Are you an independent contractor? Be sure you know your rights

Like many employers, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has independent contractors (ICs) on the mind. And for good reason: They’re taking over the world! Or at least the world economy. ICs now make up 34% of the national economy and the trend is increasing internationally, too.

To that end, the US DOL has put out a list of resources for ICs. It covers on-the-job safety, benefits, workers’ rights, taxes, and more. This is especially helpful since best practices are constantly evolving and being defined/redefined.

Check out the site for more information on the following:

 

Questions about misclassification

As Uber’s tumultuous journey demonstrates, classification is a hot topic for everyone from the government to businesses. With their bottom line to watch out for and fines to protect themselves from, employers are wondering when and how to set up an independent contractor rather than an employee. For its part, the government has tax dollars on the line and workers to protect. And workers? Well they’re watching their pocketbooks, too. With that much at stake, no wonder it’s a hot topic. The DOL covers the topic in depth here.

 

Workers’ rights

Whether you’re wondering about safety on the job, health care and retirement benefits, or discrimination, you’ll find the deets here, too.

 

The bottom line

It’s a complicated subject, but whatever you’re wondering, the DOL is a good place to start. Still have questions? Follow our blog for more information on topics such as evolving labor lawscomplianceworker classification, and more. We’ll keep you up to date and equipped to avoid common pitfalls.

 

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. All you have to do is call 303-526-4900 or email us. The PayReel team make event 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!

 

 

Our in-house HR specialist works hard to keep businesses compliant

Angie—our in-house HR specialist and newest member of the PayReel team—stays ahead of the game to ensure PayReel keeps our clients compliant. Keeping on top of the ins and outs of compliance is hard, time-consuming, high-stakes work. Isn’t it nice to know you have someone in your corner to keep your payroll services running smoothly and accurately?

 

Legal headaches handled

PayReel keeps up with ever-changing contractor/freelancer payment and compliance regulations. Angie makes sure our team knows the latest so they can keep our clients ahead of the game.

The benefits the PayReel team provides on the legal front are:

  • Mitigating compliance risks
  • Making sure we (both PayReel and our clients) are compliant
  • Educating clients on practices that could compromise them
  • Tracking benefits eligibility
  • Tracking changes in minimum wage and sick leave policies in each state
  • Answering questions, including whether or not you can pay once a month or fill timesheets out ahead of time. Hint: you can’t.

 

Quick and accurate payment

Beyond compliance, PayReel makes payroll services a breeze for clients. Payroll will be the easiest part of your day with PayReel’s full range of services:

  • Online management: Employees log hours and supervisors approve them—all online. No need for paperwork here.
  • Fast payment: Employees submit time cards by end of business on Monday,  the supervisor approves them, PayReel pays on Friday. It’s that easy.
  • Overtime tracking: PayReel keeps up with hours to make sure employees get paid accurately.
  • Education: PayReel supports clients in educating employees on overtime policies so they don’t make a habit of working overtime without getting prior approval.
  • Benefits eligibility: The PayReel team makes sure clients know when employees become eligible for benefits.

 

The bottom line

Everyone from Uber to Minor League Baseball is trying to figure out labor laws and fair pay. The gig economy and the worker classification challenges it brings to the forefront are top-of-mind topics for the government, employers, and employees alike.

Angie knows the biz and the people in the biz. If she hears about a possible change, she researches it and takes the necessary steps. She also reads forums like a boss—watching for changes on LegalWATCH and similar resources. Angie stays up to date on payroll regulations and works with the PayReel team to assist you in navigating the increasingly complicated waters of payroll services.

The PayReel team is on top of it—making sure we’re following all regulations, rules, and federal and state laws. For example, we carefully reviewed IC contracts when New York enacted its Freelance Isn’t Free Act.

In a nutshell: We stay ahead of the curve so our clients never even have to think about payroll services and compliance.

 

About PayReel

Producing multimedia content and executing live events is chaotic. When it comes to event payroll, payroll taxes, and so much more, PayReel makes your life easier. We make sure our clients are able to hire who they want, when they want and see 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 email us here.

Relax. We got it.

 

About Angie:

Angie Aragon, PayReel’s in-house HR specialist, joined the PayReel team in early 2017. Her experience in human resources, risk management, and compliance gives her the tools to provide laser-focused attention and assistance to the PayReel employees who need it most. Meet the rest of the PayReel team by clicking here!

 

Introducing Angie: Our in-house HR specialist

Working live events can be chaotic and challenging. It’s nice to know you have someone in your corner. Angie, our in-house HR specialist and the newest member of the PayReel team helps us ensure our employees (like you!) get paid timely and accurately.

Quick and accurate payment

You submit timecards by end of business on Monday; your supervisor approves them; you get paid on Friday. It’s that easy.

