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Pet Policies at Work: Considerations for Employers

Posted By Unemployment Services Trust (UST), Wednesday, October 26, 2016

As millennials continue to negotiate workplace perks, such as flexible hours, gourmet cafeterias, gym memberships, and on-demand laundry services, employers may be confronted with employees who seek to bring pets to work for convenience, companionship, or to promote creativity and calmness. Beyond providing reasonable accommodations (absent showing an undue hardship) for disabled employees with services animals, here are some considerations for employers regarding voluntary pet policies.

Pros and Cons

Recent studies and articles advocate for pet-friendly workplaces, citing a number of benefits to companies and workers. Benefits include increased worker morale, co-worker bonding, attracting and retaining talent, and lower stress coupled with higher productivity.

On the other hand, permitting pets in the workplace presents a number of issues. For example, according to a leading asthma and allergy organization, as many as three in ten people suffer from pet allergies, meaning someone at work is likely allergic to Fido or Fifi. A significant number of people also have pet phobias, for example, resulting from a traumatic dog bite incident. Other concerns may include workplace disruption due to misbehaved animals, mess, and time-wasting.

Five Tips for Effective Pet Policies

If the Pros outweigh the Cons, the next question is: “[w]hat should I put in a pet policy?” Here are five things to consider when preparing a pet-policy:

  1. Ask Around: Offer employees an opportunity to provide feedback before implementing a pet-policy. Doing this allows the company time to confirm employee interest in the idea and address any concerns or issues before employees bring pets to work.
  2. Set a Schedule: Establish a schedule for pet-friendly work days, e.g., once a week or month, to provide structure and predictability so that the company and employees can plan, either to bring their pets (or allergy medicine) or to work remotely, for days when pets may be at the office or jobsite. 
  3. Provide Pet Space: Designate certain areas as pet-friendly. This benefits everyone. For areas where pets are welcome, provide perks like snacks, cleaning supplies, and toys. Designate entrances and exits that pet owners can use to bring their animals in and out.  Space planning also helps employees who prefer to keep their distance, as boundaries provide notice of places to avoid.
  4. Offer Pet Benefits: Certain federal and/or state laws prohibit companies from permitting pets (not to be confused with ADA service animals) at work. Offering employees other benefits like pet insurance, pet bereavement, pet daycare, and financial help for pet adoption are other ways companies can support their pet-owning workers, even if pets can’t come to work.
  5. Waivers and Insurance: No list is complete without accounting for the chance something may go wrong. Consider requiring employees who bring pets to work to sign a waiver of liability for the company. Similarly, companies should check with their insurance to make sure that they are covered in the event an animal causes an injury in the workplace.

What about the ADA?

Voluntary pet policies should be considered separate from a company’s obligation to provide disabled workers with a reasonable accommodation, which may include use of a service animal at work. Three questions to consider when an employee asks to bring a service animal to work as an accommodation include: (1) does the employee have a disability; (2) is this a service animal, meaning is it trained to perform specific tasks to aid an employee in the performance of the job; and (3) is the service animal a reasonable accommodation. 

If a service animal results in complaints from other employees (e.g., allergies, phobias, disruption), employers may consider other accommodations, or take other steps to address these complaints. The Job Accommodation Network, a service of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, has some helpful tips for accommodating service animals. Where the issue is more complicated, contact your Polsinelli employment lawyer to discuss the circumstances more closely.

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Good Timekeeping Is Always Worth Your While

Posted By Celeste Viator, Hannis T. Bourgeois, LLP, Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Maintaining detailed time records for staff may not be your favorite task. Unfortunately, it's not negotiable. Timekeeping — for volunteers and individuals paid for their work — is necessary for most not-for-profit organizations. However, there are ways to make the job less onerous.

Why Timekeeping Is Critical

Understanding why timekeeping matters can help you put the task in perspective. At minimum, you'll be compelled by federal and state wage-and-hour laws to do a certain amount of time tracking. These laws require you to keep records of the hours worked by hourly employees. And even though you don't pay salaried workers by the hour, if you get into a dispute over wages or an employee's exempt status, you'll need proof of time worked. Exempt employees generally include executive, administrative, professional and outside salespeople who earn a salary.

