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 Every year, hundreds of W2s are returned to BCN Services due to outdated addresses.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