf of groups of employees who filed complaints about racially-oriented harassment coming from their supervisors.  Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that in the 21st Century there still are supervisors who use the N-word and other ugly racial slurs?  As much as it pains me to say it, the answer is yes.  According the EEOC’s current “Strategic Enforcement Plan,” one of that agency’s priorities is to protect “vulnerable workers”—including the immigrant population and other minority groups. 

Statistically speaking, your chances of being sued by the EEOC regarding a charge of discrimination are pretty low (i.e., the EEOC files a lawsuit against the employer in federal court regarding the administrative charge).  Out of over 90,000+ charges filed with the agency each year, the EEOC files suit on a relative few (e.g., 122 lawsuits filed in 2012).  However, it appears that if serious allegations are made about racial harassment at work coming from supervisors, an employer’s chances of being sued increase significantly.

I am not going to discuss the ugly details alleged in these recent Utah cases, but I do think it is time that employers become more aware of this particular problem.  Consider the following:

The large settlements mentioned above provide an important wake up call for employers regarding preventing racial harassment in the workplace.  This type of behavior should have no place in our work environments.

This article should not be construed as legal advice.  Copyright ©2014 by Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law, P.C.  All rights reserved.  Jonathan K. Driggs is an employment law attorney with over 20 years of experience, including 3 years with the Utah Labor Commission.  www.jkdlawpc.com

 

Jonathan’s popular “Employment Law for Managers Seminar” is being offered by the State of Utah’s “Custom Fit Programs” in Davis County, Salt Lake County and Utah County during February and March of 2014 (“Custom Fit Programs” are run by the state of Utah and use state funds to offset the cost of training programs for employers).  Significantly discounted rates are available for “for-profit” employers.  This is the same seminar Jonathan presents for major corporations throughout the United States.  Click here for details: http://www.jkdlawpc.com/seminars/

PAYROLL TIP: AUTOMATIC GRATUITIES

Our HR Support Center recently addressed the new IRS guidelines for Automatic Gratuities.  Effective January 1, 2014, automatic gratuities in the hospitality industry (for example, an automatic 18% tip for parties of six or more) will be treated by the IRS as service charges rather than tips. Unlike optional tips which the employee bears the responsibility of reporting, these service charges will be viewed as wages and the employer will be responsible for reporting them. Additionally, employers should be aware that any such service charges will be considered part of the employee’s regular rate of pay for purposes of calculating the overtime rate.

Per the IRS, in order for a payment to be treated as a tip, generally all of the following factors must be met:
1)            The payment must be made free of compulsion;
2)            The customer must have the unrestricted right to determine the amount of the payment;
3)            The payment may not be dictated by employer policy or be the subject of negotiation; and
4)            Generally the customer must have the right to determine who gets the payment.

If any of these factors cannot be satisfied, the payment is likely a service charge.  We recommend that hospitality industry employers review their gratuity policies as well as their reporting and recordkeeping practices to ensure compliance with the new rule.

SHRM Certification & HR MANAGEMENT

For your information:

SHRM Certification & HR Management
36 hours over 12 weeks
Thursdays, Mar 6 – May 22
6:00 – 9:00pm

This course is designed to provide an overview of key areas in human resource management. Materials include six modules that correspond to the six functional areas, responsibilities, and associated knowledge as defined by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI). The program is offered in cooperation with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as study material for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification examinations administered by HRCI.

Besides being a powerful tool to prepare for the PHR or SPHR certification exams, this course also provides professional development for you and your HR department. The course provides a solid foundation for managing the HR challenges you face in today’s demanding work environment; it supplies a current reference of HR practices, broadens the perspective of functional specialists, and strengthens individual competencies and productivity.

To Register:
Contact Randy Reeves, 801-753-4217 or Roger Rice 801-753-4153.

SOME THOUGHTS ON EMPLOYEE RELEASE AGREEMENTS (PART II)

By Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law

Last month I discussed the common practice to having employees sign release agreements in exchange for severance pay.  This month, let’s discuss a few more things about how to effectively use these agreements.  Outside of the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act—which applies to release agreements for employees 40 years and older who are being asked to waive claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the topic of discussion for next month), the specific terms for release agreements are not specifically laid out by statute.

