Archive for September, 2010

Live Long and Prosper- Corporate Wellness Programs

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Is it possible to have healthy employees and a healthily bottom line?  With ever increasing healthcare insurance costs, reported obesity rate of 1 in 3 adults, and a rapidly aging workforce it would certainly seem that improving the health of employees would be good for the employees and good for the company. In fact the Healthy People 2010 program managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set a goal of:

  • 75% of all employers, regardless of size, providing wide reaching corporate wellness programs
  • 75% of all a company’s staff participating in employer-sponsored corporate wellness programs.

When implementing a corporate program you do need to be careful in how the program is designed and employee participation handled.  Otherwise it can become yet another area for claims of employment discrimination and the violation of employee privacy.    Corporate wellness programs can easily run afoul of the law despite of the best of intentions because multiple federal laws come into play.  The Congressional Research Service recently issued a report on where these programs and federal law intersect. The report discusses the challenges employees face in implementation a program while not discriminating against employees and complying with HIPAA requirements.  The report is available at http://www.disabilityleavelaw.com/uploads/file/CRS%20Wellness%20Report(1).pdf

Two resources on best practices for corporate wellness programs are Infinite Wellness Solution’s Wellness Solutions Guide and the HRM Report on Corporate Wellness.

Join the conversation: do you have a corporate wellness program or plan to implement one in 2011?

Exempt or Non-Exempt, Don’t Teeter-Totter On the Edge of Compliance

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Exempt or non-exempt, or maybe independent contractor- proper classification of employees has many employers teetering on the edge of compliance. With wage and hour law violations already one of the most common causes of employment litigation and regulatory audits the U.S Department of Labor, along with multiple states, has announced new legislation and enforcement guidelines.  It is more important than ever that employers ensure that all employees are correctly classified and paid accurately according to the classification.

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor has proposed  regulations that require employers notify workers of their FLSA rights, and to provide them with information regarding hours worked and methods of wage computation. In addition to the proposed WHD regulations Congress is considering The Fair Playing Field Act of 2010 and The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act of 2010. These acts are expected to pass in 2010 or early 2011.

Beyond the federal regulations, New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho and Illinois require that all new hires be provided with written notice of: their pay rate(s); their overtime pay rate (if they qualify for overtime pay); and their regular payday. New York also requires that every employer that has employees classified as exempt must “ perform a classification analysis, disclose that analysis to the worker, and retain that analysis to give to the WHD enforcement personnel who might request it.”

For additional information on the Fair Labor Standards Act, employee classification and wage payment download the free webinars “Essential of Wage and Hour Law”, Advanced Wage and Hour Law” or “California Wage and Hour Law for Dealerships at www.kpaonline.com/news-and-events/webinars/recorded-webinars.html.   HotlinkHR clients may contact the HR Advice Line for additional assistance in employee classification.

Tire Tracking Enforcement on the Rise

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Are you aware that each and every tire that is sold at your dealership must be accompanied by a completed registration for every customer?

You should be. Though registration of tires has been a federal mandate of The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since the 1970s, enforcement has significantly increased. Penalties for noncompliance can range from $1,000 per tire with a maximum fine of $880,000.

In order to comply, the tire dealer must provide consumers with:

  • A tire registration form to document the brand of tire,
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) tire identification numbers (TIN), and
  • The selling dealer’s name and address, or
  • The dealer must register the tires electronically providing the same information as above.

The registration form must be pre-addressed, mailable, and must be offered free of charge. If you choose to register the tires electronically, you must choose a method that is acceptable to the tire manufacturer.  A number of third-party tire registration vendors exist in the market to help with this requirement.

The objective of this regulation is consumer safety, which aims to remove potentially unsafe tires from the streets in the event of a safety-related tire recall. It is the buyer’s right is to be notified in case there is a problem with the tire that could lead to serious or life-threatening injury if left unaware, and it is your responsibility to ensure they have registered tires, or the information to do so themselves when they leave your facility. Tire registration at the time of purchase is the only realistic way for a manufacturer to notify the buyer of the tire recall.

