HR & Compliance

Add SBAM offers a full spectrum of human resources services to keep you compliant and help your business run more efficiently and profitably....


Human Resources Solutions

ASE LogoLooking for help with tough HR issues? 

SBAM partner ASE has the answers about hiring, firing, FMLA, ADA and more! Get access to a FREE HR hotline, affordable and cost-effective research consultation services, discounted employee handbooks and workplace posters, and more.


Section 125 Plan, FSA, HSA & HRA Administration

 

KUSHNER & COMPANY LogoLooking for ways to contain health care costs?
With the cost of health insurance continuing to rise, most employers require their employees to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums. SBAM partner Kushner & Co. can help you put a tax-favored, consumer-directed plan in place that benefits you and your employees.

 


COBRA Administration

Personalized, affordable administration for your business. 

If you have 20 or more employees, your company is required by federal law to offer continued health insurance coverage via COBRA and will face huge fines if it's not administered correctly.  Let SBAM help you stay compliant for only $30 per month. 

Health insurance cost problems are not going away

Health insurance cost problems are not going away
(by Scott Lyon, SBAM health insurance expert)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law on March 23 by President Obama. Today, the question turns to will the U.S. Supreme Court decide to allow the PPACA to stand or rule the law as unconstitutional? Regardless, this is shaping up to be a landmark Supreme Court decision that will impact the provision of health care and health insurance in America for decades to come whether its upheld, struck down, or parts are maintained while others are not. The key elements in question include:

  • The Individual Mandate and its related provisions including the requirement for individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage, the design of insurance exchanges, insurance market reforms (guarantee issue and renew, no pre-existing conditions exclusions, covering children on their parent health insurance until the age of 26, among others), etc.
  • The Expansion of Medicaid, essentially who is eligible for this program and how is it funded.

People who follow the Supreme Court have indicated that the conventional wisdom is that the justices will release a decision at the very end of this session – either June 25h or June 28. This makes some sense for a couple of reasons. First, the Supreme Court issues decisions on Mondays and Thursdays and the 25th and 28th are the last Monday and Thursday of the Court’s year. Second, regardless of how they rule, it will be the beginning of a media and political feeding frenzy and why do this before the Justices head out of Washington for the summer?

Either way, Michigan and for that matter the rest of the country, still will have a health insurance cost problem. The cost of U.S. healthcare services is expected to rise 7.5 percent in 2013, more than three times the projected rates for U.S. inflation and economic growth, according to an industry research report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers on May 31. 

According to the report, premiums for large employer health plans could increase by only 5.5 percent as a result of company wellness programs and a growing trend toward plans that impose higher insurance costs on workers. The projected growth rate of 7.5 percent for overall healthcare costs contrasts with expectations for growth of 2.4 percent in U.S. gross domestic product and a 2 percent rise in consumer prices during 2013, according to the latest Reuters economic survey.

That said, why is health insurance so expensive and what are some big picture things that might help reduce costs?

One of the reasons health insurance costs so much is due to the federal programs of Medicare and Medicaid. A couple of years ago, the actuarial firm Milliman estimated that for a family of four, there is a cost shift of $1,788 (15 percent of premium) because these programs do not pay providers at a fair rate. Ending this cost shift would help small businesses and their employees afford coverage. While paying providers at a “fair or fairer rate” may sound easy enough, the big question that needs to be resolved is, of course, where does that money come from? 

A second reason health insurance costs as much as it does is due to the cost shift from the uninsured to the insured, which is estimated at $922 for a family of four. No one on either side of the political aisle denies the uninsured and the cost shift; this is the problem that the Democrats and the Affordable Care Act are trying to resolve with the individual mandate and employer “play of pay provision.” Keep in mind that before the rules changed as a result of the PAACA - of the 47 million uninsured: 4.7 million (10 percent) were college students, 10 million (21.28 percent) are non-citizens, 11 million (23.40 percent) are eligible for, but not enrolled in public programs like CHIP and Medicaid and another 9 mil

To catch a thief: Is a polygraph a good idea?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

If you think an employee may be stealing from the company, there's a good chance you are right. But is a polygraph test the best way to establish the truth? The answer is... maybe. Find out what happened in one new case involving a Wendy's restaurant employee, and learn the ground rules for using a polygraph test.  

Congress laid down the law on the acceptable use of lie detectors --specifically polygraph tests -- at the workplace with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA). On occasion courts weigh in to say whether a particular employer's use of the polygraph was legal. One such case was recently decided, though narrowly, in favor of a Wendy's restaurant.

