Asked and Answered: What is Co-employment?

With so many different kinds of human resources outsourcing (HRO) companies, it can be confusing and a bit intimidating to choose a partner in the PEO, HRO, or co-employment space. If you decide to work with a professional employer organization (PEO) like VensureHR (which you should) it’s important to understand its operating model.

This model is called co-employment – and don’t let the name take you down the wrong path. We’ll be thorough when answering the question, “What is co-employment?” – and we’ll even break down the benefits and risks of co-employment.

Understanding Co-employment

According to NAPEO, co-employment refers to a contractual client service agreement (CSA) that allocates certain responsibilities between the PEO and the client company. This means that the PEO with assume certain employer rights, responsibilities, and risks.

This does not mean the PEO is taking any form of ownership of the client company. Some responsibilities a PEO may take over include:

With so many areas where the PEO offers assistance, each co-employment agreement is different and depends on the needs of the client organization.

In a co-employment agreement, the client company still reserves its rights when making any final decisions regarding the business., such as:

Benefits of Co-employment

Right now, you’re probably still thinking, “What is co-employment?” or “What does co-employment do for me?” There are many benefits to the co-employment that can have a positive impact on the business and its employees.

To start, a PEO operating under the co-employment model will provide your business and your employees enterprise-level benefits, meaning your business gets benefit options typically only available for large-scale, enterprises with hundreds of employees, at incredibly low rates that would otherwise be unattainable without the partnership.

However, great benefits just scratch the surface in terms of what you can get out of a co-employment partnership with a PEO.

Most PEOs will assume the responsibility of your workforce’s time management – more times than not, just tracking each employee’s clock-in/out.  PEOs will help track and manage things like PTO, sick days, and vacations. Agreeing to a co-employment partnership with VensureHR means you won’t need to pay for these additional services, which you should already be given access to anyway.

Through the co-employment partnership with your PEO, you can also receive some incredible, customizable retirement plan options for you and your employees.

If you didn’t think offering your employees a 401(k) option is important, it is – very important – especially for recruiting and retaining top talent. In fact, that according to MetLife’s 2021 U.S. Employee Benefit Trends study, 78% of employees say some form of a retirement plan is a must. Your co-employment partner can help you navigate through the confusing jargon that comes with 401(k) planning and even offer expertise as to which plans make the most sense for the client company.

Another perk to co-employment – which seems to be the big winner – is the PEO will take care of any and all tax-related items. Because of the co-employment model that PEOs operate on, they will help with:

  • Calculate and pay required payroll tax liability in relation to the client.
  • Optimize tax bills to be sure all relevant deductions that are allowed in the country of establishment are made.
  • SUTA compliance
  • SUI tax
  • 1099
  • FUTA

Now, these are just a few ways a PEO like VensureHR can help in a co-employment agreement, but they’re some of the most important HR aspects that you simply don’t have the time for.

What are the risks of co-employment?

This section is going to be relatively short and sweet. Why? Because there are no real risks to co-employment with a PEO.

As mentioned previously, the business owner doesn’t relinquish any ownership of their business whatsoever. The owner of the client company still calls all of the shots.

While there aren’t risks to highlight, we can still offer advice: Pick a PEO to partner with that best suits the needs of your business. Not all PEOs are the same and you may not pair well with many of them. Be sure to find a PEO partner that is transparent, provides intuitive technology, and provides the necessary services to help your business grow quickly (hint hint: VensureHR).

Co-employment Myths Debunked

There are many assumptions about co-employment that simply aren’t true. And when you find yourself asking – What is co-employment? – you don’t want to be bombarded with misinformation. 

Here are a few debunked myths about co-employment:

  1. Co-employment Replaces My HR staff
    If you enter a co-employment agreement, your HR staff isn’t going anywhere. All a PEO would do is help enhance your current HR staff and provide expertise when developing new HR programs. The PEO often brings seasoned, experienced subject matter experts to the table to further improve upon the well-oiled machine you already have.
  2. Using Freelancers Puts you at Risk
    Utilizing independent contractors (ICs) like freelancers can be great for your business. If they’re properly classified, then they present no risk. If they are properly classified, it shows they have no employer or co-employer. A freelance “employee” acts as its own business.
  3. Co-employers and Joint Employers are the Same Thing
    In a joint employment agreement, both the business and the HR company have joint control and supervise the duties and daily processes if the employees.
  4. Co-employment is Bad
    Co-employment can be great for your business and has a number of invaluable benefits that allows you to get back to running your business. With only 40% of small businesses turning a profit annually, the remaining 60% are either breaking even or losing money. If your business could join the 40% by simply partnering with a PEO like VensureHR, how could that be bad?

Don’t let misinformation trip you up when it comes to getting answers to the question, “What is co-employment?”

If you want to learn more about how co-employment and a PEO can help your, schedule a free HR diagnostic with an HR specialist today.


Small Business Trends: Startup Statistics for Small Business (2019)

8 Trends to Shape the Workplace in 2021

Young female employee hosting video conference with team

COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted businesses and individuals all over the world. From economic and finances, to social and well-being, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how business operate, as well as priorities for the years to come. Here are eight trends that will shape the workplace in 2021 and years to follow.

1) Employee Experience to Employee Life Experience

COVID-19 has provided business owners insight into employees’ personal lives, exposing the unique impact the pandemic has had on them personally and professionally. As a result, many business owners are recognizing that their employees are seeking support in their personal lives, and doing so may offer them improved personal and professional situations, as well as increase productivity and engagement.