For more information, check out the rule from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the recent amendments regarding electronic registration.

Predict, Plan, and Prepare – Be Ready for Workplace Emergencies

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The old adage “to fail to plan is to plan to fail” is certainly true when it comes to responding to a workplace disaster. Employers should establish plans to respond to disasters – natural and human-made – as a matter of corporate citizenship. As it is, many employers are required to establish plans by law.

According to OSHA the essential components of any plan are:

  • A preferred method for reporting emergencies
  • An evacuation policy and procedure
  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments
  • Names, titles, and contact information for individuals both within and outside the company for additional information
  • Procedures for employees who remain to shut down or operate equipment to combat the emergency before evacuating
  • Rescue and medical duties for designated employees

To learn more about preparing for a workplace emergency,  check out the recorded webinar from KPA on September 9, 2010, titled, “When Disaster Strikes Will You Be Prepared?” The webinar covers best practices, regulatory requirements, and how to communicate effectively with employees during and after an emergency in order to minimize stress and anxiety.

Join the conversation: Could your employees respond to a natural disaster at your worksite?

Healthcare Reform Intersects with 1099 Forms

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Many changes related to healthcare reform go into effect today, September 23, 2010, with more changes coming throughout 2011 and 2012.  One of the lesser known provisions of healthcare reform is a new requirement regarding submittal of 1099 forms.  Effective January 2012, the provision will require any business that purchases more than $600 worth of goods or services from another business to submit a 1099 tax form to the Internal Revenue Service.

 The Senate considered amending this provision as part of the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, which passed just this week.  Neither amendments by Sens. Mike Johanns, R-Nebraska, and Bill Nelson, D-Florida, were able to achieve enough votes to move forward.

 The IRS is requesting public comment on how it can best implement the new law. Under the proposed regulations, businesses would have to report their payments to goods and other property, and payments to most corporations on Form 1099. Currently, most payments to corporations are currently exempt from this requirement. Purchases with debit cards and credit cards will remain exempt from this requirement because those are already reported by banks and other payment processors, the IRS said in a statement.  The public can submit comments by:

 •E-mail, with “Notice 2010-51″ in the subject line (Notice.Comments@irscounsel.treas.gov)
•Posting a letter to: Internal Revenue Service, CC:PA:LPD:PR ( Notice 2010-51), Room 5203, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044; and
•Hand-delivering a comment letter to CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2010-51), Courier’s Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The deadline for comments is Sept. 29, 2010.

Speed Reading Resumes

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Apparently HR managers are quite the speed readers.  A recent survey by Career Builder indicates that 48 percent of HR managers surveyed say they typically review up to 25 applications for open positions. Thirty-eight percent of HR managers said they spend less than a minute reviewing a resume, and 18 percent said they spend less than 30 seconds. Given how important making the right hire is- the cost of a bad hire is estimated between 1.5 and 3 times the annual salary- and the fact the average cost to hire an employee is $4000 -maybe we all need to slow down and read resumes and applications just a bit more carefully at the beginning.

To learn more about best practice in hiring, the right and wrong questions to ask in an interview, and how to make sure you hire the right person for the right job, check out KPA’s free webinar series.

OSHA’s I2P2 Survey – Coming to your town?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

We learned recently that The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was to launch a survey to gather statistical data to support its injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) rulemaking effort. I2P2 is directed towards employers in an effort to establish such programs to monitor and implement practices that would reduce workplace hazards thus reducing the occurrence of employee injuries and illnesses.