And, of course, if you work overtime—you get paid for overtime. The PayReel team also makes sure you know when you become eligible for benefits.

No legal loopholes here

We’re not looking for a way around paying our employees fairly. We want you to get what you’ve earned. That’s why PayReel takes a proactive approach to staying on top of changing rules and regulations on both state and federal levels. Our in-house HR specialist Angie stays on top of industry news and changes to ensure compliance. At the first hint of a change, Angie works with the rest of the PayReel team to make the necessary adjustments quickly—with no extra work needed from you.

PayReel keeps up with ever-changing contractor and freelancer payment and compliance regulations with both internal conversations and external practices. You never even have to think about it.

The bottom line

Everyone from Uber to minor league baseball is trying to figure out labor laws and fair pay. The gig economy and the worker classification challenges it brings to the forefront are top-of-mind topics for the government, employers, and employees alike.

Our HR specialist Angie stays up to date on payroll regulations and works with the PayReel team to assist you in navigating the increasingly complicated waters of payroll.

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. All you have to do is call 303-526-4900 or email us here. Angie and the PayReel team make event 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!

About Angie: 

Angie Aragon, PayReel’s in-house HR specialist, joined the PayReel team in early 2017. Her experience in human resources, risk management, and compliance gives her the tools to provide laser-focused attention and assistance to the PayReel employees who need it most. Meet the rest of the PayReel team by clicking here!

When America’s pastime and labor laws collide

Unpaid training. Unpaid overtime. A $25 stipend for an entire day spent in a city you don’t live in. If that sounds great to you and you know your way around a baseball diamond, head on over to your city’s minor league baseball team. You’d be a great fit.

We’re not talking about the guys in the majors whom you watch on TV. They make six figures per year on average. We’re talking about Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players who forego payment for training, overtime, and even mandatory events—often making under the IRS-defined poverty line of $12,060/year for a one person household.

 

Hold up. How is this happening?

If you’re having trouble believing me, you’re not alone.

In a piece for ESPN advocating for higher wages, Tony Blengino, a former assistant to the GM for the Mariners, says a first-year professional can expect to make a little over $1,000 pre tax every month. While other industries may point to thin profit margins as an excuse for low wages, professional baseball doesn’t fit the bill. Recent evaluation puts the average major league team’s worth at $1.54 billion.

That’s why a group of former minor leaguers are waging a class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball, who maintains that MiLB players are akin to hourly workers. The suit cites unfair wages and unjust labor practices according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Of the 2,200 players currently involved in the class action lawsuit, most are inactive. Kyle Johnson, one of the few active members, said players fear being blackballed and unable to get a gig in the future.

The Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA) protects major league players against low salaries and unfair labor standards. However, this protection only applies to players currently on the team’s 40-man roster. Until MiLB players unionize, many keep quiet and hope they make it to the majors quickly. They choose to endure rather than potentially lose a shot at their dream.

 

So what does it all mean?

Baseball is only one of many industries figuring out labor laws and fair pay. Uber’s recent struggles show the gig economy and the worker classification challenges it brings to the forefront are top-of-mind topics for the government and employers alike. While some workers wait for the government to adjust labor laws and employers to fall in line, others (like the minor leaguers involved in current litigation) take the matter into their own hands. Stay in tune with the conversation to know your rights and navigate the increasingly complicated waters of the American economy.

 

About PayReel

Producing multimedia content and executing live events is chaotic—and working them is even more so! 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 at 303-526-4900 or by emailing us here.

 

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

 

Nat's notes

About the author

PayReel Customer Experience Manager Natalie “The Go Getter” McGinnis is an avid sports and labor law fan alike. Her experience in recruitment, customer service, and ongoing HR education give her the tools to provide laser-focused attention and assistance to the PayReel employees and clients who need it most. Click here to read more of Nat’s Notes and meet the rest of the PayReel team by clicking here!

 

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.

 

What do Trump’s first 100 days mean for the on-demand economy?

 

If anything’s certain, it’s that very little is certain when it comes to the rumors and grand plans that often surround any President’s first 100 days in office.

Worker classification was a major focus during President Obama’s administration, which resulted in a rash of highly-publicized lawsuits and debates across the U.S. just as the the on-demand economy was coming of age.

The Trump administration’s focus on that same unique issue might actually play out favorably this time around for employers who rely on independent contractors. But before you throw all your paperwork out the window—that doesn’t mean classification is going out the window, too. In fact, some states and localities might even tighten restrictions and increase punishments for misclassification in response to relaxed federal law.

In short, things are as up in the air as ever when it comes to federal government trying to keep up with rapid developments in the on-demand economy.

Here’s what to do while you wait to see what President Trump’s first 100 days mean for the on-demand economy.