Employers who support employees with life experiences reported improved employee mental health (23%), physical health (17%), and performance (21%). Prioritizing employee mental health, financial wellness, and life experiences will allow employers to reap the benefits of healthier, happier employees.

2) Employer to Take Stance on Current Affairs

As social and political issues have become more predominant in media and involved community members, more employees are seeking employment with organizations that align with their personal values. In fact, 2020 research reported 74% of employees expect their employer to be actively involved in cultural affairs for which many industry experts explain that taking a stance and/or showing support is likely to become the “new normal” for workplace culture.

Additionally, businesses have seen the impact their support has provided employees with a recent survey showing that 60% of employees were more engaged when their employer provided support regarding recent social issues.

3) Gender Pay Gap Continues to Rise

Some organizations have implemented, and some are planning to implement, a hybrid workforce where employees may work from the office headquarters or from an alternative remote location (i.e., home, coffeeshop, co-working space).

Many chief human resource officers have reported employee surveys revealing men are more likely to return to the office setting than women. A recent survey provided that 64% of managers believe in-office employees perform better than remote workers and are more likely to give in-office workers a higher compensatory promotion than remote workers. Conversely, research from both pre-pandemic and current pandemic times have proven the opposite – full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to perform higher than full-time in-office employees.

Given the recent research, if employers are more likely to act on bias towards in-office workers and men are more likely to return to the office, the prediction is that men will be favored for higher compensation raises than females. This will result in an increase in the gender pay gap when COVID-19 has already had a disproportionate impact on women.

4) Employee Monitoring Limitations

As a direct result of COVID-19, one out of four businesses invested in new technology to track and monitor employees. Unfortunately, many business owners are not versed in employee privacy laws and regulations regarding technology. Recent research reported 50% of employees trust their employer with their data and 44% do not receive data collection information from their employer.

New local and state regulations will likely limit what employee information employers are permitted to track. Businesses should prepare to adapt to these new regulations that will likely restrict their employee monitoring capabilities across their organization.

5) Transitioning from Location to Time Flexibility

Working remotely may have become the “new normal” for business operations, but the next challenge is addressing the specific business hours employees will be required to work. Recent studies have shown that employers who provide flexibility on location, schedule, and hours worked report 55% of their workforce as high performers. Industry experts predict employers shifting from monitoring hours worked to measuring employee productivity.

6) Prioritizing Mental Health

It likely comes as no surprise that the pandemic’s physical distancing and deterrence of social gatherings has impacted individuals’ mental health. As a result, a separate mental health pandemic emerged. In response, many employers have fought diligently to prioritize mental health through additional benefits to support employees. Pre-pandemic research showed that 45% of increased budgets for employee well-being were to mental and emotional wellness programs.

In March 2020, 68% of businesses implemented at least one wellness benefit to support employees during COVID-19. Industry experts predict that 2021 will push employers to continue destigmatizing mental health via expanded benefit offerings and “mental health days” to foster mental health awareness across organizations.

7) Employee Leasing to Temporarily Address Skills Gap

Recent analysis shows 33% more skills on job ads in 2020 compared to 2017, which infers that businesses are struggling to reskill or upskill existing employees to meet the organization’s evolving needs. Businesses have turned to employee leasing to temporarily address the skills gap, meaning they are investing in employees with those skills when the demand is present. Other businesses have opted to invest in gig workers or independent contractors or seek partnerships with third-party organizations to “rent” employees for a limited time to fulfill skills gap.

8) Remote Work Becomes “New Normal” for Talent Acquisition

Throughout the years, states and cities have provided businesses incentives to relocate to their jurisdictions based on the belief that relocating businesses will bring jobs with them. However, remote and hybrid work will likely change this approach where an employee’s state or city of residence will not be as impactful to the employer location. States and cities are predicted to expand tax-related incentives for employees to relocate to their jurisdictions. For example, some jurisdictions are offering remote employees a relocation fund to move to the employer’s state or city.

Any change to the way businesses operate can be difficult to navigate on your own. Be proactive in aligning yourself with these 2021 trends by reaching out to VensureHR. Our team of human resource experts can provide you the expertise, tools, resources, and support to ensure you maintain your business’s success in 2021 and beyond.

Source:
Harvard Business Review


Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey

Harvard Business Review

Common Tax Errors and Tips for Employers

Young accountant reviewing business finances

Tax season is typically a time of the year many individuals and businesses dread as it requires tedious review of documentation and ensuring accuracy to avoid penalties and fees. To help prevent common tax mistakes, here are some of the common tax errors employer make and tips to streamline tax season.

Common Tax Mistakes to Avoid

Misclassifying Workers

One of the most common tax mistakes business owners make is misclassifying their workers. Understanding the difference between 1099 employees and W-2 employees is imperative for business owners to ensure each worker’s classification is accurate.

A misclassified worker can result in liability for employee-related costs. Fines and backpay costs may include a $50 fine for each W-2 not filed, 1.5% of employee’s wages plus interest, 40% of employee’s Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax contributions, and the full employer-matching FICA contributions. If the Department of Labor believes the employee misclassification was intentional, additional fees include 20% of all employee wages paid, all employee and employer FICA contributions, up to $1,000 criminal penalty fee for each misclassified employee, and up to one year in prison.