The statistical survey would collect information from 14,202 respondents and also would include 85 case study interviews in non-agricultural workplaces. OSHA said the goal of the survey was to “to develop industry-specific, statistically accurate estimates of the current prevalence of a variety of baseline safety and health practices that may be elements of injury and illness prevention programs among establishments.” As many as 50 site visits would also be conducted to inquire how employers would comply with the I2P2 standards as well as how much it would cost them in time and resources. Stay tuned to the KPA blog to keep up-to-date with the latest on I2P2 and to see if the I2P2 survey is coming to your town soon…

Get Sued- The 5 Most Common Mistakes Employers Make

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Do you want to be sued?  What a silly question, what employer wants to be sued or audited- yet too often employers become involved in employment litigation simply because they failed to follow the most basic HR practices.  In conversations with both plaintiff and defendant employment attorneys and discussions with KPA’s partner attorneys, I have found the following 5 mistakes seem to be the most common reasons for employment litigation.

1) Asking unlawful questions during the interview

2) Responding inappropriately to requests for leave (ADA, FMLA, Work Comp)

3)  Not maintaining up to date policies and handbooks and ensuring all employees are aware of and understand the policies.

4) Poor practices in disciplining employees- inconsistent disciplinary practices, inadequate documentation and incomplete follow up.

5)  Unsound termination decisions-employers have the right to terminate employees but not based on discriminatory criteria.

If you are concerned that your HR practices are not quite up to par in any of these areas join KPA on September 23, 2010 for a free webinar “Your Legal Questions Answered”. In this webinar you will have the opportunity to ask national recognized employment attorney, Jim Hendricks, your most pressing HR questions. Hear what HR legal challenges other dealers are facing. You will learn the answers to these questions and more…

  • Do salaried employees get overtime pay?
  • Can I fire someone when I have never given them a disciplinary warning?
  • Do all employees need a job description?
  • Should employees be able to see the contents of their personnel file?
  • What is reasonable suspicion for a substance abuse test?

You may submit questions in advance using the form on the registration page. You can also ask questions during the webinar. We will not disclose any confidential information, including your name or company information during the Q&A.

Register Today!

Employer Healthcare Reform Update- IRS Ruling on FSA

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

The IRS has issued guidance on statutory changes concerning the use of certain flexible spending arrangements, also known as flexible spending accounts (FSAs), to pay for over-the-counter medicines and drugs.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) established a new uniform standard that applies to FSAs and health reimbursement arrangements,  (HRAs). The standard is effective Jan. 1, 2011.

Under the new standard, the cost of an over-the-counter medicine or drug cannot be reimbursed from the account unless a prescription is obtained. The change does not affect insulin, even if purchased without a prescription, or other health care expenses such as medical devices, eye glasses, contact lenses, co-pays and deductibles.

The standard applies only to purchases made on or after Jan. 1, 2011.   Employees can  submit claims for medicines or drugs purchased without a prescription in 2010 and can still be reimbursed in 2011, if allowed by the employer’s plan.

A similar rule goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2011 for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs).

Additional information can be found at the IRS website.   For details on the current rules see Publication 969.  Details on the changes are found in  Notice 2010-59 and Revenue Ruling 2010-23.

GM Temporarily Suspends DOT Hazardous Material Shipping

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

We learned from our GM dealer clients that they received notifications to temporarily suspend all Hazardous Materials shipments from GM dealers on Thursday, September 2, 2010. The communication also outlined the steps that GM dealers have to take to lift the shipment suspension. In order to be allowed to ship hazmat again, all GM dealers will have to declare completed HAZMAT Certification Training for all hazmat employees by Friday, September 17, 2010.

The regulations that apply to GM’s DOT training requirements are 49 CFR §172.704 “Training requirements”, and 172.702(a) “Applicability and responsibility for training and testing”. The requirements include general awareness/familiarization training, function-specific training, safety training, emergency response, measures to protect employees from exposure to hazardous materials, procedures for handling hazardous materials, in-depth security training, as well as OSHA, EPA, and initial and recurrent training.

Other requirements are items such as recordkeeping of hazmat employees’ training, compliance, and certification that the hazmat employee has been trained and tested.

If you’re concerned whether or not your dealership is meeting these requirements, KPA can help – please call us at (866) 356-1735. Contact us for more information about DOT hazmat training.