Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

Professional Telecommuting From Home In Casual Attire

Innovations in modern technology have allowed quality candidates to join organizations remotely, from any corner of the globe, and still feel connected to the business, their colleagues, and the company mission, vision, and values. In a rather quick amount of time, telecommuting and working remotely became the future of corporate America. But not all companies are on board.

 

Employers who found immediate benefits of telecommuting were those who experienced cost savings on parking and office space, relocation costs, and were able to retain their top talent who may have otherwise had to sever their employment due to other obligations or the need to work from a different location.

 

Telecommuting is shown to improve employee productivity, as it is “estimated that employers in the US lose $1.8 trillion a year in productivity” costs. Employees who work from home are subject to far fewer distractions that are commonplace in a traditional office. These employees are able to better structure their days for optimal productivity, all while promoting a healthy work/life balance.

 

Conversely, employers who are anti-remote work policies stand by their decision to opt-out of adding telecommuting policies. For example, employees who work from home have less one-on-one time with coworkers and managers, which can affect the employee’s ability to form a valuable synergy with the rest of the team and direct management.

 

Remote employees may require additional effort to ensure they feel like part of the team, including important projects or company-focused communications, and are not overlooked just because they are not physically in the office.

 

If your organization is looking to implement a telecommuting policy here are some items to consider.

 

Eligibility

Not all employees may be eligible for the telecommuting benefit. Candidates for telecommuting should not have a history of attendance issues or disciplinary action and should be considered dependable and have a comprehensive understanding of their role.

 

Job Duties

The employees eligible for or requesting a telecommuting position should be a top performer in their current role and in a solo capacity. It is also important that they are able to perform all aspects of their role from their remote location, as it is assumed the position requirements and responsibilities would not change.

 

Technology

Employees may be required to supplement some or all of the equipment needed in order to work remotely. If the organization is providing the equipment, it may become necessary to have the employee sign an acknowledgment verifying the equipment is the property of the organization and is only to be used to perform their required duties. In the event the employee leaves the organization, for any reason, all of the equipment should be returned in similar or better condition.

 

Telecommuting may not be the right addition for every company at this stage, however, it should be a regularly discussed topic. This trend is only becoming more popular, and there is no sign of slowing down when it comes to either hiring remote employees or having the company’s top performers request to move to a more flexible or remote location.

 

Regardless of whether your employees are in the office or working remotely, Vensure has the ability to implement industry-specific solutions to manage time and attendance. From robust scheduling and complex calculations to reporting and telepunch, we have the solution to fit your business needs. Contact Vensure to learn more about drag and drop scheduling, benefit accruals, or PTO and leave of absence request tracking.

 

 

 

Forbes: Benefits of Telecommuting for the Future of Work

 

 

Digital Time and Attendance

Digital time and attendance tracking are rapidly becoming a rapid need for businesses who are regularly clocking hours or asking employees to clock in and out. As your company continues to grow, managers will need the ability to submit expense reports on-the-go, enter expense details, or upload receipt images directly from a smart device.

 

Modern companies require a partner familiar with the industry and capable of providing the tools you need to operate more efficiently. As the nation’s fastest-growing partner in payroll, human resources, benefits, risk management, and workers’ compensation, Vensure is equipped to handle all of your HR services and back-office administration needs. Let us design a flexible and economical solution to meet your time and attendance needs. Learn more about Vensure today.

DOL Releases Overtime Exemption Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released its final rule to update the regulations defining the exemption for administrative, executive, and professional employees (also referred to as the white collar exemptions). The finalized overtime exemption rule is expected to affect over 4 million salaried employees. Employers will be given six (6) months to make the necessary changes to ensure compliance with the new rule, which takes effect on December 1, 2016.

Salary Threshold

The final overtime exemption rule will increase the minimum salary requirement that has been in effect since 2004.

Standard Minimum Salary

The minimum salary threshold will increase by more than 100%, from $455 per week ($23,660 per annum) to $913 per week ($47,476 per annum). This revised amount represents the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for a full time, salaried employee in the census region with the lowest wages (currently the southern states).

Highly Compensated Employees (HCE)

The compensation threshold for HCE will increase from $100,000 per year to $134,000 per year. This new threshold represents the 90th percentile of full-time, salaried employees nationally.

 

Automatic Updates

The salary and HCE thresholds will be updated automatically every three (3) years, beginning January 1, 2020. Each update will be posted by the DOL 150 days before its effective date, starting August 1, 2019. These updates will maintain the 40th and 90th percentiles.

Duties Test

The DOL made no changes to the duties tests that qualify an employee for an overtime exemption. Employers can continue to apply the same federal laws that have been in effect since 2004. State laws, however, may require employers to perform a more thorough analysis. Employees who qualify as exempt under federal provisions may not necessarily meet the state requirements for exemption. Such employees could be owed overtime.