However, common sense and fair play—in addition to well established principles of contract law—should all be taken into consideration.   The courts also recognize that there is a difference in bargaining power between an employer and employee.  As a result, they can be pretty quick to void agreements when it appears that employees were coerced into signing or were befuddled by its contents.  While a detailed discussion of all of the “do’s and don’ts” of release agreements is beyond the scope of this article, the following are a few important things to consider:

Consideration:  according to long establish contract law, in order to have a binding contract between parties, each party needs to get something of value beyond that to which they would already be entitled (i.e., “consideration”).  Generally, the courts haven’t required this “something of value” to be of a particular amount, or necessarily a large amount.  The employee must simply get something of value he or she would not have otherwise received had he or she not signed the agreement.  Using bonuses, cash outs of PTO or final wages will not suffice as consideration so long as the employee already has a right to receive these things (which they clearly do at least in the case of final wages).  Practically speaking, if the consideration is a very small amount, the employee may not feel it is worth signing the agreement.

Confidentiality provisions: Many agreements require the employee to maintain the confidentiality of the terms of the agreement (with allowances for informing their accountant, attorney and close family members, with a requirement that the employee requires these third parties to also not disclose the terms).  An employer recently successfully enforced such a provision against a former employee after his daughter announced on Facebook the amount of the settlement between the parties (as well as publishing a few choice words directed at her father’s former employer and stating that the money would allow them to take an European vacation)—resulting in a forfeiture of the $80,000 settlement amount!  My, my, my, wouldn’t it have been fun to be a fly on the wall during that daddy-daughter discussion? (and it really is too bad because I hear that Paris is just lovely in the Spring!)

Use your leverage to serve your legitimate purposes: We all know it can be frustrating to get departing employees to return company property like laptops and confidential/proprietary documents.  Severance agreements can be an effective way to get employees to cough these things up by making their severance pay conditional upon them doing so (unlike final wages, which in many cases must be paid regardless of whether employees have returned company property).  And rather than paying out the severance in a lump sum, I often like to spread it out over time (e.g., pay it out according to the same schedule as their regular salary) as an incentive for the departing employees to “behave themselves” for at least the payout period.  For example, if you include a non-disparagement provision in the agreement (which, let’s be honest, can be hard to enforce), you can use the threat of cutting off the severance for non-compliance during time of the payout.  This can be helpful during the first few delicate weeks or months following the termination when feelings can be especially raw.

 In next month’s article we’ll discuss the requirements imposed by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act for releasing age-related claims.

This article should not be construed as legal advice.  Copyright ©2014 by Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law, P.C.  All rights reserved.  Jonathan K. Driggs is an employment law attorney with over 21 years of experience, including 3 years with the Utah Labor Commission.  www.jkdlawpc.com

Call an HR Attorney as often as you need, for a low, fixed monthly fee!  In partnership with Payroll Experts, Jonathan is offering his “HR Legal Compliance Service” to Payroll Experts clients at discounted rates.  For a low, fixed monthly fee, you can call Jonathan as often as you need to get answers to your HR legal compliance and employee relations questions.  Get rid of the attorney’s ticking clock!  For more information, please contact Payroll Experts at (801) 221-3732 and ask about the “HR Legal Compliance Service.”

Time & Labor Management Solution: ReadySetWork!

By: Kortni Litster | Payroll Experts, Inc.

Scheduling can be such a nightmare! Covering shifts due to illness, emergencies, vacation, and trying to shuffle people around just to make it all work can be incredibly stressful and time consuming. When I worked retail and someone would be out, I would feel so flustered trying to ensure that everyone was staying out of the overtime zone and that the sales floor was covered as best as possible. I could only have hoped for a solution like ReadySetWork.
ReadySetWork can alleviate a large portion of the stress that comes with scheduling. It has the option to assign each employee to a position/department, while still allowing you to schedule the employee to multiple locations and syncs with your time clock. This real-time tool provides real-life solutions!