First, a reminder of EPPA's basic provisions. According to Jon Hyman, a partner with the Cleveland-based law firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, EPPA prohibits private employers from:

  • Requiring, requesting, suggesting or causing an employee or prospective employee to take or submit to any lie detector test
  • Using, accepting, referring to, or inquiring about the results of any lie detector test of an employee or prospective employee, and
  • Discharging, disciplining, discriminating against, denying employment or promotion, or threatening to take any such action against an employee or prospective employee for refusing to take the test, or on the basis of the results of a test.
Were it not for some exceptions to those broad limitations, there would be no point in considering the use of a polygraph. The most important exception, Hyman explained, involves "employees who are reasonably suspected of involvement in a workplace incident that results in economic loss to the employer and who had access to the property that is the subject of an investigation."

Bass v. Wendy's: The Facts of the Case

In Bass v. Wendy's of Downtown, Inc. (U.S. District Court, N.D. Ohio, Case No. 11-CV-940, May 1, 2012), Donald Bass was a part-time manager, who was asked to take a polygraph test after a cash deposit went missing. Only two employees had access to the cash. Both were asked by Wendy's to submit to a polygraph examination as part of the investigation. Although they could have refused, both agreed and, according to the polygraph operator, Bass flunked. However, he was not terminated.

Two years later, Wendy's posted openings for two management positions. By this time, Bass had already left Wendy's, after he was recorded on a security camera, inappropriately touching a female employee. His resignation came at the request of management. Later, when he learned Wendy's was hiring managers, Bass asked to be considered for one of the new jobs. Wendy's declined.

Bass then filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, alleging he had been a victim of age discrimination. In its defense, Wendy's offered a variety of justifications for its decision -- including Bass's failure of the polygraph test.

Bass sought damages from Wendy's in federal court based on:
  • Wendy's disclosure to the Civil Rights Commission that the polygraph and been administered and
  • Wendy's statement that Bass admitted to criminal conduct.

While the court faulted Wendy's references to the polygraph results and Wendy's characterization of those results, it nevertheless decided to drop the case. Why? Bass offered "no evidence that he was in any way damaged by Wendy's disclosure of his failed polygraph examination."

Although its action appears blameless on a substantive level, Wendy's may have dodged a bullet in this case through its reference to the polygraph results. The case illustrates the critical importance of scrupulous adherence to EPPA's exacting requirements. Hyman li

Important change to unemployment comp on the way

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Joe DeSantis  

Michigan seems assured of soon joining 23 other states in instituting a Work Sharing program. “Work Sharing” is the generic term for a program designed to enable employers to avoid layoffs during business downturns. They do it by reducing all employees’ hours and enabling those employees to draw partial unemployment benefits to cover part of their lost wages.

Gov. Snyder touted Work Sharing in a speech last fall about rebuilding Michigan’s workforce. President Obama’s Jobs for America bill also promoted Work Sharing. The governor saw it as a way for Michigan employers to hold onto their talent through downturns when they would otherwise be forced to lay people off permanently. And it will provide cost savings to the state, and ultimately its employers, from reduced benefit payouts.

Michigan’s Work Sharing bill, SB 1094, recently cleared the Senate in Lansing. It currently sits in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate version was introduced by a Republican (Sen. Bruce Caswell, Adams Township). The vote (24-13) went along party lines with only one Republican opposed; the only challenge to the bill during floor debate came from Sen. Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield) who nevertheless voted in favor of the bill when the roll was called.

Assuming the bill is enacted into law, it would work as follows:
  • An employer faced with the need to cut labor costs by, say, 25% would reduce everyone’s weekly hours by that amount instead of laying off 25% of its employees. Those employees would then be able to draw an unemployment benefit equal to 25% of the amount they would get if they were fully laid off. The amount of the benefit drawn would not count against an employee’s 20-week eligibility for benefits should he or she be laid off in the future.
  • The employer would not be able to lay off any employees for the duration of the program, and the program could only be used one time for a maximum of one year.
  • Employers that are unionized would have to negotiate the right to set up the program.
The philosophical argument against Work Sharing is that it reduces the level of marketplace churn that ends up creating new jobs and workers qualified to perform them. The more practical form of opposition is likely to come from veteran employees, especially in a union environment, who would otherwise escape being laid off because of their seniority. Some of them will resist losing a portion of their income that they otherwise would not lose, even though they would gain more time off as an offset.

