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Understanding Employer Record Retention Requirements


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Federal laws, such as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Equal Pay Act (EPA), impose recordkeeping duties on employers. These recordkeeping duties require employers to create and retain certain information related to their compliance with federal laws.

We have created a printable PDF document to help employers understand some of the most common recordkeeping and retention requirements, indicating the longest retention period established by federal law. The table does not attempt to outline all documents an employer may need in all situations.

State law requirements are not addressed in this table. To determine the time period for which records should be retained, it is important to reference applicable state laws in addition to federal laws. State laws may include recordkeeping requirements that operate in addition to or in conjunction with federal requirements.

Additional resources:

  • Department of Labor’s (DOL) web page on OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) web page on fair employment recordkeeping requirements.
  • DOL’s web page on recordkeeping under the FLSA

If you have any additional questions about recordkeeping, please feel free to reach out to our team of HR experts at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsUnderstanding Employer Record Retention Requirements

Company Culture Might Be More Important Than You Think


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Company culture is the unifying element that holds everyone in an organization together. Culture encompasses the written and unwritten behavioral norms and expectations of those within the company.

 

Why Is Company Culture Important?
According to Alternative Board’s 2016 Small Business Pulse Survey, 93 percent of entrepreneurs believe that promoting company culture is good for productivity and creativity.

Recent studies have revealed that employees highly value company culture in their decision to stay with—or leave—a company. Moreover, it has been proven that employees who identify with and feel a sense of belonging to a company’s culture are more productive, happier and want to work for the company for longer.

Retaining employees who are happy and productive is not only good for employee morale, but also for your bottom line. High turnover is costly and can also harm your company’s culture and cause remaining workers to become disengaged and unproductive.

A positive and strong company culture not only improves retention rates; it also improves recruiting rates. Prospective employees care about your reputation as a company and are evaluating potential employers on their corporate culture. In fact, many millennials view cultural compatibility with a company as just as important as salary.

How Can I Improve My Company’s Culture?
According to Staples Business Advantage, companies can do the following five things to improve their culture:

Inspire collaboration
Creating a collaborative organization allows the free flow of ideas leading to a more innovative and creative organization. Employees want to work where they feel like they are part of something important. Help employees tie their work back to the company goals.

Respect employee input
Having open communication with employees helps build a string culture. Because leaders will be providing employees with constructive performance feedback, it is important for leaders to be open to receiving feedback from employees as well.

Improve meetings
On average employees currently spend 35-50 percent of their time in meetings. Imagine the toll this can take on the productivity and morale of your team if your meetings are not effective. Check out our Effective Meeting Toolkit for ideas for improvement.

Support flexible work arrangements
According to research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 55 percent of employees cited workplace flexibility as a very important aspect of their job satisfaction. Flexible work arrangements can be customized to meet the needs of the organization and the employees. Check out this recent blog for some ideas on getting started.

Recruit strong leadership
Research from Gallup has shown that managers can account for up to 70 percent variance in employee engagement. Hiring great leaders and providing ongoing leadership development opportunities not only increases the retention of those leaders, but also of the employees they manage.

These suggestions are just a handful of ideas for improving your culture. For more information on company culture, contact the HR experts at A Plus Benefits at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsCompany Culture Might Be More Important Than You Think

Is Anything Happening with the Overtime Rule Change Discussed Last Year?


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Last year we talked a lot about preparing for the change to the overtime rule that increased the salary requirement for certain white-collar employees to be considered exempt from overtime. At this point, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule is unlikely to come to fruition.

You may remember the rule—which was scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, 2016—was delayed by federal court injunction on Nov. 22, 2016. In December, the DOL filed for an expedited appeal of the court injunction.

However, on Jan. 25, 2017, the DOL, which is now under the direction of President Donald Trump, requested a 30-day extension to file a brief in its appeal. Recent actions by the Trump administration suggest that it is unlikely that the overtime rule will ever become effective, even if the DOL is successful in its appeal.

For now, employers can rely on existing overtime exemption rules. It is still a good idea to make sure that your employees who are currently listed as exempt, do meet the current requirements. Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime is one of the most common compliance mistakes made by small businesses.

Employers that have already made adjustments to comply with the new rule may find it difficult to reverse any changes. For employers looking to roll back salary adjustments, carefully consider employee morale and the potential impact that rescinding promised changes will have on your company. Our team of HR experts can help clients work through this tough situation.

Questions? Contact our HR team at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsIs Anything Happening with the Overtime Rule Change Discussed Last Year?
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Three Simple Steps to Improve Performance Feedback


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Providing ongoing feedback to your employees is vital to their success and the success of your company as a whole. Even if your employees currently shy away from receiving feedback, the truth is they really do want and need it. According to research from Gallup, employees must receive both positive and negative feedback from their managers in order to feel engaged.

