In fiscal year 2017, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division collected more than $270 million in back wages. Rising penalties plus damages arising from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuits mean employers need to be vigilant with their pay policies. Here are five ways companies can minimize their wage and hour mistakes—and their liability.

Classify Employees and Independent Contractors Correctly

One of the most common issues employers face is misclassifying workers as independent contractors versus employees, denying them critical benefits and protections while avoiding payroll taxes. The penalties for misclassification can be steep depending on whether it was unintentional or intentional. To correctly determine the nature of each worker relationship, conduct an analysis of the facts of each situation using guidance from the DOL and IRS.

Document Exemptions

The FLSA requires that non-exempt employees receive at least the state or federal minimum wage and overtime pay. So it’s critical to delineate workers as either exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly). But be careful: just because someone earns a salary doesn’t mean they’re exempt. If you’re claiming an exemption from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements, you’ll need proof. That means having a well-written job description that outlines the duties consistent with the exemption requirements, documenting an employee’s regularly daily tasks and the amount spent on each one, and explaining why you’re claiming the exemption.

Pay Non-Exempt Employees for Compensable Time

Be sure you determine upfront what time a non-exempt employee is considered “suffered or permitted” to work for you. For example, activities like starting up a computer or checking email—even off the clock or away from the office—technically count as work since they are integral to the employee’s job, so you must pay for that time. You also need to pay for time spent by non-exempt employees in meetings or trainings unless certain conditions are met.

Keep Accurate Wage and Hour Records

For non-exempt employees, you’ll need to track their hours worked. One way to make sure you and your workers agree on the calculations is to have them acknowledge and verify your pay records at the end of each week. And hang on to the records to protect your business from back pay claims of unpaid hours.

Calculate Overtime Correctly

Non-exempt workers must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in the work week. So workers understand when you’re responsible for paying them overtime, be sure to clearly define what your work week is and notify employees. To calculate overtime, the regular rate of pay must be multiplied by 1.5. While this calculation may seem straightforward, certain activities can cause errors, such as failing to include extra earnings or non-discretionary bonuses in the regular rate of pay since those amounts count towards “all remuneration.”

Compensation can be tricky—and costly. Find out how to minimize your risk of an enforcement action by downloading our audit preparation checklist. Or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 866.658.8800.

Download the Audit Preparation Checklist

Our New North Shore Office

As part of our constant effort to better serve our clients and the businesses of the Northeast, we recently opened our 11th Complete Payroll Solutions office on Edgewater Place in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

The Wakefield office is staffed with a diverse team of payroll, benefits, and technical consulting professionals with deep knowledge and experience to deliver targeted human capital management solutions. As Complete Payroll Solutions expands, the new North Shore location will provide access to local talent to help meet the company’s resource requirements and further its capabilities.

Welcome to the CPS Team!

We’ve also added several new members to the CPS team:

Amy Avedian, Business Solutions Consultant: Amy joins us with more than 17 years of experience in the financial and benefits industries. In her new role she will be responsible for cultivating long-term relationships with clients in the Worcester area to achieve their objectives. Prior to joining Complete Payroll Solutions, she was a Business Banking Officer with Citizens Bank and previously served as a Senior Payroll Sales Consultant with Paychex for over 15 years. Amy graduated from Western New England College. She earned her Accident & Health and Life insurance licenses in 2002.

Jonathan Benoit, Senior Implementation Analyst: Jonathan is responsible for product development, platform demos, implementation and technical training for clients as well as providing project support to internal staff. He has more than 10 years of leadership and operational experience in the industry, most recently serving as Director of Payroll, Benefits, Retirement & Accounts Receivables at Nichols College. Previously, he was a Senior Client Service Representative at Harpers Payroll Services and Manager of Client Services at Payright Payroll Services. Jonathan graduated from Quinsigamond Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Business Management and is currently enrolled at SNHU (Southern New Hampshire University) to receive his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. He holds the Fundamental Payroll Certificate and Certified Payroll Professional designations, and is a member of the American Payroll Association.

Jim Ferreira, Business Solutions Consultant: Jim has joined the CPS team working out of White Plains, NY. He is responsible for developing strategic business partnerships and providing consultative advice and effective solutions to clients to address their changing workforce management needs. Prior to joining Complete Payroll Solutions, Jim was a Major Market Sales Executive at Paycor, Payroll Territory Manager in Fairfield and Westchester counties at Heartland, and Major Markets Services Senior Sales Consultant at Paychex serving Fairfield and Westchester counties. He graduated with an associate’s degree from Hesser College.