Misclassification repercussions do not end at paying fines or facing criminal penalties, but may also entail repaying benefits owed to each misclassified employee, such as retirement savings contributions, healthcare coverage, stock choices, overtime, paid time off, and break periods.

Insufficient Payroll Records

The IRS recommends business owners to maintain payroll records for four years minimum, which may include:

  • Time sheets
  • Expenses accounts
  • Copies of W-2 forms
  • Job evaluations

Business owners can subject themselves to audits and fines if they have insufficient payroll records. For this reason, some business experts recommend keeping payroll and employment records up to seven years for auditing purposes. Depending on your business’s record, the purpose of maintaining appropriate payroll and employment records may vary and thus, will determine your time frame for recordkeeping.

Compensating Creditors First

When cash flow slows, business owners oftentimes pay off creditors before the IRS. However, payroll factoring can be a more effective solution. Payroll factoring is when an invoice factoring business, like LSQ, buys a business’s outstanding invoices and advances up to 95% of the total funds for a lower rate. This offers immediate relief without incurring additional debt.

Form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return) Errors

Businesses who file taxes quarterly file a Form 941. However, many businesses make error when filing a Form 941. Here are some of the common Form 941 errors and how to avoid them.

  • Reporting advances requested: If the advance payment of credit requested is not received, the employer should not report it on Form 941. Only advance payments of credits received should be reported on Form 941.
  • Incorrectly reconciling the advance payment of the credit: If the advance payment of credit requested is received, employers must report the advance payments received on line 13f and claim the eligible credits on lines 11b, 11c, 13c and 13d of Form 941.
  • Using Form 7200: Form 7200 is for the request for advance payment of employer credit.
    • If an advance payment of credit is received and the employer does not report it on Form 941, the employer may receive a balance due notice. If a balance due notice is received, employers must file Form 941-X, which is an amended return reporting advance payments and claiming eligible credits.

Tax Checklist for Employers

If you are preparing to file your taxes or want a simple checklist to better understand taxes and avoid making common tax errors, here are a few tips.

Determine Your Business Type

There are different business types that require different tax forms. Here is a glossary of business types.

  • Sole Proprietorship: An unincorporated business owned by a sole individual.
  • Partnership: Two or more individuals who run a trade or business together.
  • International Business: A business with activities in the United States or a U.S.-based business with activities in another country.
  • Corporation: An entity independent from its owner.
  • S Corporation: A corporation that pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through shareholders for federal tax purposes.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): A corporation where members of the company cannot be held liable for business debts or liabilities.

Understand What Each Deadline Entails

If you file taxes annually, you will need to mark your calendar for March 31.

If you file taxes quarterly, you will need to mark your calendar for April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31.

Collect All the Documentation and Forms

The type of business will determine which forms you need to file for taxes. For example, if you have a C corporation or an S corporation, you may need to file:

  • Form 1120: U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return
  • Form 1120-W: Estimated Tax for Corporations
  • Form 940: Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return
  • Form 941: Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return
  • Form 943: Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees*
  • Excise Taxes*

*NOTE: These are only applicable if you conduct business in specific industries (i.e., Form 943 if you have farm employees, excise taxes on specific goods or activities).

If you’re not sure the best way to tackle your taxes or have questions regarding COVID-19 relief that may impact taxes, contact VensureHR. Our team of payroll services technicians and human resources specialists can ensure you stay up to date on the latest legal updates and remain compliant. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Sources:
Business Factors
Internal Revenue Service: Employment Tax Due Dates
Internal Revenue Service: Tax Information for Businesses
Internal Revenue Service: Common errors businesses should avoid when claiming employer tax credits
Maslow Media Group
Small Business Chronicle

2021 Diversity and Inclusion Trends to Watch

Asian male leader motivates team of diverse coworkers

From social movements and political agendas to business innovation and cultivating a healthy work culture, diversity and inclusion oftentimes shape the way businesses grow and evolve. Because various factors may impact workplace culture, here are some of the top diversity and inclusion trends to watch in 2021.

1) Cultivating Leaders

As more employees have transitioned to working from home or working remotely, regardless of permanence, business leaders are encouraged to ramp up emotional intelligence and soft skills to help employees navigate this “new normal.” COVID-19 has impacted many individuals and businesses alike, and disproportionately women, especially women of color who are opting for full-time family care over careers. Businesses must redefine leadership, such as empathizing with individual circumstances and lending support in a more authentic manner. Emotional intelligence and soft skills can help leaders become more conscious of changes to societal movements, as well as create systems to support employees in these unprecedented times. For example, individuals with high emotional intelligence are likely to possess greater empathy, effectively respond to constructive criticism, make difficult decisions and resolve conflicts, and maintain composure in high-stress situations. The first step of developing emotional intelligence focuses on self-awareness, which allows individuals to recognize and understand the causes of emotions.

2) Centering Work Around Purpose

A mental health crisis resulted from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As financial, personal, and economic hardships skyrocketed, so did anxiety, stress, and depression. Prioritizing mental health will help re-engage employees by offering access to affordable mental healthcare, thus, decreasing absenteeism and increase productivity and engagement. A popular solution for mental healthcare has been telehealth. Where a study found that more than 80% of participants would prefer automated over personalized interaction due to judgment-free zones, unbiased space to share struggles, and prompt answers to health-related inquiries, it should come as no surprise that telehealth has connected individuals to mental healthcare services. Talkspace, BetterHelp, and Headspace are some of the trending mental health apps that provide 24/7 access to online therapy and resources.