 

Be vigilant when it comes to compliance

Federal, state, and local regulations already change regularly; who knows how things could fluctuate as the government tries to get a grasp on how benefits, taxes, and everything else could and should shift as workforces get more and more nontraditional.

 

Don’t slack on classification

The process of classification might eventually get easier, but it’s not likely to go away. If the current situation is any indication, it could even get a bit hairier for some states and localities as they react to uncertain or lax laws at the federal level.

 

The bottom line:

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. 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.

 


 

About PayReel

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.

 

DOL drops the hammer on worker classification

 

If you’ve been paying attention to labor law (or more specifically worker classification) in the news or the grumbles of your last Uber driver, you may know that the on-demand driver provider is facing a three-headed monster. It’s not stoplights, stop signs, and lane changes—instead, it’s a mess of more than 70 federal lawsuits against Uber from drivers, passengers, and even the government.

What brought it all on? To start, Uber has classified their drivers (both full and part time) as contractors, while drivers feel that they’re treated as employees. As things stand today, those drivers are correct—they are employees. That decision has cost Uber $100 million in a settlement in both California and Massachusetts. More settlements and lawsuits are still pending.

The difference between W-2 employees and 1099 independent contractors occupies a grey area. This grey area has become the target of a Department of Labor crackdown. The DOL is dropping the hammer and strengthening their enforcement of worker classification. If they’re not careful, companies could face lawsuits from many angles. If Uber is any indication, that’s not likely to turn out very well.

 

The bottom line

At PayReel, compliance comes first. We don’t just classify your employees properly, we even pay them properly so that you can hire who you want exactly when you want them. If grey areas aren’t your thing and if the term “lawsuit” makes your heart skip a beat—relax, we got it. Contact us around the clock at 303-526-4900 or email us 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!

 

How to pay temp employees and freelancers fairly and accurately

 

According to a study by Princeton University, 95% of the 10 million new jobs added during President Obama’s terms were temporary or part time. Unfortunately, the reality for many such workers is difficult. Often, they lack access to benefits, work overtime without corresponding compensation, and deal with clients who pay late or don’t pay at all.

On the other end, employers often have a difficult time keeping up with contractor and freelancer management. Staying on top of ever-evolving laws, minimum wage and overtime changes, benefits eligibility, and the differences between state and local regulations is time consuming. It is a worthwhile investment, though. It raises businesses to preferred client status among contract workers and helps protect them from costly fines, to boot.

If you’re wondering how to pay temp employees and freelancers fairly and accurately, we can help.

 

How to pay temp employees and freelancers accurately and fairly

Accurate worker classification is an essential starting place. It’s easy to get wrong, but with your reputation and large fines on the line, it’s also important to get it right. Here’s a list of the most common classification errors and how to avoid them. Here are some basic guidelines for identifying the difference between employees and independent contractors.

Pay accurately and on time. Some big companies make a habit of net 90, but we don’t recommend it. Net 30 is more ethical and ultimately better for business. Here’s whyThe dust hasn’t settled on new overtime regulations or minimum wage debates, but here are our suggestions on this front.

Be proactive about benefits and keep up with evolving state and local laws rather than waiting for workers to knock on your door. Transparency is a great way to build trust. 

 

The bottom line:

We know you care about your freelancers, but they only know it if you show it. Taking these measures makes sure you handle your freelancers in a way that is ethical, shows your appreciation, and keeps you compliant.

We know you’re busy. If you don’t have the time, resources, or desire to pay attention to all the details, hire an expert to keep track of contractor and freelancer management for you. Our team of experts and our PayReel OnLine software are fully equipped to help you sort out the rules and execute processes while also balancing contractor expectations, legalities, and company budgets. This quiz can help you decide if you’d benefit from hiring a team like PayReel 

We help you care about your workers even when you’re short on time. We think happy workers and peace of mind are pretty close to priceless. 

 

About PayReel

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 the 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.

 

Contractor payroll, overtime exemptions, and what Volkswagen’s scandal teaches us

 

Heads up: The way the production industry has traditionally approached contractor payroll just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Though currently stalled, new overtime regulations are questioning outdated payment practices—including day rates in the production industry.

Wherever you find new guidelines radically changing previously-accepted practices, you will also find someone trying to get around them. But it behooves companies to be ahead of the guidelines instead of trying to work around them. Just ask Volkswagen.

For its shady dealings (which the BBC broke down here), Volkswagen is paying the price to the tune of $20 billion—one of the most expensive corporate payouts in United States’ history. But it’s not all about the money. While the circumstances differ, the production industry can learn a few lessons from Volkswagen’s scandal about how to walk above board and avoid ending up in court.

