Vision Payroll

September 25, 2013

Tip of the Week: Deadline Looms for Notice To Employees of Coverage Options

Deadline Looms for Notice To Employees of Coverage Options
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, most employers are required to provide one of two notices to all employees. Guidance was provided to employers by the US Department of Labor (DOL) in Technical Release No. 2013-02, Guidance on the Notice to Employees of Coverage Options under Fair Labor Standards Act §18B and Updated Model Election Notice under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985.

Employers Required to Provide the Notice

Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are subject to the notice requirements. US DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Fact Sheet #14 provides information on who is covered by the FLSA.

All Employees Must Receive Notice

All employees, including part-time employees and employees not eligible to participate, must receive a notice.

Two Model Notices Are Available

The DOL has prepared and made available two model notices, one for employers that offer health insurance to their employees and one for employers that do not offer health insurance to their employees. An employer would only provide one type of notice to all employees, regardless of whether the individual employee is eligible for health insurance.

Deadline is October 1, 2013

Employers must provide the notice on or before October 1, 2013 to all current employees hired before October 1, 2013. Employees hired after September 30, 2013 must be provided the notice at the time of hiring. For 2014, the DOL will consider notices provided within fourteen days of an employee’s start date as provided at the time of hiring.

Multiple Delivery Methods Available

Employers  may hand deliver the notices, mail them by first-class mail, or by e-mail if the requirements of the DOL’s electronic disclosure safe harbor at 29 CFR 2520.104b-1(c) are met.

Contact Vision Payroll for Further Information

Contact Vision Payroll if you have further questions on the notice to employees of coverage options required under the ACA.

October 14, 2011

Question of the Week: Do We Need to Include Bonuses in Overtime Calculations?

Do We Need to Include the Bonus in Overtime Calculations?
Do We Need to Include the Bonus in Overtime Calculations?
This week’s question comes from Sylvia, a payroll manager.

Sylvia asks:

We have employees who worked overtime this past week and received bonuses. Do we need to include bonuses in overtime calculations?

Answer: The bonuses may or may not have to be included in the overtime calculation. Discretionary bonuses are not included in calculating overtime pay, but non-discretionary bonuses are included.

Both the Decision to Pay a Bonus and the Amount of the Bonus Must Be Discretionary

Under 29 USC §207(e)(3)(a), in order for a bonus not to be included:

Both the fact that payment is to be made and the amount of the payment are determined at the sole discretion of the employer at or near the end of the period and not pursuant to any prior contract, agreement, or promise causing the employee to expect such payments regularly.

Regulations Further Clarify the Law

The regulations issued under this section (29 CFR §778.221(b)) expand upon the explanation under the law:

In order for a bonus to qualify for exclusion as a discretionary bonus under [the law stated above] the employer must retain discretion both as to the fact of payment and as to the amount until a time quite close to the end of the period for which the bonus is paid. The sum, if any, to be paid as a bonus is determined by the employer without prior promise or agreement. The employee has no contract right, express or implied, to any amount.

State Laws May Be More Beneficial

State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. Vision Payroll recommends that employers contact a labor law attorney to ensure that their bonus plans will be considered discretionary if they plan to exclude the bonus from the overtime calculation.

September 30, 2011

Question of the Week: What Are the IRS and DOL Doing About Workers Who Receive 1099s?

IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
This week’s question comes from Steve, a small business owner.

Steve asks:

I’ve read about the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) and its application process with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). What are the IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) doing about workers who receive 1099s?

Answer: The IRS and DOL are entering into agreements that include the IRS and DOL as well as several states to share information and coordinate enforcement of current laws and regulations.

Memoranda Signed at Washington Ceremony

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently hosted a ceremony at DOL headquarters in Washington to sign a memorandum of understanding with the IRS that will improve departmental efforts to end the business practice of misclassifying employees in order to avoid providing employment protections. In addition, labor commissioners and other agency leaders representing seven states signed memoranda of understanding with the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and, in some cases, its Employee Benefits Security Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Office of the Solicitor. The signatory states are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah and Washington. Secretary Solis also announced agreements for the WHD to enter into memoranda of understanding with the state labor agencies of Hawaii, Illinois and Montana, as well as with New York’s attorney general.

