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. 

New report says small businesses lag big firms in using broadband

A report issued by Connect Michigan finds that small employers are missing some business opportunities by failing to take advantage of broadband Internet connectivity in the workplace. The Broadband: Empowering Small Businesses to Grow and Thrive report is available online. Hear an interview with Eric Frederick, State Program Manager for Connect Michigan, on Mon. June 4 on SBAM’s Business Next audio seminar on the Michigan Business Network.

Key findings from this report:

  • About two out of three Michigan businesses with fewer than 20 employees use broadband, which is significantly lower than among larger Michigan businesses
  • Fewer than one-half of small Michigan businesses have websites, and they are also significantly less likely to allow their employees to telework or use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to communicate compared to businesses with 20 employee or more
  • Nearly four out of five broadband-connected businesses with fewer than 20 employees (79%) go online to buy or place orders for products or services, the most popular online application among these businesses
  • Broadband-connected Michigan businesses with fewer than 20 employees report median annual revenues of approximately $300,000, compared to just $100,000 among similarly-sized competitors that do not use broadband
  • Statewide, nearly three out of ten (29%) businesses with fewer than 20 employees earn at least some of their revenues from online sales; on average these businesses earn about one-third (34%) of their revenues from online transactions
  • Statewide, businesses with fewer than 20 employees generate nearly $6.9 billion in online revenues for Michigan
Availability is the main barrier reported by one in ten small Michigan businesses that do not subscribe – this translates into approximately 6,000 Michigan businesses that could go online if broadband were available to them

The report was released at the Michigan Collaborative Broadband Committee (CBC) meeting in Lansing. The CBC is a group of representatives from K-12 education, higher education, broadband service providers, non-profits, tourism, business, agriculture, government, and other organizations that have an interest in improving Michigan’s broadband availability and encouraging meaningful adoption.

"High-speed broadband is an essential catalyst for the growth and expansion of small businesses here in the state of Michigan,” said Tremaine Phillips, Chief Program Officer with the Prima Civitas Foundation. “Cloud computing and telecommuting can greatly reduce the capital expenditures of small businesses and start-ups. While ultra-high-speed broadband is becoming increasingly available, businesses that are unable to utilize these tools are placed at a competitive disadvantage globally."

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Are you conducting appropriate background checks on new hires?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Frances Chapman  

What do RadioShack, Bausch & Lomb, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and now Yahoo have in common?  If you answer that all four companies have suffered the public embarrassment of having top officials who falsified their credentials, you win the kewpie doll.

Once again the public was shocked last week to hear the reports that the newly hired CEO of Yahoo! resigned under pressure from his Board of Directors for allegedly claiming to hold a Computer Science degree that he did not have. According to reports, the degree he did have was in Accounting.

Yahoo! and its case with now-former CEO Scott Thompson serve as a reminder to all employers that verifying credentials is a critical part of background screening.

How did it happen this time?  Some fingers point to the search firm that had placed Mr. Thompson when he joined PayPal earlier in his career. Mr. Thompson neither confirmed nor denied that specific accusation.  The result at Yahoo! is a management muddle and a public relations black eye that the company, already struggling in the marketplace, does not need at this time. Inevitably the details that have come to light as part of the overall story have done nothing to help the company's image. The story appears to have been further complicated by Mr. Thompson's revelation--by all accounts after the Board had decided he had to go--that he was suffering from thyroid cancer.

One casualty that can also be reported is Patti Hart, the Yahoo! director who was on the search committee that ended up recruiting Mr. Thompson.  Ms. Hart is the CEO of International Game Technology. At the request of her own Board of Directors she has resigned from Yahoo!’s board. Rightly or wrongly, as the gatekeeper for this search, she was seen as the one responsible for the gaffe.

HR is generally the gatekeeper for all searches and generally knows, or should know, better. Ms. Hart was not an HR person, and someone in HR should have been the final arbiter of the results of the background check. But the reports in the media do not make mention of any role played by HR in this situation.

Best practices in background checking require that a systematic process needs to be in place for all hires regardless of level. Companies should first start by reviewing their background screening procedures:
  • Which checks will you do on which classifications of hires, and why?
  • What will your process be for conducting background checks? Having an employee bring in a diploma or copy of a degree is not a reliable form of education verification.
  • If a new hire comes “highly recommended” by other peers in the field, you must still do your due diligence and verify credentials.
  • If an employee is being promoted to a supervisor (or above) level, it can’t hurt to run another background investigation rather than rely on the one from the time of original hire.
  • Regardless, a thorough credential verification is highly recommended for the executive level at minimum.
Some companies only do background checks on hourly workers while other organizations only do checks on executives. Neither practice is ideal.  While the searches performed may differ for both groups, there needs to be a consistent practice of doing background checks.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

SBAM members receive discounts on background check services from ASE.  Click here to learn more.

Heads up: an innocent request for time off can trigger a wage and hour violation

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Michael J. Burns

The weather is getting warm and the days longer. Workers are looking for more time off to enjoy the good weather, or take care of personal business they would otherwise take care of on the now-beautiful weekends. So what might they do?

One way of freeing up more time has been to put in some overtime and request to take that time off in the foreseeable future. The supervisor, seeing a way to provide a simple perk to a good employee, says “Sure, when do you want to take the time off?”

To accede to this simple request could result in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). What the employee is requesting is referred to in the HR world as compensatory time off. If the employee’s position is non-exempt, this can cause a problem. Why?

FLSA’s rule on overtime pay states that non-exempt employees that work over forty hours in a week must be paid at the rate of time and one-half for all hours in excess of the forty-hour limit. The concept of compensatory time that is occasionally—and incorrectly—practiced is to permit non-exempt employees to take that time off at some future time and date. Typically it is the same amount of time off that they put in as overtime.

