Hurricane Harvey: How to get support plus unique ways to give it

Hurricane Harvey has left much of America’s fourth largest city underwater. We’ve seen photos of harrowing rescues, and of submerged homes, buildings, and highways. We’ve heard reports of the months of cleanup and billions of dollars in recovery efforts ahead for Houston. Like so many, we at PayReel have been wondering what we can do.

The following resources provide ideas for those personally affected and those who want to support:

 

I’ve been affected. Now what?

The Texas Tribune offers information on shelters, flooded streets, and more here. Once you’re out of immediate danger, a simple way to set your friends’ and families’ minds at ease efficiently is by marking “I’m safe” through Facebook’s Safety Check.  You may also be wondering what’s next or trying to sort through a deluge of information and possible rumors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a reliable Hurricane Harvey resource page for everything from safety tips and emergency phone numbers to rumor control.

Know your rights: Hurricane Harvey evacuees and/or first responders may be eligible for worker’s compensation or payroll relief.

As always, stay informed and ask questions.

 

I want to support relief efforts

It’s unfortunate, but true: disaster scammers are out there. Still, you can defend yourself against those ready to take advantage of compassionate hearts and make a few bucks for themselves. Beyond sticking with well-known charities like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and United Way, you can also find vetted charity efforts through the IRS’s search feature. There are certainly unlisted yet still legitimate options, including Undies for Everyone, which is taking new underwear as well as monetary donations to buy underwear wholesale.

Wherever you choose to support, take the usual precautions. Avoid giving personal information to anyone soliciting donations. Use a check or credit card rather than handing over untraceable cash. You can also report suspected phishing attempts to the IRS here.

Ask your human resources department if your company is matching employee donations. You may even be able to donate the monetary value of sick leave.

In addition to donating food, money, and other items through such charities, you may wish to roll up your sleeves and volunteer your time.

 

The bottom line

Hurricane Harvey is going down as one of the worst natural disasters in America’s history. In these situations, words always fall short, and yet we do want to say that our hearts are with victims and evacuees as well as their friends and families. We also send endless gratitude to the rescue workers and volunteers stepping up to provide lifesaving efforts and comfort.

 

About PayReel

At PayReel, we minimize the time and effort it takes to get you ready for your project, make sure you get paid quick and easy, and have customer service agents on call around the clock to answer your questions. The PayReel team makes event and corporate payroll easier, faster, and seamless.

The next time you work an event or a production, tell your supervisor you love working with the PayReel team!

The gig economy: How to pay contractors and navigate benefits

The gig economy offers benefits to workers and companies alike. While those benefits do include flexibility for workers and lower costs to employers, they don’t cover things we’ve grown used to such as built-in 401K plans, health insurance options, and worker’s compensation. For many independent contractors, that’s a problem. And as the gig economy’s slice of the economic pie grows, so does the problem. Currently, there is no roadmap telling you how to pay contractors fairly while keeping costs down. The good news is that we at PayReel have been on this road long enough to learn how to pay contractors legally and ethically.

 

Start with worker classification

First things first: classify workers correctly from the outset. A worker’s classification (whether they’re an employee or an independent contractor) guides what freelance benefits they’re entitled to by law. The rise of the gig economy has brought with it the rise of confusion over who is an employee and who is a contractor. Wherever gray areas and money meet, you will find lawsuits. True to form, legal disputes over worker classification have plagued everyone from Uber to FedEx. Following the rules and classifying correctly from the beginning saves time and potential legal troubles.

 

Stay aware of potential legal changes

From workers to legislators, people are thinking about how to manage the evolving landscape. Some envision an entirely new system with changing guidelines that suit changing times. Such a system might include “portable benefits” that travel with workers from company to company.

According to this article from the Pew Charitable Trusts, one bill proposes to:

“require people or companies that find work for and transfer payments to independent contractors — Uber, say, or a middleman who works with farm laborers — to contribute to a pool of money managed by an independent nonprofit. The broker might do that by charging consumers extra or by taking the money out of workers’ pay.

Contributions would be made at least monthly and would have to amount to either $6 per hour worked or 25 percent of the sum charged to the consumer, whichever is smaller. The money could be spent on paid time off, health insurance or other qualified benefits.”