Additionally, outside of the global health crisis social and civil issues have impacted communities across America. As a result, many employees are demanding more from employers. Addressing social and civil issues can be a sensitive subject that many employers might argue draws a fine line between a political stance and support for employees. However, staying silent during these times can also be detrimental to your overall company culture.

3) Expanding Team Diversity

While many companies have shifted to a majority or fully remote workforce, diversity can be expanded. If your company is looking to hire remote workers, your candidate pool can expand immensely by removing recruiting parameters or restrictions. For example, if you’re solely looking at candidates inside the United States, you might be missing out on qualified candidates located internationally. If you’re worried about language or cultural barriers, there are outsourcing companies that require fluency in a variety of languages. If you have business locations across the globe, this is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on recruitment or even redefining roles. For example, if you have an employee in the United States looking to relocate internationally, you can offer an opportunity to both allow your current employee to learn about a new culture, as well as offer a remote employee located anywhere across the globe an opportunity to join your company.

4) Bridging Organizational and Skill Gaps

  • Retraining and reskilling. COVID-19 presented many unique challenges, such as remote work capabilities, restructuring roles, and organizational finances. As a result, employers have faced the difficult decision of laying off, furloughing, and terminating employees, as well as restaffing vacancies. To help bridge organizational and skill gaps, companies can invest in retraining and reskilling employees. Many companies have augmented remote learning opportunities and expanded learning and development resources.
  • Focusing on employee health, safety, and security. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, employee health, safety, and security has become a priority for many employers. Not only has COVID-19 created health implications, but also garnered additional challenges that significantly impact employees’ general health, such as mental health, financial hardships, familial issues, and additional health issues. Further, employees are seeking company stances on political and social issues. Offering support for employees impacted by political and/or social issues can help offset the pressure to voice an opinion, but also show you care about your employees’ health, safety, and security.
  • Digital transformations. To help support organizational and skill gaps, businesses have invested in the technology and software. From communication and virtual training, to versatile, robust technology, many businesses have undergone some sort of digital transformation.

The definition and socially accepted terms regarding diversity and inclusion change fairly often. Understanding how your workforce can adapt and prevail organizational obstacles will provide you the insight to rebuild, revamp, and reap the rewards. Contact VensureHR to speak with a human resources representative, who can provide the resources, tools, and support you need to refine and refocus your diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

Sources:
Forbes
SHRM

 


ADP

Very Well Mind

LinkedIn

Prioritizing Employees’ Health in 2021

Young female employee introducing self during video call on laptop

COVID-19 has disrupted many businesses’ operations, including how and where employees work. With an emphasis on streamlining remote work settings, most individuals across the globe are feeling the impact of social isolation, fear and uncertainty of the pandemic, and financial and economic hardships. As a result, many employers are recognizing the personal and professional struggles their workforce is facing and prioritizing employees’ health in 2021. As communities and businesses focus on recovering and rebuilding from the initial impact of COVID-19, here are some tips for prioritizing employees’ health and well-being in 2021, and beyond.

Strengthening Virtual Connections

In Los Angeles, California alone, calls to crisis hotlines have increased 8,000%.1 The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention indicates that individuals who display symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorders have quadrupled since the pandemic.

The first step in prioritizing employees’ health and well-being is addressing any hurdles in working remotely, which is typically centered around strengthening virtual connections.

  • Encourage the use of webcams. While it may not replace the effect of in-person meetings, it helps engagement. Reading facial expressions, body language, and just seeing an individual’s face can make for less awkward discussions and restore some normalcy in virtual meetings.
  • Conduct frequent team meetings and one-on-one meetings. The best way to open dialogues is providing opportunities to have them. Conducting a weekly or daily check-in can help address any outstanding projects your team may be struggling with or need additional resources to complete. Hosting one-on-one meetings with your team members can also help open the door for employees to express any concerns or communicate personal struggles and find the help they need more efficiently.
  • Promote team-building activities. This can be a multitude of activities, such as a happy/social hour, “Fun Fridays,” or an interactive web-based game all team members may participate. Taking a brief break from strictly professional tasks and projects can revive the team’s productivity and engagement.
  • Foster respect. Even before the pandemic, respect should be a foundational value in your organization. However, remote work and evolving business operation decisions can lead to miscommunication, misconceptions, and misunderstandings. To help deter this, foster respect by reminding your team to be mindful of word choices, other members’ personal struggles, and time (i.e., not running past a meeting’s set time). All of these may seem like small gestures, but the impact it can have, especially in a remote setting, can be monumental.

Supporting Year-Round Benefits Engagement

Another strong emphasis in prioritizing employees’ health is ramping up benefit options. This can include expanding healthcare coverage or alternative healthcare solutions (i.e., cost-sharing communities) and adding voluntary benefits, such as financial wellness and mental health support programs.

However, benefits are only as beneficial as employees’ knowledge and understanding of them. According to a 2020 MetLife study, at least 15% of employees do not understand their benefits. Here are some tips to support year-round benefits engagement to ensure you’re not only fulfilling employee benefit demands, but also successfully communicating your benefits to your employees to increase employee benefits engagement.

1. Determine overall goal

All communications should have a clear goal. For example, if your goal is to tackle frequently asked questions regarding open enrollment, you might consider distributing a survey to employees to determine common questions to answer.