Governmental and corporate funders also may stipulate certain timekeeping practices. You must document incurred costs for funders that reimburse expenses or fund specific programs or activities. Because payroll is generally your largest cost, you need to document the actual amounts paid and allocate these costs to the proper programs and supporting services. Federal cost principles clearly require that the allocation methods used are documented and consistent. Employee pay could be allocated to a category that is allowable or unallowable under a federal grant, and can be reimbursable or non-reimbursable based on the type of work performed.

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) may come into play, too. GAAP requires you to allocate expenses to programs and supporting services. Again, because payroll is a major category for most not-for-profits, you must provide support for the allocation of expenses and related taxes and benefits. The best support consists of written records that specify exactly the time spent and work being performed. The same holds true for supporting employee pay deducted from unrelated business income.

Timekeeping is further necessary to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the law, employees who work, on average, 30 or more hours per week are considered full-time. Beginning in 2015, employers with 50 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees may face a penalty if they don't offer full-time employees sufficient health care coverage.

Required or not, timekeeping is just a good business practice. Careful allocation of payroll and other expenses is necessary for you to know the true cost of running each program. This can help you decide how to invest your resources, maximize your cost recovery and increase the likelihood of continued funding for these programs.

How to Track Expenses

There are many ways to track and allocate payroll and related expenses. Generally, the most effective procedures involve collecting information in a timely manner, verifying its validity and letting your software program do the rest. For example, you can require employees to record their own time daily (or use a time clock system that does it automatically) and then require managers to review and approve it on a weekly basis. Consistency is important: Once you've established a policy, make sure staff and managers adhere to it.

Tracking time for employees who work exclusively in a single program is easy. But others may supervise or work in multiple programs or a combination of program and supporting service areas. Particularly important is that you capture these employees' time with enough detail as to the area or program they worked on that day. If funders or governmental requirements don't apply you may consider capturing time data for a few representative periods and allocate time by applying those percentages to the full year.

Avoiding Trouble

Timekeeping isn't simply a best practice. Failure to properly record worker and volunteer hours could bring legal and financial consequences. If you're unsure about what you need to track and how to do it, talk with your timekeeping software provider and your financial adviser.


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Louisiana nursing home operator pays nearly $120K in penalties, back wages, damages to resolve violations following federal investigation

Posted By United States Department of Labor, Wednesday, October 19, 2016

U.S. Department of Labor | Oct. 18, 2016

 

Louisiana nursing home operator pays nearly $120K in penalties, back wages, damages to resolve violations following federal investigation

Employer violated overtime, minimum wage provisions of labor law, agrees to fix all issues

 

NEW ORLEANS Two U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigations found that a nursing care operator with multiple southern Louisiana facilities violated the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

 

The division’s New Orleans District Office found Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Health Care Consultants required employees to purchase medical scrubs, but failed to reimburse them for the cost which dropped the employees’ earnings below the federal minimum wage in the weeks they made the purchases.

 

Investigators also identified overtime violations at all six locations. Specifically, the employer failed to combine employees’ hours when they worked at more than one of the company’s facilities during the same workweek. This practice results in workers receiving payment at only straight time rates for overtime hours, another FLSA violation. The division also found LHCC failed to keep required records.

 

“Minimum wage and overtime violations like these are all too common in the health care industry and many other industries,” said Betty Campbell, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Employers have an obligation to fully understand the laws pertaining to fair and legal compensation of their workers. These employees worked long, hard hours on behalf of this employer, and now they’re finally getting the pay they deserve. We will continue to use every enforcement tool available to us to ensure that workers like these take home every penny they have earned.”

 

The division’s investigation covered LHCC’s nursing homes are Maison De’Ville Nursing Home of Harvey LLC and Elizabeth Caring LLC in Harvey, Maison De’Ville Nursing Home Inc. in Houma, Uptown Healthcare Center LLC in New Orleans, Plaquemine Manor Nursing Home Inc. in Plaquemine and Raceland Manor Nursing Home Inc. in Raceland.

