Physical checks may be the more traditional method of compensating employees, but they can also be costly to ship, delayed due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, and cause inconvenience that creates stress for both employers and employees.

That’s why many companies today are ditching their reliance on paper and offering paperless payroll instead. Here are six reasons you may want to consider making the switch.

  1. Cut Time: Your staff won’t need to spend time distributing or mailing checks on pay day. Instead, the funds and paystubs can be delivered electronically, freeing up your team to focus on other tasks.
  2. Go Green: Eliminating checks can reduce your paper use and waste, decreasing your carbon footprint and increasing your eco-friendliness.
  3. Save Space: You won’t need to store paper records in big filing cabinets but can have everything backed up online, which also makes documents easier to search and streamlines reporting.
  4. Realize Savings: Electronic payments save businesses each pay run by eliminating the cost of checks, envelopes, and postage. And, you won’t ever have to worry about the cost of replacement checks.
  5. Encourage Self-Service: Through employee portals, workers can access their pay stubs as well as benefits information, company documents and announcements, and more.
  6. Provide Anywhere, Anytime Access: You can meet employees’ desire for a mobile experience by providing them access to pay information through their phones.

Plus, you’ll enhance morale by giving employees immediate access to funds so they don’t have to wait for checks to arrive or stand in line at the bank.

Before you get started with paperless payroll, just be sure to check your state’s laws about how pay stubs or statements must be made available to workers.

For information about the three most common ways to go paperless, visit our overview on going paperless.

One of the most popular benefits continues to be 401(k) plans. According to the latest SHRM annual employee benefits survey, 93 percent of organizations offer traditional 401(k)s or defined retirement savings plans, up from 90 percent the previous year. But while they’re a sought-after perk for employees, administering the plans can be a challenge for companies, and getting it right is crucial.

By combining payroll services with retirement plan administration, however, employers can reap several advantages of an integrated system:

  • Compliance with Legal and Fiduciary Requirements: With automated payroll contributions to 401(k) plans, companies can ensure proper and timely transmission of 401(k) contributions for their employees. Integration backed by knowledgeable experts also improves reporting and compliance with other fiduciary obligations.
  • Freed-Up Resources: With one vendor, integration is easy to set up. And by merging the two functions into a single system, companies will eliminate redundancy and streamline tasks, reducing the amount of time required for proper management. Record keeping, data entry and paperwork is also reduced so staff can focus on core tasks.
  • Boosted Accuracy and Reliability: With automated data exchange, census data is seamlessly and securely transferred, making it much easier to confirm employee eligibility and entry dates for 401(k) plans. And by eliminating manual uploads, it avoids unnecessary errors to give employers greater peace of mind.
  • Enhanced Census Collection Process: Integrated payroll and 401(k) data simplifies and automates the collection of salary, hours, termination dates and other census data to alleviate the administrative burden of year-end compliance requirements.

To learn more about how a fully-integrated solution works, download our Guide to CompleteK. If you’re interested in adding a retirement plan to your benefit offerings, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 877.253.9020.

With small employer health insurance costs expected to rise again this year, interest in new ways to contain the increases continue to grow as well. And one approach that’s gaining popularity among these businesses is self-funding, sometimes referred to as alternative funding. Today, according to the 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey, 13 percent of covered workers at firms with 3 to 199 employees are in a self-funded plan.

Self-Funding Defined

With self-funding, the employer pays for the healthcare services that its workers receive directly from plan premiums and stop-loss insurance. Set premiums for 12 months minimize risk as does the integrated stop-loss insurance that limits employers’ liability for large claims or unexpected expenses. And unlike fully-insured plans, employers who are self-funded can either process claims themselves or utilize third-party administrators (TPAs) for claims processing, reporting, and related tasks.