2. Relevant topics

Keeping the main goal in mind, each communication should be relevant to the goal. For example, if you’re looking to keep employees informed of new benefits rolling out during open enrollment, you may consider highlighting how those benefits will directly assist your employees, how to utilize such benefits, and any other questions that may arise.

3. Short, concise messaging

Although benefits can be a complex topic, it is important to communicate with short and concise messaging. To help develop your messaging, consider the following communication formula:

  • Pitch: “Here’s something you may not know about your benefits.”
  • Address the “why”: “This is why it’s important to you.”
  • Call to action: “Here’s how you can learn more.”

4. Communicate across different platforms

Not all employees check their emails, and not all employees retain information the same way. To improve your employee reach and engagement, try communicating across different platforms, such as distributing printed flyers via snail mail, sending mass email communications, posting videos on the company intranet or social media accounts, and hosting informational webinars.

5. Establish a communication calendar

Now that you’ve considered all the components of what and how to communicate, you should evaluate when to send these communications. Establishing a communication calendar can help organize important deadlines and schedule communications accordingly.

If you’ve already taken steps to prioritize your employees’ health, VensureHR is still here to help! Our benefits team can assist with claims management, provide access to additional voluntary benefits, and ensure you have all the tools, resources, and support you need to safeguard your employees’ well-being. Contact VensureHR today to learn more about all full suite of employee benefits!

 

Source:
Commonwealth Fund



ABC

  1. ABC

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Adapting to COVID-19: Non-essential Industries (Part 2)

Diverse group of people watch 3D movie physically distanced and wearing face masks

Like essential industries, COVID-19 has affected nearly every business. Since it first emerged in March 2020, many businesses have changed how they operate, adapted to various legislation changes, revamped technology to support customers, and prepared for the significant uptick in pandemic-related employment litigation.

Adjusting to the “new normal,” many non-essential industry businesses have taken a tremendous financial blow. Some of these non-essential industries include entertainment (i.e., movie theaters, live performance venues), beauty and nail salons, barbershops, gyms and fitness centers, and public venues (i.e., events spaces, public parks). We have already explored how essential industries have adapted to COVID-19, so here is part two of our two-part series exploring how businesses are modifying their operations to adapt to the evolving COVID-19 safety regulations.

Entertainment

  • Movie Theaters

Many movie theaters were lumped into the non-essential industry group mandated to close in various states to prevent COVID-19 spread. Some movie theaters like Regal theaters temporarily closed on October 9, 2020, with the chance of re-opening slim to none. Other movie theaters like AMC® have successfully re-opened and are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s COVID-19 safety regulations. AMC® is also offering moviegoers a unique option of renting out a theater.

Another alternative to the film industry’s struggle to release in theaters is partnering with streaming networks. For example, HBO Max is offering its members opportunities to watch in-theater films for a limited time. Warner Bros.’s first launch was “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max. Additional 2021 major film releases to appear on HBO Max, as well as in theaters, include “The Matrix 4,” “Dune,” “In the Heights,” “The Suicide Squad,” and “The Many Saints of Newark.”

  • Live Events (i.e., concerts, festivals)

Live performance venues and artists alike have had to get creative with ways to support each other during COVID-19. Popular music festivals like South by Southwest and Coachella are in jeopardy of postponing or cancellation due to physical distancing and self-quarantining regulations. Additionally, many artists have had to postpone or cancel tours, with a majority of state and local regulations prohibiting large public gatherings, especially indoor.

However, quarantine concerts have become the new trend among many artists, including James Blake, All Time Low, Chris Martin (of Coldplay), and John Legend. Utilizing social media platforms like Instagram Live and YouTube, artists have been able to perform – typically stripped-down versions – and stay connected with their fans.

Global Citizen also hosted a “One World: Together at Home” event, which featured some of music’s top artists like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, and Billie Eilish. The event was supported by the World Health Organization and raised nearly $128 million for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and local and regional non-profit organizations.

Save Our Stages Act

On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, which included the Save Our Stages Act (SOSA). The SOSA bill is intended to help concert venues, movie theaters, and recreational organizations that have been struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. The SOSA is projected to sustain the 3,000 venues that form the National Independent Venue Association through the remainder of the pandemic, but at least 88 venues statewide have permanently closed.

The SOSA is intended to help independent movie theaters survive the pandemic, but the National Association of Theatre Owners predicts that approximately 70% of movie theaters will permanently close or enter bankruptcy by spring 2021.

Gyms and Fitness Centers

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, many states mandated gyms and fitness centers to close. However, a few months later, many were permitted to re-open following certain safety regulations. In September, New York allowed most gyms and fitness centers to re-open at one-third of the normal capacity and within strict regulations.

While regular exercise has shown to positively correlate with lowering mental health issues like depression and improve sleep, as well as help prevent serious COVID-19 infection, gyms and fitness centers still face risks. Limiting occupancy, proper cleaning and sanitation of equipment, wearing masks while exercising, and adequate physical distance between equipment stations are some of the regulations gyms and fitness centers have implemented and enforced.

However, some gyms and fitness centers have refused to follow public health and state guidelines causing lawsuits to be filed. Arizona, Washington, and California have all seen lawsuits from gyms and fitness centers not following mandated safety regulations.

Beauty and Nail Salons and Barbershops

Like gyms and fitness centers, beauty and nail salons and barbershops were included in the originally mandated closures. In addition, like gyms and fitness centers, many have been permitted to re-open with specific regulations to ensure public safety. Industry infection control experts recommend beauty and nail salons and barbershops follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), CDC, state and local public health agencies, and state boards of cosmetology for recommendations on safely re-opening and guidelines for disinfecting.

