impactnews: Private Sector Employers Must Provide Workforce Data to EEOC by 9/30- 08/31/2016

If you have more than 100 employees in your company, you’ve likely received the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) 2016 EEO-1 Survey notification letter.

The EEO-1 report, an annual survey covering employment data by race/ethnicity, gender and job categories, is required for filing if your company meets the following criteria: private employers with 100 or more employees and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more.

Note the annual filing deadline for this form is Friday, September 30 – just under a month away. If your company meets the criteria listed above and has not received the 2016 EEO-1 notification letter, you should contact the EEO-1 Joint Reporting Committee at 1-877-392-4647 (toll-free) or e-mail e1.techassistance@eeoc.gov.

In addition, the EEOC also announced companies will be able to test and upload their data files without needing to email data files or wait for confirmation. The EEOC says this new method of submitting data files will “save time and provide companies with immediate notification of any errors requiring corrections.”

If you have any questions about the EEO Annual Survey or how to comply, please contact an impactHR team member via email at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 410-312-7882.

An Independent Contractor Files for Unemployment. What Now? 

An independent contractor files for unemployment and lists you as an employer. The unemployment office calls to verify employment. You inform the unemployment office that the person in question was an independent contractor and not an employee. You think that the case is closed.

You then, however, receive a call from the Field Investigation and Tax Unit wanting more information. What do you do? Hopefully you’ve been proactively maintaining records that pertain to the independent contractor including records of all documents and communications. This information, detailed below, is important should the status ever come into question:

  • Signed Independent Contractor agreement
  • Statement of Work or details of services provided
  • Invoices submitted by the Contractor
  • Copies of Contractor’s insurance coverage
  • Payment schedules
  • Any additional supporting documentation to show independent status:
    • How are hours worked being scheduled?
    • Ability to work for other clients?
    • How is their work being controlled and directed?

The burden of proof regarding an individual’s classification as an independent contractor is on the company. Proactively reviewing the IRS’s website on independent contractors is a good way to start before you even hire an independent contractor. Some states have their own checklist/definition used to determine independent contractor status, so be sure to check specific state requirements.

If you have any questions about this issue or about how to comply, please contact an impactHR team member via email at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 410-312-7882.

Connecting the Performance with the Management

Performance management – often confused with the performance review – sets the stage for employees’ success within an organization. Performance management, ultimately, is about providing regular and consistent feedback to employees throughout the year. This “real time” feedback should be provided for specific accomplishments, tasks and/or projects as well as check-ins with the employee.

The performance review, while undergoing new changes in several large companies, generally occurs once a year and should be a summary of overall performance for the period.

Performance management, in contrast, could also be labeled “performance planning.” By providing regular and consistent feedback, employees will be able to better plan how they will achieve expected goals and objectives as well as to determine next steps in their careers and work on areas for improvement. This will develop a stronger employee, which, in turn, strengthens the organization’s performance and increases the likelihood of continued success.

Performance planning should start from the first day and continue throughout the employees’ tenure. Ensure the following are covered during all performance planning meetings, but especially during the first meeting:

  • Clear performance expectations
    • Recognition of hard work
    • What does success look like?
    • Link with compensation
  • Improvement
    • Consistent feedback on areas for improvement
    • Developing a plan to improve
  • Providing appropriate learning and development opportunities
  • Recognizing and rewarding top performers
  • Employee input

Performance management should occur on such a frequent basis that it becomes less something the manager or the employee thinks about and more a daily part of their day. Providing the opportunity for greater responsibility and opportunities to advance in one’s field are essential to maintaining happy and productive employees. Performance management is the first step in that direction.

If you have any questions about this issue or how to comply, please contact an impactHR team member via email at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 410-312-7882.

US Department of Labor Announces New Rules to Adjust Civil Penalty Amounts

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) recently announced the release of two final rules that would expand civil monetary penalties for companies that violate DoL regulations. These new rules are part of 2015 legislation, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act, that Congress passed and later enacted into law.

The first rule covers the majority of penalties assessed by DoL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), and Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The second rule is jointly issued between DoL and the Department of Homeland Security to adjust penalties associated with the H-2B temporary guest worker program.

The new civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015. According to the DoL, the rules published under the 2015 law modernizes some penalties whose deterrent effect has been lessened over time due to inflation:

  • OSHA’s maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, increase by 78 percent. The top penalty for serious violations rises from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations increases from $70,000 to $124,709
  • OWCP’s penalty for failure to report termination of payments made under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, has only increased $10 since 1927, and now rises from $110 to $275
  • WHD’s penalty for willful violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act increases from $1,100 to $1,894
  • ERISA penalties for failing to file a Form 5500 increase from $1,100 per day to $2,063 per day

Under the 2015 law, agencies are directed to publish interim final rules by July 1, 2016. The department will accept public comments for 45 days to inform the publication of any final rule.

Avoiding Trouble: Wage and Hour Compliance Tips

Every employer, regardless of company size, must comply with basic employment laws that regulate wage and hour practices. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL), roughly 70% of employers routinely violate wage and hour regulations without realizing it.

As an employer, DoL expects that you know and adhere to wage and hour regulations. Take a look at the following six tips to help you develop a good grasp of the fundamentals of wage and hour regulations:

  • Ensure your employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt to be in compliance with federal and state regulations
  • Familiarize yourself with the overtime exemption criteria and remember that simply because an employee is paid on a salaried basis does not automatically disqualify the employee from entitlement to overtime compensation
  • Secure and maintain signed timesheets from all non-exempt employees verifying their hours worked. Retain such timesheets for at least three years
  • Avoid prorating/reducing an exempt employee’s salary based on the quantity or quality of work performed (e.g., less than a full day), unless such a deduction is specifically permitted under federal law
  • Familiarize yourself with the wage and hour laws that pertain to the states in which you employ personnel
  • Ensure that employees are properly classified as either W-2 employees or 1099 independent contractors in accordance with IRS guidelines

To put this more in perspective, Seyfarth Shaw, a Chicago law firm with a specialty practice in employment, reports the number of wage and hour lawsuits filed in 2014 hit a record high of 8,160 cases followed by a 7.6% increase in cases (8,781) in FY15. With this in mind, you can mitigate your company’s risk through proactive review of your wage and hour practices.

If you need assistance fine tuning your wage and hour practices, please contact an impactHR team member via email at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 410-312-7882.

State News: MA Bans Employers from Asking Job Applicants About Salary History

In a move that could become a trend across the country, Massachusetts earlier this month enacted a law that “bans employers from asking job applicants about their current and previous pay,” according to the ABA Journal. Massachusetts, with this new statute, becomes the first state to prohibit employers to ask job applicants about their salary history before an offer is made. The ABA Journal notes that job applicants can “voluntarily disclose their past salary.” In addition, The New York Times DealBook blog reports the “new law will require hiring managers to state a compensation figure upfront — based on what an applicant’s worth is to the company, rather than on what he or she made in a previous position.” Learn more

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