Last month, the IRS released an updated online Withholding Calculator and a new version of Form W-4 to help taxpayers check the amount of withholding after enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which increased the standard deduction, removed personal exemptions, and increased the child tax credit, among other changes.

The tools will help taxpayers confirm that the right amount of tax is being taken out of their paychecks based on their personal circumstances. Many people with simple situations may not need to make any changes. However, those with more complicated financial situations, such as two-income families, people who claim the Child Tax Credit, those with itemized deductions, workers with more than one job, and people with high incomes, should check their withholding with the new calculator.

While the withholding changes do not affect 2017 tax returns, the Withholding Calculator can help taxpayers ensure they have the proper withholding for 2018 to avoid an unexpected tax bill or penalty if they have too little tax withheld, or adjust the tax withheld up front to receive more in their paychecks.

If taxpayers need to make changes to their withholding, the updated Withholding Calculator will help them complete a new Form W-4, which they should submit to their employer.

To further assist taxpayers, the IRS has published a Frequently Asked Questions about the calculator. For more information, call 866.658.8800 or your CPS Client Relations Specialist.

In August 2017, an Act Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care was signed into law, temporarily changing the existing employer medical assistance contribution and creating a temporary supplemental contribution, among other things. The final regulations implementing the law were just released by the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), and could financially impact your organization.

EMAC 101

According to, the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) was created in 2014 after the Massachusetts Fair Share Contribution requirement was repealed. EMAC applies to any employer in Massachusetts with more than five employees, even if the employer doesn’t offer its employees health coverage.

Increases in EMAC

As MassHealth enrollment has increased, Massachusetts’ administration has undertaken several reform initiatives to address the growing shift from commercial coverage to public coverage that has significantly increased MassHealth spending. While these reforms are under review, there will be a time-limited increase in the EMAC.

Under the final regulations, for 2018 and 2019, the EMAC contribution will increase from .34% up to the $15,000 wage cap, with a potential maximum per-employee cost of $51 a year, to .51% up to the $15,000 wage cap, which ups the potential maximum cost per employee to $77 a year.

To help minimize the impact of the new assessment on employers, the law also reduces Massachusetts unemployment contribution rate for two years.

An Added Supplement

To offset the costs of employees on subsidized coverage, the regulations also outline a new supplement that applies to employers (including nonprofits and governmental employers) with more than five employees in Massachusetts whose non-disabled employees have insurance from MassHealth (except the premium assistance program) or subsidized insurance through  the Massachusetts Health Connector, for more than eight weeks in the quarter.

The contribution is 5% of annual wages for every non-disabled employee (full time, part time or seasonal), up to the annual $15,000 wage cap and a potential maximum of $750 per affected employee a year. If an employee earns less than $500 a quarter, the contribution doesn’t apply.

Do You Have to Pay the Supplemental Fee?

For our clients, we will continue to send a wage report to DUA at the close of each quarter, which will be shared with MassHealth to determine if any employees are affected. DUA will then correspond with employers with information regarding any fees owed, which will be due within 30 days after the end of the quarter. For the first quarter of 2018, the supplemental fee is due by May 1.

Both the increased EMAC rate and the supplemental fee are effective for wages beginning January 1, 2018, through the end of calendar year 2019. If you have any questions regarding the additional liability, please contact your Client Relations Representative.

Onboarding is rarely the easy process that employees and employers both wish it was, but that has the potential to change—and it should. Studies have found that organizations with a standard onboarding process experience increases in retention and greater new hire productivity overall.

Suffice it to say: onboarding matters. But that doesn’t mean it has to be the blizzard of faxed signatures, loose papers, and stress that you’ve become accustomed to. With the right HR software, onboarding can be easy, organized, and simple. Here’s how:

Paperless Onboarding

Everyone knows the old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This expression perfectly describes the value of upgrading your onboarding process. One major benefit of implementing HR software is seamless organization that allows you to onboard new hires without paper, in less time and with greater ease.

How much time and energy do you think businesses waste trying to recover lost documents or figuring out where a new hire is in the onboarding process? Keep track of everything from tax forms, to resumes, to employee handbooks, to specific details about the new hire. The right HR software acts as a portal where employees and employers both have access to all of the information they need for the onboarding process to go off without a hitch.

As you know, it’s important to not lose sight of a new hire amidst all of the potential distractions a company faces. Software allows you to know exactly where the new hire is in the onboarding process, which helps improve the training process and ultimately produces better performance results. Tracking also allows the employer to pinpoint problem areas and evaluate the efficiency of their onboarding process overall.

There’s no denying that we are well into the digital age and that any process that isn’t paperless is well behind the curve. At CPS, we believe that HR software should simplify the entire onboarding process and engage your new hires, helping you to create great first impressions and long-term, happy employees.

Make onboarding easy for you and your employees by implementing effective and simple HR software at your company.