 

As a result of the investigation, the employer paid $88,146 in back wages and liquidated damages to 161 employees and $31,328 in civil money penalties. LHCC also signed an agreement to prevent future minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping violations through added measures, including:

       Creating a company intranet where employees may complete required state training during work hours.

       Instituting a policy to prevent employees from working at another LHCC location without consent of management. If an employee does work at two or more locations, the employer agrees to combine the employee’s hours worked in each work week for the purpose of computing overtime.    

       Ceasing to require workers earning $8.50 or less per hour to wear uniform scrubs for the first 30 days of employment. Employees will receive a $100 stipend for uniforms on their second paycheck and each subsequent year to cover the price of uniforms.

       Providing training to employees at all six locations on the FLSA and how to report possible violations to the company and or the department. 

       Reviewing employees’ time records quarterly to ensure compliance with the Act. Records will be made available to the department. 

       Noting adjustments to time records and keep them for three years.

 

The Wage and Hour Division continues to conduct investigations in low-wage industries where data and evidence show high rates of non-compliance, and where workers are less likely to complain. Both education and enforcement continue in the health care industry in which a high violation rate exists.

 

For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its New Orleans District Office at 504-589-6171. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.

 

# # #

Media Contacts:

 

Chauntra Rideaux, 972-850-4710, rideaux.chauntra.D@dol.gov

Juan J. Rodríguez, 972-850-4709, rodriguez.juan@dol.gov

Release Number: 16-1978-DAL

 

 

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IRS Releases Final 2016 Forms 1094 and 1095

Posted By ThinkHR , Wednesday, October 19, 2016

IRS Releases Final 2016 Forms 1094 and 1095

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 05:53 AM PDT

 

The IRS has released the final forms and instructions that employers will use for 2016 reporting under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The 2016 forms are due in early 2017.

 

Applicable large employers (ALEs) will use the following:

§ 2016 Form 1094-C (transmittal to IRS).

§ 2016 Form 1095-C (statement to individual).

§ Instructions for 2016 Forms 1094-C and 1095-C (instructions).

Employers that self-fund a minimum essential coverage plan will use the following:

§ 2016 Form 1094-B (transmittal to IRS).

§ 2016 Form 1095-B (statement to individual).

§ Instructions for 2016 Forms 1094-B and 1095-B (instructions).

Background

Applicable large employers (ALEs), who generally are entities that employed 50 or more full-time and full-time-equivalent employees in the prior year, are required to report information about the health coverage they offered or did not offer to certain employees in 2016. To meet this reporting requirement, the ALE will furnish Form 1095-C to the employee or former employee and file copies, along with transmittal Form 1094-C, with the IRS.

Employers, regardless of size, that sponsored a self-funded (self-insured) health plan providing minimum essential coverage in 2016 are required to report coverage information about enrollees. To meet this reporting requirement, the employer will furnish Form 1095-B to the primary enrollee and file copies, along with transmittal Form 1094-B, with the IRS. Self-funded employers who also are ALEs may use Forms 1095-C and 1094-C in lieu of Forms 1095-B and 1094-B.

Information is reported on a calendar-year basis regardless of the employer’s health plan year or fiscal year.

Due Dates

The due date to furnish 2016 forms to individuals is January 31, 2017, while the due date to file copies with the IRS, including the appropriate transmittal form, will depend on whether the employer files electronically or by paper. Entities that provide 250 or more forms to individuals are required to file electronically with the IRS.

Although the IRS had extended the deadlines last year to help employers deal with the new and complex reporting requirements, that is unlikely to happen again. The due dates for 2016 reporting are:

§ January 31, 2017: Deadline to furnish 2016 Form 1095-C (or 1095-B, if applicable) to employees and individuals.

§ February 28, 2017: Deadline for paper filing of all 2016 Forms 1095-C and 1095-B, along with transmittal form 1094-C or 1094-B, with the IRS.

§ March 31, 2017: Deadline for electronic filing of all 2016 Forms 1095-C and 1095-B, along with transmittal form 1094-C or 1094-B, with the IRS.

Changes for 2016

The 2016 forms and instructions are very similar to the prior year’s materials, although there are some changes for items that no longer apply or to simplify or clarify the information. Some of the changes include:

§ Removing references to transition relief options that are no longer available to ALEs.

