Sep 112014
 

Are employees in your organization saving enough for their retirement? Someday, each of us would like to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor. In general, Americans are not saving enough for that “Someday” when they will retire. Most don’t have pensions and must depend on Social Security for most of their income.

Social Security offers a my Social Security account to help people prepare for and manage their “Someday.”

With a my Social Security account you can:

  • Get your online Social Security Statement;
  • Verify your lifetime earnings;
  • See estimates of your future benefits;
  • Manage your benefits; and so much more.

Ten-thousand people reach retirement age daily and many are unprepared. Social Security encourages you and your employees to plan now by opening a personal my Social Security account at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Opening a my Social Security account online is quick, safe, free, and easy. Please encourage every person in your organization, and those you come in contact with, to open his or her own personal my Social Security account at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

 Posted by at 15:19
Dec 122013
 

Portland’s Protected Sick Time Ordinance mandates the provision of up to 40 hours of sick leave per year to all employees of at least 90 days and who have worked at least 240 hours in a year within Portland city limits.

Employers with 6 or more employees must provide at least one hour of paid Sick Time for every 30 hours of work performed by the employee within the city.  Employers with 5 or fewer employees must provide a minimum of one hour of unpaid sick time for every 30 hours of work performed within the city.

Employers with existing Sick Leave or PTO policies that meet or exceed the requirements of the Ordinance are deemed in compliance.

Employees may use their sick leave to attend to medical care for themselves or their family members, closure of school or child care provider, domestic violence cases, and for other health reasons.

To be eligible, employees must have worked 240 hours in a year within the City. If a person changes employers or is separated from their employer for more than 6 months, then he/she will need to reestablish eligibility.  Employees may not use Sick Leave during the first 90 days of their employment, though they accrue Sick Leave from the first day of employment in the City.

Employers may require an Employee to provide reasonable notice of an absence for Sick Leave. This means abiding by the Employer’s notification policy.  If there is no such policy in place, it should be implemented prior to the effective date of the Ordinance.

When an employee uses Sick Leave more than 3 consecutive days or the Employer suspects a pattern of abuse of the Sick Leave ordinance, the Employer may request documentation that the Sick Leave is being used for a qualifying absence.  If the employee fails to provide the required documentation, the Employer may deny the use of Sick Time for the absence taken until the Employee provides the documentation.

Employers must provide employees with written notice of their entitlement to Sick Time, conditions for its use, and instructions on how to file a complaint.

Employers must notify each Employee, at least quarterly, of the amount of accrued and unused Sick Time available for use by the Employee.

In addition, employers with employees working any time in Portland must display this poster along with the other required labor posters.  For more details, refer to the final administrative rules provided by the City of Portland.

If you would like Time 4 Payroll to help track Portland Sick Leave accruals, let us know.  A small fee will apply.

 Posted by at 16:29
Oct 212013
 


The Oregon Department of Consumer Services just announced that the pure premium rate for Workers Compensation insurance for 2014 will decrease by an average of 7.6 percent compared to 2013. Pure premiums are the base rates, before insurer costs are added. The impact on your company’s rate depends on a variety of factors, including industry and individual claim records. New and renewal policies effective in 2014 will reflect this change.

 Posted by at 09:54
Sep 232013
 

Time 4 Payroll would like to remind all employers in Oregon that, although you are required to be covered under Workers Compensation Insurance, the ORWBF that you see in payroll reports and paystubs is NOT workers compensation insurance.  ORWBF is simply a payroll tax that is applied to all employees that are required to be covered under workers comp insurance, but is not in fact the actual workers compensation insurance.

If you are a business owner with employees (the owners of the business are usually exempt) and are not sure if you have workers comp insurance, please contact your insurance broker.  If you do not have an insurance broker or agent, contact us and we will refer you to a good, qualified broker.

Washington businesses with employees are covered under state workers comp — Washington Labor & Industry (L&I) — and do not need to purchase a private workers comp insurance policy.

 Posted by at 09:42
May 202013
 

Recently, a client asked us if HR documentation can be scanned and originals shredded.  Since we at Time 4 Payroll like to do our part by being as paperless as possible, we thought this was a great question.