Some of the modifications beauty and nail salons and barbershops have made to support COVID-19 safety regulations, include:

  • Hand sanitation stations for client and staff use
  • Clean personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used for each client, including smocks, capes, and drape materials
  • Customer Interactions, such as requiring scheduled appointments to avoid crowded waiting areas, cashless payment systems to avoid high-touch methods, temperature screenings, signage for facility rules (i.e., mask-wearing, physical distancing), and communicating with clients before the appointment (i.e., asking if experiencing symptoms or potentially exposed to someone who is or has experienced symptoms)
  • Temporarily removed or disallowed items, such as coffee or water stations, magazines, books, newspapers or other publications, candy dishes, product testers and samples, and online appointment scheduling and reminders to avoid physical appointment cards

Overview of COVID-19-Related Employment Litigation

It should come as no surprise that as employee health and workplace safety is under constant scrutiny with a surging global pandemic, employment litigation is inevitable. Remote work and leave conflicts, employment discrimination, and retaliation and whistleblower cases are leading employment litigation related to COVID-19. Other employment litigation cases have included wage and hour, unsafe workplace, negligence and wrongful death, non-compete and trade secrets, breach of contract, and ERISA and benefits.

California, New Jersey, and Florida lead employment litigation related to COVID-19 with all three states each having more than 100 active litigation cases. New York, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are close behind with each state having 50 to 99 active litigation cases. Most of the active litigation cases involve small to medium-sized businesses. Several law firms have litigation trackers for COVID-19–related employment litigation, such as Fisher Phillips.

Industry experts have observed many businesses, specifically SMBs, fear the impact litigation can have on their already struggling business – even with a win. Experts also say that while it is feared, the best route is to prepare for worst-case scenarios as employment litigation is likely to increase as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.

To ensure you remain in compliance with local, state, and federal COVID-19 regulations, partner with VensureHR. As a trusted PEO, we can provide HR compliance experts who can provide industry best practices, tools and resources, and customer support for all your business needs.

Source:
KHN


Billboard

KXAN

Adapting to COVID-19: Essential Industries (Part 1)

Young female doctor conducting video consultation with patient

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic erupted forcing many businesses to quickly adjust to the evolving public health crisis. COVID-19 has resulted in businesses:

  • Changing how they operate
  • Adapting to various legislation changes
  • Revamping technology to support customers

Businesses across various industries have adapted to the “new normal,” and are strategizing a business plan for the new year and riding out the impact of COVID-19 into 2021. Here is part one of a two-part series exploring how businesses are adapting to COVID-19, looking at essential industries, including healthcare, restaurants, and grocery stores.

Healthcare

In response to COVID-19, a mental health crisis emerged. As a result of social isolation, financial strains, and other personal impacts COVID-19 has had on individuals, families, and businesses, many health insurance providers have developed, revamped, or promoted telehealth services. While some services cannot be offered remotely, healthcare services such as mental and behavioral health have significantly increased.

A 2019 health benefits report predicted that in 2020, 91% of employers will offer telehealth services to their employees. With the average wait for a new patient scheduling a primary care physician appointment 29 days, and even longer in bigger cities like Boston (109 days on average), telehealth offers countless benefits to users, including access to healthcare professionals, affordable healthcare costs, and improved patient care.

Businesses have implemented telehealth services or explored it during benefits renewal discussions. This is likely because telehealth assists business owners by decreasing employee absenteeism (i.e., taking time off to go to a medical appointment), increasing productivity (i.e., improved health can help focus), and improving overall health (i.e., by providing benefits employees actually want to use).

Another trend that has resulted from COVID-19 is pharmaceutical companies’ stock market increase. For example, in July 2020, shortly after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pfizer and BioNTech that they had initiated a late-stage clinical trial on a coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer’s stock plummeted when COVID-19 surfaced, but regained its standing by July after making great strides towards developing a vaccine.

Restaurants

Many restaurants across the globe, specifically non-franchise restaurants, suffered a significant impact to their revenue. When COVID-19 first emerged in March 2020, over eight million restaurant workers were laid off or furloughed. Additionally, 83% of total restaurant staff were terminated and 41% were laid off or furloughed.

However, with the help of third-party delivery services, such as DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub, and Uber Eats, restaurants have been able to survive. Over 80% of restaurant owners credited third-party delivery service providers from laying off staff members. Because 63% of young adults rely on third-party delivery apps, it makes sense why restaurants are partnering with them.

While some restaurants, specifically small restaurants, are struggling with the commission fees, some larger cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago have capped the commission fees third-party delivery services charge, ranging from 5% and 15%.

For restaurants fortunate enough to either never had to close their doors or were able to maintain takeout and delivery orders, many have adapted by implementing safety measures for both staff and customers. Some common examples include:

  • Restricted dining space: Limitations may be in the form of requiring a reservation, reserving empty tables to add space between parties, and/or spacing tables further apart to ensure adequate physical distancing guidelines are followed. Additional precautions, such as spacers between booths and point-of-sale setups, paying the bill via app or on-table kiosk, one-way entry and exit, and floor markers for physical distancing, have been implemented.
  • Face mask: Most businesses are mandated to require staff and customers to wear a face mask with the only exception being when eating or drinking.
  • Online or one-time use menus: Numerous restaurants have implemented QR codes for customers to scan and access their online menu. Others have implemented one-time paper menus for customers to use.
  • No-contact delivery/takeout: Third-party delivery services and restaurants that have their own delivery systems are utilizing no-contact delivery. For example, Papa John’s zero-contact delivery requires delivery persons to leave the item(s) at the door and ensure adequate physical distancing with the order recipient. The item(s) may not be handed directly to the resident.
  • Cleaning and sanitation: Sanitation stations and frequent cleaning regulations have been implemented in most business establishments. Public venues and commercial buildings have also replaced their air filters with higher-grade filters to ensure adequate air quality and circulation throughout commercial spaces. Some businesses sell or give out free masks for those who enter without one.

