5 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Employee Absences

5 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Employee Absences

When employees miss time at work, it can prove to be a rather expensive problem for the company. Every single time an employee misses work, productivity drops. Depending on their position, it might be able to be made up when they return. Other times, it has a drastic affect throughout the entire business.

That is exactly why it is important for heads of an office or the business owner themselves how to reduce the cost of employee absences. Sometimes it comes with simple tracking, other times it comes through spending a bit of money to improve overall well-being for employees. Whatever the issue, simply performing these five tasks should result in employee absences dropping.

 

Wellness Program

Wellness Program

Offering wellness programs within the office is an excellent way to cut down on employee absences. After all, healthy workers mean they are less likely to stay home. Additionally, it adds to the perks of someone obtaining the job. Added perks and benefits within an office make the job more attractive and help cut down on position turnover.

There are different kinds of wellness programs you may offer. It can range from a gym membership to exercise programs offered up within the building (such as spin, cardio and yoga programs). All of this is important to look into and is why you need to do consider bringing this kind of a program into the office.

Cut the Stress

Stress is a major reason why people become sick. It reduces someone’s immune system due to the stress levels, which makes them more susceptible to a cold or virus. It also makes them less likely to actually head into work because they simply want to avoid the stress all together. To do this you need to find ways to cut the stress within the work place. For starters, create an environment that is going to make employees feel good about themselves and make them feel comfortable inside of the work place.

This isn’t just staying on top of HR and making sure problems are avoided. You can actually talk with an interior designer or something who works with the layout of an office. Your office may just be too cluttered, which can add to stress. Bring in plant life, which is a proven factor in cutting stress levels. Also, simply ask your employees what is causing stress (this can be one on one so they do not feel like they are outing anyone or that they will be judged for what they are saying). You’ll be amazed as to some of the excellent ideas you receive.

 

Paid Time Off

Paid Time Off

There is a major problem with vacation time and paid time off. Nearly 60 percent of all workers believe they are not receiving enough vacation time. Vacation time is important as it allows workers to break free for a little bit and just charge their work batteries. These few weeks off is going to improve their productivity when they return from vacation and it is also going to help them cut down on illness.

It is amazing what a bit of vacation time is able to do for someone and their personal well-being. So, the next time you are looking for a way to improve the health of workers and to actually cut down on unexpected sick days, offering more paid time off may just be it.

 

Return to Work

Return to Work

It can be tricky for individuals to return to work after suffering an injury or an illness. In fact, it is a fact that most employers are not doing anything to help their workers returning from a health related absence. It can be a struggle for individuals to get back on top of their work, which will just cause stress and facilitate other problems within the office.

So, offering some accommodations for the individuals in order to help is important. Knowing what the health problem is so it can be performed is a must though. While a day or two away for being sick might not require any sort of accommodations, if the problems lasted for longer than a few days, it is necessary to seek out this kind of help to offer employees.

Track Absences

Keeping track of employee absences is a must. In fact, most workers believe their companies are not tracking their absences, which means they are more likely to take sick days, even when they are not sick. Additionally, it is necessary to track how it affects the business and, more importantly to the workers, the individuals around them.

If they know it is bringing down the business and affecting their fellow employees, they will be less likely to take sick days when they are not actually sick. All of this can go a long way in boosting productivity and help your office cut employee absences.

Quick Survey:

Pause for a moment and think about how YOU would deal with the issue of managing your staff’s time, attendance and time off requests.
What’s your go to tool? Do you use time sheets? Is it using employee time and attendance software? Is it using paper products you’ve used for years? What about desktop software that you, or someone you’ve outsourced your HR operations to? With the day to day complexities of running a business, savvy owners are shifting to using web-based employee time clock software to simplify much of the tedious chores involved in dealing with staff in a labor law compliant manner. Leave a comment below to let us know please.

 

 

From the Author:
This article was provided by Neches FCU, an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer. Neches FCU is one of the top Texas credit unions and has an attentive team of professionals ready to manage it’s wide base of members. Their core goal of “Ultimate Member Satisfaction” is the imperative for every employee. They are well-respected for a personal, dynamic and positive work environment, delivering a memorable service experience, and where clients are known personally.