We can only guess how things will change, but we do expect them to change. It behooves company leaders to stay in tune with these kinds of conversations and legal considerations.

 

Consider more than the bottom line

Some companies aren’t waiting for a legal mandate to make changes. Instead, they are voluntarily providing freelance benefits beyond their legal requirements. Care.com, for example, adds a small fee to each transaction, which converts to “benefits bucks” that service providers may use for expenses such as transportation. This kind of perk goes beyond the money in a worker’s pocket. Workers who feel valued are more loyal and do better work.  

 

Protect yourself

If you can’t (or just don’t want to) keep up with the rules and developments surrounding the on-demand economy, PayReel can keep up for you. Check out this handy guide to see if you might benefit from hiring a payroll services company. Not only does our team manage worker classification, payroll, and payroll taxes; as the employer of record we even take on all risk associated with a variable workforce. Going above and beyond in the ethics department isn’t just a warm and fuzzy notion. It’s a sound business decision, too.

 

About PayReel

When it comes to payroll taxes and so much more, PayReel makes your life easier. Producing multimedia content and executing live events is chaotic. At PayReel, we make sure our clients are able to hire who they want, when they want and that everyone is paid properly. Leave all payroll services and details up to the PayReel team so you can focus on pulling off a flawless production. Contact us anytime at 303-526-4900 or by emailing us here.

Relax. We got it.

 

Overtime exemptions are on hold. How will it affect you?

 

A ruling slated to put an additional $1.2 billion per year in workers’ pockets is now on ice. Here is the state of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) and what it means for your business.

 

What exactly is  the FSLA?

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) FSLA includes new overtime exemptions. If and when it goes into effect, the law will nearly double the salary threshold (from $455/week to $913), thereby making up to 4.2 million more people non-exempt and eligible to be paid overtime.

On November 22, 2016, a week before the ruling was to take effect, a judge in Texas won a preliminary injunction against it. While the twenty other states that fought to end the act breathed a sigh of relief, the DOL cried foul and filed an appeal.

As of this posting, the battle continues.

 

What do stalled overtime exemptions mean for businesses?

Like all things involving government and money, it’s complicated. And it’s likely to cause headaches for anyone digging in to the nitty gritty details.

With the issue in limbo at a federal level, states are trying to figure this thing out on their own—which makes room for a lot of gray areas. Gray areas are where lawsuits live. There are different labor laws at the federal and state levels. In most legal situations, federal trumps state. It’s different with labor laws, though, because states are only required to use federal guidelines as a baseline.

Another place with plenty of room for confusion is worker classification, which we cover in an ongoing blog series here. Often, workers fall into both exempt and non-exempt classification categories, which affects eligibility for a slew of benefits, including overtime. In these cases, classification depends on a weighted scale of the employees’ duties. It’s shockingly easy to misclassify workers and rack up legal fees and fines before you know it. Classifying workers correctly the first time around puts employers in a better position to adjust to changing laws in the future.

PayReel’s policy pros—in conjunction with our custom PayReel OnLine software—protect your sanity and your finances by sifting through the legal complexities and taking responsibility for your workers. As the employer of record for our clients, we are the ones on the hook if we get it wrong. The good news is, that rarely happens.

With PayReel, you can hire who you want, when you want, without worrying about overtime exemptions and worker classification. As the ones who are legally liable for our employees, and morally liable to our clients, we’re dedicated to understanding the ins and outs of both so we can make the right decisions.

 

What’s the bottom line?

The end of the year is a great time to review your payroll practices to be sure you are compliant or are in a position to stay compliant as laws change. If you don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to make sure you’re not trapped in a legal gray zone, get in touch with a team who does. PayReel’s policy pros are available around the clock at 303-526-4900, or you can shoot us an email by clicking here.

 


 
Nat's notes

About the author

PayReel Customer Experience Manager Natalie “The Go Getter” McGinnis recapped 2016’s biggest news in freelancer management to help you prepare for 2017. Nat’s experience in recruitment and customer service set her up for success in providing laser-focused attention and assistance to the PayReel employees and clients who need it the most. Click here to read more of Nat’s Notes and meet the rest of the PayReel team by clicking here!


Ten questions to help you decide if you really need to pay for payroll services

Time is money. And when you have a tendency to get buried under onboarding, vendor payment, classifying temporary employees, and other hiring details, time is priceless. Here’s a brief quiz to determine if hiring someone to handle your payroll services might be worth the investment.

