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.

 

IRS mistakes cost big (even when they’re not your fault)

 

A case involving embezzlement, tax liability, and good intentions added up to a nightmare for one man. Dr. Robert McClendon’s story proves there’s no amount of caution too intense when it comes to payroll tax liability.

 

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

In a sobering case reported in Forbes, a man who loaned $100,000 to a struggling business was fined $4.3 million for said company’s payroll tax liability. When you dig into the details, it’s not as unfair as it may seem at first blush, but that doesn’t make the situation any less painful for Dr. McClendon—the defendant and a legally-deemed responsible party. As the Forbes article states, “You can be ‘willful’ under the tax law even if you didn’t have a bad motive or evil intent.”

So what was the kiss of death for Dr. McClendon?

 

Responsible & willful: A match made in IRS hell

Dr. McClendon owned the business to which he loaned the money and the cash went toward the seemingly noble goal of paying employees to prevent shuttering the doors altogether. While it was an employee who’d embezzled the funds earmarked for payroll taxes, the case against Dr. McClendon was strong enough to prove him responsible and willful. He wasn’t responsible for the embezzlement but he was responsible for choosing to pay employees instead of the payroll taxes, which by that time, he knew about. The case against Dr. McClendon withstood the legal tests and left the doc to nurse his own wounds. Ouch.

 

How to protect yourself

Either learn the rules of payroll taxes and precisely follow them or hire a qualified company to do it for you. The Forbes article suggests that one benefit to hiring a payroll service is that “the employer doesn’t have discretion to use the money to pay vendors or for anything else.” It’s sort of like a much higher stakes version of a 401K: If you can’t access the money when the temptation for an out-of-reach car comes up, you’ll still have it when you need it for less sexy reasons. Additionally, hiring a payroll service takes the burden of having to understand all of the rules and make heavy decisions off the company leadership.  The payroll service takes on the liability and frees up the small business to focus on business.

 

The bottom line:

There are too many ways to get in trouble with the IRS to choose ignorance. With fines and possible jail time on the line, legitimate small businesses must take payroll taxes seriously. The government sure does.

 

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.

 

Four ways going freelance could land you your dream job

Considering quitting your day job but concerned about the long-term effects on your future prospects? It’s time to think differently. Here are four ways freelancing could actually boost your career in the long run:

 

Get paid to find—or sharpen—your passion

People pay a boatload of money to refine their skills at college. Freelancers get paid to do it! In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shares the theory that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. We can’t vouch for this particular number, but it is a tried-and-true, oft-repeated principle that practice makes perfect. As a freelancer, you get to bid for jobs that seem exciting to you and decline ones that don’t. As you go, you’ll hone in on where your lane is and have the freedom to develop it to the point of mastery. Then you can either keep running in that lane as a freelancer or take those finely tuned skills you’ve developed to your next full-time job. Highly skilled workers with a shorter learning curve have a leg up on the competition.

 

It’s like a paid audition

Freelancing gets your foot in the door at multiple companies without any commitment. If you love a business’s culture or brand, you may want to make their next project a priority. If you don’t like the experience, you don’t even have to bid for the job the next time around. You get to develop your clientele with companies and people you enjoy and then have a built-in connection for future opportunities. If you do well enough on your audition, you’ll get job offers—either for more freelance work or for full-time gigs. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to accept an opportunity with a company or keep working for yourself. The power is in your hands.

 

Build your network

Once you’ve achieved mastery in an area, the world really starts to open up. When you do great work, people talk about you. After all, being able to refer someone reliable and easy to work with makes them look good, too. Talented freelancers organically build a robust network that includes both decision makers and people in related fields who will send work their way.

 

P.S. There are tax benefits

So maybe it’s not a direct boost to your long-term career options, but the tax benefits are a pretty enticing bonus. There are mountains of deductions available to independent contractors (home office, business miles, office supplies, and more). You just need to make sure you keep careful records in order to take advantage of them. Under Trump’s proposed tax code overhaul, some independent contractors could have even lower taxes in the near future. Keep in mind, though, that freelancers are on the hook for their own self-employment tax, health insurance, vacation days, and retirement plans.

 

The bottom line:

Many factors determine whether freelancing is the right fit for your life. Managing your own schedule, finances, and other complex aspects of your career isn’t easy and it’s not for everyone. For some, it may be exactly the thing that allows them to live the life they want to live while doing the work they love to do. For others, it might be the right thing, but only for a season. After a foray into freelance, they may want to take all their experience back into a company job. Whether freelancing is a stepping stone to your full-time dream position or the long-term career path you didn’t even know you wanted, it might just be time to go for it.  

 


 

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 you questions. The next time you work an event or a production, tell your supervisor you love working with the PayReel team. Contact us anytime at 303-526-4900 or by emailing us here.

Relax. We got you!

Considering freelancing? Trump’s tax changes might convince you to take the leap.

The freedom that comes with being an independent contractor often comes at a price. Being in the driver’s seat means managing your own schedule, finances, and a lot of other complex aspects of your career. Independent contractors must pay their own self-employment tax, pay for health insurance out of pocket, and don’t have paid time off or employer matching on retirement contributions. In addition, while there are multiple opportunities for deductions and credits on the tax front, keeping careful records is essential to being able to take advantage of them.  

While many people enjoy the relative stability of a full-time job, some crave the freedom and control of being an independent contractor. President Trump’s proposals for tax changes are far from guaranteed, but they may be enough to push some people off the fence and into freelance. 

So what do small business owners and potential small business owners need to know?