Not finding any rules on the IRS, OR BOLI and WA L&I websites, we called BOLI and L&I and were told that the law is “silent” on this issue.  The law requires that employers keep records, but does not specify how those records are to be kept.  Our contact at OR BOLI told us that keeping digital-only files would not likely cause a compliance issue, but may be problematic if there was ever some litigation.  In that situation, you may have to explain why you destroyed original documentation.

That leaves employers to decide what level of risk they are willing to take.  At Time 4 Payroll, security of data is crucial, so we will continue our practice of keeping most data in a secure, digital format.  Nevertheless, keeping a hard copy of certain employee records in a locked filing cabinet might not be a bad idea.

Apr 132013
 

Traditionally, employers offered separate paid time off benefits to employees, such as paid vacation, sick leave and personal days.  In recent years, however, many companies have moved to a more flexible Paid Time Off or “PTO” benefit that incorporates all policies into one all-inclusive plan.

There are different opinions on whether employers benefit from offering PTO instead of the traditional plans.  If you are trying to design your future policy, here are some advantages and disadvantages of offering a combined PTO plan:

Advantages of a PTO Policy

  • Employees do not have an incentive to lie about being sick or having a doctor’s appointment in order to use all of their annual sick days.  This results in more transparency in the employee/employer relationship.
  • Research consistently illustrates that incorporating a PTO policy will result in employees taking more vacation time and fewer sick days.  Employers benefit in two ways:  1) Employers typically receive more notice about scheduled vacations, affording more time to plan for adequate coverage; and 2) Employees return to work more refreshed and productive following vacation leave.
  • Employees tend to value the flexibility that PTO provides.
  • Simplified administration, since employers only have to track PTO hours as opposed to separate tracking of vacation, sick, and personal time for each employee.

Disadvantages of a PTO Policy

  • Employees are more likely to consume all of their PTO, whereas they may not have expended all of their sick or personal holidays in the past.
  • Employees may tend to save all of their PTO time for vacations and come to work when they are sick, at times causing illness among other employees.
  • In some states, all earned PTO must be paid out upon separation of employment.  For companies with separate sick leave and vacation policies, state law often mandates that accrued and unused vacation time be paid out upon termination of employment, sparing the employer from compensating the departing employee for unused accrued sick and personal days.

Regardless of which plan you choose, you may want to put incentives in place for your employees to actually take time off, for instance a “use it or lose it” clause, or a cap on accruals so that if time off is not taken, then no more time can be accrued.

Also, keep in mind that these are optional benefits, but once they are in place, the company will have to abide by its own rules.  When an employee leaves, the company will have to pay for any accrued, unused vacation or PTO time.

Source:  HR Support Center

 Posted by at 08:28
Mar 062013
 

The IRS just announced the expansion of its Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program (VCSP).  This program is a sort of amnesty that allows employers who are paying employees as 1099 contractors, who should really be paid as employees per the criteria normally accepted by IRS and state regulators.

The advantage of this program is that an employer can voluntarily reclassify employees at a minimal cost of about one percent of the wages paid for the last year, without interest or penalties, and the IRS will not audit payroll taxes relating to the reclassified workers for prior years.

If you have “contractors” who should really be classified as employees, please check with your accountant to see if this program is for you.  Here is more information.

 Posted by at 17:08
Dec 012012
 
Most businesses need some formal written policies – whether an actual “handbook” or a collection of pages on key topics.  An Employee Handbook is a type of preventive medicine, and can also serve as a good business planning tool.  There are lots of good reasons to have written policies, but here are the “top” seven, in no particular order:
  1. Written policies, consistently enforced, can help avoid legal disputes down the road.  A well drafted and enforced handbook can ward off accusations of favoritism; provide clear guidance on the company’s position against discrimination/retaliation/harassment and provide information on how to report any violations.
  2. A handbook or other written policies are also a good way to communicate information the business is legally obligated to provide anyway.
  3. A handbook will help you and your managerial staff save time.  Formal policies help cut down on answering the same questions over and over again.  For instance:  How much vacation do I get?  Can I enroll my dependents on the health plan?
  4. It is a way to document expectations and obligations of management and staff.
  5. Written policies create uniformity and help prevent disputes.
  6. Spending time thinking about the messages you want the employees to have regarding your business, and distributing those messages can improve leadership, and help keep the business on track with its mission.
  7. A handbook is a way to think through and communicate the company’s disaster readiness plan.  In light of the recent natural disasters, not to mention man-made disasters, this can be extremely important in protecting the company and its employees.