Laws Startup Employers Should Know Before Hiring Employees

Laws Startup Employers Should Know Before Hiring Employees

 

Hiring Employees

Hiring Employees

 

Starting a new company is a very exciting time in an individual’s life. It is often filled with thousands of details and decisions that can impact future success. For those that find a niche market that demands immediate expansion, it’s important to know key laws regarding the employment of additional staff that could ultimately affect the bottom line. Here are five key areas to consider.

 

Independent Contractors

Independent Contractors

1. Employees versus Independent Contractors

The most expensive components of adding staff to a new or existing business are the benefits package and legally mandated wage requirements. The difference between adding independent contractors rather than employees may benefit a startup company initially but, may not be the best decision long-term. It is important, therefore to understand the difference between the classifications.

Independent Contractors:

* There must be a clear distinction between the owner’s business and that of the independent contractor. For example, a company that specializes in arranging transportation of goods is in a different business than a truck driver delivering said goods.
* The individual will use their own tools and supplies to see that the work is completed as requested.
* The individual is solely responsible for their own schedule deciding if, when, where, and how they want to complete the assigned task.
* Specific skills in the individual’s area of expertise is required.

Employees:

* The company has the right to tell the employee if, when, where, and how the work is to be completed.
* The employer provides all tools and supplies required to complete the task.
* The employee is paid according to a preexisting pay scale whether it be by the hour, day, month, etc.
* The employer determines when the employee no longer meets the needs of the company and can terminate the employee when it is deemed appropriate.

 

Protect Trade Secrets

Protect Trade Secrets

2. Protect Trade Secrets

Startup companies often develop programs, devices, techniques, methods, processes, formulas, and patterns that are unique to the business started. These factors alone have economic value because they are not things that are generally known by the public. They are called trade secrets and must be protected.

Customer lists, business plans, ways of doing business, and techniques and methods used in the running of a business can be protected as trade secrets as long as a reasonable effort is made to maintain secrecy. Password protecting files, preventing public access to sensitive information, and disclosing details only when absolutely necessary are examples of reasonable efforts. Legally these are all easily proved should litigation arise that demands such evidence.

One way to legally ensure protection is to have employees sign a confidentiality agreement. The document should outline exactly what trade secrets are being protected. It also mandates that employees not disclose such information to anyone whether family, friends, and/or other persons they may come into contact with.

3. Exempt Employees

Exempt employees are those that are not bound by laws that usually apply to hourly employees. Qualifying employees would include those classified as full-time, but who make a minimum monthly salary that equates to no less than two times the minimum wage paid to hourly employees. As a startup company begins to grow, those that qualify would include executives, other professionals, and those working in specific fields. The latter group would include individuals specializing in fields such as software development, graphic art, and outside sales. One way to determine whether an employee may be exempt is to outline job descriptions where classifications are clearly discernible.

As a side-note, this employment law piece was written to educate and protect small to mid-sized businesses from labor violations. Having employees requires quality labor law protection. If you’re based in Alachua County, consider one of these labor law posters for total employer compliance. Their compliance posters are always up to date.

 

Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures

4. Policies and Procedures

Although it will take time away from doing things that seem more important, establishing policies and procedures that provide direction to new employees could save time and problems later on. Access, use, and content appropriate when using computers, the internet, and emails are pitfalls that can result in litigation. Outlining what constitutes employee abuse (such as limitations related to internet use and violating confidentiality) let employees know that computer use is for work-related purposes only and that use will be monitored regularly.

 

Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance

Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance

5. Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance

United States laws that deal with sexual harassment, wrongful termination, discrimination (whether based on age, gender, national origin, etc.), false imprisonment, emotional distress, invasion of privacy, breach of contract, and wage and hour law violations fall under the purview of Employment Practices Liability (AKA professional liability). Evaluating the need for and type of coverage required to prevent litigation is key to protecting a company’s profitability. As a company grows the type of coverage needed may also change.

Starting a new company involves more than coming up with a great idea. Preventing litigation should be a key consideration during the initial planning stages. The aforementioned legal considerations are examples of pitfalls that can be avoided with a solid business plan.

Does Your Business Qualify for Sec. 41 Credit for Software?

New Rules Could Govern Sec. 41 Credit for Software

Tax Credits

Tax Credits

After much anticipation, the IRS has recently released their proposed regulations regarding the Section 41 research credit (REG- 153656–03) and which internal-use software types qualify for it. These new regulations are so far only a proposition and are not yet final. However, the IRS has stated that it won’t challenge return positions for taxpayers that are already applying these proposed rules.

