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Pennsylvania Senator Mike Stack has proposed a new state bill to punish Pennsylvania employers who misclassify independent contractors.  These employers are wrongfully avoiding paying overtime, taxes and workers compensation premiums, and excluding these workers from employer sponsored benefits.   His bill (PA Senate Bill 1454) would allow local DA’s to prosecute these employers with punishments including substantial fines and jail time.  Pennsylvania already has a law, as do many other states, including the US Department of Labor, which provides civil/financial penalties to employers who misclassify.

The State of Colorado has also joined the effort by becoming the 11th state in the nation to join the Department of Labor’s Misclassification Initiative in 2011, by participating in a Partnership Agreement to clean up employee misclassification. This partnership allows the agencies to notify each other about potential employer violations of each agency’s statutes, perform investigations and enforce violations. Colorado employers found in violation of employee misclassification could find themselves facing substantial financial penalties. 

In addition to the Agreement with the US Department of Labor, the State of Colorado has HB09-1310.  This state law’s penalty will cost employers $5,000 for the first misclassified employee, and for the second and subsequent misclassified employees an employer can be fined up to $25,000 per misclassification.

If you wish to find out more about Independent Contractors, please read my blog article.

Please contact StaffScapes if you have questions regarding how you are classifying independent contractors at (303) 466-7864, or you can find additional information at the Colorado Division of Labor and Employment.

 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:47

Perceptions of Insurance Fraud

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I recently attended a presentation from Sean Clifford, Colorado First Assistant Attorney General, concerning insurance fraud and found some of the presented statistics very interesting. The statistics presented were what Americans’ perceptions were of insurance fraud.

 

-          One out of five adult Americans (about 45 million people) believe it is ok to defraud insurers (insurance companies or providers).

 

-          Nearly one of ten Americans would commit insurance fraud if they knew they would get away with it.

 

-          One out of three Americans say it is ok for employees to stay off work and receive workers compensation benefits because they feel pain, even though their doctor returns them to work.

 

-          One out of five employed workers say they have been aware of fraud in their workplace.

 

The FBI reports that the total cost of insurance fraud (non-health insurance) is estimated to be more than $40 billion per year (yes that is billion with a “b”). Additional conservative estimates for insurance fraud including health insurance come out to be roughly $80 billion. These costs of fraud are passed on to all of us in higher premiums, service fees and costs of goods. Insurance fraud is seen as a “low risk – high reward” crime by its perpetrators, resulting in rising claims year over year. The Colorado AG office has seen an increase of 24% in referrals over the past year.

 

Don’t be like the reported two-of-five people who are “not very likely” or “not likely at all” to report someone who defrauded an insurer (Coalition against Insurance Fraud). Help reduce this rising cost to all Americans by reporting suspected fraud to the state or local authorities, insurers or consumer watch agencies. Additionally clients of StaffScapes should report any suspected fraud or other concerns to their representative as soon as possible.

 

 Included below are some additional resources regarding insurance fraud:

Colorado Attorney General website

Additional statistics from the Coalition against Insurance Fraud

What insurance fraud is and how to report it, from NAIC

Thursday, 19 June 2014 16:06

New Tool for Calculating Overtime Pay

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 The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released its latest Advisorto help employers and workers understand and calculate overtime pay.

One of Department’s most asked about employment laws is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA Suite of elaws Advisors help users understand the minimum wage, overtime, and child labor provisions of the Act.  The Overtime Calculator Advisor is the latest addition to the FLSA Suite.  This new Advisor computes the amount of overtime pay due in a sample pay period based on information from the user. 

The Overtime Calculator gathers input from users about certain factors used in determining overtime, including the primary method of paying workers, any additional compensation such as bonuses, commissions, and shift differentials, and information pertaining to hours worked.  The Calculator then totals up straight-time and overtime hours worked during a sample pay period and – based on the user’s inputs – calculates the overtime pay required.  A key feature demonstrates how the calculations were made.  (The Calculator does not attempt to calculate overtime in all situations and actual pay period earnings may differ from the results provided by the Overtime Calculator.)

The Department offers many other elaws Advisors covering a wide range of federal employment laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. To view the Advisors, visit www.dol.gov/elaws.

Sunday, 22 December 2013 00:00

Marijuana in the Workplace

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 I am excited that the New Year is only a week away and I live in COLORADO!  I am also glad I did not go to the doctor in past years and try to persuade them that my old climbing back injury was bad enough that I needed a Medical Marijuana card to help with the lingering pain that I sometimes have (LOL). When January 1st comes around I can just walk down to the local pot shop and give them my money and walk away happy.  Now when I show up to the office in the morning with blood shot eyes it will have an all new meaning in 2014.  I wonder what my employer will do?

As a business owner are you ready for this to happen in your work environment?  Do you have an updated handbook and policy to address what you will do? It's still not too late to make changes to your corporate policy and handbooks. It is up to you how you will set up your drug policy. Are you going to follow state law and allow off-the-job use of marijuana, or will you follow federal rules and restrict any usage?

A couple of things to think about:

How will this affect your product liability or general liability coverage you currently have?

How will this affect your employees’ performance?

How do you detect intoxication?

Check out the Colorado government's website for more information on the new marijuana laws and learn how your business can react. If your company needs assistance on human resource management, contact StaffScapes and we will help you with all your PEO services.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 00:00

StaffScapes Holiday Schedule

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CHRISTMAS

StaffScapes will be closing at noon on Tuesday, December 24th, and closed December 25th in celebration of Christmas.


Please note that all hours must be turned in no later than 10 AM, on Tuesday December 24th for the Friday December 27th pay day.