DOL and IRS Will Share Information with Participating States

The memoranda of understanding will enable the DOL to share information and coordinate law enforcement with the IRS and participating states in order to level the playing field for law-abiding employers and ensure that employees receive the protections to which they are entitled under federal and state law.

Secretary Solis: We’re Standing United to End the Practice of Misclassifying Employees

“We’re here today to sign a series of agreements that together send a coordinated message: We’re standing united to end the practice of misclassifying employees,” said Secretary Solis. “We are taking important steps toward making sure that the American dream is still available for all employees and responsible employers alike.”

Commissioner Shulman: We Will Work Together More Efficiently to Address Worker Misclassification Issues

“This agreement takes the partnership between the IRS and DOL to a new level,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “In this new phase of our relationship, we will work together more efficiently to address worker misclassification issues, and better serve the needs of small businesses and employees.”

Misclassification Can Create Economic Pressure for Law-Abiding Business Owners

Business models that attempt to change, obscure or eliminate the employment relationship are not inherently illegal, unless they are used to evade compliance with federal labor laws — for example, if an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor and subsequently denied rights and benefits to which he or she is entitled under the law. In addition, misclassification can create economic pressure for law-abiding business owners.

Memoranda Arose as Part of the Misclassification Initiative

These memoranda of understanding arose as part of the department’s Misclassification Initiative, which was launched under the auspices of Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force with the goal of preventing, detecting and remedying employee misclassification.

Contact Vision Payroll Today

Contact Vision Payroll if you have further questions on the memoranda of understanding.

July 27, 2011

Tip of the Week: How to Protect Against Wage and Hour Retaliation Claims

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Vision @ 5:36 pm
How to Protect Against Wage and Hour Retaliation Claims
How to Protect Against Wage and Hour Retaliation Claims
Employers must ensure that any adverse employment actions are completely unrelated to claims an employee might make in terms of wage and hour issues. Learn about steps to avoid disastrous wage and hour class actions.

Six Steps You Can Take Today to Minimize Your Company’s Risk

  • Don’t create a situation or reason for an employee to raise a complaint.
  • Ensure that unpaid lunch breaks are at least thirty minutes long.
  • Don’t make improper deductions from exempt employees’ salaries.
  • Self-audit your exempt and non-exempt employees for proper classification.
  • Self-audit your independent contractors to ensure they’re not employees.
  • Provide wage and hour training for all supervisors and managers.

Get More Details on Wage and Hour Retaliation Claims

To learn more details about each of these preventive measures, be sure to listen to How to Protect Against Wage and Hour Retaliation Claims in this month’s HRCast, a recording provided by our team of HR Pros and available exclusively on MyHRSupportCenter.

MyHRSupportCenter Provides Alerts, Best Practices, and HR Tools Every Day

Visit MyHRSupportCenter regularly, not only for our HRCasts, but also to get late-breaking compliance alerts, best practices to implement, and HR tools to use every day. If you haven’t yet signed up and would like a free trial of MyHRSupportCenter, contact Vision Payroll today.

July 11, 2011

Prince George’s County Public Schools Agrees to Pay $4.2 Million in Back Wages

Prince George’s County Public Schools Agrees to Pay $4.2 Million in Back Wages
Prince George’s County Public Schools Agrees to Pay $4.2 Million in Back Wages
The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has obtained an agreement for Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools system (PGCPS) to pay $4,222,146 in back wages due 1,044 workers to resolve violations of the H-1B temporary foreign worker program. Investigators from the department found that PGCPS illegally reduced the wages of the H-1B workers by requiring them to pay fees that the school system was required to pay.

H-1B Visas Are for Temporary Hiring in Certain Specialty Occupations

The H-1B program allows employers to hire foreign professionals in certain specialty occupations to work temporarily in the US. Workers hired under the H-1B program must be paid at least the same wage rates and benefits as those paid to US workers doing the same job in the same area, so that the wages of similarly employed US workers are not adversely affected.