Free Tools for Employee Onboarding

Hiring the best talent is a constant struggle for businesses of all sizes, and keeping up on the latest trends is an important part of staying competitive.

In her article “Hiring Trends for 2018,” Joy Jordan explores the various factors contributing to the shift in focus that is occurring in our modern job market. She specifically notes the high turnover rates, a shortened average tenure, and general lack of talent—all of which are present in what is considered a fluid job market.

To gain more insight into the current state of affairs, Jordan spoke with experts in the field, including Complete Payroll Solutions’ very own Karyn Rhodes, VP and Director of Complete HR Solutions.

Rhodes offered her expertise on the growing “war for talent” and reflected on the obsolescence of a lifetime employment contract, saying that employers are learning to adapt to this paradigm shift.

“With the competition for talent, 90 percent of employers anticipate more competition from emerging markets in India, North America and Asia,” Rhodes told Jordan. “Greater emphasis will be placed on the employee experience as companies are forced to focus on corporate culture and values more than pay.”

The article, which appeared in the January issue of Cape & Plymouth Business, also covers the methods that employers are implementing to reach and retain the right employees, such as innovative recruitment strategies like engaging video, an emphasis on community involvement, and building an employer brand.

To learn more about how hiring trends are shaping the regional and national job market, and to hear more of Rhodes’ insights, you can access Jordan’s article here.

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CPS is dedicated to making our clients’ lives easier and that involves keeping you up to date with all of the latest changes in compliance regulations. Most recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) ruled to adjust the civil monetary penalties assessed for violations of a number of federal labor laws.

Labor Law Penalties for 2018

What exactly does this mean? As of January 2, 2018, this rule increased the penalty for when employers that don’t comply with certain requirements under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), and others. These increases apply to civil penalties assessed after January 2, 2018 whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

Labor Law Penalty Increases

Employers should be taking note of some of these penalty increases in particular. Repeated or willful violations of the FLSA’s minimum wage or overtime pay requirements are subject to a penalty of up to $1,964 per violation, formerly $1,925. Willful violations of the FMLA’s posting requirement are also subject to a higher penalty, an increase from $166 to $169 for each separate offense.

In addition to those, failure to provide employees with an Employer Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) notice is subject to a penalty of up to $114 per day. This penalty was formerly $112. Failure to prove a Summary of benefits and Coverage (SBC) is subject to a penalty of up to $1,128 per failure, which used to be $1,105.

Failure or refusal to file an annual report, known as a Form 5500, with the DOL can entail a penalty of up to $2,140 per day, formerly $2,097. If there is a violation of the OSH Act’s posting requirement, the penalty can be up to $12,934 for each violation, which has increased from $12,675.

To learn about more penalty increases and view the DOL summary chart, access the final rule here. If you have any questions about regulation changes or any other business solution inquiries, feel free to contact us.

With a national voluntary turnover rate of approximately 20 percent a year and as many as half of American workers dissatisfied in their jobs, employee engagement is a growing problem for businesses. From a drop in productivity and decreased morale to the direct costs of replacing an employee who quits—which can run over $11,000, depending on the job—improving the employee experience is critical to the success of an organization.

To increase retention and reduce turnover, one of the best approaches is to hire the right people. That means being realistic about job responsibilities in the first interview, defining expectations clearly, and ensuring a good fit between the job and the candidate’s skills, knowledge, experience, and interests.

Once you bring on an employee, it’s important to get them off to a good start at the company with a successful onboarding process. How a new worker perceives his or her first few months on the job can make a big difference.

Moreover, effective employee orientation is directly linked to higher levels of productivity, quality performance, and job satisfaction. Plus, when employees receive the training they need to perform well, they’re more likely to be satisfied in their jobs.

Steps for Successful Employee Onboarding

To successfully transition new employees into your organization, there are several steps you can take to achieve lasting benefits:

  • Begin Before the Start Date. Even before a new employee starts, you have the chance to make a good impression. Send a welcome message to the worker and offer to answer any questions they may have. Be sure the new employee’s computer is set up and ready to go on day one. And let him or her know about the dress code, tips for parking, or other useful information that will make their first day as stress-free as possible.
  • Make the First Day Leave a Lasting Impression. When an employee arrives, point out key areas like the kitchen, break areas, and bathrooms, and give him or her a tour of their workspace, providing any usernames and passwords they’ll need to get started. It’s also useful to give a company orientation, including information about products, services, and organizational structure. And make sure all necessary new hire paperwork is completed.
  • Train for Success. During the employee onboarding process, the new hire should have an opportunity to build a relationship with his or her manager so they can understand each other’s communication styles and ensure expectations and performance standards are clear. You should also give the new hire time to get to know the team, so consider pairing him or her with a top performer for training.

Avoid the high costs of disengagement and turnover by setting the groundwork for a lasting relationship. For more information, download our employee onboarding tools by clicking below.

Free Tools for Employee Onboarding

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Attend our free two-hour training on Friday, January 19, from 1-3 p.m. (ET).