§ Confirming the multiemployer interim relief rule remains in place for ALEs that contribute to a multiemployer plan (e.g., union trust).

§ Clarifying the instructions for ALEs that are part of an Aggregated ALE Group, including examples of employees that work for more than one member of the group in the same year.

§ Providing examples of reporting COBRA coverage offers for terminated employees and for family members when the employee is still working.

§ Clarifying the rules for reporting self-funded minimum essential coverage when the individual is covered under more than one such plan.

§ Allowing use of Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) in place of Social Security numbers (SSNs) when reporting coverage of non-employees (e.g., family members).

§ Updating references for items that have been adjusted for inflation, such as the affordability percentage (9.66 percent for 2016).

In general, the forms are nearly identical to the versions used last year. The instructions, however, have been revised in several areas for changes and to provide clearer information and examples to assist employers.

Penalties

Failure to provide timely and correct forms to individuals or the IRS can result in significant penalties. The IRS may impose a penalty of $260 per late or incorrect form (up to almost $3.2 million annually in some cases). The IRS may waive or reduce the penalties for employers whose failures are due to reasonable cause and employers that make legitimate efforts to complete the forms as soon as possible.

Summary

The deadlines for 2016 ACA reporting are fast approaching and it is unlikely the IRS will extend the due dates. Employers are encouraged to work with experienced vendors, tax advisors, and payroll administrators to review how the ACA reporting requirements apply to their situation. The required forms are important IRS documents and preparers should use the same level of care that would apply to employee W-2s.

The post IRS Releases Final 2016 Forms 1094 and 1095 appeared first on ThinkHR Blog | State & Federal Law Updates.

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New FREE CausePlanet book summary on how to execute mobile media effectively

Posted By Amy Warner, CausePlanet, Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Using mobile platforms is an art and a science

Any doubts you may have that social networks aren’t powerful or don’t need to be a priority in your communication and fundraising efforts can now be put to rest, according to Mobile for Good author Heather Mansfield.

A comprehensive and thoroughly researched resource for nonprofits, Mobile for Good helps you master mobile content distribution on social networks so you are more likely to experience fundraising success. She provides recommended software, helpful checklists and nonprofits you should model.

Mansfield’s summary is available FREE for dues-paying (General and Associate) members.

 

Download these summaries and more in 3 simple steps:

 

1.      Visit www.causeplanet.org.

2.      Click on “Subscriber Log-in” at the top right corner, using your email and “Password1”.

3.      Click on “Visit the Summary Library” and download any title you like.

 

Questions? Email us at Support@CausePlanet.org.

 

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Nonprofit Workshop: Quick Year-End Fundraising

Posted By Nora Ellertsen, The Funding Seed, LLC, Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The end of the year is the busiest time for charitable giving!
Did it sneak up on you?  
Are you and your nonprofit ready?

 

Quick Year-End Fundraising
Tuesday, November 8
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Ashe Cultural Arts Center, New Orleans
Details and registration

 

The clock is ticking!  Don't miss this hands-on workshop, which offers simple tools you can use to raise funds during these essential last weeks of the year.

Attendees will receive a Certificate of Participation after completing the workshop.

Registration $40 per person.  Discounts available for students, AmeriCorps members and organizations registering two or more people.

Email info@thefundingseed.com to inquire about discount codes or to reserve your space and pay at the door.

Tags:  development  donations  donor retention  donors  fund  fund development  fund raising  funding  Fundraising  funds  louisiana  Member Event  New Orleans  nonprofit  nonprofit sector  non-profits  online fundraising  sustainability  training  workshop 

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Participating in Harvard College’s Public Service Winternship Program

Posted By Travis Lovett, Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC) at Harvard College, Monday, October 17, 2016

Public service organizations with volunteer needs this winter are invited to participate in Harvard's January Winternship program, organized by Harvard's Center for Public Interest Careers.  It only takes a few minutes to complete our online Winternship posting form

 

Students will be available to volunteer for up to three weeks during January (between January 2-22, 2017) at no cost to participating organizations. If you complete this form, we will work to put you directly in touch with Harvard College students who are seeking public service volunteer opportunities.  The deadline for organizations to post Winternships with us is November 18th.  Participating organizations will receive a resume bundle from students in late November.

