Failure to maintain a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), for all your workers can be a very serious offense that may result in substantial civil or criminal penalties.

U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that the number of worksite enforcement investigations has already doubled for this year compared to all of the last full fiscal year, with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) initiating 2,282 I-9 audits from just October 1, 2017 through May 4.

HSI says its stepped-up enforcement strategy is designed to encourage compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of everyone they hire and document the information on Form I-9. And the pace of investigations is likely to continue.

Be Prepared for an I-9 Audit

The first step in the audit process is a notice of inspection. If you’ve received a notice – or even if you haven’t – now’s a good time to get your hiring records in order to ensure you’re complying with the law. If not? Violations can result in criminal and civil penalties ranging from $375 to $16,000 per violation.

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I-9 Quick Tips

Here are five steps to help employers avoid mistakes with I-9 compliance.

  1. Read and refer to the Handbook for Employers (M-274). The M-274 is published by USCIS to help employers better understand the purpose of the I-9. The I-9 can be surprisingly confusing. The handbook should answer many of your questions about compliance.
  2. Store your I-9 forms safely. It is best to keep your I-9 forms in one place — separate from other personnel files — so that sensitive information will not be unnecessarily revealed during an audit.
  3. Perform internal audits regularly. An internal audit is the best way to detect and correct errors. It may also demonstrate a good faith effort that could spare you serious penalties in the event of a government audit.
  4. Avoid employment practices that are considered discriminatory. Employees must be treated equally regardless of citizenship or immigration status, national origin, or native language. Many well-intentioned actions can be considered discriminatory; for example, employers may not ask to see work authorization documents before hiring on the grounds that someone seems foreign or is not an American citizen.
  5. When in doubt, consult a professional. When it comes to I-9s, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Consulting a professional could spare you hefty fines or even jail time.

To help you stay in compliance, we’ve compiled the above tips into a downloadable sheet for you and your team. Click here to download for free! And if you have any questions about I-9 compliance, please contact us at 866.658.8800.

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With enactment of the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, Rhode Island employers with 18 or more employees—except for governments—will have to comply with new paid sick and safe leave provisions starting July 1.

The provisions are designed to allow workers to take time off in order to focus on their health care or the care of their families. Covered purposes include:

  • Mental or physical illnesses, injuries or conditions
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Preventive care
  • Leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking
  • Public health emergencies that result in closure of the employee’s workplace or their child’s school or day care
  • Exposure to a communicable disease

Final regulations issued by the Department of Labor and Training provide details on application of the new law.

Covered Employees

To determine if they need to comply with the new requirements, Rhode Island employers must count the number of employees on an annual basis to establish whether they maintained an average of 18 or more in Rhode Island during the previous payroll year’s highest two employment quarters.

An employee is considered employed in Rhode Island if their primary place of employment within the past 12 months was Rhode Island, regardless of their employer’s location.

Leave Accrual

Under the law, employees—even if they’re just part-time workers—must be allowed to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 35 hours they work. This accrual is based on hours paid, not worked, so they can earn time on a holiday or while on vacation.

The requirements will be phased in, increasing over the next three years as follows:

  • 2018: employers must provide up to 24 hours of leave
  • 2019: employers must provide up to 32 hours of leave
  • 2020: employers must provide up to 40 hours of leave

Administration

Rhode Island employers can provide a monthly lump sum of leave based on an employee’s average hours, and can front load leave at the beginning of the year to alleviate the administrative burden of tracking.

When it comes to use of the leave, the regulations include some guidelines:

  • Employers can impose a 90-day waiting period for new employees, as long as the requirement is documented in a policy.
  • When an employee’s absence is foreseeable, meaning planned at least 24 hours before it’s needed, the employee must provide notice in a reasonable timeframe. When leave is unforeseeable, the employer’s notice policies must be reasonable.
  • If an employee is out of work on sick leave for three or more consecutive days, the employer can request medical documentation.
  • Employers are not required to pay out accrued, unused sick time at separation of employment.

Compliance

Employers who violate the law’s provisions will be fined $100 for a first offense and $100 to $500 for subsequent offenses. To comply, be sure to review your current sick time or PTO policies. Those employers who already provide the minimum time required under the law are exempt from its accrual, carryover and use provisions.

If you don’t have a policy in place, it’s time to create one that complies with the law. And be sure to communicate the updates in your handbook.

For more information, contact Karyn Rhodes at 401-332-9325 or by email at krhodes@completepayrollsolutions.com.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 75 percent of employers have hired the wrong person. Unfortunately, the impact of a bad hire on the business can be far and wide, including:

  • Loss of morale among employees
  • Additional supervision required
  • Lost productivity and revenue
  • Impacted client relationships

And the real financial cost of all of these affects? CareerBuilder says it’s approximately $17,000 on average in just one year.

What Is a Bad Hire?