If you and your management team are not used to providing feedback, it can take time to develop those skills and make giving feedback a part of the company culture. Here are four steps from a recent article in TLNT to get you started:

Reframe feedback as a regular part of your business. Receiving feedback from a manger shouldn’t automatically fill your employees with dread. Make both positive and constructive feedback a daily practice. Once it becomes common, employees will be less likely to fear the communication.

Start with positive feedback. If you managers are really struggling with performance communication, have them start with positive feedback. Work with your managers to make sure they are catching people doing things well and acknowledging those things.

Invest in training for your managers and then ALL employees. Help your management team feel confident providing feedback to employees, no matter if it is negative or positive. Help your entire team understand how to effectively give both positive and negative feedback to one another. Also help everyone understand the best ways to receive that feedback and move forward.

Looking for resources?

Need something a little more customized? Reach out to our HR experts for help putting together a customized training specifically tailored to your team’s needs. You can reach them at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com or 1-800-748-5102.

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A Plus BenefitsThree Simple Steps to Improve Performance Feedback

Revised I-9 Form Must be Used By Employers Starting Jan. 22, 2017


Earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised version of the I-9 form used for employment eligibility verification.

The new version of the form dated 11/14/2016 must be used by employers no later than January 22, 2017.

writing-828911_640Until then, employers are able to use to use the version dated 03/08/2013 or the new version. A Plus Benefits is working to revise our new hire packets both online and in print to comply with this change by the end of the year.

Here is a copy of the new form if you are interested in seeing the changes.

Please note that this new version only needs to be used for newly hired employees. You do not need to have current employees complete a new I-9 form.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our HR team.

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A Plus BenefitsRevised I-9 Form Must be Used By Employers Starting Jan. 22, 2017
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Tips for Reducing Stress in the Workplace


This time of year can become incredibly stressful for business owners and employees alike. From family
obligations, to the holidays, to year-end budgets and deadlines, it easily become overwhelming. When you are going through stressful time, or you know your employees are, there are a few things you can do to make the best of it. Here are some easy ways you can reduce your stress-level at work:frog-1339892_640

Take a break and talk to someone: Make an effort to periodically get up from your desk and have a short conversation with a co-worker. Try to avoid eating lunch alone. Use that time to build relationships with others at work. Having friends at work makes the workplace more enjoyable and less stressful because you have someone you can go to for support.

Exercise: Increasing your exercise level has been shown to reduce stress. Start a lunch-time walking group. Do you have a FitBit or other activity tracker? Get a group together for some healthy wellness competitions inside and outside work.

Eat healthy: Make an effort to eat as healthy as possible to improve concentration and focus. What you eat also affects your mood. Get your co-workers involved by sharing easy, healthy lunch and dinner recipes.

Get sleep: This can be difficult when you are feeling busy or overwhelmed, but getting enough sleep allows you to stay focused and productive and you will feel less stressed. You can use a FitBit or other activity tracker to track your sleep as well. Shoot for at least 8 hours per night. Also ty to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time.

Prioritize: Writing out daily to -do lists with short term goals will help you stay on track. Prioritize your tasks to make sure you tackle to most important ones first and don’t get caught up spending time doing tasks that could wait until later.

Think positive: What we focus the most on has the greatest impact on our day. Focus on the positive things. Celebrate small wins and progress throughout the day.

Stay organized: If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a look at your work space. Is it cluttered? Often your physical environment can add to your stress level. Take a few minutes to get organized.

If you know your team is feeling the stress of the end of the year, share some of these ideas with them. Let them know that you understand how they feel and offer suggestions and support when possible. Simply offering listening ear or asking what you can do to help can make a world of difference.

 

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A Plus BenefitsTips for Reducing Stress in the Workplace
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Five Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season


woman-698943_640The holidays are just around the corner and the weather is getting colder around the country. With the changing weather, the potential for contracting a cold or the flu increases substantially.

The flu is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by the influenza virus—with symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, loss of appetite, and a runny or stuffy nose.

While the common cold and the seasonal flu share many of the same symptoms, colds are often characterized by mild headaches and body aches. Unlike the flu, colds don’t usually require a trip to the doctor and can often be treated simply by using over-the-counter medications.

While colds and the flu aren’t generally a concern for individuals in good health, they can be dangerous for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions like asthma. So, while you may be able to handle these illnesses, co-workers, friends, family members or those you come into contact with may not.

