2020 can mean a profitable approach for your business

It’s hard to believe there is less than six weeks left of this decade. Not just this year, but this DECADE! I have written multiple end-of-year blogs (It’s that time of year again) because goal-setting is my favorite topic for discussion. It’s a great time to reflect on where we are and where we want to go.

So, what will be different for your business in the coming year? Why will it be different? And how will it be different?

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HR News Update!

Final Overtime Rule Raises the Salary Minimum to $35,568 beginning January 1, 2020

The Department of Labor has issued a long-anticipated final rule to the overtime regulations within the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Effective January 1, 2020, the salary level required to be exempt from overtime (along with meeting certain duties test requirements) will be $35,568 or $684 per week.

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Draft W-4 for 2020 to be released by May 31

Major changes are coming with the 2020 federal form W-4, the Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The changes will affect both employers and employees.

Form changes are being made to more accurately reflect the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took effect January 1, 2018 and modified the tax laws, according to information from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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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

Consider year-end payroll as you make holiday plans

The holiday season will soon be here and while most people are thinking of planning holiday parties and gift-giving, it is also important to think about your end-of-year payroll now.

Both the year end and holiday payroll processing can be stressful between planning for business closures and compiling end-of-year financials. Starting to think about the topic now and communicate with your BCN Payroll Specialist early to alleviate stress and make this busy time of year go smoothly.

Some things to consider:

Business closure dates: What dates will your business be closed over the holidays? Will you need to receive any payroll deliveries early? How will this impact your employees’ pay?

Pay date changes: Do you have any pay dates that should be changed due to the holidays? Have you reviewed your payroll processing schedule to determine the dates the banks will be closed when you will not be able to issue funds?

Bonus payments: Do you plan to pay any employees a bonus? When do you want that bonus payment to be made? Do those checks need to be printed on paper for you or will they be paid through employee direct deposit?

Fringe benefits: Are there any fringe benefit amounts that need to be reported? By what date do those need to be processed?

Once you have begun planning, it is crucial to involve your BCN Payroll Specialist in this conversation as early as possible. Even before you have amounts and final details, your Payroll Specialist can help answer questions and give advice on your plan. This will also allow them to start planning the processes they must have in place to ensure all your requests can be met in a timely manner.

BCN Services sends communications about all closures and holiday scheduling to help make your season run as smoothly as possible. Please call us at 800-891-9911 so we can assist with your holiday and year-end planning.

Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

May the 4th Quarter be with you

The fourth quarter of the year is upon us and with it comes a myriad of images: football, fall leaves changing colors before giving way to snow, holiday parties and last-minute purchases. It also brings business opportunities ranging from back-to-school marketing to the holiday season and everything in between.

As we start the fourth quarter of 2018, it is a good time to make a list of your most important initiatives for the remainder of the year. This might mean moving projects to next year that have no chance of completion in the short timeframe. In addition to a robust work schedule, there’s also the added family pressures of the impending holiday season around the corner. Staying focused and structured will increase your productivity and allow you to maximize resources as the year ends.

What are your goals for the coming year?

The fourth quarter is a natural time to reflect on, and analyze, your business. Assess whether the business is where you want it to be, its prospects for the future, and what can be done to increase business in the upcoming year. As you reflect, set goals for the year to come.

Have you reviewed your cybersecurity recently?

This is a great time to review and improve your company’s cybersecurity procedures. Select a password manager that can secure your online accounts and help you avoid password fatigue. Clean up your digital footprint by deleting old accounts that may publicly reveal sensitive information. Be on the lookout for scams, such as phishing emails. The end of the year is a common time for cybercrime, as businesses are often understaffed, and tired employees are more likely to let their guard down and open a suspicious email.

Are you ready for holiday bonuses and year-end performance reviews?

Your employees are vital to the success of your company. The fourth quarter is a good time to prepare for end-of-the-year employee evaluations, so each team member knows where they stand and what you expect from them in the coming year. Keeping good records puts everyone on the same page, and it can also help you avoid the cost and hassle of employment disputes in the coming year.