Capture

This allows you to electronically schedule employees, track hours, and fill open shifts. ReadySetWork imports your current roster so you can immediately build schedules based on availability, skill, and targeted labor costs. It then publishes your schedule online, and pushes it out to your staff via text message, email, and the mobile app.

One of my favorite features with ReadySetWork is that you have the ability to monitor who has and has not viewed their schedule. The tool also indicates whether you have published schedules, how many Unready Shifts, Pending Shift Trades, and Pending Time off Requests. All of these things combined allow you more control of how your business needs are met.

Think of the possibilities! Schools could use this for assigning substitute teachers based on their educational focus; landscaping companies could setup schedules with the job sites in the text; retail or hospitality employees can trade shifts with ease, while still giving you control of the labor cost.

If this is a solution that could help your company, please let your payroll specialist know and we can setup a demonstration! We really do love partnering with each of you and want to do our best to simplify your processes.

Employment Law: More Employees to Become Eligible for Overtime Pay?

The Executive Branch has Big Plans for the Fair Labor Standards Act

By:  Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law

When I was a kid, David Bowie sang about ch-ch-changes.   Well, there is an important change looming off in the distance, one with a potentially meaningful financial impact for employers.  With the US Congress tied up in political knots, you’d think there wouldn’t be much activity to report on the federal level when it comes to employment law.  However, there is a lot of activity going on but it is not coming from the legislative branch of the government.  Rather, it’s coming from the executive branch (i.e., President Obama and the government enforcement agencies he oversees).

There is a reason for this: with Congress in gridlock, the executive branch is attempting to move forward it’s stymied legislative agenda by using the authority it has over government agencies.  There is nothing unusual about this—both parties do it to some degree when they are in power—but it is probably fair to say that President Obama is more aggressive about using his authority in this way than most of his predecessors.

As an attorney who represents and advises employers, my concern is that many business leaders are less aware of what is happening on the regulatory (executive) level than they are on the legislative level.  As a result, important changes can be made to existing employment laws without as much awareness from the employer community.

Case in point: on March 13, 2014, President Obama issued an important Executive Order (EO) directing the US Department of Labor (DOL) to review its regulations regarding which employees may be treated as exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The FLSA is our main federal wage and hour law and it has been around for a very long time (since 1938).   It sets standards for minimum wage and overtime pay (including exemptions from overtime pay).  The DOL has the authority to enforce the FLSA and to issue regulations interpreting the finer points of the law—including setting many of the specific requirements for the oft-used “white collar” exemptions (i.e., executive, administrative and professional exemptions).  These regulations have a major impact on how the law is interpreted.

President Obama’s specific charge to the DOL is to revise the regulations so that more employees will be eligible to receive overtime pay.  Once finalized, it will cost more to employ certain types of employees.  While it is still unclear exactly what changes will be made, at least two things are likely to happen:

Job duty requirements for exemption status will become more strict.  Examples could include additional requirements on what type of work does and does not qualify as supervisorial, thus narrowing the executive exemption.  It is also possible that requirements may be imposed about the amount of exempt level work an employee must perform each week to qualify for the exemption (e.g., at least 20 hours or 50% of work time).  It is clear that one of the intentions behind President Obama’s EO is to establish once and for all that many of the low level supervisors found in the restaurant (fast food in particular) and retail industries must be treated as non-exempt.  In other words, they’re targeting the more “borderline” professional-level employees.

  1. The minimum salary requirement for exempt status will be raised.  In order to be exempt under the white collar exemptions, employees must currently receive a weekly salary of at least $455.  A very easy way to limit the use of white collar exemptions is to raise the weekly salary requirement.  Probably the only real question is how high the DOL will try to raise it.  There are all sorts of rumors circulating, but we simply won’t know until the new regulations are finalized.  While such changes are well-intentioned, the increased cost of labor will result in fewer employment opportunities being available (the more expensive you make employment, the fewer employment opportunities there will be).