Foreign Workers Have Been Paid Back Wages

“The Labor Department has the responsibility for ensuring that employers who use the H-1B program follow the law and do not place US workers at a disadvantage to H-1B workers,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “We are pleased this investigation has been resolved with workers paid all the back wages to which they are entitled.”

Civil Money Penalties Will Also Be Paid

Due to the willful nature of some of the violations, PGCPS also has agreed to pay $100,000 in civil money penalties and to be debarred for two years from filing new petitions, requests for extensions or requests for permanent residency for foreign workers under any employment-based visa program. Under the statute governing the H-1B program, willful wage violations are subject to a debarment period of at least two years. Violations are willful when an employer knew or acted in reckless disregard for whether its actions were impermissible.

Certain Fees Reduced Workers’ Wages Below Legal Limits

The H-1B visa program requires that employers pay certain fees, including an anti-fraud fee and a filing fee, when they utilize the program. Instead of paying these fees and other costs associated with recruiting H-1B workers and filing their visa petitions, PGCPS required the foreign workers to pay them. As a result, the workers’ earnings were reduced below the amount legally required to be paid. The Wage and Hour Division’s investigation covered fees associated with the H-1B application process from May 2005 to January 2011.

Agreement Subject To Approval

The agreement is subject to approval by an administrative law judge.

July 10, 2011

Farmers Insurance Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million in Back Wages

Farmers Insurance Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million in Back Wages
Farmers Insurance Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million in Back Wages
Los Angeles-based Farmers Insurance Inc. (Farmers) has agreed to pay $1,520,705 in overtime back wages to 3,459 employees following an investigation by the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that disclosed significant and systemic violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime and record-keeping provisions. Violations occurred at 11 customer service call centers located in Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.

Pre-Shift and Post-Shift Work Must Be Compensated

“Failing to properly compensate employees for pre- or post-shift work is a violation of federal law,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that employers abide by the law so that workers are protected against exploitation, and law-abiding employers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage.”

Farmers Did Not Pay for Pre-Shift Work

Through interviews with employees and a review of the company’s timekeeping and payroll systems, investigators found that the company did not account for time employees spent performing pre-shift work activities. Employees routinely performed an average of thirty minutes of unrecorded and uncompensated work — such as turning on work stations, logging into the company phone system and initiating certain software applications necessary to begin their call center duties — per week.

Farmers Agrees to Maintain Future Compliance with FLSA

Because employees’ pre-shift work times were excluded from official time and payroll records, they were not paid for all hours and are owed compensation at time and one-half their regular rates for hours that exceeded forty per week. Farmers Insurance has agreed to pay back wages, as well as to maintain future compliance with the FLSA by properly recording and compensating all hours worked by its employees.

Call Center Employees Across the Country Are Affected

The agreement affects call center employees who worked between Jan. 1, 2009, and May 10, 2010, at Farmers’ HelpPoint facilities in Olathe, Kansas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Lake Mary, Florida; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. It also affects workers employed at a former location in Overland Park, Kansas, between Jan. 1, 2009, and Jan. 10, 2010. Additionally, it affects employees who worked between Jan. 1, 2009, and Feb. 1, 2010, at Farmers’ ServicePoint and commercial facilities in Austin, Texas; a ServicePoint facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan; a ServicePoint facility in Olathe, Kansas; and ServicePoint and commercial facilities in Hillsboro, Oregon.

FLSA Also Requires Overtime for Hours Worked in Excess of 40

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid for pre-shift and post-shift job duties, and for attending required meetings. Employees must be paid time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond forty per week. Employers must pay at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, and maintain accurate time and payroll records.

October 6, 2010

Tip of the Week: The Implications of Wage and Hour Audits for Employers

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Vision @ 6:15 pm

Recently, the Wage & Hour Division (WHD) of the US Department of Labor (DOL) has increased its enforcement and audit efforts with employers. The WHD wants to ensure workers are fairly paid and employers uphold the law. Unfortunately, businesses that have violated wage and hour laws can face heavy fines and penalties. Many employers often assume a low likelihood of being audited, but they can be targeted, and the likelihood of an audit has been increasing.

