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Open enrollment can be an extremely positive and rewarding experience for you and your employees. Along with your agent, consider the following suggestions to help you prepare for a successful open enrollment period this year.

Pre-Enrollment Period

  • Plan Ahead. Be ready to answer employee questions regarding the health care reform legislation. Understand how the legislation will affect your benefits offerings and be prepared to share this knowledge with employees. Communicate anything new and exciting that will enhance your open enrollment processes this year. Consider formalizing an implementation strategy to roll out an online or software enrollment program if you haven’t already to save time. If you plan to adopt a new program, allow time to integrate the new software well before your open enrollment period so everything runs smoothly for your employees. As well as making any necessary changes to your benefits offerings before the open enrollment period to avoid rushing at the last minute. Lastly, consider offering new benefits, even if they are 100 percent voluntary.

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Q&A with Employment Law Expert Damian Taylor

Q:      Can employers require exempt employees to record their work hours?
A:      The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that imposes minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for most employers. Many “white collar” employees who meet minimum duties and salary tests are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements, and therefore receive no overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. Contrary to what many exempt employees think, there is nothing prohibiting employers from requiring their exempt employees to record and report their daily hours worked. Although some exempt employees consider the practice demeaning, it is viewed by many employers as a “best practice” for minimizing the risk of expensive overtime claims. One of the more frustrating types of overtime claims to defend is the claim by an employee who alleges he/she was misclassified as exempt, whose hours of work were not tracked, and who grossly exaggerates the number of overtime hours worked. The cost of defending and settling these claims is often inflated because of the difficulty proving the hours actually worked by the employee in the absence of time records. Some of these claims may even be avoided where time records are maintained. . Read more

Employers with multi-state operations must remain abreast of developments in state and local wage and hour legislation, such as increases in state minimum wages. Many states provide for annual increases based on the U.S. Consumer Price Index and inflation. The states and localities appearing below have increased minimum wages effective Jan. 1, 2014, except as noted. Because hospitality and similar employers also need to be aware of changes to the permissible tip credit, which in turn affect the minimum wage they must pay to customarily tipped employees, such increases also appear below. Of course, these changes also affect overtime pay calculations.

Arizona – General minimum wage increases from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $4.80 to $4.90.

California – General minimum wage increases from $8.00 to $9 an hour, effective July 1, 2014. (California law does not allow employers to take a tip credit against minimum wage for tipped employees.)

Colorado – General minimum wage increases from $7.78 to $8 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $4.76 to $4.98 an hour.

Connecticut – General minimum wage increases from $8.25 to $8.70 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped bartenders will remain $7.34 an hour and minimum wage for hotel and restaurant tipped employees other than bartenders will remain $5.69 an hour.

Florida – General minimum wage increases from $7.79 to $7.93 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $4.77 to $4.91 an hour.

Missouri – General minimum wage increases from $7.35 to $7.50 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $3.68 to $3.75 an hour.

Montana – General minimum wage increases from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour. (Montana law does not allow employers to take a tip credit against minimum wage for tipped employees.)

New Jersey – General minimum wage increases from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees remains $2.13 an hour by virtue of federal law.

New York – General minimum wage increases from $7.25 to $8 an hour, effective Dec. 1, 2013. Subject to certain caveats outside the hospitality industry, the minimum wage for tipped employees will remain $5 an hour for food service workers (i.e., servers, runners and bussers) and $5.65 an hour for service employees (i.e., delivery persons and coat checkers).

Ohio – General minimum wage increases from $7.85 to $7.95 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $3.93 to $3.98 an hour.

Oregon – General minimum wage increases from $8.95 to $9.10 an hour. (Oregon law does not allow employers to take a tip credit against minimum wage for tipped employees.)

Rhode Island – General minimum wage increases from $7.75 to $8 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees remains $2.89 an hour.

Vermont – General minimum wage increases from $8.60 to $8.73 an hour. Minimum wage for tipped employees increases from $4.17 to $4.23 an hour.

Washington – General minimum wage increases from $9.19 to $9.32 an hour. (Washington law does not allow employers to take a tip credit against minimum wage for tipped employees.)

Localities — Certain localities also have implemented minimum wage legislation. For example, in San Francisco, the minimum wage will increase on Jan. 1 from $10.55 to $10.74 an hour. Moreover, San Jose, Calif., will increase its minimum wage from $10 to $10.15 an hour. (As stated above, California law does not allow employers to take a tip credit against minimum wage for tipped employees.) In addition, the Albuquerque, N.M., minimum wage will increase from $8.50 to $8.60 effective Jan.1. However, the minimum wage in Albuquerque will be $7.60 if an employer provides healthcare and/or childcare benefits to the employee during any pay period and the employer pays an amount for these benefits equal to or in excess of an annualized cost of $2,500. Minimum wage for tipped employees will increase from $3.83 to $5.16.

Developing and maintaining good safety habits and attitudes is fundamental to workplace safety. Building on this foundation you can minimize hazards, prevent accidents, and create a safer, healthier workplace. There are simple steps safety managers can take to make safety a greater value to management and front-line employees. Read more

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The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is the state agency that handles unemployment claims for Florida workers. DEO is the state agency responsible for paying unemployment benefits (now called “reemployment assistance benefits”) to workers who lose their job and qualify for unemployment.

DEO is alerting Florida employers of a possible scam email that appears to be coming from DEO but is really an identity theft scam. The email is from “@detma.org” and is not affiliated with the DEO, Workforce Florida or Florida Reemployment Assistance. Please do NOT to click on the link contained in the message. Reports of this email scam have come from other state’s unemployment assistance agencies. DEO will never request information from employers on behalf of a third party company. If you receive email correspondence from DEO regarding unemployment compensation/reemployment assistance, the address will end in “deo.myflorida.com”.

We have included a sample of the scam email below.

Email Scam