 

Past volunteers have worked on research projects, curriculum development, planning field trips, developing social media outreach, writing donor thank you notes, and providing direct services to clients and constituents.

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Nonprofits Receive Over $6.5 Million in Cash Back From the Unemployment Services Trust (UST)

Posted By Tasha L. Cooper, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Thursday, October 13, 2016

UST Rewards 431 Members for Successfully Lowering Their Anticipated Unemployment Claims within the Last Year

In an era when nonprofits are struggling to stretch their budgets, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) today announced it is pleased to disperse $6,664,166 to 431 of its program participants. The agencies receiving the funds have demonstrated prudent management of their unemployment costs resulting in a return of funds back to the organizations. This brings participant savings over the past year to a whopping $34,980,275.96 in claims savings, audited state returns and cash back.

501(c)(3) organizations have the exclusive advantage of opting out of their state's unemployment tax system and instead paying dollar-for-dollar for only their former employees claims. Excess payments made into the state tax system are not refunded to employers. UST, however, provides cash back when an organization has had a positive claim history and has reduced its unemployment claims lower than initially anticipated, while also staying well-funded for future claims.

"It's incredibly rewarding to be able to give money back to these organizations whose core mission objectives are geared towards serving their communities."

DONNA GROH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UST

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to give money back to these organizations whose core mission objectives are geared towards serving their communities,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “It allows them the funds to further expand their programs in areas where otherwise they might not have been able. In a way we’re helping to invest in the future of each nonprofit organization participating in the Trust and that’s a great feeling.”

The largest nonprofit unemployment trust in the nation, UST helps 501(c)(3) organizations nationwide save time and money through a host of workforce management solutions that include - unemployment claims management, cash flow protection,  HR Workplace assistance, outplacement services and more.  The company services nonprofits from all sectors with 10 or more full-time employees. UST encourages nonprofits that are currently tax-rated or direct reimbursing on their own to review their options as they may be over-paying.

About UST

Founded by nonprofits for nonprofits, Unemployment Services Trust (UST) provides 501(c)(3)s with a cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST participants save millions annually through claims management, hearing representation, claim audits, outplacement services, and HR support. Join more than 2,100 nonprofits nationwide and request a Savings Evaluation at www.ChooseUST.org.

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6 Reasons Your Nonprofit Employees QUIT

Posted By Tasha L. Cooper, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Thursday, October 13, 2016

Employee turnover is costly. Not to mention the lost productivity, lost time, and effort of recruiting and training new employees.


So what’s making your employees quit?

Download this white paper from UST, which reveals the top six reasons employees in the sector quit—based on a survey of over 1,300 nonprofit organization employees last year.Plus you'll learn:
  • Key factors to job satisfaction
  • New statistics from the sector
  • Steps you can take to retain employees

Make sure you're in-the-know about what keeps employees satisfied, and how you can implement impactful engagement and retention strategies. Download your complimentary copy today by filling out the form on the right.

About UST 
The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) helps lower the cost of nonprofit unemployment claims and provides an HR hotline and employee training platform. Last year UST found more than $6,022,190 in potential Unemployment Cost Savings for nonprofits. Find out how much you can save by requesting an Unemployment Cost Analysis.
 

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DISASTER RECOVERY RESOURCE FAIR

Posted By Tasha L. Cooper, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Thursday, October 13, 2016

For Homeowners & Renters

Saturday, October 15, 2016 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER

2 Roosevelt Steptoe Drive

A.A. Lenoir Hall

Baton Rouge, LA 70813

 

Your “One-Stop Shop”

Valuable Information & Guidance

·                 Housing Resources

·                 Shelter At Home

·                 Flood Insurance

·                 Foreclosure Prevention

·                 Housing Counseling

·                 Unemployment

·                 Title Issues/Successions

·                 Legal Services

·                 Disaster Tax Relief

·                 Mitigation

·                 Various Types of Loans

·                 And More

 

FREE TO ATTEND

- ASL Interpreters Available –

For more information or directions, call 225-389-5350

 

More events coming soon to Ascension and Livingston Parishes

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