Pay overnight employees correctly during daylight-saving time change

Daylight-saving time often creates confusion on how to pay employees that work the overnight period when daylight time begins or ends. The old tip for “Spring Forward, lose an hour on the overnight shift” or “Fall Back, add an hour to the overnight shift” is often helpful.

Most states participate in daylight-savings time. Those employees working the overnight shift when daylight-Saving time begins each spring work one hour less because the clocks are set ahead one hour. Those employees working the graveyard shift when daylight-saving time ends in the fall work an extra hour because the clocks are set back one hour at 2 a.m.

For example:

A scheduled shift starts at 11 p.m. and ends at 7:30 a.m. the next day; your employee works an eight- hour shift and receives a 30-minute lunch break.

  • On the Sunday that daylight-saving time ends (Nov. 3, 2013) at 2 a.m., the employee works the hour from 1-2 a.m. twice because at 2 a.m. all of the clocks are turned back one hour to 1a.m. Thus, on this day the employee worked 9 hours, even though the schedule only reflected 8 hours.
  • On the Sunday that Daylight Savings Time starts at 2 a.m., the employee does not work the hour from 2-3 a.m. because at 2 a.m. all of the clocks are turned forward to 3 a.m. Thus on this day, the employee only worked 7 hours, even though the schedule was for 8 hours.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees be credited with all of the hours actually worked. Therefore, if the employee is in a work situation similar to that described above, he or she worked (nine) 9 hours on the day that daylight-saving time ends and seven (7) hours on the day that daylight-saving time begins. This assumes, of course, that the employee actually worked the scheduled shift as in our example.

One interesting side note to daylight-saving time: A study by Michigan State University industrial and organizational psychology doctoral candidates Christopher Barnes and David Wagner, reported by various sources, says that workplace accidents spike 5.7 percent on the Monday after we set our clocks forward 1 hour in the spring compared with other Mondays throughout the year. They also reported that a University of British Columbia study found an 8 percent increase in accidents on the changeover day.

The reason? It’s lack of sleep. Although the researchers say that workers actually lose only 40 minutes of sleep on that night, even that small amount of time is significant, Barnes explained.

Barnes said that studies have shown that lost sleep causes attention levels to drop off, and that the impact could be greatest in jobs requiring a high level of attention to detail. So while reportable physical accidents increase, Barnes maintains that it is not unreasonable to think that non-reportable workplace mistakes , such as transposing figures, probably rise as well.

No such spike occurs in the fall when clocks are set back! That’s because workers are getting extra time to sleep.

The study used data from the “American Time Use Survey” conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and from the U.S. Dept. of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration. The study was sponsored by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, whose members study and apply scientific principles to workplace issues.

The researchers also reported that their findings show that not only do the number of accidents increase, but their severity as well.

So if the studies prove to be true, businesses should see a benefit the week of Nov. 3, 2013 with employees experiencing increased work performance because of an extra hour of sleep!

Can we help you with questions about matters of employee pay and other benefits?  Contact BCN Services at 1-800-891-9911 or visit us at www.bcnservices.com or email hr@bcnservices.com.

 

 

Jeff Walsh (200x190)

Jeff Walsh, Partnership Manager

Federal tax ruling changes tax advantages and benefits for same-sex couples

On Aug. 29, 2013, The Department of Treasure and the Internal Revenue Service ruled on treatment of taxation for same-sex married couples, regardless of the couple’s state of residence.  The June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages equally to opposite-sex marriages for all federal laws and benefits, including tax advantages never before offered to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court ruling does not require all states to recognize same-sex marriage.  States retain the authority of whether to recognize same-sex marriages, even if the couple is legally married in a state that recognizes them.  However, for federal tax purposes, all legally married same-sex couples, regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes these marriages, will benefit from the federal ruling.

These tax advantages include treatment of benefit premium deductions for same-sex married couples under Section 125 of the IRS Code.  Prior to DOMA being overturned, same-sex married couples who participated in an employer sponsored health plan could not have their total premium contribution taken on a pre-tax basis.  The employee could contribute his or her portion on a pre-tax basis, but the difference between a “single” employee contribution, and the “two-person” contribution was required to be deducted after tax.  From 2013 forward, the premium contribution amount for a same-sex spouse from an employee’s paycheck must be taken on a pre-tax basis.  The same advantages apply to medical flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).  Same-sex married couples now receive the same tax advantages including the ability to claim each other’s medical expenses against FSA and HSA accounts.

Employees who were in a same-sex marriage prior to 2013 and did not receive the same tax advantages as opposite-sex married couples may amend their previous tax filings within the IRS period of limitations.  (Generally, the period of limitations is three years from the date the return was filed, or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later.)

The State of Michigan does not currently recognize same-sex marriage.  Employers may opt to offer “domestic partner” coverage for same-sex married couples, but it is not required.  If a BCN Services client opts to offer such coverage, we are prepared to follow the federal tax guidelines accordingly. We will also administer reimbursements from employees’ FSA accounts per federal guidelines.

Please contact your BCN Partnership Manager if you have questions and, as always, employees should feel free to call our Human Resources call center if they have questions about their coverage or benefit deductions.  Contact us at 1-800-891-9911 or visit us atwww.bcnservices.com or email hr@bcnservices.com.

 

FrankLewandowski_6684

 

Frank Lewandowski, Partnership Manager

The Affordable Care Act and You: 10 essential health benefits insurers must now offer

The Affordable Care Act is changing how Americans receive health care.  Plans are changing across the board and often the topic of Essential Health Benefits is mentioned as the driving force behind many of the changes.  What are these 10 Essential Health Benefits, or EHBs, that everyone is referring to?

