HR areas likely impacted with results of recent General Election

It has been just over a month since the historic November General Election.  The results, a Republican president-elect and Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, signal that a lot of changes will be coming to Human Resources laws and regulations, affecting both employers and employees.

Here are a few of the areas that may see significant changes soon:

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) – President-Elect Donald Trump has promised to repeal and replace the ACA within his first 100 days in office. While experts do not believe the Act will be totally repealed, it is likely that Republican legislators will negotiate with fellow Democrats and recommend a change to the law and get the required 60 Senate votes to pass it.  Some of the current law provisions targeted for change include:
    • The Employer Mandate (organizations with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents must provide ACA-compliant health care coverage to employees averaging at least 30 hours per week) and
    • The Cadillac Tax (40-percent excise tax on employer-sponsored health-care coverage that exceeds pre-defined benefit thresholds). Trump also supports increasing the flexibility of Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements.
  • Immigration Reform – The centerpiece of the Trump campaign was immigration reform and control. Experts believe that employers may see many changes as a result of this initiative, including:
    • increased audits of Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9,
    • required use of an E-Verify system (comparing employee information on an I-9 to federal records) and
    • changes to the H-1B Visa program for non-immigrants, in which non-U.S. workers are employed in specialty occupations.
  • Maternity Leave – During his campaign, Trump outlined a plan that would guarantee six weeks of paid maternity leave to new mothers after childbirth paid for through savings in the unemployment insurance program. This proposed policy would not offer benefits to fathers or parents of adopted children.

BCN Services will keep you up-to-date as changes unfold.  If you have additional questions, contact your Human Resources Representative at 1-800-891-9911.

AliciaFreeman_6679

Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager

Taxable wage base for Social Security to increase in 2017

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service determines whether or not the limit on Social Security taxable wages will increase.

The Social Security Administration determines this annually by calculating the national average wage index.  In 2017, SSA will increase the taxable wage base from $118,500 to $127,200 for both employee and employer.

What does this mean to employers?  In 2016, an employer paid $7,347.00 for each employee that reached the wage cap and 2017, employers will pay $7,886.40, an increase of $539.40 per employee.

Employees at the wage cap will also see an additional $539.40 deducted from their checks.  It is important to note that employees potentially affected by this change should be notified in advance of the effective date of Jan. 1, 2017.

More information online:

  • For a look back at the increases over the years and for more about the contribution and benefit base visit the Social Security website at ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/cbb.html .
  • For a history of the taxable maximum, the rationale for the changes and how the SSA arrived at today’s process, visit www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/policybriefs/pb2011-02.html

If you have questions about how your employees are impacted by Social Security deductions, contact the experts at BCN Services for assistance.

AmberHeckamanIMG_0592_4x6

 

Amber Heckaman, Senior Staff Accountant

November was National Flu Awareness Month: 5 Steps to Prevention

As National Flu Awareness month comes to a close, it’s not too late for flu shots and promoting flu prevention in your workplace. Experts agree when the flu season invades the workplace, it can have a ripple effect on employees, co-workers and their families and, depending on your workplace, customers and vendors as well.
The flu season peaks in January and February so taking steps now can make a huge difference in staff productivity and well-being in the months ahead. Following are some basic rules of thumb:

No. 1 – Get your flu shot today

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates flu shots for everyone over the age of 6 months. Studies have shown that the best course of prevention is to get a flu shot every year. And while getting a shot earlier in the season may be preferred, it is still not too late to protect you and your family against this year’s flu bug. Check with your medical insurance provider to learn how and where to get vaccinated. If you don’t have medical coverage, contact your local health department or other community resources for the best, most cost-effective options in your area.

No. 2 – Wash your hands throughout the workday

We hear it all of the time and it’s true: Washing your hands frequently, using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds each time, makes a difference. This is especially the case when you continually touch workplace items such as keyboards, door handles, phones, point-of-sale registers, and other work-related surfaces. Try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose whenever possible and if your position requires you to travel, be sure to pack hand-sanitizers.

No. 3 – Use tissues to cover a sneeze or a cough

It’s important to not only take care of yourself, but also to care about co-workers. If you feel the need to sneeze or cough, grab a tissue to cover your mouth and nose. You’ll feel better knowing that you’re looking out for your co-workers and your they will appreciate your efforts. And, as always, don’t forget to wash your hands after sneezing or coughing whenever possible.

No. 4 – Keep work surfaces clean

When was the last time you cleaned your keyboard or the handset on your phone? Take a few minutes to clean surfaces around you and everyone will benefit. Cleanliness does matter.

No. 5 – Make good health habits a priority and stay home if sick

This may sound like more than one tip, but it’s really good advice to practice year-round. Techniques such as getting enough sleep, keeping active, managing stress and maintaining a healthy diet are proven steps to improve your overall well-being. If you experience flu symptoms, try to stay home when possible. If you’re a manager or supervisor, encourage team members to stay home if that’s an option. And managers or supervisors should follow the same advice if they become ill.

SusanPrice_6710

Susan Price, Strategic Service Manager