Equal Opportunity

140px-US-EEOC-Seal.svgOn this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, with the significant line of “that all men are created equal”.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated in November of 1957, “Today, when our national strength is being tested at every point, this tradition takes on added urgency. Our nation’s economy can ill afford to waste the talent and abilities of any individual because of discrimination against him on the basis of his race, his color, or his creed. Every citizen who helps to make legal and economic equality a living fact is helping America.

November nineteenth, the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, has been designated Equal Opportunity Day. In Lincoln’s words, “it is altogether fitting and proper” that we should use this day to rededicate ourselves to the firm establishment of equal opportunity for all. Let every citizen of the United States, whether an employer or employee, farmer or businessman, join in the effort to abolish all artificial discrimination which hinders the right of each American to advance in accordance with his merits as a human being and his capacity for productive work.”

On July 2, 1965 the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) was established. The EEOC enforces federal laws that make discrimination against a job applicant or an employee, because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information, illegal. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

Just as with any Federal or State Laws, new regulations and rulings are continuously being announced. HR Strategies is here to keep pace with changing governmental requirements that affect your business and help you stay compliant. By relieving your stress of whether or not you are in compliance, we give you the ability to focus on the aspects of your company for which you went into business, while we handle the behind the scenes issue of compliance.

Contact Us Today or Give us a Call at 770-339-0000

 

2015 is Rapidly Approaching

new year 2014 to 2015With the year quickly coming to a close, now is a good time to review and prepare for the New Year ahead in regards to HR. Here is a short list to get you started on what you may need to look at:

  • Review Employee Job Descriptions and update as needed
    • Has there been a change in duties, titles, or most importantly FLSA exempt statuses?
  • Labor Law Posters, both Federal and State
    • Be prepared for any new ones that will need posted.
  • Internal Policies
    • Paid time off – Does your policy start over on 1/1? Do you need to reset balances? Payout employees? Roll over balances? Zero out unused time?
    • Holidays – Determine the dates of your company recognized holidays for the upcoming year.
    • A New Year is the perfect time to roll out any new policies you have been meaning to put in place.
  • Handbooks
    • Make any necessary changes to internal policies in your handbook.
    • Employment laws are continuously changing; make sure all policies in your handbook are relevant to the newest employment laws and any changes that have occurred.
  • Prepare for any tax updates
  • Have a plan of action for W2’s and 1099’s
  • Employee Performance Reviews
  • Leave of Absence & FMLA
    • Make sure your leave of absence policy is complete and as easily understandable by employees as possible.
    • Has your company now grown? Review the FLMA regulations to see if your business now falls under the FMLA provisions.
  • Review FSA & HSA regulations on end of year and carry over limits
  • Review your ACA plans and how they are working for you
  • Review – what worked and didn’t work this year? What can you make better next year?

The most important on the list is the last one; simply reviewing the overall processes and policies. If you are currently outsourcing any or all of your HR functions, evaluate your relationship with them and the services they are providing. Is it time to make a change? If you’re not outsourcing, could you be saving time and money by streamlining processes and overall efficiency by handing some or all of the HR Administrative duties to HR Strategies?

HR Strategies is here to aide you in writing job descriptions; drug screening and verifications; customized employee handbooks; employee policies and procedures; Federal and State required postings; human resource, supervisor, and compliance training; EEOC claims; Employment Practices Liability Insurance; Employee Assistance Program; compliance with IRS, INS, ADA, EEOC, FMLA, FLSA, DOT, COBRA, Title VII, etc.; discipline and termination counseling; investigation of employee/employer and employment complaints; and can help review and audit existing procedures. Our benefits specialists handle all aspects of your employee benefits by seamlessly tracking eligibility dates and notifying employees of eligibility, sending out offers for elections, handling ID cards, assisting with claims management and appeals, reconciling and paying the carriers bill, terminating coverage of termed employees, and administering COBRA as applicable. Our personal attention and commitment to you through our complete payroll team, with your assigned dedicated payroll specialist, handles garnishments, direct deposits, paid leave tracking, management & quarterly reports, complete payroll tax administration, wage and hour compliance, and even your W2s, W4s, and 1099s.

In essence we handle the entire list of what to review and prepare for; plus a whole lot more!

“A Gratuity of 18% Will Be Charged for Parties Over 6”

According to IRS Ruling 2012-18, a tip is defined as “(1) payment must be made free from compulsion; (2) the customer must have the unrestricted right to determine the amount; (3) the payment should not be the subject of negotiation or dictated by employer policy; and (4) generally, the customer has the right to determine who receives the payment.

tip jar gratuity 18The absence of any of these factors indicates that the payment is a service charge and not a “tip”. These service charges are considered restaurant income; if they are given to the employees, they are then considered wages and not tips.

