Michigan’s minimum wage increasing on March 29

Effective March 29, 2019, the Michigan minimum wage will increase to $9.45 per hour up, a 20-cent increase from the current $9.25 per hour. The change came following a long debate in the Michigan Legislature, ultimately voted upon and passed into law by a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on December 14, 2018.

For Michigan employers, this means that all hours worked on and after the March 29th date must be paid, at a minimum, the new $9.45 an hour rate or higher. This agreement excluded any changes for tipped workers which will remain at the current $3.52 an hour rate.

Michigan is one of 20 states that will have a 2019 minimum wage increase. With so many changes, BCN Services encourages employers to reach out to their Payroll Specialist if they have concerns regarding their affected employees or if they would like assistance when navigating a state Department of Labor website (in Michigan, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-59886—,00.html) for the most up-to-date information.

For further information on your state or how this minimum wage increase may affect your employees, please contact BCN Services at (800) 891-9911. Our experts can advise on your employees and a best strategy to comply with the increased minimum wage.

For a history of recent minimum wage increases in Michigan, see this previous BCN blog post: https://www.bcnservices.com/minimum-wage-increases-michigan-take-effect-starting-sept-1/

Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

Frequently Asked Questions about posting labor law rules

Do I have to post labor law posters in my workplace? This is a very good question and if you have been given responsibility for poster compliance, consider the next questions when determining your labor law requirements:

Do I have employees on payroll?

If you answered “yes,” are any of your employees on payroll not your spouse? If so, then you are mandated by law to post the most up-to-date labor law posters.

Now that you have determined your need for labor law posters, you’re probably wondering where you should post them. According to poster compliance requirements, posters must be displayed in an area where your employees can readily see them. The most common areas to consider are:

  • A breakroom
  • A common room
  • Near the time clock
  • A lunch room or kitchen

Places that may seem like a good idea but don’t adhere to labor law compliance requirements include:

  • The HR Manager’s office
  • A gender-specific bathroom
  • Outside an office in the hallway
  • The owner’s office
  • In one specific department

What if I have two break rooms? Do I have to display the posters in both areas?

The best way to determine this is to ask yourself another question. Do all your employees have access to both rooms? If the answer is no, then we would suggest that you display the labor law posters in both break rooms. If yes, then you should be compliant with the posters in one break room.

What if my employees work on separate floors of the same building, do I need to display the compliance posters on each floor?

Yes, you need to post the compliance posters on each floor because you’re required to post the labor law posters where all of your employees can readily see them.

The key word here is “access.” Your employees must have easy access to labor law posters. If employees are required go out of their way to view and read the posters, then the posters are not easily available to them. As an employer you are not following labor law compliance requirements.

What if some of my employees work in a separate building? Do I need to display the posters there?

Yes, you should display the compliance posters in both buildings so that all employees have easy access to the posters.

What happens if my business is not compliant with labor law posting regulations?

If your business is not in compliance with current federal and state labor law poster standards, you are in jeopardy of receiving a fine or citation. Additionally, keeping your business in compliance by using the appropriate posters helps to remind supervisors of their obligations to uphold the law and protect your workers from injury, discrimination, harassment, and other important state, federal, and OSHA requirements.

If you still have questions about your labor law poster needs, contact your HR professionals at BCN Services. We are available to help you with all your compliance needs and can keep you up-to date on laws as they change.

Lisandra Garrow, Partnership Manager

In the new year, update addresses and be sure benefit elections are accurate

Happy New Year! After family gatherings, company parties, school breaks and other celebrations, it’s time for most of us to get back into our regular routines. The start of the year is also a great time for employees to do an audit of their W2 address information and new benefit plans, as well as finalize any benefits spending from the previous year.

Here are a few suggestions that can benefit all employees at any employer.

W2s for 2018
The federal government requires all employers to mail or electronically provide W2s to current and former employees who worked for them in 2018 by January 31, 2019. For employees not signed up for an electronic W2, be sure to update your home addresses, if needed, with current and former employers.

