Post-COVID Tips for Resuming Business Travel

COVID-19 has certainly disrupted business engagements with postponed or canceled business events. However, 75% of business travelers are expected to resume normal or increased levels of travel post-COVID.[1] This is likely due to businesses resuming their new normal and low travel costs.

Here are some post-COVID tips for resuming business travel.

Limiting Business Travel to Essential Business Needs
First and foremost, the main question an employer should ask is: “Is travel necessary?” If the answer is no, then travel should be postponed or canceled depending on the business engagement. If the answer is yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides pre-travel and general travel tips to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Before you travel, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading or prominent at your destination?*
  • Do you live with someone who is designated in a vulnerable population for contracting COVID-19?
  • Are you designated in a vulnerable population for contracting COVID-19?
  • Does your destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers?

If you answer “yes,” to any of these questions, you should reconsider travel. For example, if your destination is Florida, New York, or California, you should reconsider travel.

*NOTE: The CDC provides a map with COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Country

Continuing Health and Safety Protection Practices
If you decide to travel, it is imperative for you to take the necessary step to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. This includes:

  • Wearing a mask in public settings or in any setting where exposed to another person(s) – make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth
  • Practicing physical distancing (at minimum six feet apart)
  • Washing your hands often and/or using hand sanitizer (of at least 60% alcohol)
  • Avoiding exposure to anyone who is or may be sick
  • Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth

Utilizing Loyalty Programs and Company Discount Services
One major change that is likely to occur is employers receiving requests for travel reimbursements or financial aid for business travel. To help combat these requests and alleviate the costs of business travel, investing in loyalty programs or company discount services could assist employees who need to travel for business. Car rental rewards and discount programs, airline miles and loyalty programs, hotel and hospitality loyalty and discount programs, and other relevant discounts, loyalty, or reward programs for business travel are great options to help offset some business travel costs.

If you’re looking for additional ways to assist your employees with resumed business travel, please contact VensureHR. Our benefits team can introduce you to our Vensure Marketplace that includes unique employee benefits, such as Avis Budget Group car rental discount program and ZayZoon for financial management assistance. Whatever your business needs may be, VensureHR has the team, resources, and experience to find effective business solutions for you.

 

[1] Condé Nast Traveler

AMC® Re-opens: Here’s What We Can Learn

AMC® has re-opened more than 100 theaters across the United States just in time to celebrate a century of movies at AMC® and Labor Day weekend. As COVID-19 maintains a worldwide presence, individuals may be hesitant to visit their nearest AMC® location.

AMC® Safety and Health Protocols

AMC® is adamant that it is following all state and federal regulations and has provided the following policies and procedures in an effort to provide peace of mind to all customers.

Safety and Health Policies

  • Like most public-facing businesses, facemasks are required for both AMC® staff and moviegoers. Basing their policies and procedures on World Health Organization guidelines, AMC® provides that “[n]eck gaiters, open-chin bandanas[,] and masks with vents or exhalation valves are not acceptable.” However, facemasks will be available for purchase at theaters for $1, and all facemasks may be removed to enjoy food and drinks during viewing.
  • Physical distancing is being enforced with floor markers and posters placed for friendly reminders.
  • Theaters have reduced auditorium capacities to 40% or less based on municipality guidelines. AMC® has updated its ticketing system to automatically ensure seating is properly spaced to maintain physical distancing within the auditoriums.
  • Ticketing and concierge services offer contactless payment options with credit, debit, or AMC® gift cards all accepted. Cash is still an acceptable form of payment, except at concessions or MacGuffins® Bar.
  • To reduce lines and expedite services, AMC® has temporarily condensed its menus to simple selections, such as popcorn, hot dogs, candy, nachos, and drinks. Condiments, lids, napkins, and straws have been removed to deter touch points, but are available upon request. Refills are also temporarily unavailable.
  • Ensuring staff health and safety, AMC® is conducting daily health screenings (i.e., temperature screening before shifts), frequent hand washing, and health self-checks (i.e., if someone shows symptoms, they are required to self-quarantine until symptom-free for at least 72-hours).

 

Cleaning Procedures

While following state, municipal, and other recommended health and safety guidelines, AMC® has also implemented cleaning policies and procedures, including:

  • Electrostatic disinfectant sprays maximizing surface coverage and adequately disinfect surfaces
  • HEPA filter vacuums proven to trap 99.97% airborne particles
  • Upgraded MERV-13 air filters
  • Routine cleaning and disinfecting common areas and frequently touched surfaces (i.e., doors, trays, handrails, counters, etc.)

 

Exclusive Offers and Updates

To welcome its customers back, AMC® has provided exclusive offers, such as:

  • Movies in 2020 at 1920 Prices
  • Classic treats for $5 each
  • Double points for AMC® Stubs members
  • First month of A-List for only $5

 

AMC® has also updated its AMC® Stubs membership benefits, including:

  • Rewards (i.e., birthday rewards, freebies, discounts) that expired while theaters were closed are extended through October 31
  • Premiere memberships are extended by eight months to ensure full 12-month membership benefits are fulfilled
  • Self-service options to re-activate A-List memberships

 

As nonessential businesses are re-opening, now is the time to review employee handbooks, trainings, and OSHA regulations and compliance for state-specific requirements. If you need help updating, reviewing, and ensuring compliance and adequate health and safety standards for your business, contact VensureHR. Our HR specialists can provide you the tools, resources, and support you need to re-open your business successfully.