Allowing an employee to take off, at a later date, the same amount of  time that was worked as overtime, violates the basic rule of overtime in two ways: First, it does not adequately compensate overtime worked in pay; second, the time off is not (typically) provided at a rate of time and one-half.

Keep in mind that we are talking about non-exempt employees. Exempt employees (Executive, Professional, Administrative, Outside Sales and some IT positions) can take time off at their and their employer’s discretion and generally not run afoul of wage and hour law.

The real question is this: Is it ever possible to give time off to a non-exempt employee for overtime worked? The answer is yes, but only under some very specific criteria, and strictly speaking it is not compensatory time off. Here are the requirements:

  • The non-exempt employee must be paid on a salaried basis (and keep in mind another common falsity that paying a salary to a worker does not, per se, make the position exempt).
  • The pay period must be two weeks in length.
  • The overtime worked in one week must occur within the same pay period as the time taken off in the other week.
  • The time taken off in one week (whether the first or second week in the pay period) must be one and one-half times the time worked in overtime the other week.
So the non-exempt employee that works one hour of overtime in week one must take 1.5 hours off the following week (week two of the same pay period) in order to comply with wage and hour regulations. This is why it is not “compensatory” time off. It is re-balancing the employee’s regular paycheck so it equals his or her regular salary with overtime included. The overtime is paid for the one hour of additional work, but the 1.5 hours taken off in the following week reduces the employee pay in that week to a rate equal to his or her normal two week salary.

It is important for employers to review this issue with their supervisors and managers to ensure they following the correct practice in their workplaces.

If your organization is concerned about whether it has properly classified its jobs as exempt or non-exempt, ASE can analyze them for you and advise you as to their proper classifications. If you are concerned in general about your HR compliance practices, ASE can conduct a full audit of your HR function. Click here to learn more about the ASE b

Get up to 80 hours of talented pro bono internships for your company

Michigan Shifting Gears (MiSG) is a three month program that helps highly experienced, educated and talented people undergoing a career transition find new opportunities with smaller, innovative companies. The purpose of the program is to help displaced professionals learn new ways to frame their value in the workplace and develop networks - thus opening new doors to job opportunities, and allowing Michigan to retain key talent for growing employers. To learn more about the program, please visit the website.
As part of the MiSG program, participants provide 80 hours of pro bono service to a company. The current cohort began on April 30; the internship talent connection is on Thursday, May 31 from 3 – 5 pm, with internships beginning on June 4th. As part of the internship portion of the program, an ‘internship talent connection’ will be held at Regional Host Partner locations, which include Prima Civitas for the Lansing region. This event provides an opportunity to meet with participants one on one to discuss your company / projects. Attending a talent connection event is not required but is recommended to increase your chances of connecting with a Michigan Shifting Gears participant for your project. Following the event, companies and MiSG participants directly connect and work out details and ensure proper fit. You can register your company/project here.

Steven Strauss: great moms

Question: My wife is both a terrific mom and a terrific businesswoman. I would just like to say thank you to her, and to all of the great moms out there who juggle life and business. 

Answer: Like many people, I have been fascinated with this great season of AMC’s Mad Men. It is interesting on so many levels, not the least of which is the struggle and challenges of women in the workplace. And in that regard, the indomitable Peggy Olson is our favorite character. Her spunk, great attitude, smarts, and dedication have, and will, take her far.

Similarly, Don Draper’s new wife Megan is a fascinating character. Rather than the ditzy airhead we (I) anticipated, it turned out that she too is an incredibly capable young woman, bursting with creativity and mad skills.

But what neither of these women will ever be in a mompreneur. I grew up in the 60s and, as the show so ably depicts, it was a different era. Women tended to be either stay-at-home moms or women who worked. Rarely did the two mix. Witness Joanie leaving her son with her mom so she could go back to and run Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce.

There have been so many advancements in the workplace in the recent past that it is hard to pick one that is the most important – technology, mobility, laws, attitudes – work today is radically different than even a generation ago. But even with these seismic shifts, it would be hard to say that the change in attitude by and towards women at work is not the most important change; number one. 

I once had a boss who had to straddle the old and new world. Coming of age in the 70s as she did, she seemed to think that the only way she could be effective at work was to be tougher than the guys. And boy, was she tough. 

These days though, it seems that no such compromises need to be made.

When the Secretary of State is a woman, when The Masters has a problem on its hands because the CEO of one of its biggest sponsors, IBM, is a woman, we are clearly in a new world where equality does not mean out-manning the men. Rather, it seems to mean that a person can bring their own strengths to the table and succeed or fail on her own merits, period.

That is the world I want to see my daughters grow up in:

• A world where a woman can realistically think she can become president (Go Mara!) 
• A world where a woman does not have to choose between being a mom and being an entrepreneur. (According to the AP, roughly 67% of all home-based businesses are owned by women with children.)
• A world where women get equal pay for equal work (Background: Lily Ledbetter worked at a Goodyear Tire Rubber Co. plant in Gadsen, Alabama. After she learned that she was being paid less than her male counterparts, she eventually sued the company. But because she waited until near retirement to sue, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against her because, they said, she had in fact waited too long. In his first act as president, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act which mandates equal pay for equal work.)

So on this day after Mother’s Day, I would just like to thank all of the great moms out there (including my own sweet wife) who have changed the world and who continue to make our business life so vibrant. 

Today’ Tip: Sign of the times: My daughter, who is a freshman in college, really dislikes “feminism.” “Why?” I ask her. “Because women are already equal to men dad. Duh. There is nothing to fight about.” Little does she realize how much she owes women like my old boss, and before that, the Peggy Olsons of the world. These brave women made it so that a young woman today takes equality for granted. 

Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, writer, and speaker, and is one of the country's leading experts on small business as well as an international busin