So, now that the EO has been issued, where do we go from here?  The DOL will issue proposed regulations and then give the public time to comment (and yes, your comments are important!)  The DOL will then review the comments, make the changes they want to make, and then seek approval of the final regulations through the Office of Management and Budget.  While lots of things could happen in the meantime, I don’t suspect the process will be derailed.  The estimates are that it will take 12 to 18 months to go through the rule-making process.

To be clear, I am not automatically opposed to making changes to the FLSA.  However, as we make more lower-level employees non-exempt, I wish we could update the FLSA to bring it into the 21st Century to more accurately reflect the realities of our modern workplaces (e.g., there are some genuinely professional-level workers who cannot be treated as exempt because the law didn’t comprehend their existence when it was written 75 years ago).  Nevertheless, employers should stay tuned for some important ch-ch-changes coming down the road that could have a meaningful fiscal impact.

This article should not be construed as legal advice.  Copyright ©2014 by Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law, P.C.  All rights reserved.  Jonathan K. Driggs is an employment law attorney with over 21 years of experience, including 3 years with the Utah Labor Commission.  www.jkdlawpc.com

Call an HR Attorney as often as you need, for a low, fixed monthly fee!  In partnership with Payroll Experts, Jonathan is offering his “HR Legal Compliance Service” to Payroll Experts clients at discounted rates.  For a low, fixed monthly fee, you can call Jonathan as often as you need to get answers to your HR legal compliance and employee relations questions.  Get rid of the attorney’s ticking clock!  For more information, please contact Payroll Experts at (801) 221-3732 and ask about the “HR Legal Compliance Service.”

WRITING JOB DESCRIPTIONS

By Carol Nibley

Recently I asked a group of HR practitioners if they enjoyed writing job descriptions. The response was a resounding “no.” We then discussed the practical uses of job descriptions, and everyone agreed that up-to-date and accurate descriptions are absolutely essential for the following reasons:

For example, suppose you were planning to fill an open position. Without a current job description, how would you be able to tell candidates what they will be doing or find candidates with the right skills? How do you know if your salary range for the position will entice the talent you need? How do you determine if the position should be exempt or non-exempt? How do you describe success in the position without knowing the performance standards? These are just a few of many questions a well written job description can answer.

When researching data about positions and creating job descriptions, you’ll find that one of your best resources is found on O*Net: http://www.onetonline.org/. Not only can you find comprehensive information about tasks, job specifications, and related occupations, but also you have access to wage information and can create custom descriptions with just a few clicks. Creating accurate job descriptions can be simplified by taking advantage of online resources.

Writing job descriptions may not be fun, but the benefits are great. If you haven’t updated your job descriptions recently, consider the value to your organization of doing so.

CONDUCTING CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS (Part III)

By Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law

Over the last few months, we’ve been discussing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recently issued guidance to employers on the use of Criminal Background Checks (CBCs).  In this guidance, the EEOC emphasized that employers should only conduct CBCs when it is “job-related and consistent with business necessity” when screening job candidates. Job-related and consistent with business is one of those funky legal phrases that simply means employers should take into account the following factors:

  1. The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct;
  2. The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and/or completion of the sentence;
  3. The nature of the job held or sought.

As explained in its recent guidance, the EEOC expects employers to do the following when conducting CBCs:

  1. Develop a “targeted screen” using the three factors listed above for the job in question.  The EEOC wants employers to identify in advance the type of criminal convictions which might be problematic for a particular position.  For example, for a position that has access to sensitive financial information, an employer could identify a list of basic categories of theft/dishonesty-related crimes that would be problematic (e.g., identity theft, fraud, burglary).  The employer should then determine the relevant time period to consider for past convictions (e.g., five years, etc.)  While there is no specific formula to use, the EEOC is clearly signaling that it will scrutinize time frames carefully in favor of applicants (including reviewing recidivism data to determine when an individual is no more likely to recommit the crime compared to the average citizen).
  2. Conduct an individualized assessment prior to screening out.  Let’s say that a candidate’s CBC for a financial position reveals a conviction three years ago for identity theft.  Before excluding the candidate from consideration, the EEOC expects the employer to: 1) provide notice to the candidate that he/she may be screened out because of the conviction, 2) provide the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate that the exclusion should not be applied due to his/her particular circumstances; and 3) consider whether the additional information provided by the candidate warrants an exception.  Employers should create and retain appropriate documentation of their individualized assessment processes (as a result of this new guidance, I believe that such processes will be a major focal point of EEOC investigations).