 

Culture is everything, and it’s about to shift for the production industry

Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen’s then CEO, implicated “the terrible mistakes of a few” in his apology. But a scandal so deep doesn’t happen without a company culture (hello, Supervisor B!), and a broader auto industry culture, that tolerates or encourages finding a way around the rules.

A New York Times article points to the cultural element in industries that traditionally require long hours—like video production—that has always made room for fudging paperwork. Companies negotiate a flat rate and contractors work as long as it takes, even up to 12 or more hours, to get the job done. Since it’s standard practice, submitting time sheets that read “9-5” when everyone knows it was actually 9-9 hasn’t necessarily seemed unethical or unfair to either party. That’s just the way it is. Or at least the way it has been.

The new proposed regulations make it clear that even when workers claim to be okay with not getting paid accurately, it’s not actually okay. Employers must be prepared for the culture to shift and for workers to start questioning their overtime eligibility.

 

When the press talks, the people talk…

There’s nothing that shifts culture more than attention. As laws change at the state level and contractors and workers start thinking “this relates to me,” there will be pushback against industry norms. And it’s not just the workers. The media love to find and expose wrongdoings. Nobody wants to be the center of the biggest scandal of the year. Once again, just ask Volkswagen.

A mutual expectation of a flat rate for an undetermined number of work hours doesn’t count as compliance. Duties and level of pay dictate whether or not someone is eligible for overtime, not tradition. The more the press highlights these points, the more the people talk. And the more the people talk, the more the wink and nod approach in the video production industry will come under scrutiny.

 

…and money always talks

The air is dirtier, the ozone is thinner, and consumer trust is shattered. Unfortunately, Volkswagen isn’t the only company bending the rules or blatantly cheating in order to make a buck. Theirs is a tale as old as time. They just got caught.

And it’s coming to our industry too—the same New York Times article states that Fox is in litigation with a former worker who alleges he was paid unfairly. Once a studio gets shut down with a class action lawsuit, everyone will suddenly tighten up their practices and fall in line. But why risk finding yourself at the defense table in a courtroom? It’s not the amount of money that makes it relevant to our industry, it’s the fact that people are paying attention to it.

Don’t be the Volkswagen of the media production industry. It’s going to happen to someone. Why gamble your business instead of just starting to recognize eventual changes to overtime regulations now?

 

About PayReel

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 the 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.

 

How 2016’s overtime exemptions, minimum wage, and more will affect 2017

The ball has dropped and the confetti has settled. Now that we’re back to work, let’s talk about what changed—other than the year—when the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31, 2016.

 

Minimum wage

As of Jan. 2017, if you have employees working in one of the 29 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that passed a new minimum wage standard, they may be automatically eligible for a raise. Additionally, if your employees are working in one of the states that passed a built-in yearly minimum wage increase, they’re automatically set up for a raise until 2020. These raises don’t require a performance review and, if they aren’t honored, you could be liable for a lawsuit that’s sure to induce a headache worse than your New Year’s Eve escapades. That’s where PayReel’s smart software (and team!) comes in to make sure compliance comes first even in the most unique cases.

 

Paid sick leave

Some states are not only increasing their minimum wages; they’re also enacting a paid sick leave law. While it varies from location to location, paid sick leave essentially allows eligible employees to take paid time away from work so they or a family member can receive preventive care and/or diagnosis and care of an existing condition. As of Jan. 2017, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, District of Columbia, and Vermont have enacted paid sick leave policies statewide. Certain counties and cities in New Jersey, Washington, New York, and Maryland also have paid sick leave for eligible employees. We’ll be keeping our eyes on paid sick leave laws because, like many things when it comes to managing contractors and freelancers, they’re likely to change and grow as the year goes on. 

 

Mileage rates

In a nutshell: You’ll be paying your freelancers less for the miles they drive on the clock in 2017.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates paid to freelancers using their personal vehicle for business purposes decreased from 2016. You can now expect to pay 53.5 cents per mile driven for business purposes (down from 54 cents in 2016) and 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents for 2016). Click here to dig into the details and find our how to take advantage of your mileage savings.

 

Overtime exemptions

One of the most impactful changes of 2017 is sure to be overtime exemptions. That is, if they ever actually happen.

The Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (DOL FLSA) is poised to doubled the salary threshold; making over 4 million more employees non-exempt, and therefore eligible for overtime. Click here to learn how an overtime exemption overhaul can still affect you and your bottom line even while it’s in limbo.

 

The bottom line

If all those names, numbers, and abbreviations make you want to pour yourself another glass of champagne, get in touch with the PayReel team. Hire who you want, when you want while we manage all the paperwork and the risk. Contact us around the clock by calling 303-526-4900 or emailing us here.

Relax. We got it!

 


 
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!