Pet perks becoming more popular with employers and their staffs

The idea of pets in the workplace is gaining in popularity, particularly with the younger generation entering the workforce.  Millennials value non-traditional benefits and perks and, for many of them, the lines are blurred between their personal and professional lives.  According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), although many companies do not allow pets in the workplace, eight percent of companies now do, and even more are offering related benefits acknowledging pets as an important part of employees’ lives.

Studies show that many employees will choose a pet-friendly company over one that is not when comparing similar job offers.  Workers are more apt to stay with a company that allows them to bring their best friend to work, than to move to a company where it is not allowed.  This employee loyalty is an added perk for employers.

Of course there are many factors for employers to consider before tackling such a program.  Be sure you are taking into account the feelings of non-pet lovers in your work environment as well as those that are all for it.  Employees with allergies or a fear of dogs need to be considered.  Is your work place large enough for a pet free zone, perhaps part of the building or on another floor?

If you decide to allow pets in your workplace, take the time to set ground rules.  For example, are pets allowed only on specific days?  What type of pets are allowed?  Dogs?  Cats?  What about a tarantula in a small aquarium?  Be clear, and be sure employees understand their responsibilities in the care of their pet and how entertaining visitors or attending meetings will be handled as it relates to pets.

If you choose not to allow pets in the work place, consider alternatives such as pet health insurance, doggy day care vouchers, or volunteer work day opportunities at a local shelter.  Recognizing and caring about what is important to your employees translates into employees recognizing and caring about what is important to your business.

Can BCN Services help you craft a pet policy for your workplace or do you want to talk it over with one of our HR professional? Give us a call!

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Sue Kester, HR Manager

Employee Reimbursements: When are they taxable and when are they nontaxable?

Whether it’s supplies for the office, travel expenses or a business lunch, employee reimbursements are now commonplace for employers.  Determining when those reimbursements are subject to taxation and when they are nontaxable is an employer’s responsibility and can often seem like a daunting task.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, employee reimbursements fall into two categories: accountable and non accountable plans.  The IRS also provides employers with guidelines so they can best determine which plan to use for your reimbursement.

Reimbursements under accountable plans are nontaxable.  In order to qualify, the employee must provide documentation and/or receipts and return any unspent funds to the company.  For example, an employee purchases a plane ticket with a personal credit card for an out-of-town meeting.  The employee than submits the receipt and is reimbursed the exact amount of purchase.

Reimbursements under nonaccountable plans are counted as taxable wages.  For these reimbursements, employees are not required to provide receipts or return unused funds.  For example, an employee is given $50 in order to purchase supplies for a presentation and does not provide any receipts or return any portion of the funds unspent.

An easy illustration can be made using employee meal reimbursements.  An employee is given $10 for lunch in cash.  If the employee provides both the receipt for that lunch and any unused portion of cash, then the lunch falls under an accountable plan and is nontaxable.  If the employee does not provide a receipt or return the unused portion of the cash, this lunch would fall under a nonaccountable plan and should be counted as taxable wages.

Every employer encounters different challenges in regards to employee reimbursements so if you have any questions or would like further information, please contact BCN Services and we would be happy to assist.

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Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

New ‘Michigan Law Prohibits Discrimination’ poster should be displayed now

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has updated its “Michigan Law Prohibits Discrimination” poster and BCN Services recommends replacing the current MDCR poster and is coordinating delivery of the new poster to all of its Michigan worksites.  Similar to other employment postings, employers are required to display the most current poster as notice of Michigan’s ban against discrimination in the workplace.

The MDCR enforces two state laws: The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act #453, Public Acts of 1976, as amended, and The Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act #220, Public Acts 1976, as amended.  The posting of “Michigan Law Prohibits Discrimination” is a requirement of these Acts and reads in part:

  • MICHIGAN LAW PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION in Employment, Education, Housing, Public Accommodation, Law Enforcement or Public Service.
  • MICHIGAN LAW PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION BASED ON: Religion, Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, Disability, Age, Marital Status, Height, Weight, Arrest Record, Genetic Information, and familial status.

In the MDCR’s revision of the “Michigan Law Prohibits Discrimination” poster, there is additional language requiring an applicant or employee with a disability to request any special accommodation within 182 days of when the applicant or employee knew, or reasonably should have known, of the need for the accommodation.  The request must be made in writing as specified in the posting:  Persons with disabilities needing accommodations for employment must notify their employers in writing within 182 days.

A covered employer (Michigan employers having one or more employees) must display the posting to give applicants or employees notification of the 182-day requirement.

If the revised posting and 182-day notification requirement sounds familiar, it is because the MDCR removed the language in 2011.  In 2017, the MDCR reconsidered and issued the revised posting which, once again, contains the 182-day written notice language.

As always, if you have questions about posting of required materials in your workplace or any other human resources question, the experts at BCN Services are here to help. Give us a call if we can answer any questions.

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Susan Price, Strategic Services Manager

Take time to Appreciate your Employees

Last year, the U.S Department of Labor reported that the leading reason that employees quit their jobs is due to lack of appreciation. According to a recent survey, 53 percent of employees said they would stay longer at their current job if they received more appreciation from their supervisor. Also, four of five employees reported that they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. This data is clear evidence that maintaining a happy staff takes more than a competitive salary and benefits.

The good news is that showing appreciation for your employee’s is a simple task. Try applying these effective appreciation tips from GlassDoor.com:

  • Treat employees as valuable assets, instead of just saying so.
  • Communicate thoroughly and effectively. Sharing information with employees allows them able to take on more responsibility and participate at a higher level. It is important for employees to understand a company’s and supervisor’s expectations.
  • Design reward programs to influence people to develop their potential as contributing employee.
  • Create suggestion programs encouraging employees to contribute ideas and experiences, whether they have a big or small impact on the organization or its customers.
  • Watch for employees who are doing things right, then acknowledge and reward them.
  • Pay attention to the surrounding work environment, making sure that people have satisfactory equipment, furniture and working conditions.
  • Celebrate success. Set a time at regular intervals during the year, especially a difficult day or week, to celebrate companywide achievement.
  • Encourage managers to be the type of supervisors that employees want to work for because of a commitment to developing employees personally and professionally.
  • Have fun! Encourage the organization of employee group activities.

It is important to remind employees how valuable they are to the success of the company.  Engaged employees are committed to the company’s vision and core values, and have a higher sense of self-worth and well-being. Lack of recognition is not only crippling to employees, but it hurts company success. When employees know that their strengths and potential will be recognized, they are more likely to produce more positive efforts and performance.

BCN encourages you to consider building a consistent and on-going recognition program in your workplace.

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Taylre Reed, Partnership Manager