End-of-year or holiday bonuses are a great way to boost morale and keep employees happy. However, it’s strongly recommended that bonuses are given in connection to performance reviews. If not, you miss an opportunity to reward performance and the bonus can quickly become a pay expectation. If all employees receive the same bonus, there’s a good chance that the higher-performing employees will be disappointed with the “fairness” of the process.

Are you feeling festive?

The fourth quarter is full of fun and seasonal festivities. Customers are visual and love businesses that get into the spirit and let their “seasonal personality” shine. You can add seasonal graphics to your website, decorate your storefront, and use holiday imagery in your promotions and posts. Help customers get that warm feeling (you know the one) when they enter your store or jump on your website. Take care, however, not to bring religious themes into the mix, as there is a diversity of beliefs out there. Be sensitive to this in your seasonal planning.

Finally – what can BCN help you with?

BCN Services has an experienced staff to help with the variety of day-to-day situations. Our objective is to help you, our valued client, to focus on your business needs and key priorities by freeing up time spent on employment issues and administration. We handle more than 150 Human Resources employment tasks, products, and services and strive to provide outstanding customer service and resources.

Contact BCN Services at 1-800-891-9911 if you have questions or need assistance.

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Thom Moore, Partnership Manager

Many Young Adults Are Making Smart Financial Moves

slavik_9-20-18 img 1Millennials are optimistic about retirement, according to a recent report from Charles Schwab. Specifically, 76 percent of surveyed young adults said that they believe they will have a better financial future than their parents, and the average Gen-Y respondent expects to retire at age 60. The latter is a somewhat ambitious goal considering that it would mean exiting the workforce five years earlier than the traditional age of retirement, even as many financial experts are now recommending waiting until age 70.

Delaying retirement, if possible, can be a smart decision since it will help ensure that you receive the maximum Social Security benefit and also provide a few more working years (income) to pad your nest egg. While postponing retirement could therefore put many Millennials on a firmer financial standing in old age, one reason why some of the respondents in the Schwab poll might still be able to achieve a comfortable retirement as early as age 60 is because these young adults are already making wise financial moves. For example, 64 percent of surveyed Millennials said that they will often hold off on a discretionary purchase and instead set the money aside for retirement.

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Nearly half of Gen-Y respondents also said that they do additional work to boost their savings, and around one in three reported that they limit their vacations and traveling in order to set more money aside. Similarly, a new Bankrate poll found that Millennials were a lot more likely than other generations to say that they are saving more for retirement today than they were a year ago, and a recent Principal Financial study even found that some young adults are regularly setting aside at least 90 percent of the maximum the IRS will allow to be placed in a 401(k), IRA, and other tax-advantaged savings vehicle each year.

Since only around 9 percent of 401(k) plan participants are estimated to have annual contributions that come within 10 percent of the deferral limit, these “super savers” are likely to be well ahead of the vast majority of Americans in terms of retirement readiness. Jerry Patterson, a senior vice president at Principal Financial, added that “There is no better advice I can give anyone than save more, earlier. These super savers are making sacrifices today that should help set them up to have the freedom to do the things they want in the future.”

 

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Copyright @ 2018 Slavic Investments (http://blog.slavic401k.com/many-young-adults-are-making-smart-financial-moves)Republished with permission.

What to expect from your BCN Services Accounting Department

One of the most important aspects of running a business is making sure that your taxes are filed correctly and that they are paid on time. BCN’s dedicated accounting team works hard to ensure that you no longer need to worry about this aspect and can focus on other areas of your business.

Below is a list of the tax-related matters that BCN will handle on your behalf, whether you are a PEO or HRO client:

  • IRS Form 941 employer quarterly tax filings and semi-weekly deposits.
  • Federal Unemployment administration, including annual Form940 annual unemployment tax filing and quarterly deposits.
  • Forms W-2 and W-3 preparation and distribution.
  • Withholding tax filings and deposits. We handle state, city, county and school district withholding tax filings and payments.
  • State(s) Unemployment Insurance SUI quarterly tax filings and payments.
  • State(s) Unemployment Insurance account, rate update verifications and rate negotiations as needed. We are also available to assist with any client-level unemployment registrations you may need.
  • Any employment-related IRS compliance/correspondence.

