Being Prepared for What’s to Come

 

OSHA’S MANDATE-OR-TEST EMERGENCY RULE GETS SENT TO WHITE HOUSE FOR FINAL REVIEW

How Employers Can Avoid Living in a Land of Vaccine Confusion

BY TRAVIS W. VANCE from Fisher Phillips Insights 10.13.21

The Department of Labor just took the next step in advancing President Biden’s vaccine mandate-or-test emergency rule, sending the Emergency Temporary Standard to the White House’s regulatory office late yesterday. Coming on the heels of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement that he was barring employers from “compelling” employees to become vaccinated against COVID-19, and in the context of a patchwork of states that each seem to have their own approach to workplace safety rules, could yesterday’s news be the genesis of employers getting stuck in a land of confusion? In order to avoid any misunderstandings, here is a brief recap of what just happened, what to expect in the coming days and weeks, and how employers in different states will be impacted by the impending development.

Read more here.

CHANGES TO NEW HIRE REPORTING FOR FLORIDA

Florida businesses are now required to report earnings of independent contractors

BY FISHER PHILLIPS Insights 10.01.21, edited for inVested use

Effective October 1, Florida businesses will be obligated to report services received from independent contractors as a result of a new law signed into effect by Governor Ron DeSantis in June. Specifically, Senate Bill 1532 amends Fla. Stat. § 409.2576 to mandate that any “service recipient” report contractors making $600 or more per calendar year to the Florida Department of Revenue. The bill broadly defines “service recipient” as “a person engaged in a trade or business who pays an individual for services rendered in the course of such trade or business.” Therefore, independent contractors who are paid $600 or more in the calendar year are included.

What Has Changed and Why?

Prior to this amendment, the law only required businesses to provide a report to the State Directory of New Hires for employees but made it optional to report independent contractors. That discretion has now been eliminated and the report is mandatory when it comes to contractors.

This new legislation was implemented to improve Florida’s child-support collection system by making reporting requirements substantially the same for contractors as they are for employees. In doing so, this should facilitate the enforcement of child support benefits through income deduction orders, which previously could be circumvented by independent contractor pay structures.

 

What Do You Need to Do?

Florida businesses that utilize independent contractors should take immediate steps to determine whether individuals will meet the $600 threshold before the end of the calendar year to ensure timely reporting occurs. Businesses that are in the process of engaging the services of new contractors need to determine whether the arrangement will trigger the $600 reporting threshold with the execution of any agreement.

Let us know if you have Independent Contractors that are hired on and paid through a 1099.  Only include contractors that are paid as an individual – not contractors that are paid as a company.  We will work with you to navigate the new hire reporting requirements.

The following information will be required from the Independent Contractor for reporting:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • The date services for payment were first rendered by the individual
  • The name, address, and federal employer identification number of the service recipient

Can I Do This Myself?

Businesses that have not utilized the new hire reporting system in the past can register here to set up an account for electronic reporting.

We will continue to monitor requirements as they change and keep our customers informed.

For the complete article, click here.

SAFETY BRIEF: FORKLIFT SAFETY

Quick safety information, delivered straight to your inbox

Part of your relationship with Vested HR means free access to safety materials, curated by our Workers’ Compensation carrier. In 2019, there were over 8,000 non-fatal forklift associated injuries, resulting in an average of 16 days away from work, according to NSC Injury Facts. OSHA estimates there are 85 fatal accidents involving a forklift each year, where ‘crushed by vehicle tipping over’ and ‘crushed between vehicle and a surface’ are the top two fatal accident types at 42% and 25%, respectively. The top contributing factors to these type of accidents are lack of proper training for the type of equipment used (there are numerous varieties of PITs), excessive speed, and transporting loads while they are elevated. However, if the correct safety measures are taken, a comprehensive PIT or Forklift Safety Training Program is in place, and forklift operators follow the below recommended safety steps, you can greatly reduce the risk of a forklift-related accident. 10 Steps to Follow for Forklift Safety 1. Inspect the forklift before operating 2. Always fasten your seatbelt 3. Maintain appropriate driving speed 4. Drive slower on wet/slipper floors 5. Drive with forks close to the ground 6. Stay aware of your surroundings 7. Slow down & sound horn at blind spots 8. Keep the load stationary while moving 9. Check for overhead clearance 10. Drive with the weight uphill Click here to download this as a PDF guide.

 

 

Did you know?

Vested HR is going through Open Enrollment for Voluntary Benefits!  Voluntary Benefits include Dental, Vision, Short and Long Term Disability, Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D), Hospital, Critical Illness, Accident and Legal.  The best part is these plans come at no cost to your business; we even throw in $5,000 of Basic Term Life and AD&D for your employees for free.  Now is also a great time to think about signing up for Health Insurance, and start 2022 off with a bang. If you are interested in signing up, or you are interesting in Health Insurance for your employees, contact us today by emailing benefits@vestedhr.com.


TAX UPDATE

Wage base increase, local taxes and a delay in Oregon Paid Family Leave

On October 13, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that the 2022 social security wage base will be $147,000, which is an increase of $4,200 from $142,800 in 2021.  The maximum social security tax employees and employers will each pay in 2022 is $9,114, an increase of $260.40 from $8,853.60 in 2021.