 

Do you regularly hire independent contractors and/or temporary employees?

 

Is said hiring and onboarding one of the most time-consuming parts of your role?

 

Do old school payment processes or corporate legal concerns cause frustrating bottlenecks?

 

Is your desk/desktop cluttered with binders, folders, and paperwork?

 

Have you ever made a contacting mis-hire because of a time crunch?

 

Do you get pulled into fighting payrolling fires at least once a month?

 

Would a high level of service free you up to focus on other aspects of business?

 

Do concerns about compliance, worker classification, IRS audits, and workforce headcount keep you up at night?

 

Have you ever lost favor with one of your best contractors by paying late?

 

Do you have a reputation among contractors for paying late?

 

Not everyone needs a service like PayReel (especially startups and small businesses), but if your blood pressure went up as you read the list above, you might need PayReel. For those who need quick/frequent access to qualified contractors or who want to take all the risk out of dealing with the independent workforce, PayReel is a headache free solution. PayReel’s independent workforce engagement solutions makes classifying, onboarding, and paying your freelancers painless, paperless, and personalized. It’s about time.

 

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. 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.

Payrolling & Paid Sick Leave Laws: What Employers Need to Do

If you’ve been waiting to look into the new paid sick leave laws until the dust settles, you can be assured the dust won’t settle and the time is now. Here’s what you need to do to get your payrolling in good shape and your people covered:

Know YOUR Rules:

From state to state and sometimes county to county, there is very little consistency in the rules for accrual and usage. Rules can change as an employee crosses city lines or even zip codes, creating a nightmare for employers to manage. It can get confusing.

Especially if your employees operate in more than one location (where guidelines differ) it can be worthwhile to find a contract payroll management partner that has software in place to track and manage the details automatically.

For example, PayReel OnLine’s Sick Leave Accrual Management (SLAM) system runs in the background, with no interaction needed on your part, to ensure full compliance for all PayReel employees working on your behalf.

Such a system automatically analyzes each employee’s timesheet, calculating hours accrued by location during that time period, and maintains an employee-specific balance. The system also allows employees to use accrued sick time only when the law allows, and with a supervisor’s approval.

No matter where your business operates, make sure you (or your payroll partner) is at the forefront of mandatory paid sick leave laws so employees are treated fairly and everyone remains compliant.

Monitor Accrued Time:

If you elect to pay contractors yourself, make sure you have a system in place to monitor updates in regulations as they are constantly evolving. You’ll also need to stay on top of how, when and where sick leave is earned and used.

Establish Your Internal Process:

Establish an internal process to be followed across your organization. For example, how will employees request sick time and have it approved? Who will be accountable for the regulation and administration of this program?

Want a little more background? Here’s what you need to know.

Need to determine whether your workers are actually employees? Visit our Worker Classification Employee series for more.

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.

What You Need to Know About Paid Sick Leave Laws

If you’ve been waiting to look into the new paid sick leave laws until the dust settles, you can be assured the dust won’t settle and the time is now. Here’s what you need to know to get your payrolling in good shape and your people covered.

The Times, They are a Changin’

The past few waves have seen a wave of new laws enacted across the US requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Regulations are now in place in four states, 20 cities and one county, and those numbers are only going in one direction—up.

This chart provides a comprehensive list of geographies and specifics.

Laws are Inconsistent

There is very little consistency in the rules for accrual and usage from one area to the next. Rules can change as an employee crosses city lines or even zip codes, creating a nightmare for employers to manage.

If They’ve Earned It, They Can Take It

If an employee is scheduled for an upcoming project and has accrued a sufficient amount of sick time and is eligible to use it based on local laws, they have the right to call in sick and be paid for time they missed work.

However…

An employee must be scheduled for work, and must have previously worked a sufficient amount of hours to accrue paid sick leave in the location where they are scheduled for work.

Paid sick time can only be used in the geography where it was accrued and each location has specific restrictions on accrual and usage.

Sound like a nightmare to keep track of? Check out this blog post for help.

Paid sick leave laws apply to employees and not independent contractors, which is another fun challenge to keep straight. Need to determine whether your workers are actually employees? Visit our worker classification series for more.

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.