The economy has election anxiety, too

It’s finally election day. Whether you spend tonight celebrating with a Mazel Tov cocktail (yes, it’s a thing) or working on your emigration papers, here’s a look at how the election may affect everything from the world’s economy to your own small business.

Economic uncertainty

Election season uncertainty knows no limits—it affects individuals as well as businesses owners.

In fact, one uncertainty index shows that business owners are at an all time high of confusion on what the future holds for tax rates, government policy, and the economy in general.  This means that while they’re stalling for time, our economy is stalling, too.

The good news is that while short-term volatility tends to increase immediately after election day, the uncertainty tends to ease in the months following election day.

Healthcare

Trump promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act immediately. While she acknowledges some core issues with the plan, Clinton promises not only to keep the Affordable Care Act, but to fix those problems and expand the program, too.

The Affordable Care Act presents unique challenges for small businesses, especially those who provide insurance for temporary employees. For now, it’s still the law of the land, so we have an implementation guide for you, our 2 cents on the election’s potential effect on the law, and this Washington Post article for you to research for yourself how each candidate might handle your healthcare.

Whatever happens, let’s take a lesson from our friends across the pond: Keep calm, carry on, and make your voice heard at the ballot box.

Producing multimedia content or executing live events is chaotic. At PayReel we make sure our clients have the right freelancers right when you need them; and that everyone gets paid properly. Leave the details up to us so you can focus on your production. Relax. We got it.

Implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for Contingent Workers

Implementing the Affordable Care Act is challenging for any business, but for those who must provide insurance for temporary employees, it’s a real pain in the ACA.

Below are three of the biggest challenges (plus one solution to them all):

1) Interpreting and Following the Rules

Balancing a complex law like the Affordable Care Act with internal corporate legal policies is a trick. Throw in the chaos of the production world and things get borderline unmanageable. The laws are not uniform across states and jurisdictions, and like most things related to contract workers, are usually less than crystal clear.

2) Tracking Who Is Eligible and Who Will Be Soon

Non-variable employees get one set of benefits and variable employees get a separate set of benefits if they work 30+ hours a week on average. Monitoring when variable workers are getting close to eligibility and what exactly they’ll be eligible for requires time and/or specialized software.

3) Human Relations

The Affordable Care Act is constantly in the news and has people wondering what they are entitled to. Companies who don’t proactively communicate will lose credibility among employees. And, with healthcare becoming mandatory for certain employees, companies have the opportunity to leverage their benefits program into a competitive recruiting advantage if it’s done right.

Solution:

With high-maintenance laws such as the ACA, specialized knowledge is a must, but an internal department for managing all of its complexities isn’t always feasible or cost effective.

In these cases, a third-party service provider with the right experience can take all of the confusion out of providing insurance for temporary employees. The right provider will expertly handle the pressure of monitoring project-based workers and notifying the company who is going to be eligible soon, what to do once they are, and what the cost will be.

Having a proven system in place and proactively addressing these issues increases trust among employees and reassures them their company is on top of it. And happy employees are productive employees.

Still confused, or interested in learning more about how to manage ACA requirements? We’d love to hear from you.

About PayReel:

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

Supreme Court Favors ACA: Businesses Still Have Compliance Questions

Today, the Supreme Court ruled: Key elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stand.

Immediately, this SCOTUS ruling means:

Their paying customers are protected and healthcare and hospital stocks have soared.

Democrats are breathing a big sigh of relief with President Obama saying, “The ACA is here to stay.”

With no proposed alternative in place, Republicans reportedly “noisily outraged and quietly relieved.”

Long term, we still have some questions:

Companies who employ contract employees and the custom staffing industry (who have been through the ringer in an effort to comply with the ever-evolving ACA) still have some fundamental administrative concerns we need definitively addressed so we can comply with the act and reduce burden:

Basically, anything that plays into eligibility needs to be defined clearly, including:

1. How exactly do we define full time versus part time and variable hour workers versus non-variable hour workers

This is one of the most important determinations because full-timers become eligible for coverage. The house proposed changing the definition of full time from 30 to 40 hours a week and bills are being launched all the time to change things.

Similarly, the government has defined a variable hour worker in this way, “An employee is a variable hour employee if, based on the facts and circumstances at the date the employee begins providing services to the employer (the start date), it cannot be determined that the employee is reasonably expected to work on average at least 30 hours per week.”

Can we count on these definitions to be solid? If not, when can we?

2. Clarify what constitutes a break in service: 

The break in service guidelines also affects eligibility. We define a break in service as 13 weeks, but there are some who wonder if it’s 26 weeks. What exactly are the break in service rules and are they apt to change?

3. How will election year affect us? 

We can only guess. Here are our predictions.

This is last in our series on the ACA and the contingent workforce. Our first three covered lessons from the first five years, what we can expect from the next five years, and our predictions for election year.

About PayReel

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

ACA & The Election Year

There’s not a hotter topic for those in the custom staffing industry than the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It affects everything from hiring independent contractors to budget management. We, along with our corporate clients and independent contractors, are largely affected by every detail, regulation, and modification of the law.

For this reason, we’re tuned in to what happens in DC. When both houses of Congress went Republican, we had the very real question of whether they would repeal the ACA. And not long ago, many also wondered if a Republican White House in 2016 could result in a decisive repeal.