It may not take long for a company to realize they’ve onboarded the wrong person. While many factors contribute to an employee being labeled a bad hire, some of the most common signs include:

  • A bad attitude
  • Qualifications that aren’t suited for the job
  • Inability to work with coworkers
  • Poor quality work
  • Absenteeism
  • Personality mismatch

Improve Your Recruitment Process

If you’re planning to bring on more employees, hiring talent that fits with your organization can be a challenge. To make your decisions, you’ll need to go beyond a candidate’s resume today. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll avoid a poor fit, several steps can help reduce your chances, including:

  • Clearly define the job’s role and responsibilities
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Vet adequately
  • Trust your gut

To prevent the wrong person from impacting your bottom line, learn the top 10 hiring mistakes to avoid.

See the Top Ten Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

The MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has announced immediate adoption of a change to the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) supplement regulations to modify the tax treatment of employees under age 18.

The EMAC supplement is a tax on employers with six or more employees whose nondisabled workers receive health insurance coverage from MassHealth (excluding the premium assistance program) or subsidized coverage through the MA Health Connector for more than eight weeks. Originally, under the regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2018, employers were assessed the supplement on all nondisabled employees, including minors.

To prevent unintended consequences of the regulations, however, now those who have not attained the age of 18 will be excluded from the assessment.

If you have any questions regarding the EMAC supplement liability, please contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 866.658.8800.

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Every year, the IRS updates HSA contribution limits to reflect cost-of-living adjustments. The recently released Revenue Procedure 2018-30 outlines the 2019 HSA limits that take effect in January, which are up from 2018.

2019 HSA Limits

Self-Only Coverage: The HSA contribution maximum for next year is $3,500 for individuals with self-only high-deductible health plan (HDHP) coverage, a $50 increase from 2018.

Family Coverage: The 2019 HSA contribution limit is $7,000 for those with family HDHP coverage, up $100 from the 2018 max.

The IRS also annually reviews the limits for HDHPs, to which HSAs must be linked. For 2019, the minimum annual deductibles for an HDHP are the same as 2018: $1,350 for self-only coverage and $2,700 for family coverage. The limit for an HDHP’s total yearly out-of-pocket expenses goes up to $6,750 for self-only coverage and $13,500 for family coverage.

For more information about this notice, contact Complete Payroll Solutions’ Benefits department at 877.253.9020.

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Even though your employees may be focused on the day-to-day right now, it’s not too early for them to start planning for the future. And with the cost of health care projected to continue to rise, preparing to pay for this big expense in retirement should be a top priority.

Consider these facts:

  • 42 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved. [i]
  • The average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2018 will need $280,000 to cover health care and medical costs during retirement – and that doesn’t include long-term care. [ii]
  • Out-of-pocket health care costs for Medicare beneficiaries are likely to take up half of their average Social Security income by 2030. [iii]

Health Savings Accounts and 401(k)s

Health care costs show no signs of slowing down. And since they’ll eat up a big chunk of a retirement budget, some workers are even opting to delay retirement to have more time to save. But as an employer, you can put retirement in reach by helping workers prepare with a Health Savings Account and/or 401(k).

Health Savings Account: A health savings account (HSA) coupled with a high-deductible health plan allows employees to save for future health care costs tax-free. Contributions are pre-tax or tax deductible, the balance grows tax-free, and there’s no tax on withdrawals used for health care expenses. Plus, the funds automatically roll over from year to year.

401(k): A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored savings plan that lets employees contribute money tax-free and invest in a range of plan investment options. And workers don’t pay taxes on the investment growth either. However, when a member withdraws funds, their distributions are taxed as ordinary income.

For many workers considering retirement, how to pay for medical expenses is a big concern. But you can boost your employees’ confidence about reaching their retirement goals with an employer-sponsored savings vehicle. Click here to learn how Complete Payroll Solutions can help.

Free HSA FAQ Sheet


[i] 2018 GoBankingRates survey.

[ii] Fidelity Investments’ 16th annual retiree health care cost estimate.

[iii] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Medicare Beneficiaries’ Out-of-Pocket Health Care Spending as a Share of Income Now and Projections for the Future report.

We are pleased to announce that Brian Keefe has joined Complete Payroll Solutions as Vice President of Sales. In this role, Brian is responsible for leading the sales organization’s vision, driving revenue growth and contributing to overall business strategy.

Brian has nearly twenty years of experience in strategic sales in the payroll industry. He began his leadership career in the payroll industry as a Senior District Sales Manager for Paychex for 12 years before becoming Director of Sales for the company. Most recently, he served as a Major Account Regional Sales Manager with ADP. Brian received a BA in sociology from Merrimack College.

“We are excited to have Brian on board,” said John Pettengill, CEO, Complete Payroll Solutions. “His leadership experience, client-centric vision and passion will make him an invaluable member of our team as we continue to grow our footprint by expanding into new territories and market segments.”

Brian works out of the company’s Boston office, and can be reached at 781-718-4354.

Simplify Your Payroll Process

Payroll is a core function of any business, so getting it right is critical–but also challenging. In addition to administration and reporting, you also need to worry about compliance with federal, state and local laws.

Go it Alone?

Some companies, especially those with straightforward payroll, opt to handle the function themselves. That’s because managing business payroll essentially consists of a series of steps–collect information, decide on a schedule, calculate and run, and withhold and file taxes–that can be done in house.