David Pachomski, Senior Implementation Specialist: David joins Complete Payroll Solutions with 25 years of experience in the industry, most recently serving as Payroll Software Administrator at Radius. Previously, he served as a Senior Implementation Specialist at Harpers Payroll Services, as a Payroll Administrator with ServiceSoft Technologies, and as a Payroll Specialist at Saint-Gobain. David received his Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Newbury College. In his new role, David will be playing a critical role in ensuring successful implementation and utilization of the company’s solutions.

Elizabeth Shah, Business Solutions Consultant: Elizabeth will be responsible for expanding business in the North Shore area by meeting the needs of current and prospective clients with tailored solutions to their workforce challenges. Elizabeth has deep industry experience, including working for 13 years in sales at Paychex, where she served clients in the towns of Lynn, Saugus, and Peabody in Massachusetts. She received her bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Interested in joining our team? Check out our current openings.

As you grow your company from an owner-operated business to a team of professionals, it’s necessary to develop an employee handbook. Small to mid-sized companies implement this documentation to stay compliant with state and federal regulations, as well as reduce the risk of litigation that can destroy a business.

There are many variations of the employee handbook and several ways to approach development. Complete Payroll Solutions (CPS) provides templated samples for standard handbooks. Customized and industry-specific handbooks are typically tailored with the help of CPS’ HR and Compliance experts who work with you to create an online (and hard copy) version that is right for your company.

For some, however, a single handbook alone may not suffice. Multi-facetted businesses that span a variety of industries may require a corporate handbook accompanied by individual guides that pertain directly to a jobsite or locale. It’s not uncommon for states to have their own requirements too, so it’s important that your corporate HR department works in tandem with regional offices to create the right employee handbook for each area.

10 Sections You Should Include in Your Employee Handbook:

1. Company Overview & General Information
Though not required, it’s good to have an introduction to a handbook with an overview and historical look at the company to help transition into the context of the guidelines.

2. Non-Disclosures
Even if it only applies to a small percentage of staff, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should be addressed and emphasize confidentiality and privacy policies in place.

3. Anti-discrimination policies
Required by law, information about equality in the workplace as it relates to gender, race, disability, sexual preference, and religion needs to be in writing.

4. Compensation & Benefits
An overview of eligibility for medical and dental benefits, 401K, and profit sharing should be included, and this section may also cover promotion, demotion and any adjustments in pay.

5. Leave Policies
Family medical leave, bereavement, sick or personal days, and paid time off are some of the leave policies that should be included in the handbook in order to stay compliant.

6. Schedules & Business Hours
Include standard business hours and required methods of time tracking for hourly employees. Work-from-home policies and business travel should also be outlined.

7. Code of Conduct
Policies addressing arrival times, dress codes, excessive absences, and outbound communication should be clear as you discuss employee expectations.

8. Safety & Security
This section discusses reprimanding employees for inappropriate behavior, harassment policies, and reporting procedures to maintain the well-being of all employees.

9. Technology & Social Posting
A recent staple in handbooks are now the guidelines for online usage, social posting, and viral references relating to the company.

10. Signature Page
This one shouldn’t be overlooked. In order to make it official, you’ll need a signature from both a manager and the employee acknowledging that they have read the handbook content.

Employee Handbooks and Onboarding

Reviewing and acknowledging a company handbook should become an integral part of the onboarding process for new hires. It’s important that employees familiarize themselves and abide by this text to avoid warnings or termination.

However, an employee handbook is not a binding contract and should never be referred to as such. While a sign off of the document is kept on file, it in no way guarantees employment despite the adherence to the general rules and regulations.

Employee Handbooks and Compliance

Your company’s employee handbook is a living document. In order to stay compliant, it needs to be updated annually and adjusted as new legislation is announced and your company policies change. For more information about developing your own handbook, or creating amendments to existing documentation that address the latest FLSA rulings, call CPS at 866.658.8800.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

The right hiring practices will boost your chances of finding the right candidate for your business. And the interview is one of the most important steps to understand the core of an applicant and what they’ll bring to the team. Follow these tips to  conduct an interview that reveals insights into what make candidates tick so you’ll know if they’re a good fit.


Before you invite applicants in, be sure to prepare a list of questions that ask about their knowledge, skills and work style as well as specific questions about how they’d handle challenges on the job. Make them as open ended as possible. And keep the questions the same for each candidate so you can compare them fairly.

Break the Ice

Thank the applicant for their interest in the position and try to make them feel relaxed by starting the conversation off with small talk or general information about the company. When you start asking questions, give the candidate plenty of time to answer and don’t interrupt. And invite them to interview you as well to facilitate open communication.

Pay Attention

When a candidate responds to your question, take notes that you can refer to later. And don’t just focus on what they say but how they say it, meaning, their choice of words and non-verbal behavior like eye contact. You’ll also want to pay attention to the questions an applicant asks, since they not only show interest but can reveal possible concerns.