NEW YEARS

StaffScapes will be closed December 31st in celebration of the New Year.


Please note that ANY hours turned in after 10 AM, on Friday December 27th will NOT be processed for the year 2013.  If hours are not submitted on time, StaffScapes will not guarantee payroll on the normally scheduled dates.  Please be as timely as possible when submitting payroll during the holidays.


Due to year end processing, any payrolls run in 2014 will have to be dated January 2nd or later.


If special arrangements are required, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding the holiday schedule, please contact Shannon in the payroll department at 303-466-7864.

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that contribution limits for 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts will stay the same in 2014. The maximum amount of contributions an employee can make to their 401(k) plan is determined each year by the IRS. "Some pension limitations such as those governing 401(k) plans and IRAs will remain unchanged because the increase in the Consumer Price Index did not meet the statutory thresholds for their adjustment," according to a release from the Internal Revenue Service.

 

For the 2013 and 2014 plan years, employees can contribute up to $17,500 as an elective payroll deduction to their 401(k) plan. In addition, if the employee is age 50 or older, they can contribute an additional ‘catch-up’ contribution of $5,500, resulting in a maximum contribution of $23,000 (if age 50 or older). This limit applies only to the employee’s contribution, and does not include any employer paid matching amounts. Employees wishing to contribute the maximum contribution allowed may find it easiest to break the annual limit into equal amounts per pay period, to ensure that they don’t contribute over the limit.

 

2014’s 401(k) limit of $17,500 applies to both Traditional and ROTH 401(k) plans. In a Traditional 401(k) plan, employees make tax-deductible (pre-tax) contributions. These contributions grow without being taxed on dividends or earnings until after the money is withdrawn for the employee’s retirement account. As those funds are withdrawn, they are then taxed at the employee’s income tax rate. In a ROTH 401(k) plan, employees make contributions with after-tax dollars. These contributions grow without being taxed and can be withdrawn at retirement without being taxed. The decision for which 401(k) plan to participate in is up to the employee – pay taxes up front with a ROTH 401(k) or at retirement with a Traditional 401(k).

 

StaffScapes provides and manages a 401(k) retirement plan for its PEO clients. Employers can participate in the traditional 401(k) plan as well as the ROTH 401(k) plan. Please call us to see how we can benefit your employee’s futures with our retirement plans!

There are some major changes coming to the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit starting next year. A change to the maximum amount of the credit will definitely benefit small business, but there are a couple other changes that may make it difficult to claim the credit. The credit amount will increase to 50% for small business and 35% for tax-exempt business. In order to claim the credit starting in 2014, businesses must offer a health plan that has been procured through the SHOP Exchange.  The SHOP Exchange is the government’s Small Business Health Options Program. The IRS has been very direct explaining that “the credit is available only if you get coverage through the SHOP Marketplace.  Also changing in 2014, businesses are only able to claim the credit for two-consecutive taxable years.  The phase-out calculations will remain in effect with some cost-of-living adjustments to the average annual wage amounts.  Additional information about the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit can be found at the IRS website, or you can contact StaffScapes to discuss further.

The Consumer Price Index for Denver Boulder Greeley has increased by 2.8%, which means a new minimum wage rate for 2014. The minimum wage rule enacted in 2006 to the Colorado Constitution requires the state's minimum wage rate to be adjusted each year for inflation. The inflation adjustment is based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the Denver-Boulder-Greeley combined area. This adjustment is based on the difference between the CPI-U from the first half of the prior year and the first half of the current year. This adjustment will increase the 2014 minimum wage rate to an estimated $8.00 per hour, effective January 1, 2014. 

The above quoted rate increase is an estimate based off of the CPI change. The state should officially announce the rate increase sometime late November or early December. StaffScapes will keep you updated once the state announces any additional details.

Tuesday, 06 August 2013 00:00

Workers Compensation: What to Do, Where to Go

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If someone is injured on the job, what are you, the employer, required to do? Do you know where the necessary forms and procedural information are located at your workplace? Do your employees know where to go to get treatment for a work-related injury or illness?

Every employee and manager should be able to answer ‘yes’ to these questions. If you don’t know the answer, we’re here to help! Some important things to remember about reporting injuries or illnesses include reporting every incident – even if the employee decides not to seek treatment – and submitting every report to StaffScapes immediately. This will ensure you are staying compliant with workers compensation laws and avoiding costly fees for delayed reporting.

Managers should make sure all employees know where their nearest Concentra location is. All work sites should have a Concentra map with the employment law posters and should keep them in a common area for employees to view at any time. Employees should also know how important it is to report every incident, regardless of how minor they may seem.

The “Supervisor Report of Injury” can be found here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

The Department of Treasury announced on June 2, 2013, its intention to delay information reporting requirements by employers as well as delaying the employer mandate provision.  As proposed, the delay would only apply to 2014.  The Treasury indicates that it will issue official guidance some time “this summer”, as to what the one-year delay will mean. 

Based on the yesterday’s notice, it is expected that the guidance will no longer require employers to comply with the employer mandate for 2014.  This means that an employer would not have to change eligibility requirements, meet minimum value requirements, or affordability requirements.  Further guidance on these issues is expected to be addressed in the official Treasury guidance. 

The Treasury announced its intention regarding the delay in a letter on their website stating:
“The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin.”  …

“We recognize that this transition relief will make it impractical to determine which employers owe shared responsibility payments (under section 4980H) for 2014.  Accordingly, we are extending this transition relief to the employer shared responsibility payments.  These payments will not apply for 2014.  Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015.”

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