However, not all businesses are in favor of lockdowns. Waffle House CEO, Walt Ehmer, publicly criticized the COVID-19 restrictions explaining how devastating the impact COVID-19 has already had on the industry and its employees and how lockdowns exacerbate that issue.

Grocery Stores

Grocery stores, such as Walmart, Kroger, and Albertsons, are offering online ordering, contactless pickup, and some even offering delivery. Walmart has introduced Walmart+, which is a membership that provides access to free shipping with no order minimum requirements, free delivery, gas savings at select fuel centers, and mobile scan and go. This program is aimed to provide members safe shopping options, as well as save time and money.

Another alternative to grocery shopping is ready-to-cook meal delivery services, such as Blue ApronTM, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef. These service providers offer no commitment subscription-based meal kits, which include customizable recipe, delivery, and frequency options. Each meal kit comes with easy-to-follow recipes including nutritional information, high-quality ingredients, convenient packaging to fit in the fridge, and perfectly proportioned meals ready to eat for the week.

Navigating the evolving COVID-19 situation can be difficult for businesses. Legislation is constantly changing, which can make compliance difficult. Additional issues related to employment, workplace safety, and discrimination may fluctuate based on temporary extended protections. As the situation continues to evolve, employee benefits are likely to be a trending topic as employers and employees alike will likely be seeking alternatives to traditional healthcare benefits. Further, employers may unfortunately be dealing with unemployment claims.

Whether you need assistance with managing legal HR updates and compliance to employee benefits and unemployment claims, partnering with a PEO like VensureHR can alleviate those pain points. Our dedicated HR compliance and benefits teams can provide industry best practices, tools and resources, and customer support for all your business’s needs. Let VensureHR customize our business solutions to your unique business demands.

 

Sources:
Delish
Forbes
Fox Business
FSR
First Stop Health


First Stop Health 2019 Health Benefits Cost Containment Employer Report

, National Restaurant Association

Uber Eats partner, Technomic

Zion & Zion

Fox Business

2021 Business Technology Trends to Watch

Young African American female and male coworker review tech trends

While the impact of COVID-19 has affected businesses’ budgets for traditional HR technology, many have shifted to other technologies to support remote work. A recent study showed that 15% of businesses are opting to reduce budgeting for traditional HR technology in the New Year, 28% plan to redirect those funds to nontraditional HR technology, such as remote work tools and infrastructure.

According to a 2019 Gallagher survey, many companies have shifted from HR technology that emphasized recruiting features to payroll, timekeeping, employee engagement, and performance management features. This is a direct impact of the uptick in remote workers.

Looking at 2021, there are some business technology trends you should watch.

People Management

A recent survey showed that businesses who were prepared for crises, including role and skills-based data for essential positions, processes, and technologies in place to support quick changes to organizational goals and employee-centric, and accounting best practices were able to adapt better to the COVID-19 impact by effectively navigating difficult workforce decisions.

As demonstrated through proper talent management, organizations who invested in essential roles and technology framework to support them reaped greater successes. Organizations implemented pandemic-specific talent management initiatives, including:

  • Expanding and enhancing remote work, such as employee tracking, communications technology, company policies, and social governance models
  • Flexible compensation models for bonuses, cuts, and freezes
  • Amenable work schedules and arrangements to support employee health and safety

Technology Upgrades

Technology that can collect, organize, and analyze data will play a critical role in training and development efforts. For example, utilizing skills-based data can provide insight into current industry demands (i.e., specific staffing needs), as well as predict industry trends (i.e., automation of administrative roles). Having the ability to see where skill gaps occur can lead to streamlining hiring, developing proper training, and tailoring specific skill sets.

A recent study showed that 37% of respondents were assessing or contemplating learning, workforce management, and recruiting system replacements. Because COVID-19 expedited those decisions – so businesses could comply with specific safety requirements (i.e., contact tracing, workplace safety), many are now looking to upgrade their system(s) to include time-tracking and scheduling features. Fourteen percent of organizations, especially those utilizing on-premise systems, are looking to migrate to new, cloud-based time management systems within the next two years.

Workforce Planning

At the core of adapting to economic and organizational changes is workforce planning.

  • Strategic workforce planning involves developing responsive processes across a variety of scenarios. These scenarios may include acquisitions and mergers and different rates of growth. Businesses should aim to develop workforce planning to support three to five years minimum.
  • Operational workforce planning involves determining workforce planning technology platforms and tools needed to support the various scenarios involved in the strategic workforce planning, as well as prepare diverse contingency strategies.