Benefits of Going it Alone

While self-funding is most common among larger employers (those with 200 or more workers) since they can spread the cost of risk among a greater number of participants, smaller companies can also reap the plans’ benefits, including:

  • Savings: For those with healthy populations, self-funding can be cheaper since claims costs will likely be lower than the premium paid to an insurance carrier, who retains the excess premium at the end of the year. And those savings can be rolled over to offset the next year’s expenses or for other qualified benefits for the company. Self-funded employers also avoid paying the state health insurance premium tax, yielding another opportunity to save.
  • Flexibility: Employers who self-fund have more freedom to design a plan that works for them and the specific needs of their employees, for example, with the network. And, with transparency into claims data, business can see what’s driving costs and make design changes to mitigate them going forward.
  • Engagement: With self-funding, employers that incorporate wellness initiatives, price transparency, telemedicine, and other initiatives to encourage better healthcare choices among members will directly benefit from the results, which may not always be the case with fully-insured plans.

So if self-funding offers so many advantages, why don’t all small businesses embrace the option? The biggest potential drawback is that some services, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), aren’t covered so it’s important to understand your workforce needs.

Getting Started

To learn more about the difference between fully- and self-insured plans, download our comparison chart. For more information about self-funding and the administrative services Complete Payroll Solutions can provide, call 877.253.9020.

Telemedicine, meaning activities like video visits and e-visits via smartphones, tablets and computers to evaluate patients, is transforming the way healthcare gets delivered. And not just for minor illnesses. Now, comprehensive telehealth solutions even focus on chronic conditions and specialties as well.

The advantages of care on demand to patients is clear: it’s fast, easy and convenient. But virtual visits have another benefit for both employees and employers: savings. Here are four big ways telemedicine cuts costs.

1. Elimination of Office Visits: With telemedicine visits, patients don’t have to spend money on gas or waste time traveling to appointments and sitting in the waiting room once they arrive, adding up to big savings for employees and improved productivity in the workplace. And the televisits themselves are less expensive. In one study, the average cost of a virtual visit was found to be $40 to $50 compared to up to $175 for an in-person appointment.

2. Reduced Emergency Room Use: While there are obvious health conditions or situations that require emergency room care like broken bones, anywhere, anytime access to physicians not only delivers appropriate care but it’s less expensive than settings like urgent care facilities or hospitals. In fact, the average price for an outpatient visit to the latter is just over $1,900, according to a Health Care Cost Institute report.

3. Early Intervention: Instead of waiting weeks to get an appointment to see their doctor, patients can get near-instant access to care. By identifying and treating conditions earlier, telemedicine promotes employee health and well-being and prevents more serious – and costly – complications. More timely visits can also reduce the spread of illness in the office and expenses related to employee absences such as the cost of hiring temporary workers or paying overtime to staff to cover sick employees.

4. Patient Satisfaction: In addition to the direct savings, telemedicine has a high patient satisfaction rating. According to a study in JGIM, the Journal of the Society of General Internal Medicine, between 94 and 99 percent reported being “very satisfied” with all telehealth attributes, with one third preferring a virtual visit over an in-person one. By offering the benefit, employers can bolster their packages for greater retention and save on the cost of filling positions – an average of $11,000.

To learn more about telemedicine and how it works, download our overview. Or for new ways to enhance your benefit offerings, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 877.253.9020.

Depending on your business, you may have employees that are classified as exempt or non-exempt, or both. The distinction is key because non-exempt workers are eligible for federal minimum wage and overtime pay protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act – and may be protected by state wage and hour laws as well.

But the difference can be challenging for employers, since job titles alone aren’t always determinative. Here are the two factors to get the classification right—and avoid penalties.

1. Salary: Employees classified as exempt must be paid on a salary basis at generally not less than $455 per week (these salary requirements don’t apply to outside sales employees, teachers, and employees practicing law or medicine and exempt computer employees may be paid at least $455 on a salary basis or an hourly basis of at least $27.63 an hour).

2. Duties: Employees who perform certain job duties are exempt. There are several possible exemptions:

Executive:

  • The employee’s primary duty is the management of an enterprise, department or subdivision; and
  • They customarily and regularly direct the work of two or more full-time employees (or equivalent); and
  • They have the authority to hire, fire or promote other employees or effectively recommend similar actions.

Administrative:

  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or employer’s customers; and
  • The employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

Professional:

There are exemptions for both learned professionals and creative professionals.

Learned Professional

  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment;
  • The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and
  • The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

Creative Professional

  • The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.

Computer:

  • The employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties described below;
  • The employee’s primary duty must consist of: 1) The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications; 2) The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications; 3) The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or 4) A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.