But if you have a number of employees with varying hours, experience lots of turnover, or are paying taxes in multiple states, payroll can get complicated quickly. To reduce risk, save time and streamline operations, many companies choose to outsource their payroll and related tax duties.

Top Reasons to Outsource Business Payroll

Every company is different. But one of the biggest reasons organizations utilize a third party for business payroll is because they lack the internal expertise or resources to run payroll, handing it off to someone in HR or accounting who has another primary job function. By outsourcing, you’ll alleviate the burden on your organization and free up your employees to focus on your core business.

Outsourcing payroll offers numerous other benefits as well:

  • Fewer mistakes mean you’ll be compliant with regulations—and pay less in penalties
  • You’ll save time–and money–by turning intensive payroll processing tasks over to a team of professionals
  • A company can avoid delays and disruptions caused by more complicated situations like administering a bonus or preparing severance that can upend regular processes
  • Your business can reduce the risk of compromised sensitive employee information by administering payroll externally

That’s not all. Depending on the provider and their technology, you could gain access to even greater advantages and efficiencies for a happier, more productive team.

How to Choose a Payroll Vendor

When you decide you’re ready to shift to outsourced payroll, there are many options to choose from. To find a qualified third party that’s best suited for your business, consider the following factors:

  • Cost: The cost for a payroll service can vary depending on whether a vendor just handles paycheck processing or you utilize them for other services as well. Be sure to identify exactly what you need, then compare the total costs for one year between vendors. And double-check whether you’ll be charged by the pay period or month.
  • Reputation: Ask for referrals from colleagues, peers or others you trust. Once you narrow down a list, ask the companies for references and follow up with them to gauge their satisfaction. It’s also wise to check online reviews.
  • Capabilities: Depending on your growth strategy, you may want a company that can handle additional needs as you evolve, such as operating in different states, offering 401(k)s, and hiring part-time workers. But if you don’t foresee needing add-ons, be wary of companies who want to bundle all their services for a higher price.
  • Technology: To enhance ease of use and efficiencies, you’ll want to look for a vendor that offers advanced technology to make your experience better. Ask for a demo of the software so you can see it in action. And check that it’s secure and mobile-friendly for accessing on the road.
  • Accuracy: Mistakes can happen so you’ll want to ask how the payroll companies handle them, how long it takes to correct a mistake and who’s liable. And make sure the company you select is bonded and insured.
  • Service: Ask about how your account will be serviced and whether you’ll have a local contact for personalized attention or need to dial a call center for any issues. You’ll also want to check the customer service hours and other support, like how often you’ll receive reports or other communication from them.

Interested in learning more about how to make payroll work for your business? Click below or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 866.658.8800.

Simplify Your Payroll Process

While Massachusetts has had a pay equity law since 1945, the state recently strengthened the Equal Pay Act to close the gender gap with new worker protections that will go into effect July 1:

  • The amended law includes a broader definition of comparable work that is more favorable for employees bringing a pay-discrimination claim
  • Employers can no longer ask candidates about their previous salaries or contact a former employer to confirm their wages until after an offer is made, although nothing prohibits a prospective employee from voluntarily providing the information
  • Under the updated Act, companies can’t prevent employees from discussing wages
  • Businesses can’t retaliate against employees who exercise their rights under the law

Defining Comparable Work

Under the amended law, companies can’t discriminate, based on gender, in the payment of wages for comparable work. The law defines comparable work as that which requires substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. To determine comparable work, employers must not just rely on job titles or descriptions.

The law permits certain wage variations, however, such as those based on a legitimate merit or seniority system, geographic location, education, and travel requirements.

Steep Penalties for Violations

The Act makes it easier for workers to bring a claim, and the penalties can be steep: employers who violate the equal pay provision of the law are liable for twice the amount of the unpaid wages owed to the affected employee plus attorney’s fees, and those who violate one of the other provisions may be required to pay any damages actually incurred by the employee or applicant.

What the Updated Law Means for HR

To comply with the law, companies need to make sure their pay practices are fair. One way to do this is to complete a self-evaluation to identify any disparities, which also affords companies a defense to claims if they can demonstrate that they completed a review and made reasonable progress towards eliminating pay differences based on gender.

In addition, since the law presents new challenges to those screening and interviewing job candidates and negotiating offers, companies should train hiring managers and other potential interviewers about the new law’s restrictions on salary history questions and what’s still permissible, such as asking about compensation expectations.

More guidance is available from the Office of the Attorney General. Or contact the experts at Complete Payroll Solutions by clicking the image below.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

Every year, the IRS reviews the maximum contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to account for cost-of-living changes. For 2018, the IRS adjusted the limits for inflation and set the maximum at $6,900 for taxpayers with family coverage.

After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, however, it retroactively lowered the maximum by $50 to $6,850. Following requests for relief due to unanticipated administrative and financial burdens, in April, the IRS reversed course, issuing Revenue Procedure 2018-27 that allows the original $6,900 limit to remain in effect.

If you have any questions about the change or how it may impact individuals who received a distribution from an HSA of an excess contribution based on the $6,850 limit, email benefits@completepayrollsolutions.com or call Complete Payroll Solutions’ benefits line at 877.253.9020.

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