Supporters of the concept of Work Sharing believe that employers would not use it unless they believe that demand for their products will eventually rebound and therefore they ought to hold onto their employees if they can. But, for example, an event such as the Great Recession could convince them that the changes to the economy will be systemic and not cyclical; in that belief they would likely reduce their workforces permanently through standard layoffs.

The next step would be to clear the House Commerce Committee with or without changes and go to the House floor, which is majority Republican, for debate and voting. The committee met Tuesday May 29th to consider the bill.

Small biz opportunities for veterans. Friday on Business Next!

The host of Business Next is SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers. Friday's lineup:
Segment one: Keith King of Keith King and Associates in Detroit is the U.S. SBA 2012 National Veteran Champion. Michael talks with Keith about his role as one of the nation’s top veteran advocates.
Segment two: Keith King, U.S. SBA 2012 National Veteran Champion, on opportunities for veterans to be entrepreneurs.
Segment three: Julie Mann of JMann Consulting Group tells small employers why they would benefit from attending the June 13 Michigan HR Day.
Segment four: Get your small business office well organized. Tips and suggestions from Denise LaFlamme, owner of Finder Closets LLC.
Segment five: Reported live from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Michael talks with Joe Borgstrom of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority about the Facebook MIPlace2012 contest that lets you tell the world why you choose Michigan as the place you call home.
Segment six: Reported live from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Michael talks with George Zimmerman, vice president for Travel Michigan, about the Pure Michigan campaign and the state’s efforts to attract millions of out-of-state visitors to spend money at small business tourism businesses.

Listen Wednesday at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.    

SBAM and Michigan business leaders say early childhood education matters to economic growth

A coalition of 100 business leaders from across the state, including SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler, is calling for greatly intensified state focus on early childhood education programs and strategy to ensure Michigan's children are prepared to compete in the 21st century global economy. The group, Children's Leadership Council of Michigan, made the announcement at the Mackinac Policy Conference this week, where the members urged fellow business leaders and entrepreneurs to commit to support the Michigan Early Childhood Business Plan.

The plan calls on state policymakers and local school officials to:

  • Offer publicly funded preschool to all 4-year-olds who are eligible – Currently, Michigan has slots for only about half of the eligible 4-year olds. Approximately 38,000 4-year-olds are shut out of preschool every year.
  • Strengthen efforts to assure the healthy growth of 0 to 3-year-olds – The first 1,000 days are critical to a child's brain development. Right from birth, children must be raised by parents and other caregivers who have the supports they need to be their children's first and best teachers. To this end, the members support expansion of evidence-based programs for 0 to 3-year-olds and their families, particularly home visiting, for at-risk infants and toddlers.
The Children's Leadership Council of Michigan was founded by 16 business leaders from across the state who believe strongly in the value and necessity of investment in early childhood. It is co-chaired by Doug Luciani, president and CEO, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, and Debbie Dingell, president, d2 Strategies.

"The goal of the council's initiative is to encourage the State of Michigan to act with new commitment to ensure that all Michigan children arrive at school ready to succeed," said Doug Luciani, co-chair of the Children's Leadership Council of Michigan, and president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. "We are calling on the State to offer publicly funded preschool to all 4-year-olds who are eligible and to strengthen efforts to assure the healthy growth of 0 to 3-year-olds."

State business leaders who have signed the council's new Michigan Early Childhood Business Plan include the executives of the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing regional chambers of commerce; Business Leaders for Michigan, executives from a range of banking, accounting and financial institutions; as well as executives from utilities, publishing, legal professions, real estate, health care, manufacturing and other industries.

The Children's Leadership Council of Michigan call-to-action is supported by solid evidence of the importance of early childhood education:

  • Many of Michigan's children are not on this clear path to prosperity. Seven out of 10 fourth graders are not proficient readers.
  • One out of three kindergartners is not fully prepared to learn when entering school.
  • For every $1 invested in high-quality pre-school and evidenced-based early childhood programs, Michigan taxpayers save several dollars in reduced costs for welfare, criminal justice, grade repetition for students and other savings.
  • A high-quality, globally competitive workforce depends on talented learners. The first key marker of student success is grade-school reading proficiency – and grade schoolers become proficient readers if they enter kindergarten healthy and ready to learn.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation hosted a panel discussion at the Mackinac Policy Conference that presented the business case for intensified preschool and other early childhood programs that will turn Michigan into a national leader for school readiness. "At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we believe that an investment in our children is an investment in our future," said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO, W.K. Ke
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