Outside Sales:

  • The employee’s primary duty must be making sales, or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities for which a consideration will be paid by the client or customer; and
  • The employee must be customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business.

For more guidance with understanding the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees, check out our examples. Or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 888-865-4470.

Effectively managing negative employee behavior is essential to a healthy and productive workplace. But sometimes it can be challenging to determine whether an employee’s actions constitute misconduct that requires discipline or are simply performance-related. And the difference is important because it impacts the plan HR puts in place for improvement.

Here are some ways to tell the difference between behavioral and performance issues so you can properly address them for an optimal workplace environment.

Misconduct

Misconduct generally involves intentional or negligent action that violates workplace rules and is distinct from the employee’s actual job performance. Examples of misconduct common in a business setting include:

  • Excessive tardiness
  • Dishonesty
  • Theft
  • Violence
  • Offensive behavior
  • Damage to property

Employee misconduct warrants discipline or the company risks affecting morale, engagement and productivity. Depending on the behavior, businesses may take one or more steps, including verbal and written warnings, suspension, and termination. For more information on dealing with conduct in the workplace, watch our video.

Poor Performance

When an employee does their job badly according to acceptable standards, it constitutes poor performance. Examples of substandard work include:

  • The inability to effectively communicate
  • Lack of follow through or ability to complete tasks with minimal supervision
  • Inadequate job knowledge and understanding
  • Failure to identify and proactively resolve problems

While repeated performance problems can be cause for discipline, to start, employers should help employees elevate their skills and abilities by offering support such as:

  1. Training: Educational offerings, especially hands-on or one-on-one options, that help an employee better understand the company’s products, processes or technology can positively affect on-the-job performance so give them the tools they need.
  2. Colleagues: Another option is to have management spend additional time with employees who need it so they can better understand how to perform their job correctly. Even a coworker who performs a job’s tasks well could help the employee learn how to adapt what they’re doing.
  3. Regular Communication: Once you spot poor performance, it’s important to stay on top of it so monitor employee work, perform regular evaluations, and provide feedback. And check that any interventions are having the desired results so that workers have the best chance to succeed.

Employers can’t afford to ignore misconduct or poor performance. For more information, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 888-865-4470.

As the use of social media grows, concerns about your employees’ use of social media in the workplace may as well. For example:

  • An employee may be logging on to social media sites frequently during the workday, depriving your company of productive working time.
  • Employees on social media might make negative comments about your company, a supervisor, or co-workers.
  • An employee could divulge sensitive information, such as the company’s financial performance on social media.

To combat the potential impact on your business, it’s wise to create a social media policy if you haven’t already. But be sure you tread carefully since it’s a fine line between governing the use of social media and unlawfully interfering with employees’ rights under federal and state law.

When you draft your policy, here are four things to keep in mind to stay in compliance:

  1. Beware Section 7: Don’t draft overly broad language that prohibits activities that are protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects certain “concerted activity” by employees such as talking about wages or the conditions of their employment. On the other hand, posts that disclose an employer’s trade secrets, contain disparaging speech about coworkers, and a host of others are not protected. To be clear, use examples.
  2. Control the Message: Identify those individuals who have the authority to represent the company on social media and prohibit others from doing so. To protect employers’ interests in this area, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows companies to require that employees seek prior authorization before speaking on behalf of the company. You can also instruct employees to include a notice when posting that the views expressed are the individual’s and not the employer’s.
  3. Skip the Passwords: While some employers want access to employees’ social media accounts to protect their data or brand, many states have laws in effect that prohibit employers from requesting social media logins and passwords or for taking action for failing to disclose passwords. So make sure to check local legislation before requiring employees to provide them.
  4. Don’t Rely on Disclaimers. According to the NLRB, general disclaimer language that states the policy doesn’t restrict employees’ rights and activities under the NLRB doesn’t cure otherwise unlawful provisions that the social media policy contains. That’s because employees may not understand from the disclaimer that protected activities are, in fact, permitted.

Best practices for dealing with social media in the workplace are continually evolving. For more information about updating your policies to boost compliance and productivity, watch our video. Or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 888-865-4470.