As they are not tips, but rather wages, restaurants may not count the service charges (automatic %’s) toward the FLSA tip credit, even if they distribute the gratuities to the employees. When employees are serving parties not subject to an automatic service charge along with parties that are subject to an automatic service charge at the same time, it becomes a daunting task to determine what wages to pay the servers as they are performing both tipped and non-tipped duties, and only the tipped duties are eligible for the FLSA tip credit.

If the service charges are distributed to the employees, they become wages and therefore increase an employee’s regular rate of pay and must be factored into any overtime calculations. As if that’s not a big enough headache, restaurants must also remember to report service charges as employee’s wages not as tips on their payroll reports. They should also take these into consideration when completing their Employer’s Annual Information of Tip Income and Allocated Tips form. For income tax purposes, the service charge distributed to employees as wages should be reported as wages on the business tax return.

As you can imagine, this ruling has created a large amount of class actions alleging the improper failure to include service charges, aka mandatory gratuities, into the calculation of employee’s regular rate of pay. The easiest way for restaurants to avoid the above headaches and legal action is to simply eliminate the automatic gratuities, but provide suggested tip amounts.

HR Strategies provides their clients with guidance and assistance with these and other tricky HR matters. To learn more, contact us via the web by clicking here or give us a call today at:

770-339-0000

How’s Your Handbook?

Employment doesn’t just mean the hiring, paying, and perhaps the eventual termination of an employee. Employment means everything in the life cycle of an employee with your company.

As an employer you rely on your employees to get the job done, and to get it done well in an efficient and profitable manner. Just as you rely on them, they rely on you to manage them well, and to meet their needs. The relationship between employer and employee is a complex one, with both needing things from the other. On top of that an employer must make sure that they are meeting government guidelines on employment practices. These are just a few of the many complex issues that are a part of Human Resources.

A good employee handbook is an important tool in documenting your company policies, benefit programs, and expectations of the company – including acceptable and inacceptable behaviors and disciplinary measures.  Businesses need to make sure that the policies, procedures, and other material listed within their employee handbooks are not only consistent, but also in line with the many Federal and State rules and regulations regarding employment.

Employment laws are continuously evolving and becoming more complex, and the many agencies that oversee them are continuing to crack down on employers who are in violation of the laws. Not only are the agencies continually cracking down on the employers, litigation is also on the rise by employee’s, and their representing layers, who feel they have been “wronged” by an employer for a myriad of employment law related issues. It is imperative that employers continue to review their employee handbooks for policies that need to be revised or added.

HR Strategies human resources department is here to assist with all of the employee lifecycle. We are able to not only aide you in developing customized employee handbooks, but in developing the employee policies and procedures that go into the handbook. We are proud to act as your partner in the human resource of your business.

Have a Safe & Happy Halloween!

HR Strategies works every day to keep our clients OSHA compliant, because we believe that safety in the workplace is of the utmost importance. Today, we want to remind you that safety should always come first, whether you are at work or at home. Tonight, as kids across America take to the streets to collect candy, HR Strategies wants to remind you to talk to your kids about Halloween Night Safety. FedEx and Safe Kids Worldwide have created an excellent infographic with tips on how to stay safe this Halloween! Enjoy!

fedex_halloween_infographic_v9Click on the info graphic to learn more!

Regulatory Compliance – A Black Cat Crossing Your Business’ Path

It seems as though every year the Federal and State governments are adding more acts, mandates, and laws to the business of employment. As a small to mid-sized business, you probably don’t have the time to keep up with the names of all of the new ones, let alone how they can impact you as an employer. Large corporations have complete in-house HR departments and legal departments that work at not only keeping up with the new regulations, but also keeping their corporations in compliance. Are you that lucky? Often times an employer can feel overwhelmed by the addition of regulations, and a bit apprehensive as if a black cat keeps crossing their path and they are just waiting for the bad luck of fines and work interruption from non-compliance to present itself.

black-catHR Strategies focuses on keeping you compliant by working as your off-site HR department, with the back-up of legal counsel from one of our strategic partners, Jackson Lewis, which is one of the largest law firms specializing in workplace law. HR Strategies team can help you reduce the fear of the black cat of regulatory compliance and your risk and vulnerabilities to Federal, State, Local and Professional Regulatory changes. We keep pace with changing governmental requirements that affect your business and help you stay compliant. By relieving your stress of whether or not the black cat (of regulatory compliance) crossing your path on Halloween, or any time of year, and worrying if you are in compliance, we give you the ability to focus on the aspects of your company for which you went into business, while we handle the behind the scenes issues. Click HERE or on the picture above to learn more about how HR Strategies can help you stay complaint.

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