Hot off the press from OSHA!

October 20, 2016 | Leave a Comment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it has agreed to further delay enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions in its injury and illness tracking rule until Dec. 1, 2016. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requested the delay to allow additional time to consider a motion challenging the new provisions.

The anti-retaliation provisions were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 10, 2016, but were previously delayed until Nov. 1 to allow time for outreach to the regulated community. Under the rule, employers are required to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation; implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that are reasonable and do not deter workers from reporting; and incorporate the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses.

Have questions about OSHA’s provisions or what impact they may have on your business? Email our Loss Control Consultant Tom Scherrer, CSP, CFPS, at toms@cornerstoneinsurancegroup.com. 

 

Posted in Blog, Commercial, Legislative Alerts, OSHA, Risk management, Safety | Tagged  , ,

Should Your Nonprofit Participate in a State Unemployment Insurance Program?

October 13, 2016 | Leave a Comment

All employers are required to pay for state unemployment insurance. But what are the options?

For-profit companies have only one option, and that is to pay a tax into the state unemployment fund. However, nonprofits and governmental agencies can decide to self-insure and not pay the tax.

A 501(c)(3) organization has the option of opting out of its state unemployment insurance program. Instead of paying a set amount of unemployment tax to the state every year regardless of claims, it reimburses the state only for unemployment claims the state actually pays out to its former employees. This can save big money because nonprofits typically pay more in unemployment taxes than the state pays out for the nonprofit’s former employees’ claims. One insurance carrier’s 2015 members saved an average of $21,659.

But there are obvious risks to this approach as well. If your nonprofit entity has significant layoffs, the unemployment costs could far exceed the unemployment tax it would otherwise have had to pay. This risk is greater now than in the past because so many nonprofits are experiencing declining funding. To mitigate these risks, there are several programs a nonprofit entity can take advantage of:  bonded service programs and unemployment savings programs are a few of the most common. These programs include fixed annual costs, budgetary certainty, insurance protection, and claims administration.

If you are a nonprofit or governmental agency with stable employment, this may be a perfect opportunity to reduce costs and improve your cash flow.

To learn more about alternative funding and risk management programs designed uniquely for nonprofits and governmental employers, please contact Steve Kickham with The Cornerstone Insurance Group at stevek@cornerstoneinsurancegroup.com.

 

Posted in Blog, Commercial | Tagged  , ,

A Three-part Series on Overtime Regulations and Compliance

October 06, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Have you taken all the precautions necessary to prepare for the Department of Labor’s regulation changes?

On Dec. 1, 2016, the federal annual salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay will double, increasing to $47,476 from $23,660. In a three-part online series online with the Society for Human Resource Management, our Director of HR Bethany Holliday, PHR, SHRM-CP, describes the resources businesses in St. Louis and nationwide can expect to spend on compliance.

DOL Compliance

Part 1: The Nuts and Bolts of Complying with the New Overtime Regulations

The DOL estimates that it should take businesses about one hour to review data and ensure that their companies are compliant with the new rules. But some employers are taking issue with that estimate.

Bethany argues in this SHRM article that with the time spent on compliance and figuring out how to control overtime costs, the DOL’s one-hour estimate is pretty conservative.

Part 2: Overtime Rules Create Reclassification Conundrum

Middle managers who were properly classified as exempt are largely affected, as many of them fall below the new $47,476 threshold. At Cornerstone, the majority of our groups are focusing on their mid-level management for salary increases.

Bethany says many of these groups rely on these employees to work more than 40 hours and, in most cases, their salary is near enough the new threshold that it makes more financial sense to increase the annual salary and keep the employee as exempt.

But salary is not the only category to consider when determining to keep a worker exempt from overtime. Even if employees meet the revised salary test, they must also meet the “duties test” to be exempt. With the duties test, the Fair Labor Standards Act provides an exemption from minimum wage and overtime pay for employees with executive, administrative and professional roles.

Part 3: Reclassified Workers Have Mixed Reactions to New FLSA Overtime Regulations

The path to compliance is bumpy for employees as well. Some employees may view a change to nonexempt status as a demotion. Others may feel limited if told to cap their hours worked each week.

Managers should let employees know that the company is complying with new regulations and as such, wants to make sure the employee is properly compensated for their time worked.

If you have questions about the DOL’s revised overtime regulations, please contact Bethany Holliday, PHR, SHRM-CP, at bethanyh@cornerstoneinsurancegroup.com

Posted in Blog, Human Resources, Legislative Alerts | Tagged  , ,