What is a good time to start?  The ideal time is before you hire your first employee.  Failing that, the sooner the better!  Keep in mind that an Employee Handbook is a living document.  You’ll probably want to make policy changes and benefit updates once a year or so.  After each update, you’ll distribute updated copies of the document to each employee and obtain a signed acknowledgement, so any employee claim of not being informed of company policies can easily be refuted.

Don’t know where to start?  We can help.  If you want to do it yourself, we provide a free template to our clients.  If you need hands-on help, we can refer you to an HR consultant to assist you, or even do it all for you.

Let us know how we can help.

 Posted by at 07:32
Sep 112012
 

Be sure you know your state’s rules for delivering a final paycheck when someone leaves your employment.  Not following the rules can put your company at risk of penalties for violating the final paycheck laws, and if a former employee sues you, you could be required to pay for their attorney’s fees as well as court costs.

Here is a brief summary of our most popular states:

Washington

Termination wages are due to the worker on the next regularly scheduled payday regardless of whether the worker quit or was fired.

California

Generally, an employer must issue a final paycheck to an employee immediately if the employee is being fired or laid off. The final paycheck must include all unpaid wages and any unused vacation time. However, an employer must issue a final paycheck to an employee who has resigned not more than 72 hours following the resignation, unless the employee has given 72 hours notice of his or her resignation, in which case the final paycheck must be issued on the date of resignation.

Oregon

If an employee quits with less than 48 hours notice, excluding weekends and holidays, the paycheck is due within five days, excluding weekends and holidays, or on the next regular payday, whichever comes first.
If an employee quits with notice of at least 48 hours, the final check is due on the final day worked, unless the last day falls on a weekend or holiday. In that case, the check is due on the next business day.
If an employee is discharged, the final paycheck is due not later than the end of the next business day.
When an employer and employee mutually agree to terminate the relationship, the check is due by the end of the following business day, as in the case of discharge.
When employment is related to state and county fairs, and employment terminates on weekends or holidays, the check is due by the end of the second business day after the termination.

If you want to know the rules for a state not listed above, just ask us.

 

 Posted by at 11:47
Sep 102012
 

The Internal Revenue Service announced the new HSA contribution limits for 2013.

The HSA contribution limits for 2013 will be:

  • Individuals – $3,250*
  • Families – $6,45o*

*A participant over 55 years of age is allowed to contribute an additional $1,000.

In order to contribute to an HSA, you must have a qualified High Deductible Health Plan, also known as HDHP. The current definition of a qualified HDHP for 2013 (unchanged from 2012) is:

Individuals – High Deductible Health Plan

  • Minimum Deductible – $1,200
  • Maximum Out of Pocket – $5,950

Families – High Deductible Health Plan

  • Minimum Deductible – $2,400
  • Maximum Out of Pocket – $11,900

The Benefits of HSA Contributions

Most health insurance plans are moving to higher deductibles to save costs. If your plan meets the HDHP requirements, you are eligible to contribute to a HSA.

An HSA, is a a tax-favored savings account to help pay for a high deductible.  If you don’t reach the deductible, any money left in your savings account stays in that account and is invested tax deferred.

More specifically, the benefits of a HSA are:

  • Any contributions you make are tax deductible
  • Any withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are never taxed
  • Interest earned in your HSA account with the money not used to pay for health expenses is tax deferred. If those funds go unused until the age of 65, you’re allowed to withdraw them with no additional penalty, similar to a Traditional 401(k)
  • Any money invested in your HSA is yours to keep. It’s not a “use it or lose it” account like a FSA

If you think you may benefit from having a Health Savings Account, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with someone who can help you get started.

 Posted by at 12:44