Archive for September, 2013

Workplace Investigations: Part 1 of 3 : Computer Files

September 26th, 2013

Video Monitoring EmployeesAt some point in time nearly every business owner will find themselves in need of conducting a workplace investigation. Whether you believe an employee is stealing confidential company files, or is bringing illegal substances into the workplace, it’s certainly “your business” – but is searching them actually legal or is it an invasion of privacy?

There are many types of workplace investigations that can occur in the workplace. We invite you to join PEO Advantage in the upcoming weeks for our 3-part series reviewing 3 of the most popular types of investigations: computer files, general searches, and drug testing (yes, testing – not just searching- is considered a type of investigation).

So, let’s start with computer files and forms of communication.

You’ve heard from other employees and suspect yourself that Mike in Marketing is in cahoots with a major competitor. Could he be stealing confidential data from your company and passing it along to the “enemy” right in front of your own eyes?!  Before searching his computer or opening up an investigation it’s important to know what is and is not legal.

The very first step is to review your company policy. In the event that this issue is brought to a court of law, it’s important to note that the majority of courtrooms will side with the employer on a search, if  the company policy was known to the employee. Most employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy at their desk and employers have the right to search.

Email: Many courts have found that employers are generally free to read and monitor company email communications. A survey conducted by the American Management Association (AMA) back in 2008 revealed that more than half of the responding companies monitor employee email, and one quarter of them have fired an employee for misusing email. While it’s highly recommended to have a company email policy, you as the employer still probably have the legal rights to read employee email messages sent using your equipment and your network. Always consult with an employment law professional beforehand if you do not have an email policy in place and are unsure.

Video Monitoring: Here’s another way to try and figure out if Mike is putting confidential files on a zip drive and leaving the workplace with them – but is it allowed? There is little limitation on the use of non-audio video recording. Some states have limitations regarding privacy laws, but in most instances video monitoring in the workplace is permitted.

Keylogging: Because the computer belongs to the company, employers have the right to install keylogging programs. These programs record every single keystroke an employee uses on their computer – including passwords.

There’s no denying that employee management and compliance takes valuable time away from focusing on strategic growth and exposes you to huge financial risk if not handled to the letter of the law. With more than 60 employment-related governmental regulations, compliance alone is a full-time job.

This is why thousands of business owners choose to hire a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO, to save time and money. Not to mention that a PEO provides expertise in an otherwise confusing arena: employment law. If you need to conduct an employee investigation, it is highly recommended that you consult your PEO in advance or contact an attorney that practices employment law.

For more information on workplace investigations or a specific scenario, contact PEO Advantage. And don’t forget to join us next week as we take a look at “general searches” and their limitations.

Preparing for Older Employees in the Workplace

September 12th, 2013

portrait of mature aged attractive senior womanIf you haven’t noticed, people are living much longer these days! According to the Social Security Administration, a woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 86 (for men, the average age is 84). We stress the word “average” because about 1 in every 4 65-year olds today will live past the age of 90!

We’ve seen a trend in the past decade or so… professional men and women are continuing to work well into their 60’s and beyond. And it’s not necessarily because they have financial obligations. Some do, but for most it’s because they’ve worked hard to get where they are today, they’re healthy, and they want to keep their jobs.

Yet, some employers seem concerned. How will they perform up against the young and determined workforce? Am I making the right decision by keeping them on, or are they costing my business money? Here are a few tips for catering to older employees in the workplace.

  • Provide training for those that wish to acquire new skills.
  • Provide retraining, as needed, for those who may need to polish up their skills.
  • If someone isn’t performing up to par due to health or personal issues, first consider part-time options, or transitions into retirement, which will promote a much more positive working environment.  The employee may actually contribute much more and perform much better if transitioned into a part-time position that isn’t quite as demanding.
  • Offer mentorship opportunities or programs within the workplace. New employees will certainly have something to learn from these veterans of the workplace!
  • Make sure you have a safe workplace that is accommodating to older employees. What you may not consider a hazard or discomfort, may certainly be one to an older individual. This includes anything and everything from comfortable office furniture to safely secured wires that are tucked away from foot traffic!
  • And last but not least, don’t forget to talk to your PEO about questions or concerns regarding older employees. PEOs not only assist with compliance, but also with training, benefits, best practices and more.

By following the aforementioned tips, you can celebrate diversity at your workforce and take advantage of older employee’s contributions and experience. For questions regarding your PEO relationship (or if you’re looking to establish a new PEO relationship) contact our team today!

Confused About Obamacare?

September 3rd, 2013

Friendly Male and Female Doctors Isolated on a White Background.Did you know that together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, Obamacare represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the country’s healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965?

With the number of complexities and concerns on the rise for small to medium sized businesses, many are opting in for a co-employment relationship with a PEO.

Here’s why:

  • With health insurance rates on the rise and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, businesses are looking for ways to continue offering robust benefits to their employees, but also keep their expenses under control. PEOs bring purchasing power to the table alongside access to Fortune 500 quality health insurance packages and previously unavailable benefits such as 401(k), Section 125 plan and Flexible Spending.
  • Without even factoring in the rules and regulations associated with Obamacare, there are more than 60 employment-related governmental regulations; compliance alone is a full-time job. PEOs assume much of the liability associated with healthcare regulations and employee management.  Expert help with risk management and compliance protects business owners from costly fines and lawsuits.
  • A number of PEOs are now providing valuable online resources such as calculators to help evaluate the effects the Affordable Care Act will have on businesses. These calculators can help determine whether a business should pay the penalty or provide medical benefits. They outline the costs by company size and determine which variable hour employees must be offered benefits.
  • A PEO can help make sense of complex language. In addition to calculators, some PEOs also offer cliff note-like summaries of various healthcare acts in order to help business owners quickly navigate to the answers they need without getting overwhelmed.
  • With healthcare and compliance under control businesses can finally concentrate on their core competencies and put their growth plans in motion.

Is your business looking to cut healthcare costs and ensure a compliant workplace in the upcoming year? Call 877-636-9525 or Get a Free Quote Online to find the best Professional Employer Organization for you.