Effective 10/1/21, two Indiana counties, Owen and Warrick, are increasing their county income tax rates.  Owen has increased to 0.025 from 0.016 and Warrick has increased to 0.01 from 0.005.  Effective 1/1/22, business subject to the San Francisco Administrative Tax (AOT) must pay an additional annual Overpaid Executive Tax (OET) of 0.4$ to 2.4% on their payroll expense in San Francisco when their highest paid managerial executive earns more than 100 times the median compensation paid to employees in San Francisco. The Oregon Employment Department (ED) previously requested legislation to delay the implementation of the paid family and medical leave program (PFML) that was originally enacted in 2019. The legislation was signed by the governor and became law. Contributions will now begin January 1, 2023.

NAVIGATING TODAY’S BUSINESS LANDSCAPE

7 Ways to Make More Confident COVID-Era Business Decisions

BY TINA OREM from NerdWallet, edited for inVested use

Running a business is inherently stressful. But labor shortages, vaccine protocols and shifts to remote work may be taking that stress to new heights — especially for small-business owners managing these complexities in their workplaces.  Here are some ways two experts say small-business owners can ease that COVID-era decision-making anxiety.

1. Be consistent and document everything Deciding to change workplace rules can be a nerve-racking move for many small-business owners, but putting things in writing can help. “Document your discussions with the employees; document that they’ve got the information that explains to them what you’re going to be doing and the deadline for them to comply,” says Beth De Lima, who is president and principal of HRM Consulting, Inc. in Murphys, California. Document that there are clear procedures, she adds. “And if you need to change them, you change them.”  Part of your partnership with Vested HR includes guidance on creation of policies, as well as handbook review and creation.  If you would like help document policies, reach out to us by emailing clientservices@vestedhr.com.

2. Think local Small-business owners who are worried about inadvertently falling out of compliance with COVID-related workplace rules should remember that federal regulations aren’t the only regulations to consider, especially if a business operates in different cities or states.  “You’ve got to look at the federal, state and local regulations, because there’s not a one-size-fits-all [set of rules],” says Rocket Lawyer founder and CEO Charley Moore. “Each state can be different,” he adds. Rules in different cities can vary, too. For example, the rules in Dallas may be very different from the rules in San Francisco, Moore notes.  Luckily, Vested HR can help you stay compliant – even if you expand to a brand new state or locality.

3. Designate a liaison Many COVID-related decisions affect a broad cross-section of business functions, so it’s important to make one person responsible for talking to everybody who should have a voice in a particular decision, De Lima says. “Have a dedicated person who is the liaison to communicate with the employee base,” she adds. “Not by department, not by supervisor — a dedicated voice for the company.”

4. Consider incentives Many small businesses need workers and can’t afford to alienate the employees they already have when it comes to compliance. “It may make much more sense to use a carrot than a stick,” Moore says. Moore says he’s seen a number of businesses do everything from providing paid time off to get vaccinated, to providing extra pay and bonuses for vaccinated staff.

5. Build safeguards Insurance may help protect small businesses against some COVID-related employment claims, which can quell anxiety for some business owners, De Lima notes. Enlisting the help of professional employer organizations, such as Vested HR, can also help small-business owners manage HR matters that they don’t have the time or expertise to handle. “But you still need to be involved and pay attention and be consistent,” she says.

6. Embrace flexibility and options “We don’t have to do business as usual. We haven’t been. So why do we have to go back to that?” De Lima asks. Get managers involved, and ask for their suggestions, she adds. “If you have employees who have been and want to continue to telecommute and are successful, do you really need to have them back?” she says. “Be flexible and rethink the workforce. This is a great opportunity. Don’t miss it.”

7. Remember what’s important One of the best ways nervous small-business owners can tackle their decision-making fears about legal surprises, unexpected reactions or unintentional errors is to think about what’s best for key stakeholders, according to Moore. “Put the well-being, health and safety of your customers first, then the well-being, health and safety of your team second,” Moore says. “That’s it, and you’ll probably end up making the right decision.” For the original article, click here.

 

Chicken Pumpkins

by Food Network  |  Total time: 2 hr 50 min   |   Active time: 40 min   |   Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 mozzarella cheese sticks
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 celery stalks with the tops attached
  • One 14.2 oz box or 5 cups of Cheddar crackers, such as Cheez-It
Directions
  1. Cut a series of deep slits crosswise into each chicken breast (do not cut through), about 3/4 inch apart from one another. Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise.
  2. Whisk together the buttermilk, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  3. Meanwhile, cut each cheese stick in half crosswise so you have into 8 pieces. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
  4. Fill a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with 3 to 4 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Set a rack on a baking sheet.
  5. Meanwhile, trim the skinny tops from the celery stalks and remove any leaves. Cut eight 1-inch pieces from the skinny tops (these will be your pumpkin stems) and set aside.
  6. Add the Cheddar crackers and 1 teaspoon salt to a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  7. One at a time, remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk mixture, letting the excess drip off. Transfer to the bowl of cracker crumbs and toss to thoroughly coat. Shake off any excess coating and transfer to a cutting board, cut-side down. Place a piece of cheese on one end of the chicken and roll up to enclose the cheese. Seal with a toothpick.
  8. Working in batches of two, carefully lower the coated chicken into the oil using a slotted spoon. Fry the chicken until golden, cooked through and a thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 160 degrees F, about 4 minutes. Remove to the prepared rack to drain. Insert a celery stem in the center of each pumpkin so it sticks in the cheese. Serve hot with your preferred sauce.
Click here for the full recipe link.

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