If you have any questions regarding how the BCN accounting team can help alleviate the stress of employment taxes, or have other questions about these topics, please give us a call at 1-800-891-9911.

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Amy Miller, Staff Accountant

Neglecting a garnishment could prove costly to your business

Employers receive garnishments for their employees for many reasons. Whether the order is for child support, a tax levy or creditor wage garnishments, it is extremely important that all such orders be handled promptly and accurately or employers can risk major consequences.

In most states, the employer may be liable for the full amount of a debtor’s outstanding debt, as well as interest and penalties. In extreme cases, employers deliberately violating a garnishment order may also be prosecuted criminally and face fines or imprisonment.

For terminated employees and those who have never been employed by the company, it is still necessary to complete any disclosure with this information, otherwise penalties and fines will still apply.

When receiving any garnishment order, the best practice is to send all paperwork received to your payroll specialist as soon as possible.  They must review these documents promptly to ensure that all employer requirements are met in a timely fashion. Depending on the order, this may include not only putting the order into place for future payroll deductions, but also handling written responses to the garnishing authority and/or employee and employee pay records to show earnings available for garnishment.

Proper garnishment administration will not only help your business avoid penalties but will ensure that your employees stay in good standing with the court order, as well.

The payroll team at BCN Services has a wealth of knowledge and experience in garnishment administration.  Please contact us at 1-800-891-9911 with any questions or for further information.

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Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

Do workplace gender pay disparities really still exist?

The “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements have prompted discussions and brought to the forefront all aspects of sexual harassment and treatment of women in the workplace.  Part of this focus has put light on a subject that may have improved some over the last several decades, but is still not where is needs to be: Gender pay discrepancies.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2014, on average, women earned 79 percent of men’s median annual income.  The National Committee on Pay Equity, which reports a comparable statistic for 2014, 78.6 percent, has been documenting pay inequality since 1960.  If we look back 50 years prior to the 79 percent statistic, we can see that the gap has shrunk significantly.  In 1964, women earned only 59.1 percent of what men earned.  However, if you compare 2009 and 2014, the 5-year span saw an increase of only 1.6 percent.  There’s quite a way to go to bridge the gap completely.

A recent Hollywood scenario put into perspective how everyone, no matter what your job is, can fall into this statistical gap.  In reshoots for the movie “All the Money in the World,” Mark Wahlberg was paid an additional $1.5 million, while his co-star, Michelle Williams was paid $80 per day for a total of less than $1,000.  An open letter published by the “Time’s Up” movement stated that “the systematic gender equality and imbalance of power” in the workplace “fosters an environment that is ripe for abuse and harassment against women.”

Now is the time to reflect on your own company’s pay practices to bring gender pay in line and protect your company against future claims.  It’s not only good practice, it’s the law.  The Equal Opportunities Commission (EEOC) requires that equal pay for men and women be established under the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  The Equal Pay Act restricts employers from paying unequal wages “to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.”

The EEOC looks at the following criteria to establish equal pay: Skill, effort, responsibility, working conditions, and establishment location (for example, when a company has several locations in different geographical areas, those can be considered separate establishments due to the area’s median income).  Differences in pay are only permitted based on seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or other factors not related to gender.  The EEOC also states that “It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on compensation or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII, ADEA, ADA or the Equal Pay Act.”

If pay differences do exist for similar positions regardless of whether women are paid less than men, or men paid less than women, it is best practice to establish from the hire date how the salary decision was made.  Be prepared to back up how your wage determination was made based on the criteria previously mentioned.  Encourage open dialogue with your employees if they have a perception that a gender pay gap exists.  BCN Services staff are prepared to guide you through this process.  Please contact your Partnership Manager with any questions or concerns regarding your employees’ wages.

 

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Frank Lewandowski, Benefits Program Manager