 

Source: AMC

1099 Employees: Everything Employers Should Know

A 1099 employee, otherwise known as an independent contractor, is self-employed. When an employer enters a contract with a 1099 employee, the 1099 employee is typically responsible for their own hours, tools, taxes, and benefits. Unlike a standard employee (W2 employee), 1099 employees are not tied to a single employer and are required to follow different laws and regulations.

Uber and Lyft, popular ridesharing providers, were recently ordered by a California court to classify their drivers as employees. Both ridesharing powerhouses have stated their intention to appeal the decision. Currently, Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as 1099 employees, which was intentional in the foundation of both ridesharing companies to provide flexibility of work. However, the continued struggle with 1099 employment is the lack of benefits and workers’ compensation. Uber and Lyft have been subjected to various lawsuits regarding lost wages.

Now is the time to carefully review the fundamentals of a 1099 employee vs a W-2 employee, and which one best suits your business’s needs.

Independent Contractor (1099) vs Employee (W-2)

The IRS uses three categories to evaluate 1099 employee vs W2 employee relationships:

  1. Behavioral: This category analyzes who has control (i.e., what and how the 1099 employee does his or her job).
  2. Financial: This category explores how the 1099 employee is paid, expense reimbursement, and buyer of supplies.
  3. Professional Relationship: This category examines benefits, relationship longevity (temporary vs permanent or long-term), and impact the 1099 employee’s work has on integral business operations.

 

1099 Employee Checklist (FAQ Style)

Question: What form(s) do you give a 1099 employee?
Answer: We have created a quick infographic for the forms employers need for a 1099 employee. These forms include a 1099-MISC form, W-9, and a written contract signed by both parties.


Question: What is a 1099 employee rules?
Answer: 1099 employee rules depend on various factors. The main rules may include, but are not limited to (1) state laws, (2) employer and industry,  and/or (3) written contractual obligations. Carefully review these three rules or seek legal advice on employment laws related to 1099 employees.


Question: What is a 1099 employee?
Answer: A 1099 employee is also known as an “independent contractor.” The 1099 employee is essentially self-employed through individual contracts with an employer(s). This allows them to set their own rates and hours, as well as puts taxes, benefits, and tools responsibilities on the 1099 employee rather than the employer.


Question: Do 1099 employees need workers comp?
Answer: Like most laws, workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. Whether a 1099 employee needs workers’ compensation is likely going to be dictated by individual state law. Check with your state’s workers’ compensation laws to see what, if any, coverage is needed for 1099 employees. You may also consult a workers’ comp attorney or a PEO like VensureHR to understand workers’ comp needs for 1099 employees.


Question: How to fill out a 1099 as an employee?
Answer: Like most IRS forms, the 1099 MISC form comes with instructions available both on the form and as a separate document, found on the IRS website.


Question: What are the best payroll prepaid cards for 1099 employees?
Answer: The best of anything is subjective and typically dependent on business needs. There are plenty of options out there and your best option is simply to do your research. Reach out to vendors that align with your business needs and ask questions. If available, ask for a demo of their platform to evaluate user-friendliness, accessibility, and other features you’re interested in.


Question: Can you collect unemployment if you are a 1099 employee?
Answer: Most state programs do not offer unemployment benefits to 1099 employees. However, 1099 employees may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides unemployment assistance for 1099 employees and part-time workers.


Question: Where do I get 1099 forms for my employees?
Answer: 1099-MISC and W-9 forms, and other pertinent forms, can be found on the IRS website.

For more information or if you have additional questions regarding 1099 employees or W-2 employees, please contact VensureHR. Our experienced HR specialists can provide you forms, resources, tools, and industry best practices for your staffing needs.

 

Sources:
Zenefits
SquareUp

The Power of Webinars

Did you know that 6 out of 10 people would rather watch online videos than television?[1] With the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing most businesses to work remote, now is the time for businesses to take advantage of the benefits webinars can bring them. Here are some reasons why you should explore the power of webinars.

Adding Value and Establishing Position as an Expert in Your Industry

Webinars are a great way to raise brand awareness through value-added content (i.e., discussing innovative solutions for common business pain points) and flexing your industry knowledge. When strategizing for a webinar agenda, analyze the common questions or problems your current clients are facing. Explore what’s happening in your industry as it adjusts to the impact of COVID-19, such as addressing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan and Forgiveness, best HR practices for employee management and concerns, and ongoing business-related issues that your business can provide solutions.

For example, VensureHR is a PEO offering a wide range of HR, employee benefits, workers’ compensation, safety and risk management, and payroll services to diverse industries. With the evolving COVID situation, we provided free, informational webinars addressing client questions we received. We invited speakers from our division partners and ensured to send follow-up emails after each webinar answering questions that were not answered during the webinar or asked post-webinar. Both clients and prospects were invited to participate. We also recorded our webinars, and both sent the recorded webinar and downloadable slides to attendees, as well as posted them to our Webinars page on our website.