 

Bonus Pay

The Finalized Rule allows up to 10% of the salary requirement to be fulfilled by commissions incentive pay, or non-discretionary bonuses. These payments must be made at least once per quarter. Examples of non-discretionary payments, which are provided to employees as incentive to stay with the company or work more efficiently, include:

  • Retention bonuses
  • Production goal bonuses
  • Commissions based on a fixed formula

Discretionary pay, which does not count toward the employee’s salary, is made at the discretion of the employer and does not follow any predetermined standards. An example of a discretionary payment would be an unexpected bonus or a special reward for a specific act.

If an employee fails to earn sufficient non-discretionary pay during a calendar quarter, the employer may make “catch-up” payments to maintain the total compensation above the required threshold. However, if the employee compensation level was below the required threshold and the employer does not make the catch-up payment(s), the employee will be entitled to overtime pay for that quarter or 13-week period.

Want to hear or read more on this topic?

If you just can’t get enough on this topic and would like to learn more, we’ve found some websites that you might love!

DOL https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/

SmallBiz Brainiac https://www.smallbizbrainiac.com/33-new-salary-level-test-for-exempt-employees/

 

As always, if you have any further questions, we are happy to help. Feel free to contact your Client Relations Manager at any time.

Seeing the “Light” in Light Duty

Lost time associated with workers’ compensation claims is costly to companies, and studies have shown that employers who actively use a light duty work policy benefit financially by lowering the cost of workers’ compensation claims.

  • The WI Department of Workforce Development states the benefits of a light duty programs include: “a lower rate of lost workday cases, a reduction in worker’s compensation claims incidence, and fewer lost workdays per 100 employees.”  (1) 
  • Light duty programs have actually shown to improve employee’s self-worth. The US Department of Labor has documented that “return-to-work strategies and programs have traditionally been used to reduce workers’ compensation costs; however, they can do much more – they can improve productivity and morale across an organization, they can save organizations time and money and they can protect companies from loss of talent.”  (2) 

At VenSure, we understand the value of the light duty program, and we offer our clients a great option if they cannot provide light duty for their employees.  We get many questions about VenSure’s light duty return to work program and Alternative Light Duty (ALD) program. Below are actual client questions, and answers from our in house expert, and Claims Supervisor, Gin Harper.

 

Can you explain what ‘light duty’ is?

Light duty is geared toward employees who have been injured in a work related accident and released to work by doctor under certain restrictions, however, are not able to return to their regular position.

 

What happens if a client company cannot provide light duty?

VenSure has an Alternative Light Duty (ALD) program that we offer to our clients. We work with an outside vendor that places claimants into a position that fits within the doctor’s restrictions when our clients cannot provide light duty. The ALD program works with local non-profits throughout the United States to place these claimants.

 

What if an employee says that they are unable to perform their light duty position?

If the employee fails to report on the scheduled start date or if they are unwilling to perform their light duty position, it will be considered a voluntary rejection of the light duty assignment and could jeopardize their workers’ compensation benefits as allowed by applicable workers’ compensation statutes.

 

What happens if an employee calls in saying they do not feel well and cannot work light duty?

If the employee calls off work because they are not feeling well, they will not be paid for the day.

 

What if an employee says they do not have a way to get to their light duty position?

We work closely with the light duty claimants.  If they do not have transportation or if they have a no driving restriction, we will work with the employer and/or our ALD contact to locate a position that is accessible through public transportation.

 

What incentives do client companies have to get employees to return to work?

An employee working in a light duty position helps them to heal, both mentally and physically. The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation states on their website, “Insurance industry statistics indicate about 15 percent of workers’ comp claims fall prey to “disability syndrome – the failure to return to gainful employment when it is medically feasible.”  (3)  So, we are always trying to get employees back to work as soon as possible.

 

Can a client company terminate an employee for poor work performance while on light duty?

Yes. However, we recommend that client companies do not terminate the employee when they have an open case. When they are released to full duty, they can then proceed as they see fit. If a client company terminates someone who has an open workers’ compensation claim, often times the employee will continue to say they are hurt because now they do not have a job to go back to and still would like to collect a pay check. We do not ever like to see a claimant terminated, if avoidable.

 

What if an employee gets hurt while they are working a light duty position?

If it is an aggravation to the same injury, it will be added into the same claim. If it is a new body part, it will be considered a new claim. It can potentially be a covered claim, as the light duty claimant is still considered an employee of the client while working light duty at the non-profit, thus covered through their workers’ compensation coverage.

 

Is there an additional cost associated with a client company’s employee working in the Alternative Light Duty program?

Light duty is part of the claims process. We require all clients to have 100% participation in the program. There is no additional cost to provide light duty on the client’s part.

 

The VenSure Client Service Agreement says to provide light duty when reasonably available, but with certain types of business it’s not reasonably available. What happens in this case?