As such, it’s important to protect yourself from contracting a cold or the flu altogether in order to prevent the spread of the disease. The following are just a few strategies you can use to keep yourself and those you interact with safe and healthy:

  1. Get vaccinated during flu season. This is often cited as the best way to prevent contracting or spreading the disease. Health officials recommend that everyone older than 6 months get a flu vaccine each year. If you are on the A Plus Benefits Medical Plan and have questions about ho w the flu vaccine is covered by your health plan, contact us at 1-800-748-5102.
  2. Stay home if you feel ill. Not only does rest help your body recover from colds and the flu, but staying home can help prevent spreading the illness. Make sure your employees understand this expectation as well as how their paid time off may come into play.
  3. Wash your hands. Using soap and water to wash your hands is critical when preventing the spread of illness. This should be done often and especially after using the restroom or prior to eating. Placing signs around the office can remind employees.
  4. Avoid others. If you’re ill, be smart and avoid shaking hands or coming into contact with your co-workers.
  5. Be mindful of where you cough. By coughing and sneezing into your arm and not your hand, you are limiting your chances of spreading your germs to others.

If you do catch a more serious cold or the flu, it may be a good idea to see a doctor and to discuss treatment options. If you are on the A Plus Benefits Medical Plan, you can use the Well Via Telemedicine program and speak to a doctor from the comfort of your home for $0 copay. Share this information with your employees to promote a healthier workplace this cold and flu season.

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A Plus BenefitsFive Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season
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The Key to Successful Culture Change Lies with Leaders


This time of year many organizations begin reviewing what worked and what didn’t work over the past year. This may leave you with some great ideas of areas that your company culture could be improved in 2017. But culture change is such an ambiguous goal; how do you even begin to tackle it? According to a recent blog from Harvard Business Review, if you want to see real change within your company culture, you should take a look at the habits and behaviors of your leaders.

It turns out that the behavior of your leaders has a greater impact on your culture than anything else you do. This is one of the reasons that making a change to company culture can be so difficult. It requires the leaders of your organization to change some of their habits and behaviors.

Take a look at your organization and examine what message your leaders are sending your employees about what is important. Do you have leaders that frequently show up late to meetings? There is no way that you can emphasize the importance of timeliness and punctuality in your culture if you leaders aren’t modeling that behavior.

Here are some ideas of how leaders can inspire real culture change within their organization by adjusting a few behaviors:

Looking to inspire employees to focus on safety? Take a page out of the book of United Airlines, who starts each meeting with a discussion of where the fire exits and stairs can be found and where employees should meet up in case of a fire. They do this to emphasize to everyone in attendance that safety is the company’s top priority.

Hoping to create a culture of open communication? Make sure that your leaders are providing employees with timely positive and negative feedback. Leaders should also solicit feedback from employees. Ask what you could be doing to make their lives easier. Also be careful about being defensive when a member of your team provides you with negative feedback. The way you react will determine whether people will be willing to come to you again.

If you want to successfully make some changes to your company culture, your leadership really needs to practice what you preach. Leadership should model the behaviors they hope to see from their employees. If you are looking for more ways to make a real impact to your company’s culture, contact an HR Business Partner at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsThe Key to Successful Culture Change Lies with Leaders
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The Deadline to Comply with the New Overtime Rules is Approaching


If you haven’t started planning for the upcoming overtime changes, now is the time. As a reminder, on May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a new rule regarding overtime wage payment in the United States. This new increases the salary threshold that “white collar” employees must meet in order to qualify for an overtime wage payment exemption. Employers must comply with the new rule by Dec. 1, 2016. Given the significant impact this change could have on your company’s bottom lcoins-1523383_640ine, it is important to start examining your payroll records and re-evaluating your overtime policies now in order to avoid compliance penalties in 2017 and beyond.

What is changing?

In order for an individual to be considered exempt from overtime under the “white collar exemption” that applies to professional, executive and administrative employees, they must meet three requirements. The second requirement is the only one that changed in the new regulations. The salary basis requirement and the duties test stayed the same

1- They must be paid on a salary basis (not hourly, piece rate, etc.).
2- They must be paid at least a minimum salary of $23,660 (increasing to $47,476 on December 1, 2016).
3. They must pass the FLSA duties test for overtime exemption based on their work.

In order to prevent the salary thresholds from falling behind in the future, the final rule requires that the minimum salary level requirements for the white collar exemptions will be updated every three years, starting with the first update January 1, 2020.

For administrative, executive and professional employees, the final rule allows employers to count up to 10 percent of employee nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments and commissions as part of the standard salary level—a practice that is not currently permitted. These bonuses may allow employers to more accurately represent employees’ earnings and help determine whether white collar exemptions should apply.

Employers are allowed to make one catch-up payment at the end of each quarter to satisfy the standard salary level. Payments must be made within one pay period after the quarter.

