Retirement confidence remains high despite COVID-19

5/7/20 8:00 AM

sign "What's your plan for retirement?" More Americans are optimistic about their chances of being financially secure in old age, according to the latest annual retirement confidence report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Specifically, 69 percent of surveyed U.S. workers said that they are at least “somewhat confident” they will have enough money to retire comfortably, including 27 percent who said they are “very confident,” the highest reading on record. The poll that these figures come from was admittedly conducted in January, well ahead of the coronavirus crisis. The EBRI researchers, though, refielded a separate survey of key questions in the second half of March and found that COVID-19 had not yet resulted in a statistically significant decline in retirement confidence. Optimism may be even better now considering that stocks have rallied sharply off the March lows and the spread of the virus has slowed considerably.

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Questions addressed about temporary layoffs

This is a challenging time for both employers and employees, as we all navigate changes from the impact of the coronavirus and COVID-19. Here, we respond to some questions from employers about recent legislation and handling specific situations in the workplace:

What programs are currently available to assist my employees during our temporary layoff?
At the current time, your employees can file for unemployment compensation online. On the state of Michigan coronavirus website there are additional quick links for additional community resources.

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Considering non-compete agreements? Put them in place before hiring or promoting

Recently, Apple brought a case against a manager who allegedly established a competing business during company time. Most company owners would agree that’s not an acceptable way for managers to spend time at work.

What, if anything, can a company do to prevent those situations, and what can they do if a situation like that arises?

Once a situation arises where a company suspects someone will take, or is taking client contacts, employee lists or company trade secrets with them, you may be too late to impact the situation. A decision to use non-solicitation, non-compete or confidentiality agreements should be put in place long before the company needs one.

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New, finalized W-4 form available for 2020

On Dec. 5, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service released its final version of a modified 2020 Form W-4, the Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The new form is intended to make withholding more accurate and was implemented as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The change affected filers for the first time last tax season, taking effect January 1, 2018 and modifying the tax laws.
Following are some helpful links about the change.
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Michigan minimum wage increases to $9.65

Michigan’s minimum hourly wage increased from $9.45 to $9.65 on Jan. 1, 2020.

The minimum wage will increase again to $9.87 in one year, at the beginning of 2021. For more information and guidelines about Michigan’s minimum wage, visit the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Michigan’s minimum wage has been in the news throughout the past two years, as a citizens group pushed for a higher wage via petition, and the state legislature halted those efforts. Business groups opposed the citizen measure, saying it would be too expensive.

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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