Each claim is handled on a case by case basis. There is usually some type of light duty that an injured worker can perform: filing, typing, answering phones, some type of marketing or even standing outside and holding a sign for the client company for advertising.  If our clients need help trying to find a light duty position for the claimant, they can call us and we can brain storm to figure something out. Otherwise, the ALD program can be utilized.

 

What are some of the additional benefits of a light duty program?

The benefits of having a claimant work are:

  • You can get them back in the workforce quicker by making them feel like they are a part of society verses sitting at home doing nothing and receiving Total Temporary Disability (TTD) checks.
  • The statistics show employers who have used light duty programs have had success, “74 percent of employers who implemented accommodations rated them as either ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective.”   (4)

The importance of having a job, and being able to provide cannot be overstated.

 

Conclusion…

Implementing a light duty work policy has the ability to benefit all parties involved. The advantages of implementing some type of light duty program far outweigh any possible disadvantages.

For further information on light duty or our Alternative Light Duty program, please contact the Claims Department at  claims@vensure.com, or call

1-800-409-8958.

 

Sincerely,

 

Vensure Employer Services

 

State Minimum Wage Increases

Dear Valued Client,
Although federal minimum wage will stay the same, many states have announced increases. Effective January 1st, 2013 these states will be increasing the minimum wage:

  • Arizona to $7.80 per hour
  • Colorado to $7.78 per hour ($4.76 per hour for tipped employees)
  • Florida to $7.79 per hour ($4.77 per hour for tipped employees)
  • Missouri to $7.35 per hour
  • Montana to $7.80 per hour
  • Ohio to $7.85 per hour ($3.93 per hour for tipped employees)
  • Oregon to $8.95 per hour
  • Rhode Island to $7.75 per hour
  • Vermont to $8.60 per hour ($4.17 for tipped employees)
  • Washington to $9.19 per hour

Labor posters are automatically updated and mailed to you through our 3rd party vendor. Should you not receive your updated poster within 30 days of the effective date, please contact your Client Relations Manager for assistance.

Sincerely,
Vensure Employer Services

Navigating Through Payroll Deductions (1)

Managing payroll requires strict attention to which deductions are legally allowed. Seemingly small mistakes in this regard can lead to major legal problems. It’s critical to ensure you’re in compliance with rightful allowable deductions at all times. This overview, while not comprehensive, is a brief look at the basics of mandatory, legal and unlawful deductions. Each individual case must considered in detail, as various policies apply in different situations and in each state.

Mandatory Deductions

By law, these deductions are required to be withheld from an employee’s gross earnings:

  • FICA Tax – FICA deductions fund both Social Security and Medicare. Although each tax is calculated at different rates, the aggregate monies are collected together via the FICA deduction.
  • Federal Income Tax.
  • State Income Tax – If applicable.
  • Local Tax – If applicable, as directed by county, city or other regional mandates.
  • Wage Garnishments – Imposed by federal or state law.

Voluntary Deductions

These are deductions that may legally be taken, but are not required to be deducted from the employee’s gross pay. Voluntary deductions may be initiated by the written request of the employee. With that said, an employee’s written permission doesn’t always legally grant the deduction of monies from a paycheck, such as deducting the balance of monies owed to the employer when receiving a final check due to termination.

Lawful deductions that an employer may withhold include:

  • Voluntary contributions to health plans, pension plans, IRA accounts and union dues.
  • For exempt employees, sick or personal days, FMLA leave and disciplinary actions.

It is important to note that permissions regarding what is or is not allowed can depend on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt. An employer may dock the wages of a non-exempt employee in order to reimburse for damaged property or similar expenses for which the employee is directly responsible, but these deductions may not take the employee’s total wages below minimum wage. This is true even if the employer suffers losses due to the employee’s theft of company money or property.

Further, if such deductions are incurred during a week which includes overtime earnings, specific rules apply that require the overtime wage to remain at the original (i.e., not docked) rate.

Unlawful Deductions

  • Gratuities.
  • Reducing pay for exempt employees providing little or poor work (but, zero work during the week can trigger withholding).
  • Uniforms – The Fair Standards Labor Act does not require that employees purchase uniforms; however, this business expense may be passed to employees in some states (though, you are still required to ensure the total earnings minus the deduction is not putting the employee below minimum wage), yet is unlawful in other states, such as California.
  • Other items that benefit the employer; e.g., business cards, company photographs, company mandated medical examinations.
  • Work-related expenses.

Not only are federal court decisions interpreted in various ways by the state courts, many states have specific statutes detailing what may and may not be deducted from paychecks (even with the employee’s written “consent”). Wandering into murky territory regarding deductions can spell trouble for a company and those involved in authorizing the questionable deductions. Always make sure you are familiar with the specific requirements of your state before you just assume a deduction is lawful.

If you’re ever in doubt about how to proceed, contact us, and avoid making a tricky situation worse!

Sincerely,

Vensure Employer Services