The HR Strategist: January 2016
In this issue:
- HRi's Top 5 New Year's Resolutions
- Can I Require My Employees to Use PTO during Inclement Weather?
- Why You Should Rollover Your 401(k) When Changing Jobs
- Benefits of Offering a Wellness Program
- Did You Know?
2015 was a tough year for employers and HR professionals alike; there was the ramp up for Affordable Care Act filing deadlines, implementation of new paid sick leave laws, and the definition of "spouse" changed nationally.
We can all expect 2016 to be an equally tough year with new overtime definitions starting in late summer, and new minimum wage hikes in 14 states. Here at HRi, we picked our top 5 New Year's Resolutions to promote growth and support our employees.
1. Audit and Review Exempt/Non-Exempt Classifications.
Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and similar state laws is a top priority for 2016. We will be closely monitoring any new developments regarding the impending changes and recommending best practices based on our experiences. FLSA claims continue to be one of the most commonly litigated forms of employment lawsuits in the federal court system and we are committed to making sure our employees are correctly classified.
2. Review and Update HR Policies and Procedures.
This includes our Employee Handbook. It's important to be consistently up-to-date with the ever-changing HR landscape. By staying on top of current changes, we can accurately and consistently answer our employees' questions and keep everyone on the same page when it comes to employee benefits and expectations.
3. Address Rising Healthcare Costs
We've seen healthcare costs rise dramatically – High Deductible Health Plans, increased co-pays, expensive prescriptions all affect the financial and emotional wellbeing of our employees. Even though increased costs can be unavoidable, we are constantly looking for new ways in which to lessen these expenses for our employees, including implementation of a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account.
4. Increase Investment in Training & Professional Development Programs
It is beneficial to invest in the skills and training of current employees in order to grow and reach our strategic business goals. Besides training on legally oriented topics such as sexual harassment and discrimination, we will be looking at time management training and providing management oriented coaching and training, such as conflict resolution, collaboration and team building, performance and goal setting. These programs also help improve retention rates and employee engagement.
5. Seek Innovation.
We do not believe in the "this is the way we've always done it" mentality. We continuously look for ways in which to streamline processes, reduce paper, and improve the overall experience for not only new hires, but for all employees. Our HRIS technology plays a large part in this initiative, helping to support the on-demand culture with data immediacy and feedback through dashboards and mobile capabilities.
Winter is officially here and with it comes snow, sleet, freezing rain – and questions about your company's PTO and inclement weather policies.
Unless there is a state law restriction or a written policy to the contrary, as an employer, you may require your employees to use their PTO to cover absences. However, it is important to have an inclement weather policy spelling out the rules that apply to exempt and non-exempt employees when you are open during inclement weather vs. when you close completely.
Non-Exempt Employees: They are paid only for the time they work – even if you close for some of the workweek due to inclement weather.
Exempt Employees: You must pay an exempt employee his or her usual salary if the employee performs any work during the workweek, even if remotely – and even if you choose to close for some of the workweek due to inclement weather.
It is important that employees understand the expectations about working away from work ahead of time, along with employees being required to accurately report all time worked.
A written policy is also an opportunity for you to underscore the importance of your employees' safety when determining closures or whether employees should attempt to report to work in inclement weather. While you do not want to hinder operations or decide to close completely, it is equally distressing to be in a situation where a supervisor requests an employee to come to work in a snowstorm and the employee gets into a car accident.
When you leave a job, you are faced with the decision of what to do with your 401(k). Many people just leave their 401(k) with their former employer, but that may not be the best course of action.
The most important reason to roll over your 401(k) right away when you switch jobs is the possibility of forgetting about your retirement funds through procrastination.
Rolling over your retirement funds instead of ignoring it allows you to keep control of your money. That control can be crucial because some companies do not want to keep a 401(k) with a low balance and may just issue you a check. However, if you procrastinate and do not roll over the funds into another retirement account within 60 days, you'll have to pay a 10% tax penalty and income taxes on the funds.
Additionally, a left-behind 401(k) will keep earning money from your investments, but you won't be able to add to the balance with extra contributions. Opening an IRA or transferring the funds to your new employer's 401(k), if the plan permits, enables you to continue growing your original 401(k) investment. And if your employer doesn't have a 401(k), then the IRA rollover account is the perfect place to move your 401(k) funds.
Many employers are currently offering a wellness benefit program as part of their overall employee benefit package. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in 2015, 80% of organizations provided wellness resources and information, and 70% of organizations offered some type of wellness program to their employees.
When it comes to the overall well-being of your employees, a wellness program is definitely a win-win situation. Not only can the programs potentially reduce healthcare costs by promoting a healthier lifestyle, but they may also improve employee productivity and morale. The types of wellness programs vary by employer, but they typically cover a variety of healthy living issues, such as:
- Smoking cessation
- Exercise/physical fitness
- Weight loss
- Nutritional education
- Health screenings
Most recent additions to the wellness benefits arena include fitness/activity tracking, credit for registering and participating in marathons/races, and company-sponsored seasonal weight-loss challenges.
For employees, wellness benefits not only can help them adopt and live a healthier lifestyle, but can also provide them with potential financial benefits. Currently, employers that offer wellness programs are allowed to offer incentives to employees of up to 30% of the cost of their healthcare premium (up to 50% for smoking cessation). These incentives are usually in the form of premium discounts and/or cash rewards. It is important to note that with certain types of wellness incentives, such as cash bonuses or gift certificates, the value of the reward may be treated as taxable wages.
Chris Rutzebeck, our Benefits Manager, has been with HRi for more than five years and has been a licensed benefits consultant in the Mid-Atlantic Region for the past 12 years. He is a registered producer for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange as well as state exchanges in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Chris works closely with our clients to design and implement comprehensive and compliant benefits packages that are both affordable and competitive in the marketplace.
Here is a little information to get to know Chris better:
- Favorite color: Blue
- Favorite book: recently, The Martian by Andy Weir
- Favorite movie: Good Fellas
- Favorite sports team: Baltimore Ravens/Orioles