But with over 10 million people enrolled, repeal no longer seems realistic. Regardless of politics, nobody wants to turn on the news and see a story about a politician removing a terminally ill patient from their hospital room. Too many people are benefitting and it would be impossible to ignore the stories.

While we don’t see repeal as a huge threat in the short term, it is realistic to anticipate intense new regulations which could chip away at the act and render it unrecognizable (like the Social Security Act and Voting Rights Act before it).

Whatever direction the White House goes in 2016, it will have HUGE effects. Businesses with contract employees will need to be especially nimble and software will need to remain flexible.

We can only act on what we know. What we cant do is ignore it and hope it goes away. If we put our heads in the sand, we’ll just end up with stuffed noses and scratchy eyes.

This is the third in a series:

We’ve already covered lessons from the first five years and what we can expect from the next five years. Next will be the fundamental questions we still need answered.

About PayReel

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

ACA: Businesses & The Next Five Years

1. The Dust Is Settling, But We Still Have Some Challenges

The American Staffing Association (ASA) has worn out the road to DC. Lobbyists have played a big part in cluing DC in to the reality of where the Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn’t accommodate those with nonconventional work arrangements, such as independent contractors and freelancers. These are the workers our world is increasingly made of—folks who may work full time this week, not at all next, and then full time again the week after.

Though we do still have some challenges to work through, the ASA has been a much-needed voice for the custom staffing industry. They’re getting the rules straightened out and it’s working (somebody send them some flowers).

2. There is HOPE for Automated Eligibility Tracking

As the dust settles, automation has become more feasible. The frequent changes to the act in its infancy made automatic tracking problematic. Now that there’s some stability in the guidelines for contingent workers, we’ll be able to add this capability into our arsenal of HR tools.

3. Effects on Costs Still Unclear

With low participation rates to date, there hasn’t been a lot of money on the line. Yet. Penalties for individuals who don’t comply have been minimal. As these get stiffer, we expect participation will increase. As participation increases, administrative costs will, too. This time next year, they could conceivably double.

4. Still Not Sure How To Pay For It

However the costs increase, they’ll be across the board because we’re all bound by the same law. Some clients are struggling because they don’t fully grasp how the ACA could affect their budgets and add to their overall labor costs. The best way we’ve found to think about it is that it’s very similar to managing the cost of worker’s comp.

With a tepid economic recovery, what amounts to another labor tax has been hard for some clients to swallow. Some have said they will only pay a certain additional amount for ACA, and unless someone blinks, it’ll be standing room only at the OK Corral. Meanwhile, a fortunate few increased their budget for contingent labor and are happy that it’s going to cost them less than they may have anticipated.

At PayReel, we will comply with the new law both in letter and spirit. Therefore, we’ve decided we won’t be party to efforts which attempt to manipulate freelancers’ hours to stay just below ACA eligibility.

We’ll do what businesses do best—figure out how to adjust to new business realities.

Note: We covered our lessons from the first five years in our last post. Next, we covered our predictions for election year. Finally, we’ll soon post which questions we still need answered even as the dust is settling. 

About PayReel

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

ACA & Contingent Workforces (Lessons from the First Five Years)

 

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, we in the contingent labor industry held our breath. As a company providing contractor management services, we wondered: How will this affect temporary, freelance employees and the businesses that employ them? Will ours and clients’ costs skyrocket? Will we be able to accommodate the demand?

What we learned:

1. Contractor Compliance is HARD

It became immediately clear that those who wrote the Affordable Care Act (ACA) didn’t consider how it would work for contract employees. The law was vague regarding full time, part time, or seasonal workers. It didn’t have a specified look-back period. With an act as clear as mud it was impossible to find our path. Our very first steps were to read and wait …wait and read.

As the mud started to clear, we had to comply. We wanted to comply, but as soon as the ink dried on a rule, it’d be redefined. Our muddy path became a constantly-changing, muddy path.

The act made it far from easy for a contingent workforce or the businesses that employ them to understand and follow the rules. But with a mandate for large employers that required compliance by Jan. 1, 2015, we had to figure it out. We positioned ourselves the best we could to guess right. It was basically, “Put on your shoes (and a blindfold) and start walking. We’ll be sure to fine you if you fall off a cliff. Go.”

2. Excel Doesn’t Excel

With the frequent changes, there was precious little software in existence designed to keep track of guidelines for independent contractors automatically. We used Excel. Every month, we did a census of our employee base and entered info into spreadsheets to determine eligibility. As the rules changed, our spreadsheets changed. Even though no one fell through the cracks, we opened ourselves up for fines and penalties. Excel is quite a tool, but manual tracking of that level of data is not ideal.  As the dust settles, we’ll find the right solution.

3. Participation Was Lower Than Expected

Once we got through open enrollment (a photo finish just before the deadline), we were surprised by low levels of participation from our employee base. It turns out over half of freelancers have coverage through some other means (through spouses, for example).

With the manual tracking required, it helped that we could start small.

4. Participants Are Grateful:

Some participants spent their adult lives essentially uninsurable and avoiding the doctor because they couldn’t afford care. It’s gratifying to hear stories of people who’ve had ongoing health problems or pre-existing conditions who are eligible for coverage for the first time in their adult lives. One woman, whose seriously-ill husband became insured for the first time, cried as she expressed her gratitude to us.

The pain of manual tracking fades in light of these stories.

This series includes what we can expect from the next five years as well as our predictions for election year. Next we’ll cover the fundamental questions we still need answered.

About PayReel

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it, so they can get back to doing what they do best.