As soon as you complete an interview, analyze the information while it’s still fresh in your mind. It can help to establish criteria ahead of time for evaluating each interviewee. And be sure to collect the feedback from anyone else who sat in on the meeting, especially if they would be interacting with the candidate on a daily basis.

Recruiting can be a daunting task. Make the interview process easier with our checklist of which questions to ask, and those to avoid.

20 Questions to Ask During an Interview

Massachusetts has adopted a paid family and medical leave program, which will be funded by a payroll tax that becomes effective July 1, 2019. Employees can begin taking paid family and medical leave under the program in 2021.

A summary of the program is below.

Which Employers Are Covered?

Employers with 1 or more employees.

Which Individuals Are Eligible for Leave?

Employees who meet financial eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance (earned at least $4,700 during the last four completed calendar quarters, and 30 times the weekly benefit amount they would be eligible to collect).

Which Life Events Qualify for Leave?

  • The birth, adoption or placement of a child
  • The need to care for a family member with a serious health condition or who is a covered servicemember
  • The employee’s own serious health condidition
  • A qualifying exigency stemming from a family member being on active duty

For How Long Can Leave Last?

  • Up to 12 weeks in a year for the birth, adoption or placement of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or because of a qualifying exigency stemming from a family member being on active duty
  • Up to 20 weeks in a year for the serious health condition of the employee
  • Up to 26 weeks to care for a family member who is a covered servicemember

If an employee elects to use leave for more than one life event, leave can last up to 26 weeks in a year at most.

Who Pays for the Paid Leave?

Both the employer and the employee. The leave program will be funded by a 0.63 percent payroll tax split between the employers and the employees that becomes effective July 1, 2019.

Additional requirements and exceptions apply. Click here to read the law.

When it comes to benefits like paid family leave, employers are offering more in order to stay competitive in today’s hiring landscape. Download the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Employee Benefits Survey results by clicking the image below to see which benefits your competition might be offering.

Download the SHRM Report

As the pace of technology advances in HR technology continues to accelerate, it can be overwhelming to find just the right tool for your organization and its needs. To make sense of the myriad of options available today, it’s wise to conduct a thorough and thoughtful search. While it may take a bit longer to identify the ideal HR solution, you’ll know that what you’ve settled on is right for you.

As you take a methodical approach to selecting HR technology, here are five things to keep in mind:

5 Tips to Help You Choose the Right HR Technology

1. Know what you need. The solutions available on the market now can help automate and streamline almost any HR process, from recruiting to engagement. But before you opt for a tool that can handle everything, consider what you really need by outlining your requirements, especially if you already have some systems in place. If you decide you really do need one provider for all your workforce needs, just be sure the solution fits within your budget.

2. Don’t fall for the hype. Many times when new solutions hit the market, vested reviewers or the provider’s own marketing team talk them up. But even though it’s easy to be swayed by what you see and hear when you’re shopping around for tech solutions, don’t jump on board blindly. Instead, spend the time thoroughly investigating your options before you buy.

3. Look past the implementation phase. Often during the selection process, providers reassure buyers how seamless integrating a new solution will be. But the people selling the product aren’t the same ones who will be with you as your team learns the ins and outs of the new technology. Be sure to get a clear picture of the type of support you can expect from day one, and ask what performance management is available to gauge the effectiveness of the solution.

4. Confirm the technology is as easy as it looks. No matter how extensive your needs or sophisticated the solution you’re looking for, any option you consider should be user-friendly. While your technology team may be the one to head up the installation, your HR team will be the one utilizing the tool on a daily basis so it needs to be simple enough for everyone to work with.

5. Do your due diligence. Many vendors will lavish you with attention during the sales stage. But that may change once you’re a client. Ask peers about their experience with the solution provider’s tool and service. And check objective, verified reviews from other companies with similar needs. You’re making a big investment when you buy HR technology so you want to get the level of performance you need – and expect.

With the latest HR technology developments, you’ll be better able to meet your company’s objectives. Just be sure the solution you select is a help and not a hindrance by downloading our vendor checklist. To learn about Complete Payroll Solutions’ tools, call 866.658.8800.

Download our free HRIS vendor checklist!

Every year, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) administers an Employee Benefits Survey to gauge what benefits companies are offering – and what they plan to in the coming year. One of the key takeaways of SHRM’s 2018 results? A third of employers increased their benefits offerings in the past twelve months.

As the number and types of benefits offerings increase – according to the survey, the prevalence of over 60 benefits increased last year – it’s clear that employers view benefits as a critical incentive to attract and retain talent. So what should you consider extending to your employees to stay competitive?

