New Benefits for ERC Members from Partner, Ultimate Software

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ERC proudly announces our newest Preferred Partner, Ultimate Software. Organizations who are ERC Members will receive a 10% savings off implementation fees for their UltiPro Human Capital Management System. This includes:

  • Payroll Administration, Tax Management and Compliance
  • Benefits Administration, Open Enrollment and Life Events
  • Talent Management
  • Reporting, Workforce Analytics, and Business Intelligence Tools
  • Time, Attendance, and Scheduling
  • Recruiting & Onboarding
  • Global services, and more!

Human Capital Management and Payroll Solutions

Members save 10% off implementation fees of payroll solutions.

Join ERC Membership

Good News, the Unemployment Rate Went Up?!

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Good News, the Unemployment Rate Went Up?!

Yes, you read the title correctly – the 2015 January unemployment rate went up and many economists are hailing this as a positive sign for the economy.

When it comes to measuring the health of the job market, the unemployment rate undoubtedly gets the most attention, and criticism, when it is released on a monthly basis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Admittedly, accounting for every external real world factor and boiling it down into a single figure is not without its flaws, which is why, as a standalone statistic, simply citing an unemployment rate of 5.7% for January 2015 (a 0.1% increase over December 2014) does not tell the whole story.
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20 Common HR Metrics and their Formulas

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20 Common HR Metrics and their Formulas

How often does your HR department measure its effectiveness? HR metrics and measurements can be powerful in showing us areas where we could improve and better meet the needs of our organization and its employees. They can also help provide meaningful data to help us make good decisions for our business and department.

There are an endless array of HR metrics you can use spanning payroll, compensation, benefits, engagement, retention, training, and more – all of which can provide incredible insight into how your HR function is performing. But, some measurements are more important than others depending on your organization’s goals, strategy, and the data it can feasibly track, analyze, and use. Four crucial considerations that HR professionals need to consider when using HR metrics include:
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The ā€œ5 Wā€™sā€ of Payroll

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Payroll may not be the most glamorous function in an organization, but it is certainly one of the most critical. To better understand how this process takes place at a sampling of 179 Northeast Ohio organizations, we turn to the results of the 2013 ERC Payroll Practices Survey, which are summarized in the “5 W’s” below.

Who is processing payroll?

If you are in Human Resources (HR) or Accounting at your organization, there is a good chance that you or your departmental colleagues have some role to play in processing payroll. In fact at several organizations, payroll administration is an interdepartmental task shared by HR and Accounting or some other similar financial type department.
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Employers Struggle Most with Tracking FMLA

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Organizations could cite a countless number of reasons that they find FMLA administration challenging, but according to a 2013 ERC survey, top among these reasons is “tracking”. According to the 2013 ERC FMLA Practices Survey, “tracking” is the number one challenge for 40% of the participants, up 12% since the survey was last published in 2011. Other somewhat less common challenges include overall compliance (23%), determining overall costs associated with FMLA absences (17%) and determining what constitutes a serious health condition (12%).

Variable Administration Practices

Given the difficulties employers face with tracking FMLA, the fact that their methods for doing so continue to vary from organization to organization is largely unsurprising. For example, over half of the respondents (56%) reported using a rolling 12 month period measured forward, but nearly one-third use a rolling 12 month period measured backward and 10% us a calendar method.
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Congress Passes Bill to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

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In January of 2013, Congress passed a bill to avert the fiscal cliff, which maintains the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 per year and couples earning less than $450,000.

The bill raises taxes for those making more than these income thresholds, increasing tax rates from 35 to 39.6 percent for individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000 per year. Taxes on capital gains and dividends will also increase to 20% for individuals and couples earning income above these thresholds.

The bill also contains other provisions. Among those, it extends unemployment insurance for a year; caps itemized deductions for individuals making $250,000 and for married couples making $300,000; permanently adjusts the alternative minimum tax for inflation; raises the estate tax to 40%; and renews many childcare, tuition, research and development, and business related tax credits. In addition, it delays a series of automatic cuts in federal spending for two months.

Despite this measure, Social Security tax rates will return to 6.2% for 2013, up from the temporary rate decrease (4.2%) last year.

Source: CNN, National Journal

Additional Resources

Tax Changes Affecting 2013 Payrolls – What You Need to Know (Source: ADP)
2013 Federal Tax Legislation - What to Expect  (Source: ADP)
Fiscal Cliff Tax Deal: What Does It Mean for Small Business? (Source: Forbes)
Here's What's in the Fiscal-Cliff Deal (Source: National Journal)
Congress Passes Fiscal Cliff Act (Source: Journal of Accountancy)

Benefits Compliance: 3 Areas to Focus On

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Courtesy of Fisher & Phillips LLC

2013 marks not just the start of a new calendar year, but also compliance obligation deadlines for some employee benefit plans. We have outlined a number of key provisions impacting welfare and retirement plans, as well as changes to your payroll system, to help you be prepared. Let me know if you have any questions,