In 2001, final regulations (T.D. 8930) regarding the Section 41 credit and internal-use software were released, but they were met with widespread disapproval from professionals. As a result, the IRS announced an advanced notice of proposed rule-making (ANPRM) in 2004. In the notice, the IRS stated that it would give consideration to the feedback it had received and devise a new set of regulation proposals.

regulations and rules

regulations and rules

The Purpose of the Regulations

The purpose of these proposed regulations is to differentiate between software that has been developed solely for use within a taxpayer’s business, which is not eligible for the credit, and external-use software, which is eligible for the credit in many cases.

Internal-use software is defined as computer software that has been designed for or by a taxpayer for the main purpose of simplifying and aiding their business functions. Common examples of these uses for this software include human resources, data processing, financial management, facilities management and support services.

Section 41 Research Credit

Section 41 Research Credit

Eligibility for Section 41 Research Credit

However, internal-use software may be eligible for the Section 41 research credit if certain set of requirements are met, known as a high-threshold-of-innovation test. In order to qualify, the software must adhere to these three criteria:

They must be innovative.

–    This means the software must improve speed, cut costs or exhibit some other notable enhancement that is considerable and financially significant, or that the software has been deemed successful.
Development of the software must have involved a large financial risk.
–    This means that the taxpayer must have invested significant resources into research and development, and because technology is risky, the taxpayer is uncertain that they will recover their development costs within a reasonable time frame.
The software may not be made available for profit without heavily modifying it.
–    This means that the software is not allowed to be bought, licensed, used or leased for its intended function without changes that would meet the two above criteria.

Internal Software

Internal Software

Dual-Function Internal Software

In certain cases, dual-function internal software may also be eligible. This type of software serves administrative as well as general and non-general purposes. In order to qualify, the proposed regulations maintain that it must be proved that the software was not designed for internal use, which would not be eligible for the credit.

To do this, the taxpayer must indicate a subgroup of the dual-function software’s features that allow the taxpayer to communicate solely with third parties, or enable third parties to review data or launch actions (preamble, REG-153656-03).

Receive Credit

Receive Credit

How Much Credit Does the Taxpayer Receive

Furthermore, the proposed rules will offer a safety net that applies to the software, when a third-party subgroup can’t be determined, or to the remainder of the dual-function software once the third-party subgroup has been defined. Under this feature of the rules, one-quarter of a taxpayer’s research and expenses for developing the software’s dual-function subgroup is factored in when determining how much the taxpayer receives for the credit.

However, this is only if the research that went into development of the software’s dual-function aspects are considered eligible, and the use of dual-function features by either a third party or the taxpayer communicating with a third party comprises ten percent or more of the features’ use.

Comment Requests

Comment Requests

 

Comment Requests

Currently, the IRS is welcoming feedback on any area of the proposed regulations. However, it is particularly interested to hear feedback on:

–    How to handle and define connectivity programs that enable processes on one or more computers to cooperate over a network. This is often called middleware, bridging software or integration software
–    The simplicity of gauging the reasonably expected use of software for the dual-function safe harbor, and
–    Which situations and details, aside from the ones already laid out, would be important for deciding if internal-use software meets the criteria set by the innovation test.

Change

Change

 

When Changes Become Effective

While many people have asked to have these rules applied retroactively, the IRS has opted to make them apply only in the future. For this reason, the rules will only affect tax years on or after the date that the Federal Register makes them final. That said, taxpayers who are applying these proposed rules to their current taxes will not have their return positions challenged.

Furthermore, this new set of regulations invalidates the previous 2004 ANPRM for fiscal years starting on or later than January 20, 2015. This means that taxpayers currently have the option of using either the proposed or final regulations for 2001 until the IRS can finalize the new set.

With this in mind, did this article get you thinking about how to advise clients who use technology or create it? Can you at least do a bit more research to help them achieve their goals while getting the maximum tax credits for their use of specialized software?

Also, if you’re not filing taxes electronically on their behalf, you need to step up with this. If you efile 1099 and other tax documents, your clients should receive their refunds notably faster. I also suggest that you use eFile4Biz.com to file 1099 online. The time I save by using their SaaS platform allows me to focus on customers. Their short video below explains it all.

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