This webinar covers basic requirements and best practices on identifying, preventing, and investigating the many forms of harassment. The training outlines protected categories such as sex, race, disability, and sexual orientation and is designed to meet state and federal training requirements and best practices, including harassment training standards compliant in every state.

Focus areas include:

  • State and Federal Laws Prohibiting Harassment
  • Types of Harassment
  • Supervisor Responsibilities
  • Complaint Management
  • Confidentiality
  • Retaliation
  • Remedies to Victims
  • Unfair Discrimination
  • Hostile Work Environment
  • Prevention Strategies

The benefits of attending this webinar include: a copy of the presentation slides, some state-specific documents for additional reference, and a live question and answer session at the end.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers in companies with 15 or more employees from sexual harassment. But despite the law, recent headlines highlight the prevalence of the problem. In fact, according to a new poll, 30 percent of American women say they’ve experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

In the current climate, it’s essential that businesses of all sizes take needed steps to prevent—and address—sexual harassment, or risk potential liability and public relations fallout. Here are five steps you can take to keep your site harassment-free.

Five Steps You Can Take to Stop Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

1. Develop a written policy.

While some states require employers with a certain number of employees to adopt a policy against sexual harassment, it’s wise for every employer to develop a written policy. So employees understand what constitutes unacceptable behavior, be sure to clearly define sexual harassment and what actions are prohibited. Once you’ve developed the policy, communicate it to all employees, include it in your handbook, and require employees to sign and acknowledge they’ve read it.

2. Ensure adequate reporting procedures.

Recent reports of sexual harassment dominating the news reveal that many victims never report the incidents. To encourage victims to speak up, all businesses should have a procedure for reporting incidents, as well as for how the complaints will be investigated.

That way, victims—or bystanders who witness the behavior—will feel comfortable coming forward and confident their claim will be acted upon quickly. And be sure to list at least three individuals authorized to receive complaints in case one is an employee’s alleged harasser.

3. Spell out consequences.

No matter their level in the organization, employees who are found to have engaged in sexual harassment must face disciplinary consequences for their misconduct. Be sure to spell out the actions you plan to take based on the results of the investigation, which may range from a written warning to suspension or even termination, depending on the circumstances. And it’s critical that your enforcement of punishments be consistent and unbiased.

4. Hold training.

Every worker has the right to a workplace free of harassment. But some employees may not understand the distinction between acceptable friendly behavior and offensive flirtation that crosses the line. So that everyone knows what constitutes sexual harassment, hold regular training for all employees that includes relevant and realistic examples for the specific site. (If your state has specific requirements, be sure to check that the training meets them.) And consider an extra training just for those managers and supervisors who are authorized to receive complaints.

5. Change the culture.

Whether due to roles, gender, or pay, power dynamics can cause some employees to feel intimidated and vulnerable, creating an environment ripe for harassment. To combat the possibility of such behavior, company leadership should pledge to create a culture based on inclusion, equality, respect. Visible and vocal commitment from the top can go a long way towards establishing a work environment that fosters decency and discourages harassment.

For more information about how you can protect workers by preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, contact us here.

Fall is fast approaching and new IRS deadlines are upon us…

  • You’re invited to join Complete Payroll Solutions for a FREE, LIVE webinar, Thursday, September 14, 2017 from 3:00-3:45 PM ET, covering the new Form I-9 and Keys to Compliance. Register below!
  • Also, don’t forget to begin using the newly released Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 required for ALL new hires starting after Monday, September 18, 2017. 

In the Form I-9 webinar session, we’ll also be sharing special features of Complete Payroll Solutions’ employee and employer HUB portal with an embedded process for handling all new employee forms including I-9 paperwork. Engage your employees!

For more information about HUB Engage and other ways Complete Payroll Solutions can help you best manage your workforce, Contact Us today!

Click below to REGISTER for the live webinar event!

New Employee Verification Form (I-9) Required For Employees Hired After September 18, 2017 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on Monday, July 17, 2017.

Employers are able to use this revised version immediately, but may continue using the former Form I-9 (revision date of 11/14/2016) through September 17, 2017. 

Employers must use the revised Form I-9 (revision date 7/17/17) for all new employees with a hire date of September 18, 2017 or later. Employers should continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.

The revisions to the Form I-9 are minor and employers do not need to change their processes.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) has undergone a name change and is now referred to as Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER).
  • Instructions on Section 2 have been altered to omit the words “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

Revisions related to the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9:

  • Added to List C is the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240).
  • List C, selection C#2 has been revised to combine all report of birth certifications issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240).
  • Excluding the Social Security card, all List C documents have been renumbered.

Additional information may be found at the USCIS website, under “I-9 Central.”

For more information on required employer forms and retention rules, please contact your local Complete Payroll Solutions HR Consultant at 866-658-8800 and we will be happy to answer your questions.