 

Trump’s plan includes lower tax rates for small business

Under Trump’s proposed tax code overhaul, some businesses would be subject to lower tax rates topping out at 15 percent instead of the current 35 percent. Such businesses include Subchapter S corporations and, in some cases, limited liability companies or partnerships. According to this New York Times article, that includes “those in which income and deductions accrue directly to the owners and are reported on their personal tax returns.” Lower tax rates increase the incentive for full-time employees to approach employers about working as an independent contractor instead. 

 

It’s still hypothetical

Like everything in government, this tax code overhaul will be up for debate. One major concern includes that such a reduction in tax revenues could mean an increase in national debt. Legislators will be sure to contribute their own opinions and carry out negotiations before anything actually changes. According to Trump, though, the plan is “very well finalized” and will become a focus after the ACA repeal efforts. One way or another, we’ll have some time before we see how things play out. 

 

The bottom line:

Don’t quit your day job. Well, at least not yet. Tax laws are always subject to change (so much so that even the original link on the Trump Administration’s website now leads to an error page). As such, tax considerations alone shouldn’t be the foundation for a decision as big as becoming an independent contractor. The bigger question is whether freelancing is the right fit for your life. If it is, then go ahead and get behind the driver’s seat. Enjoy the ride and be sure to track those business miles—they’re deductible!

 


 

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 (even managing your independent contractors!) 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 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.

 

How much money will you save now that mileage rates have decreased?

 

You love your freelancers because they go the extra mile. Now that extra mile is going to cost you less.

Effective Jan. 1, standard mileage rates for using a personal vehicle for business purposes will be just a little lower than they were in 2016. Here are the CliffsNotes on how the mileage rates decrease could affect you and your budget.

 

What’s the new breakdown?

 

  • 53.5 cents per mile driven for business purposes (down from 54 cents in 2016)
  • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents for 2016)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (the same as 2016)

As you can see, the decrease isn’t drastic. But as the miles add up, every little bit counts.

If you pay your freelancers for actual costs, you should still expect to cover maintenance, insurance, and other expenses.

 

How are standard mileage rates determined?

 

Standard mileage rates are determined based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. Sharply declining fuel prices contributed to this year’s drop. The decrease was relatively minimal because other expenses, such as insurance and maintenance, increased.

 

What do I need to know about mileage rates?

 

You can find all the nitty gritty details and government legalese about mileage rates and more here. In a nutshell: You’ll be paying your freelancers less for the miles they drive for business purposes in 2017.

 

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.

 

Payrolling freelancers? Here are 4 ways to be ready for new overtime rules.

 

The Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) will make about 4 million more workers eligible for overtime on December 1st, 2016. With 21 states suing to end the act altogether, some businesses may be hoping it all just goes away before they have to make changes. But waiting is risky. Getting ready for upcoming changes now ensures companies stay in good standing with employees and the government, too.

 

Four ways to prepare for payrolling contract employees in light of new rules

 

1. Provide a daily guarantee for a pre-negotiated flat rate for contractors. Budget for overtime if applicable.

2. Start tracking time accurately. Businesses and contractors using obligatory, inaccurate timecards need time to adjust to new processes.

3. Classify workers correctly up front. This is a big one because it sets you up for success. In fact, you can read a whole slew of advice on the topic by clicking here.

4. Read our previous posts on what the Volkswagon scandal teaches us about the FSLA and payrolling and four ways to prepare for changes to contractor payroll.

 

The production industry must adapt to remain competitive. And it may wreak havoc on some budgets in the short term. But this whole thing goes beyond the numbers. Companies that treat people fairly attract high quality workers. And when people feel valued, they go above and beyond. Proactive compliance is good business.

 

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.

 

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.

When net 90 kills creativity, you need to pay contractors quicker and easier

When you pay contractors quickly, they’re more likely to answer your calls and ramp up your projects in a short amount of time. For busy department heads with big projects and short turnaround times, there’s nothing better than diving right in with tried and true creative partners. Saving time, money, and hassle by working with people who just get what you’re looking for is priceless.

Pay contractors quickly or risk losing them

Internal processes, red tape, and backlogged accounting departments make it hard to get checks in the mail. We definitely understand. Unfortunately, your corporate freelance payment policy might prevent you from working with the best people. Top contractors get booked quickly. Paying them later than your competition can get you blacklisted or moved to the bottom of their long to do list.

Put yourself in their shoes. Freelancers are single-handedly juggling creative work, billing, marketing, and more. That means the person who sees your invoice in their red column is the same one you’re expecting to bring their all to your next project. What seems like a small invoice to a big company can have a major effect on a small business’ cash flow.

 

Don’t be a hoarder

According to a Wall Street Journal article, many large companies are “hoarding cash” and “squeezing small businesses” to increase their own bottom lines. Don’t be that guy. Not only does it add pressure to those you work with, it’s just not ethical. You may justify it by saying it’s not as bad as Bernie Madoff or Volkswagen‘s illegal and greedy ways, but shady practices of any degree have no place in your business.

 

Hire someone with systems in place

Paying contractors quickly is worth the investment. If it’s not feasible to transform your internal process, get a partner involved. You get the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll always be in good standing with contractors. With PayReel, you also get the bonus of pre-vetted workers who are always available at a moment’s notice.

Hiring contractors is a beautiful thing: It gives you a fresh perspective and talent without having to bring on full-time team members. Just make sure you do it right. Going from Net 90 to Net Now will save you time, keep you in good standing with contractors, and ensure you can feel good about the way you do business. Rather than trying to save Benjamins up front, take Benjamin Franklin’s advice and “Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”

 

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.