Benefits You Should Offer to Stay Competitive

Health-Related Benefits

The survey revealed that almost all organizations offered at least one of nine types of health plans and over two-thirds offered multiple types, with PPO plans remaining the most popular followed by consumer-directed health care plans (CDHPs). Given the increase in the number of organizations offering CDHPs, HSAs have also increased in popularity, with more than one-half of employers offering this benefit in 2018.


Of the companies who increased their benefits offerings last year, 44 percent increased their wellness benefits in an effort to address workplace health problems that affect productivity and health care costs. Seventy-five percent of employers offered wellness resources and/or a general wellness program and the prevalence of certain offerings increased, including fitness competitions, first-aid training, and standing desks.

Retirement Services

Most organizations – 95 percent – offered one or more retirement plans to employees, with traditional 401(k) being the most popular, increasing from 90 percent in 2017 to 93 percent of organizations in 2018. Roth 401(k)s also increased in growth, with 59 percent of employers offering these plans last year. To help employees boost their savings, more companies (55 percent) are providing one-on-one investment retirement advice.

Professional and Career Development Benefits

Since the vast majority of employees view career development benefits as important to their job satisfaction, organizations have increased several offerings since 2014, including offsite and onsite professional development opportunities, certification/recertification fees, cross-training, and formal mentoring programs.

Leave, Family-Friendly and Flexible Working Benefits

The prevalence of paid parental leave increased significantly from 2016 to 2018, yet larger companies were more likely to offer the benefit than smaller ones. To further help employees and their families, about half of organizations offer onsite lactation rooms, up seven percentage points from the previous year. And flexible working benefits to encourage a better work-life balance also increased, with more than two-thirds of organizations offering some type of telecommuting.

With low unemployment, benefits can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool. For assistance with benefits planning to increase employee satisfaction, contact us at 877.253.9020.

Download the SHRM Report

Human Resources departments today are struggling under the weight of ensuring compliance with the increasing number of labor regulations, and it can be very difficult for an HR team to find success while constantly reacting to potential risk.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to encourage a productive and pleasant work culture for everyone in your company, as Complete Payroll Solutions VP and Director of Complete HR Solutions Karyn Rhodes’ outlined in her article “5 Steps to HR Leadership Success”—featured in the June edition of Cape & Plymouth Business magazine.

“The typical Human Resources department is now largely focused on ways to comply with rules and regulations to avoid penalties,” Rhodes writes. “But, in an effort to reduce an organization’s risk, there’s a significant downside to this approach.”

Rhodes goes on to explain that an environment lacking creativity and humanity can hurt both the employees and the business overall in the long run. In order to avoid this, Rhodes recommends the following five steps:

  1. Get Talking
  2. Pay Attention
  3. Observe
  4. Watch for Words
  5. Be a Leader First, Not a Friend

Read the full article here and get in touch with our team of HR experts to find out how CPS can support Human Resources success at your company.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

In June, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an increase in the Massachusetts minimum wage. Under the new law, the minimum wage, which is currently $11 per hour, will rise to $15 an hour over five years. The increases will occur as follows:

  • $12.00 on January 1, 2019
  • $12.75 on January 1, 2020
  • $13.50 on January 1, 2021
  • $14.25 on January 1, 2022
  • $15.00 on January 1, 2023

The minimum service rate for tipped workers, such as servers in restaurants, will also rise to $6.75 an hour over five years. It is currently $3.75 an hour.

As the hourly wage amounts increase, time-and-a-half pay for Sundays and holidays will be phased out. It is now 150 percent of an employee’s wage and will be reduced by the following schedule:

  • 140 percent of an employee’s wage on January 1, 2019
  • 130 percent on January 1, 2020
  • 120 percent on January 1, 2021
  • 110 on January 1, 2022
  • Phased out on January 1, 2023

More information about Massachusetts’ law about minimum wage can be found here. For any questions about the new law or how to comply with the requirements, call 866.658.8800.

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Connecticut recently joined several other states in enacting legislation to ban salary history questions in an effort to address the pay gap between men and women.

Under the law, which takes effect January 1, 2019, employers – or third parties they direct – will not be able to ask job applicants about their past wages and compensation during any part of the hiring process, although prospective employees may volunteer the information.

In addition, while companies can ask about other elements of an applicant’s past compensation structure, such as whether a previous employer offered stock options or other equity incentives, they can’t ask about the specific value of the benefits.

Prospective employees can bring a cause of action for violations of the law and seek compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and costs, punitive damages and other relief.

For information about how to help your hiring team comply with the new law’s requirements, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 866.658.8800.

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