BCN Services employees who use the online portal option can change their addresses online at any time. All others can email address changes to hr@bcnservices.com, including their full name and the last 4 digits of their Social Security number. Every year, hundreds of W2s are returned to BCN Services due to outdated addresses. While it’s best to update the addresses before the W2s are sent, if an employee updates an address at a later time, we sent them right back out using the updated address.

Even with correct addresses, sometimes W2s don’t arrive at an employee’s home or they are misplaced. It’s important that employees wait long enough to give the U.S. Postal Service time to deliver them, but also not to wait until the tax deadline if they need an additional copy of the W2. BCN Services employees who don’t receive a W2 for any reason can contact BCN Services (email hr@bcnservices.com) to receive a free re-print of their W2 between February 11 and March 7. If requesting a copy, include the full name of the employee and the last 4 digits of the Social Security number.

2018 Benefits – FSA
Employees who have Flexible Spending Account plans with money left from 2018 have until March 15, 2019 to incur reimbursable expenses and until March 30, 2019 to submit receipts for payment from their FSA account. In 2018, this process moved from paper to a more convenient online process for BCN Services’ employees. We encourage all BCN Services employees with FSA accounts to view their account balances and submit reimbursement requests through the website or Wage Works app (www.wageworks.com) prior to the March 15 and March 30 deadlines.

2019 Benefits Contributions
Many employees have updated their benefits elections as of January 1, 2019. It’s a good idea for all employees to review their pay stubs to ensure that deductions coming out of your pay match the elections you’ve made. For the final checks of 2018, employees should generally expect to see deductions that match the 2019 medical, dental and vision plan elections. Employees’ first paychecks of 2019 should reflect those plan elections, as well as 2019 FSA and Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions, Aflac supplemental insurance, life insurance and disability, and prepaid legal plans.

Not a BCN employer?
Taking these actions are excellent practices for all employees. This article highlights a few of the many services BCN Services offers to our clients. To learn more about the full package of services offered and for more information about how these can work for your business, call us at 734-994-4100.

Trisha Crigger, Human Resources Generalist

Reviewing a changing workplace dress code and your policy

Many employees feel that wearing jeans and comfortable street clothes is preferable to the more professional business dress code and we are seeing employers moving towards a more relaxed dress code in the workplace.

The terms “business casual” and “business formal” have traditionally had an expectation that employees come to work dressed in a certain professional fashion.

In the past, they were viewed this way: business casual was outlined as women wearing a skirt or dress with a hem past the knee, or tailored dress pants with a button-down or blouse and men should wear dress pants or khakis, with a collared shirt and a belt. For business formal, placed men in a suit and tie, and women in a tailored dress or pantsuit that was dressier than business casual attire.

But these may not be appropriate norms in today’s workplace. Business casual dress has evolved, as has the way that companies should look at gender-neutral language in their policies.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have,” it suggests that higher-level jobs are the ones that require the formal dress code. That doesn’t seem to be the trend anymore. Google is an example of a company that doesn’t fit that mold. Google’s philosophy is that you can be serious without a suit and Facebook has adopted a similar expectation for workplace attire that is completely casual (http://www.businessinsurance.org/10-big-businesses-with-incredibly-casual-offices/).

A lot of employers offer “casual Fridays” which offer a relaxed dress code one day each week. Some employers may also require employees to donate to a charitable organization to be able to wear casual dress on Fridays, but either way, wearing jeans and casual dress is portrayed as a benefit to employees. If you look at attitudes and productivity, could there be potential benefits to easing up on expectations of workplace dress?

Another consideration is brand image and how your company is perceived by customers and clients. If your industry is customer-facing, what kind of image do you want to portray? Do your customers expect their point of contact to be dressed professionally? How would customers feel about seeing an employee dressed in jeans and a t-shirt? If you aren’t in a customer-facing industry, should employees be required to dress professionally every day?

Businesses also need to consider how they are wording their dress code policy and be careful to use only gender-neutral terminology. The definitions above for business casual and formal, for example, are not appropriate nomenclature now given our clarified view of gender identity.

Telling women they must wear a skirt and men, pants, could be seen as a discriminatory policy, even though this was widely accepted until recently. Please contact the human resources department at BCN Services if you would like to review your policy and make an update to your employee handbook.

Kari Stanley, Partnership Manager