The final rule also increases the $100,000 salary level for highly compensated individuals to $134,004 per year—the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review their salaried exempt employees and determine if they have any employees that they are currently classifying as exempt from overtime under the professional, executive and administrative exemption or the highly compensated employee exemption. Then employers should identify those employees in this group whose salary below the new threshold.

These are the individuals you need to determine the best course of action for moving forward. Here are some examples to help you weigh your options.

Example #1- Employee who works regular overtime

Mary is a Graphic Designer whose work falls under the creative professional exemption.

She is currently paid a salary of $39,000 per year.

Mary’s work routinely takes her 46 hours per week (which means she works 312 Hours of overtime per year).

Option 1: Maintain exempt status and increase Mary’s salary to $47,476 per year.
Increased cost to employer: $8,476 per year
Pros: No need to track Mary’s hours, potentially improved employee morale due to pay increase
Con: Increased cost to employer

Option 2: Maintain Mary’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour and adjust her status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer
: $8,776.56 per year (in overtime pay)
Pro: Potentially improved employee morale due to pay increase
Cons: Increased cost to employer, adjustment in employee status, need to track Mary’s hours

Option 3: Maintain Mary’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour, adjust her status to non-exempt and limit overtime
Increased cost to employer
: Depends on actual overtime worked
Pro: Minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Need to redirect some of the employee’s work somewhere else, adjustment in employee status, need to track Mary’s hours

Option 4: Adjust Mary’s pay to $15.31 per hour and adjust her status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer:
$9.88 per year
Pro: Minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Potentially decreased employee morale due to perceived decrease in pay and adjustment in employee status, need to track Mary’s hours

Example #2- Employee who works occasional overtime

Greg is a Business Manager whose work falls under the administrative exemption.

He is currently paid a salary of $39,000 per year.

Greg’s work usually takes 40 hours per week. His overtime is rare, only totaling 36 hours per year.

Option 1: Maintain exempt status and increase Greg’s salary to $47,476 per year.
Increased cost to employer: $8,476 per year
Pros: No need to track Greg’s hours, potentially improved employee morale due to pay increase
Con: Increased cost to employer

Option 2: Maintain Greg’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour and adjust his status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer
: $1,012.68 per year (in overtime pay)
Pro: Small increased cost to employer
Cons: Adjustment in employee status, need to track Greg’s hours

Option 3: Maintain Greg’s salary at $39,000/$18.72 per hour, adjust his status to non-exempt and limit overtime
Increased cost to employer
: Depends on actual overtime worked
Pro: Very minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Need to redirect some of the employee’s work somewhere else, adjustment in employee status, need to track Greg’s hours

Option 4: Adjust Greg’s pay to $18.28 per hour and adjust her status to non-exempt
Increased cost to employer:
$9.52 per year
Pro: Minimal cost increase to employer
Cons: Potentially decreased employee morale due to perceived decrease in pay and adjustment in employee status, need to track Greg’s hours

As you can see, there are multiple options and each situation is unique. As an employer, you will likely need to review each employee’s situation independently before making your decision. If you need help, contact A Plus Benefits for assistance at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsThe Deadline to Comply with the New Overtime Rules is Approaching
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Do Employers Have to Give Employees Time Off to Vote?


Election Day is only a few weeks away and while federal law protects the right to cast a ballot, state law determines survey-1594962_640whether an employer must provide employees the opportunity to vote during work hours. Employers should identify whether they are operating in one of the 30+ states with voting-leave requirements to ensure they are in compliance and because some requirements may require immediate action. According to SHRM, generally those states that having voting leave laws allow employees time off to vote if there is insufficient time between the time the polls open and close within the state, and the time employees start and finish work.

For example, in the state of Utah, employees who do not have three consecutive non-working hours while the polls are open are entitled to up to two paid hours leave to vote. The employee must request leave before Election Day. The employer can set the time for leave, but employee requests for leave at the beginning or end of work hours shall be granted.

In Wyoming, employees who do not have three consecutive non-working hours while the polls are open are entitled to one paid hour leave (excluding meal times) to vote. The employer can set the time for leave to vote.

And in Idaho, there is no specific law requiring time off to vote.

The circumstances of the election should be considered by employers. For example, some employees who did not request leave because they thought they had enough time to vote before work or while on their lunch break might be delayed by an unexpectedly large turnout. In such cases, disciplining late-returning employees might be seen as a form of retaliation for an employee’s exercise of voting rights, a violation of most voting-leave laws.

Please see the State-by-State Time Off to Vote Chart. If you have questions about this or any other HR issues, contact an HR Business Partner at 1-800-748-5102.

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A Plus BenefitsDo Employers Have to Give Employees Time Off to Vote?