The Implications of Wage and Hour Audits for Employers
The Implications of Wage and Hour Audits for Employers
Audit Selection Can Be Announced or Unannounced

Find out what makes your business more likely to be audited and what the impact is for targeted industries.

Non-Compliant Businesses Are at a Higher Risk

Certain employers may be high on the DOL watch list, especially for repeat violations. Learn which violations can be especially troublesome.

Be Ready if a DOL Representative Visits Your Business to Conduct an Audit

Know the appropriate actions to take if the DOL visits your workplace for a wage and hour audit.

Find Out More About the Implications of Wage and Hour Audits for Employers Now

For more information on each of these topics, be sure to read the featured article by the HR pros at MyHRSupportCenter, The Implications of Wage and Hour Audits for Employers. If you’re not yet signed up or would like a free trial of MyHRSupportCenter, contact Vision Payroll today.

March 31, 2010

Tip of the Week: 10 Ways to Avoid Wage and Hour Pitfalls

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — Vision @ 10:59 am

Employers must constantly navigate a minefield of state and federal wage and hour laws. Effectively avoiding common employer pitfalls could save your business thousands of dollars every year. How do you determine which workers should be classified as independent contractors and which as employees? What is the difference between exempt and non-exempt? How should employers deal with employees who work without supervisory authorization?

You’ll learn the answers to these questions and much more, including the potential impact of the multi-agency Misclassification Initiative from the 10 Ways to Avoid Wage and Hour Pitfalls in this month’s HRCast, a recording provided by our team of HR Pros and available exclusively on MyHRSupportCenter. These tips include information on the impact of state laws on wage and hour pitfalls as well as additional valuable information.

Visit MyHRSupportCenter regularly, not only for our HRCasts, but also to get late-breaking compliance alerts, best practices to implement, and HR tools to use every day. If you’re not yet signed up or would like a free trial of MyHRSupportCenter, contact Vision Payroll today.

August 4, 2009

QuikTrip Will Pay Almost $750,000 in Overtime Back Wages

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that QuikTrip Corp. (QuikTrip) will pay $747,729 in overtime back wages for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The 3,819 current and former employees affected will receive an average of $196 each.

In announcing the settlement Secretary of Labor Hilda L Solis said, “I am pleased that this case has resulted in almost $750,000 in back wages being paid to thousands of workers across nine states. I am committed to ensuring that every worker is paid the full wages he or she is due, and that those who work overtime receive the compensation to which they are legally entitled.”

Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay. QuikTrip erred by failing to include the amount of non-discretionary bonuses when calculating the regular rate of pay to be used in the overtime premium calculation to employees in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Vision Payroll strongly recommends consulting a qualified labor law attorney to ensure that overtime pay is properly calculated.

August 3, 2009

Partners HealthCare Systems, Inc. Agrees to Pay $2.7 Million in Back Wages

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a settlement of a lawsuit it filed against Partners HealthCare Systems, Inc. (Partners) and its affiliates alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

According to George Rioux, director of the Boston District Office of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), “The problem was that employees were working for more than one Partners-affiliated hospital or health care facility during a single workweek, but their hours worked during those workweeks were not being combined to determine if overtime was due.”

Management of Partners became aware of the problem and contacted the WHD, which followed with an investigation. The total back wages to be paid for the period from January 1, 2007 to March 21, 2009 is $2,756,514.

The consent judgment was agreed to by both parties. In addition to Partners, the defendants were The Brigham and Women’s Hospital Inc., Faulkner Hospital Inc., The General Hospital Corp. (Massachusetts General Hospital), The McLean Hospital Corp., North Shore Medical Center Inc., North Shore Physicians Group Inc., Newton-Wellesley Hospital, The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Corp., Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands, Shaughnessy-Kaplan Rehabilitation Hospital Inc., Partners Home Care Inc., Partners Private Care Inc., FRC Inc. and Partners Community Healthcare Inc.

Vision Payroll strongly recommends consulting a qualified labor law attorney to ensure that overtime pay is properly calculated.

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