Medical Plans

  • A Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) must be provided to all group medical plan enrollees by the first day of the first annual open enrollment period beginning on and after September 23, 2012. This means if your medical plan is operated on a calendar year basis, you must provide SBCs to enrollees as part of your upcoming annual open enrollment period for coverage that takes effect January 1, 2013.
  • Health FSAs must be redesigned for the 2013 plan year to limit annual account balances to $2,500. Make sure to update your plan document as well.
  • Ensure that your group health plan SPDs have been properly amended to reflect any applicable changes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
  • Claims’ correspondence (claims and appeals responses) must use “culturally and linguistically appropriate language” when 10%+ or more of employees reside in a county literate only in the same non-English language. The HHS website provides a list of all U.S. counties which meet or exceed the 10% threshold.   If you send a claims or appeals response to an address in a county that meets the 10% threshold, you must include a one-sentence statement in the relevant non-English language indicating how to access language services. You must also provide oral language services (such as a telephone customer assistance hotline) and, upon request, a notice in any applicable non-English language.
  • The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA) requires group medical plans to provide an annual written notice to participants and beneficiaries of the availability of medical and surgical benefits under the plan with respect to mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Including the WHCRA notice as part of your open enrollment materials is one way to fulfill your annual notice obligations.
  • Sponsors of group medical plans must notify employees annually concerning the availability of state premium assistance through Medicaid or CHIP.  The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) imposes this notice requirement, which can be met by including the DOL’s model “Employer CHIP Notice” as part of your annual open enrollment materials.  For calendar year plans, the Employer CHIP Notice must be provided no later than January 1, 2013.
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Payroll Tax Cut Temporarily Extended

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In 2011, Obama signed The Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, which temporarily extended the payroll tax cut of 2% and the Social Security tax withholding rate reduction from 6.2% to 4.2% through February 29, 2012.

The new payroll tax rate was to be implemented by employers no later than January 31, 2012. If employers over-withheld any Social Security during January, they needed to make an offsetting adjustment to employees’ pay by no later than March 31, 2012.

Source: CNN

Wrapping Up 2011: A Year-End Checklist for HR

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We've compiled a checklist of common year-end HR tasks spanning compliance, benefits, payroll, salary administration, and general HR planning to prepare for 2012. 

Compliance

  • Review your policies and procedures and make sure they still apply and/or comply with changes to laws and regulations that occurred throughout the year.
  • Conduct an HR audit, preferably with a third-party. Make sure your HR and filing systems are in compliance.
  • Review record retention guidelines and dispose of appropriate records before the new year.
  • Review job titles and revise job descriptions for employees whose jobs, duties, or roles have changed within the course of the year. Be sure to also check FLSA exemption statuses to make sure these are still accurate.
  • Add critical HR filing and reporting deadlines to your calendar. 
  • Prepare for any regulatory updates that go into effect January 1.

Benefits

  • Make sure that new disclosure requirements and summary plan descriptions for retirement and health plans have been incorporated.
  • Revise benefits levels per IRS 2012 limits for defined contribution and benefit plans.
  • Review limitations on deferred compensation and check for excess contributions to qualified plans, especially for your highly compensated employees.
  • Determine which employees have life insurance over $50,000 to report taxable imputed income for taxable group term life insurance.
  • Check social security withheld to determine if an employee exceeded the 2011 limit. If so, make an adjustment or refund.
  • Re-evaluate your benefits package, including disability, life, and health insurance policies and obtain competitive bids.
  • Remind employees to spend the remaining balances on their flexible spending accounts before the end of the year so that their leftover money is not forfeited. You may consider reminding employees of reimbursable expenses. For a list of these, click here.
  • Send COBRA rate increase notifications to COBRA participants, if applicable.

Payroll/Salary Administration

  • Make sure employees review their W4s if they have changed their status during the year or anything else that would change payroll withholding.
  • Review taxable fringe benefits for W2 reporting, as these must be reflected in payroll for W2 reporting.
  • Distribute W2s by the end of January 2012.
  • Update employee address, demographic, and emergency information, including municipal information for local tax filing.
  • Have salary conversations with each of your employees and provide expected 2012 compensation in writing.
  • Issue final year-end paychecks which include year-end bonuses and holiday/overtime pay.
  • Adjust payroll to reflect changes in salary/wage adjustments, merit increases, minimum wage increases (note: Ohio minimum wage will increase January 1), and changes to benefits withholding.
  • Integrate new federal and state withholding tables. Remember that the temporary payroll changes which went into effect in 2011 are set to expire unless the federal government decides otherwise.

Planning

  • Distribute vacation and attendance calendars/planners to your supervisors and managers.
  • Determine your organization's 2012 holiday schedule and post or communicate it to employees. 
  • Plan, update, and post any critical  company activities or events for 2012.
  • Ask supervisors to assess current staffing levels in their departments/teams and submit job requisitions. Also take note of pending retirements, terminations, and expected turnover.
  • Conduct a training needs assessment and establish employee training and development plans for 2012. 
  • Review employee performance reviews and determine which employees...
    • are eligible for promotion
    • need additional training or skill development
    • require a performance improvement plan
    • should be terminated
  • Schedule recently promoted supervisors or managers for new supervisor training.
  • Plan your most critical projects for 2012. If you don't know what you should focus on, consider conducting an employee engagement survey in the first quarter to uncover areas of the workplace your department could improve.

Additional Resources

HR Project Assistance
For assistance conducting HR and FLSA audits, revising and auditing job descriptions, workforce planning, employee engagement surveys, and a variety of other HR projects, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

Benefit Plan Audit
Do you have 100 or more employees enrolled in your defined contribution plan(s)? Your plan is required to be audited, and must accompany your 5500 filing. Now is the time to save! ERC members receive a No-Cost 2011 Benefit Plan Audit, and can lock in your 2010 rate for the next five years, through our exclusive partnership with Skoda Minotti. Click here for details!

Employee Handbook Service
As you revise your policies and procedures, keep in mind that ERC and Employer Risk Solutions Company (ERSco) offer a unique and innovative service exclusive to ERC members that provides an employee handbook for private employers that is easy, legally compliant, customized and affordable. For more information about this service, click here.

Training
Schedule your employees for training sooner than later! For a list of training topics offered by ERC, which can be customized to your organization's needs, click here. Or, to register your employee(s) or yourself for an upcoming public training event in 2012 offered in our Workplace Center, click here.