The Sapient Insights Group 2020-2021 HR Systems Survey provided a drastic increase from 2019’s results (36%) of organizations utilizing workforce planning in 2020. This significant increase could be impacted by leveraging workforce data and tools to guide leaders in strategizing effective workforce plans in unprecedented times and actively practicing continuous change management. However, HR experts are warning that to effectively lead continuous change, businesses need to step away from a compliance-focused approach. Business discussions need to implement utilizing technology and data to develop more informed business decisions, rather than simply discussing budgets and using data solely for compliance purposes.

Any investment in technology can be overwhelming for business owners as finding an HR software that checks all the boxes, learning the new technology, and investing in the software can be costly and time-consuming. That’s why businesses entrust VensureHR. Vfficient is our cloud-based human resource management technology carefully constructed to manage payroll, human resources, and employee benefits from one platform. VensureHR’s technology is supported by a team of experts to provide training, address any questions or concerns, and troubleshoot issues in real-time.

 

Sources:
Society for Human Resource Management
Human Resource Executive


, , Sapient Insights Group 2020–2021 HR Systems Survey

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Celebrating Black History Month

Timeline of Black History

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plays an integral role for businesses, both in people operations and overall business successes. Two-thirds of job seekers list diversity as a decision-making factor for employment opportunities. ZipRecruiter co-founder and CEO explained that when 90% of the workforce values an organization’s mission to create a diverse workplace, it signals to employers that implement DEI programs can compete at a higher level for top talent. From company performance and brand reputation to employee retention, employee engagement, and company core values, investing in DEI impacts more than just the people who play an integral role in your business’s successes.

In celebration of Black History Month, we’ve provided a timeline of Black history, including monumental names, events, and passed legislation to reflect on the journey to equality, the accomplishments of the community, and how integrating DEI in the workplace can positively influence your business.

DEI in the workplace strongly impacts the communities, industries, and customers for which you serve. Here, we provide you the role of DEI in the workplace and insights to boost DEI in the workplace.

Timeline of Black History

View the full Black History Month Timeline here.

Role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace impact more than just employees. It can affect overall company performance, brand reputation, and core values.

  • Company performance: A recent study predicts that 75% of businesses that integrate a diversity and inclusion committee or council will surpass revenue goals through 2022. Additionally, the same study showed that teams who were gender diverse exceeded less inclusive teams by 50%. Many studies have shown that companies with diverse decision-making teams achieve higher revenue goals.
  • Employee retention and engagement: Employers should be aware of generational gaps and demands across their employee base. For example, a majority of younger generations (under the age of 44) are from minority groups, and 50% of current employees demand their employers take a more proactive effort to increase diversity in the workplace.
  • Brand reputation: Diversity and inclusion influences more than just the employees you recruit and internal staff, but can also impact a prospective client’s perception of your brand. In a 2017 article published by The International Journal of Business, Marketing and Decision Science, diversity of sales representatives can impact a customer’s decision to purchase.
  • Company core values: Diversity and inclusion cannot be a one-time fix – it requires consistent training, adopting a systematic approach, and ingraining it into the core values of the company.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion takes time to refine for your specific company and culture. Revamping or revising diversity and inclusion provisions in the company’s employee handbook to developing a diversity and inclusion committee/council, as well as addressing and implementing sensitivity in the workplace training requires, help both leaders and employees. Navigating DEI can be complex, so entrust a human resources expert like VensureHR who can assist you in strengthening your DEI in the workplace.

Source:
Purdue Global


Glassdoor
Cision
Gartner
Weber Shandwick, BCG
CNN Money
Glassdoor

Health Savings Account (HSA) vs Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

HSA vs FSA infographic

During open enrollment, you will have important decisions to make, such as utilizing either a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA). The process may feel overwhelming, but it does not have to be. Understanding the key differences between HSAs and FSAs can help you make the right choice for you.

HSAs and FSAs are tools that you can use to hit two main goals: saving for healthcare costs and protecting your money from taxes. FSAs and HSAs are both tax-advantaged savings accounts that allow you to pay for qualified medical expenses, such as doctor’s visits and prescription medications, with pre-taxed funds. While HSAs and FSAs are structurally similar, they are intended for different purposes and meet different needs, including who is eligible to enroll and when savings expire. Understanding the differences between an HSA or FSA is crucial to picking the best fit for you and your family.

HSA vs FSA infographic

Key Takeaways:

  • You must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) to qualify for an HSA.
  • Funds from your HSA roll over year after year while FSAs work on a “use it or lose it” basis, meaning any funds not spent by the end of the plan year will be lost.
  • Some HSAs offer investment options.
  • HSA holders cannot spend more than the funds that have been deducted from their paycheck. However, they can file for reimbursement later in the year.
  • You can use your FSA to cover eligible healthcare expenses early in the year, as long as you plan to contribute what’s necessary to cover those expenses by the year’s end.
  • The biggest benefit of the FSA is that withdrawals can be made for childcare expenses, as well as medical expenses.

Which option should you choose?

In general, people with few prescriptions or medical conditions are likely to benefit more from an HSA and HDHP because even though HDHPs are some of the most inexpensive health plans available, the trade-off is very high out-of-pocket limits. If you had high medical costs, you would still have a significant amount to pay out of pocket, even if you contributed the maximum to your HSA.

People with high medical costs can often find better savings with a more generous plan than an HDHP, disqualifying the HSA as an option. Other health plans cost more per month but cover more costs upfront. While FSAs offer less flexibility than HSAs, an FSA will still help you save money, and can be paired with any plan.

To learn more or explore your options, contact VensureHR. Our benefits specialists can provide you insight to which healthcare plan and benefit option best suit your employees’ needs.