  1.  Ambulatory Patient Services – This is outpatient care and the most common form of health care.
  2. Prescription Drugs – All plans will cover at least one drug in every category and class in the US Pharmacopeia, the official publication of approved medications in the US.
  3. Emergency Care – Visits do not require pre-authorization.
  4. Mental Health Services – This benefit could be new to your plan, as many current plans do not carry this coverage.
  5. Hospitalization – Your insurer must cover your hospitalization, but with co-pays and deductibles.
  6. Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services – Existing coverage will expand under most plans.
  7. Preventive and Wellness Services – Insurers are now required to provide 50 preventative services at no extra cost.
  8. Laboratory Services – Preventive screening tests are covered, while “diagnostic” tests may not be.
  9. Pediatric Care – This is directed at Dental and Vision care.  Children under the age of 19 now will be covered for cleanings, x-rays, fillings and medically necessary orthodontia.  Eye exams and one pair of glasses or contacts included as well.
  10. Maternity and Newborn Care – This change now classifies prenatal care as a preventative service that must be provided at no extra cost.

The new law mandates that every carrier participating in the exchanges offer the 10 Essential Health Benefits and set certain standards that all insurers must meet, whether they are providing health insurance through an employer or directly to individuals and small groups.

Prior to the law only 2 percent of existing individual health plans provide all 10 essential benefits.  On average, today’s plans offer 76 percent of these benefits.

Health plans and options are changing,  so be sure to consult with BCN Services if you have questions or concerns about how your health benefits will be affected by these Essential Health Benefits.  Contact us at 1-800-891-9911 or visit us at www.bcnservices.comor hr@bcnservices.com.

 

 

Rick Dyer (200x193)

Rick Dyer, Vice President of Sales

Supporting a work-life balance is good for employees…and the company

Balancing the responsibilities of work and home is an ongoing battle for most employees who  are busier than ever and trying to coordinate work and personal schedules can be a struggle.  Employees will respect an employer that allows more flexibility in dealing  with the everyday demands of life. An organization that supports a healthy work-life balance can benefit not only the employee, but the employer as well.

Many professionals identify work-life balance as a top contributor to their job satisfaction. Supporting employees in their efforts to achieve this balance will help to boost productivity and loyalty. Allowing more flexible work schedules can result in employees that are more engaged and motivated. This allows employees more time to address personal life matters outside of work so they are not preoccupied during work.

Achieving a work-life balance for employees can also help reduce turnover.  According to a recent survey by Hay Group, 17 percent of employees in organizations that support work-life balance plan to leave their jobs within the next 2 years, compared with 27 percent of employees in organizations where work-life balance is not supported.  The survey also found that supporting a work-life balance also increases the employer’s ability to recruit top talent and there is greater satisfaction with compensation.

Mangers can use the following tips to help achieve a work-life balance that will result in a more productive and efficient staff:

1. Be flexible. If practical, allow alternative work arrangements such as modified schedules or job sharing.

2. Offer paid time off (PTO) in lieu of sick days and vacation. Let the employee decide why, how and when they want to use their paid days off.  Also, only allow limited carry-over of PTO to encourage employees to actually use it.

3. Reduce employees’ need to commute. Can an employee’s job be performed just as well at home? If so, allow them the option to do so.

4. Be a model for the balance. If a manager is responding to email while on vacation it sends a message to the employee that they’re expected to do the same.

5. Avoid contacting employees outside of work hours. Respect their personal time and only reach out to them if it’s crucial.

6. Encourage employees to seek help when they feel overwhelmed. Bring in outside help if necessary.

Reach out to your employees and Identify ways that can help them achieve the balance of work and life.  If you need additional help with employee matters or tips for creating policies in your business, contact BCN Services at 1-800 891-9911 or visit us at www.bcnservices.comhr@bcnservices.com.

 

 

Amanda Cline (200x184)

Amanda Cline, HR Generalist

BCN Services stays on top of compliance issues for employers

Legal Compliance can be a headache for business owners and managers, yet one made easier by a partnership with BCN Services.  Still, we need your help to get the necessary “i”s dotted and “t”s crossed when changes are made or considered in your business operation.  Be sure to call BCN whenever you encounter these compliance matters so that we can assist you:

  • Opening a new location:  Some local municipalities require city, county or school taxes to be withheld.  It is important for BCN to have each work locations properly geo-coded to ensure that taxes are withheld at the proper rate.
  • Hiring employee(s) in a new state:  BCN has experience operating in many different states, however, a minimum 10 day notice from our clients is necessary when they begin work in a new state.  Registration and licensing fees are required along with many types of paperwork.  Additionally, each state has different workers’ compensation and employment requirements that must be taken into consideration.
  • Creating a new position:  When adding a new position to your staff, the screening process, physical requirements, job duties, and pay classification are all things to be considered.  Our HR professionals are always available to assist in this important decision-making step.
  • Changing an employee’s pay classification (hourly to salary):  It is generally not an issue to change a salaried employee to an hourly pay status.  However, the law is very specific about who can be changed from an hourly position to a salary position.  Job responsibilities, number of hours and amount of pay are all matters that are federally regulated If you have questions, contact BCN Services for guidance.

Working together, we can expertly and efficiently manage the burden of regulatory compliance.  Call us at 1-800-891-9911 or visit us at www.bcnservices.com .

 

SueKester_6669

 

Sue Kester, HR Manager