It is not possible in a forum like this to explain all of the nuances related to the EEOC’s CBC guidance.  For employers using CBCs, it is worth taking a look at the guidance and reading through the examples.  The guidance can be found at: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm

While it is important to understand that the EEOC’s guidance does not currently have the force of law—and aspects of it will most certainly be challenged in court—the EEOC will nevertheless be the first decision-maker to rule on these cases (employees must file with the EEOC before going to court).   So, unless an employer wants to be the “test case” and spend lots of money and time fighting the EEOC, it’s best to give serious consideration to the EEOC’s position on CBCs.

In light of this new guidance from the EEOC, the following are some do’s and don’ts for employers when using CBCs:

While running CBCs has become more complicated for employers, this does not mean that there aren’t a lot of legitimate uses for them.  Employers who provide services to children, at-risk adults, medical patients, etc., typically have very legitimate reasons to use CBCs.  So do many other employers who have employees working in other sensitive jobs or industries.  The issuance of the EEOC’s guidance should not be construed to mean that employers can’t use CBCs anymore.  Employers, however, should use CBCs in a manner that is… (everyone repeat after me!) “job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice.  Copyright ©2013 by Jonathan K. Driggs, Attorney at Law, P.C.  All rights reserved.

 

Jonathan K. Driggs is an employment law attorney with over 20 years of experience, including 3 years with the Utah Labor Commission.  www.jkdlawpc.com

 

Call an HR Attorney as often as you need, for a low, fixed monthly fee!  In partnership with Payroll Experts, Jonathan is offering his “HR Legal Compliance Service” to Payroll Experts clients at discounted rates.  For a low, fixed monthly fee, you can call Jonathan as often as you need to get answers to your HR legal compliance and employee relations questions.  Get rid of the attorney’s ticking clock!  For more information, please contact Payroll Experts at (801) 221-3732 and ask about the “HR Legal Compliance Service.”

TAX NOTICES AND UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CHANGES

By Travis Ward

I can’t believe it is already May!  Our tax team has been busy filing the 1st quarter payroll tax returns.  We are excited to have all the returns completed.  Besides filing tax returns, our Team has been busy addressing several important tax issues that affect you as the employer and Payroll Experts as your service provider.

As you are all aware, the different tax agencies are great at sending you mail.  Whenever you receive payroll related mail, scan and email the information to us. Most of the time, the information they send can be shredded because they are blank returns used as reminders to file related tax returns.  Payroll Experts automatically takes care of filing these returns for you.  However, on occasion important information is sent to you that we will need.  Watch for notices stating that your filing status is changing or has been changed.  Watch for notices with a PIN number or password to file online.  Near the end of every year letters are sent out by the States in which you have employees in.  These notices indicate what your unemployment rate is for the upcoming year.  If we don’t receive this letter from you we have to assume that your rate isn’t changing for the next year and we keep your rate the same.   These are the types of tax letters we need you to give us.

For our clients that have Utah employees, you are probably aware of the mess Utah has made over the last few years by sending out letters in November indicating what your unemployment tax rate will be for the next year.  However, then in March they send out amended letters going retroactive to January 1st changing your unemployment rate.   For the most part many Utah employers had their unemployment rates go down while some had rate increases.  We have now made the adjustments, raising or lowering your unemployment rate.   If your rate went up and you owed money we have already contacted you to collect the additional funds.  For those of you who are lucky enough to have had your rate go down we will be calculating and refunding these funds to you during the month of May.  If you see a deposit from Payroll Experts in May this is us refunding back to you the difference between the original higher rate and the current lower rate for your 2013 payrolls.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with you.  We are committed to simplifying and personalizing your payroll experience with us and are always diligently working to keep you compliant with all the tax changes.  If you ever have any questions about something you receive, please don’t hesitate to contact your payroll specialist.

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