Cybersecurity is a growing concern among businesses of all sizes, especially when even large companies like Equifax and Target are hit by data breaches. And with the sensitive data it contains, payroll is an increasingly common target of cyber criminals who use sophisticated phishing emails, texts, and other communication to attack.

For employers, defending against phishing is critical. Here, Tony Frye, Complete Payroll Solutions’ IT Director, answers common questions about ensuring the security of workers’ personal information.

Can you describe phishing and how it can impact payroll information?

Phishing is one of the most common and largest threats to secure data. With phishing, cyber criminals attempt to access sensitive data, usually through fake emails that contain requests or questions. Phishing emails can be very deceptive and appear legitimate – even as if they’re coming from within your own organization.

What payroll data is at risk?

Payroll data that can be impacted includes employees’ bank account information, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal data. Depending on the access of the user impacted by phishing, attackers could find multiple employees’ information. In addition, cyber criminals could gain access to employer funds and financial information, putting the entire organization at risk.

How common are phishing threats?

The number of phishing threats has steadily increased over the years. In its latest annual cybersecurity report, Cisco revealed:

  • 66% of malware is installed via malicious email attachments
  • 64% of organizations have experienced a phishing attack in the past year
  • 90% of incidences and breaches included a phishing element

How does CPS monitor and protect against breaches to client information?

Our security measures set our organization apart. In addition to employing all of the security approaches described here, we also have secure local access in our physical locations, allowing only compliance-trained veterans of the industry to access our code-locked operations areas. We also monitor internal communications for suspicious activity. And digital access is managed employee-by-employee, rather than allowing loose, blanket permissions.

What do clients need to do internally to strengthen their defenses?

The biggest thing you can do is train your employees. Most attacks attempt to come in right through the front door so educate staff to identify the red flags of suspicious emails, such as generic greetings, a sense of urgency, and requests for personal information that contain links. It’s also wise to employ automatically-generated notices that alert employees when an email originates outside of the organization to put them on notice. And instruct workers on the use of strong and unique passwords. For more business-specific guidance on protecting your data, consider working with a cybersecurity firm.

Learn more about the phishing techniques used by cyber criminals by downloading our phishing guide.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each year. But administering FMLA leave can be challenging for many employers, especially when it comes to accurately tracking leave. And intermittent leave complicates the issue even further. In fact, according to a recent Littler Annual Employer Survey, 65 percent of employers reported difficulty managing intermittent FMLA leave.

To help employers get FMLA leave right, Complete Payroll Solutions VP/Director Karyn Rhodes shares five tips in the latest issue of Cape & Plymouth Business. In the piece, she explains everything from eligibility and notification requirements to how to track time against the 12-week entitlement. Read the article.

For more guidance about managing FMLA leave in your workplace, contact the HR team at Complete Payroll Solutions at 888-865-4470.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

Complete Payroll Solutions was very happy to add four new members to our team in January:

Bernadine Pacheco: Bernadine joined Complete Payroll Solutions as an implementation specialist, ensuring the successful onboarding and utilization of the company’s payroll solutions. Previously, she worked at ADP for 29 years, holding a variety of roles in customer service, conversion, sales and implementation. She works out of the Attleboro office.

Maria Cooney:  Maria recently joined Complete Payroll Solutions in the Springfield office as a client relations specialist. In this role, she works collaboratively with clients to assist them with payroll processing and related issues. She has 20 years of customer service and sales experience, including as a small business owner. Maria graduated from Springfield Technical Community College with an associate’s degree in Cosmetology/Management.

Corey Schaer: The Springfield office of Complete Payroll Solutions recently promoted Corey to IT specialist from his former role as an intern. In his new position, Corey sets up new employees with their technology requirements, provides IT support, and addresses internal Help Desk requests. He graduated from Porter and Chester Institute in 2018 with a degree in Computer Science.

Anthony Cagliostro: Anthony has been promoted to the position of sales and database specialist from his former role as an intern at Complete Payroll Solutions. Anthony now helps the sales team with partner referrals and customer relationship management (CRM) system implementation. He graduated from UMass-Amherst with a degree in Sport Management. He works out of the Springfield office.