A Sales Approach Without the Hard Sell

While your main incentive for hosting a webinar may be simply to build brand awareness, webinars can also provide an indirect sales pitch without being sales-y. Positioning yourself as an industry expert and thought leader will help sell yourself. The most effective webinar should highlight issues, pacify doubts, and present value-added content. Focusing on the “what” of your service or product provides a more natural, soft-sell approach.

Webinars can also open doors to generating leads. By showcasing your services and/or products and providing relevant information that assists your audience can foster a positive response from your webinar attendees. Whether they want more information, want to learn about what other products and/or services you offer, or were sold on what you had to offer, webinars are a great way to attract new prospects, generate leads, and convert new clients.

Webinars also create opportunities for you to build personal relationships and have real-time conversations. Given the circumstances of today’s pandemic, webinars are the next best thing to in-person or phone calls with prospects.

Expand Audience Reach

Conducting a remote webinar allows you to connect with a wide-ranging audience that you may not otherwise reach without a webinar. Another way webinars can expand audience reach is inviting guests to your webinar, which in most cases, the guest(s) is usually happy to invite their audience to increase attendees. Other businesses’ audiences can bring significant exposure to you and your business resulting in a wider audience, generating new leads, and building brand awareness and your reputation in the process. However, be mindful that leveraging your guest(s)’s audience should not be the primary concern or obligation.

Engage Audience

Webinars are great tools for engaging with your audience as they are live events. If your webinar was an in-person presentation, you might not be able to leverage all the benefits webinars provide businesses. For example, if a viewer shows up late or not at all, they miss your presentation. However, with a webinar, they are able to pause and come back or re-watch as many times as they would like.

Another benefit of engaging the audience during a webinar is through open dialogues. Your audience is allowed to ask questions, share personal experiences, voice opinions, and simply engage in the conversation. As a result of your audience having a voice, they are by default more focused and engaged.

If you’re looking for HR updates or improving your presence in your industry, please contact VensureHR. We have a team of HR, employee benefits, payroll, workers’ compensation, and risk management experts who are able to guide you through available resources, training, and services to better serve your clients and build yourself as a leader in your industry.

 

Sources:
Demio
Paramount Business Coach

 

[1] Google

Here’s What You Need to Know About President Trump’s Recent Legislation

On August 8, 2020, President Trump released three memoranda and an executive order addressing payroll tax, student loans, evictions, and benefits for lost wages.

Here’s what you need to know:

Memorandum 1: Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster

This memorandum instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to “defer the withholding, deposit, and payment” of old-age, survivors, and disability insurance tax liability from September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, subject to (1) employees whose wages or compensation, as applicable, is less than $4,000 (pre-tax), or the equivalent amount of other pay periods, and (2) deferrals shall be provided “without any penalties, interest, additional amount, or addition to the tax.”

The Secretary is also instructed to provide guidance to effectuate this order, as well as explore methods to forgive any deferral.

Some aspects of this legislation are ambiguous and require further clarity pending future legislation, guidance, or executive orders. Here are some topics that may require further clarification:

  • Interpretation and application of the $4,000 qualification
  • Employers must defer for all employees or only eligible employees
  • Employer payment obligations, responsibilities, and liabilities
  • Reporting requirements and any retroactive implications

Read the complete memorandum here.

Memorandum 2: Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Beginning March 20, 2020, the Trump administration alleviated student loan borrowers by temporarily suspending loan payments and reducing interest rates to 0%. This relief was intended to assist students and guardians stabilize their financial situations during the pandemic. The original relief was set to expire on September 30, 2020 but has been extended to December 31, 2020 as many are still facing financial hardships resulting from COVID-19.

Read the complete memorandum here.

Memorandum 3: Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019

The Trump administration has provided up to $44 billion from the Department of Homeland Security’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) to assist eligible claimants with lost wages and supplement State expenditures for allocating such relief.  States are responsible for allocating temporary financial support to individuals whose jobs or wages have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. At minimum, $25 billion of DRF contributions will be directed toward ongoing disaster response and recovery efforts and potential 2020 major disaster costs.

This relief will be available for eligible claimants until DRF amount reaches $25 billion or for weeks of unemployment ending not later than December 6, 2020, whichever occurs first, for which the lost wages assistance program will be terminated.

The memorandum also advises, “To ensure that those affected by a loss in wages due to COVID-19 continue to receive supplemental benefits for weeks of unemployment ending no later than December 27, 2020, States should also identify funds to be spent without a Federal match should the total DRF balance deplete to $25 billion.”

For further details, read the full memorandum here.

Executive Order: Fighting the Spread of COVID-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners

This executive order provides guidance for government entities, such as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Director of the CDC, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to use discretion in providing temporary relief to renters and homeowners where eviction may result in further spread of COVID-19. Where financial assistance is available, federal government entities are to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners facing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19.

Read the complete executive order here.

If you have any questions, please contact VensureHR to speak with one of our HR representatives, or visit our COVID-19 Resources page for continued updates.