Archive for October, 2013

Can Part-Time Workers Collect Unemployment?

October 15th, 2013

Can Part Time Workers Collect UnemploymentUnemployment … every business owner’s favorite topic….

Not quite! Unemployment, taxes, claims, and everything else that revolves around the topic is quite complex.

Most businesses with employees pay state unemployment taxes. Each business’s particular rate is affected by the stability of the business’s employment record. A more stable employment record almost always results in a reduced tax rate over time.

However, if unemployment claims are authorized or repeatedly filed against you, your rates could go up. Additionally, claims result in lost time and money due to having to provide timely, complete, and accurate information at the time of the claim. No wonder we want to avoid them!

So, who can actually file for unemployment? Are these benefits offered to full-time employees only? What about part-time employees? Can they collect unemployment as well?

In short, yes.  Your state’s department of labor will evaluate their eligibility based on past wages (most often the past 18 months). If the employee made enough money during the necessary timeframe, then it does not matter if they were working part-time or full-time.

In fact, those that have been demoted from full-time to part-time work can actually file a loss-of-work claim and, if authorized, receive partial payments.

What can you do to limit your chances of facing unexpected expenditures surrounding unemployment? First, document, document, document! If an unemployment claim is filed, you will be given the chance as the business owner to dispute the claim. If you can prove that the employee left voluntarily or transitioned from full-time to part-time by choice, the claim may be denied.

Second, if you work with a PEO or are going to be in the near future, you’re already in a pretty good position. PEOs assist business owners by significantly decreasing risk and liability. Through the co-employment relationship the PEO assumes many employee management responsibilities. They help clients win unemployment claims by keeping appropriate documentation and also help to ensure workplace compliance. Through frequent audits they can also help identify and protest erroneous charges or claims tied to state unemployment tax (SUTA).

Because employees are documented as employees of the PEO and not the client for tax filing purposes in a co-employment relationship, the PEO is responsible for unemployment taxes.  It is in everyone’s best interest to continually work to keep rates (and claims) to a minimum.

If you’re interested in unemployment claims support or are looking for employee management solutions to help further protect your workplace (and money), call 877-636-9525 or contact us online.

Workplace Investigations: Part 3 of 3: Drug Testing

October 10th, 2013

Legal Drug Testing in the WorkplaceThere’s reason to believe Sandra in Sales is under the influence of something at work each day. She just hasn’t been acting herself lately. But, now what?!

Drug testing is considered a workplace investigation. While some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees are required by law to drug test periodically to ensure a drug-free workplace (under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988), the majority of employers across the U.S. are NOT required to drug test.

Although not required by law to test, most private employers have the right to test for a wide variety of substances. Before requiring an employee to undergo mandatory testing, it’s important that you as the employer have familiarized yourself with various state and Federal regulations that may or may not apply to your organization, and have designed a drug-testing program that is fair and legal. Some state and local governments have statutes that limit or prohibit certain types of workplace testing.

It is critical to have a clear written policy letting employees know about the types of testing that may be done and what will happen to them if a test yields a positive result. This includes all types of pre-employment testing, for-cause testing, reasonable suspicion testing, post-accident testing and random testing.

If you are “in the clear” to test within the workplace, it’s also very important that you keep the results absolutely confidential. The documentation should be kept in the same confidential file of medical information that is used for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) purposes.

Does your Company currently have a drug-testing program and policy in place? PEOs  provide professionally written employee handbooks and policies that translate into clear expectations and peak performance within the workplace. If you don’t already work with a PEO and are interested in the co-employment relationship – or – need a second opinion on workplace testing and an existing scenario, contact PEO Advantage today.

Workplace Investigations: Part 2 of 3: General Searches

October 1st, 2013

Workplace SearchesLast week we discussed workplace investigations regarding computer files and communication, and as you learned, the right to search most often lies with the employer. After all, it is your equipment and your office the employee is utilizing. However, general searches are a bit more complex.

The need to search someone’s personal belongings may arise for a number of reasons – perhaps there’s a suspicion of employee substance abuse…or there’s been some type of vandalism committed during today’s lunch break. Or, in a much more serious situation, perhaps there’s been a threat made against others and there’s reason to believe someone is planning to harm someone else or themselves.

Under OSHA, employers must investigate problems and prevent future similar problems from occurring, to the best of their ability. In regards to the prevention of workplace violence, employers have a duty to investigate threats and prevent acts of violence from occurring within the workplace. However, we’d like to stress that in violent situations or threatening situations, local law enforcement should be contacted before attempting to handle on your own as the employer.

So, what about a less serious search – for example – looking in an employee’s briefcase or purse for something? In short, this is not recommended. In general, employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy surrounding their own personal items…. unless of course the employee was told otherwise before accepting a job at your Company.

The key in protecting yourself as the employer in general searchers is to have a good search policy in place BEFOREHAND. If you have made it well known (this includes outlining everything in writing within your employee handbook or company policy) that the entire workplace is subject to search at any time, you have the right to search personal areas when there’s reasonable cause. This includes locked desk drawers or lockers.

A very good search policy will also include personal items that are brought on to the worksite including purses, briefcases, containers, and even cars parked on company property!

Did you know that most PEOs can help you establish your own search policies in addition to employee handbooks and company policies?  Call 877-636-9525 to find the best Professional Employer Organization for you. But, if you are in immediate need of a workplace investigation at this time, it is recommended you contact an employment law professional before proceeding.

Join us next week as we dive further into workplace investigations with employee drug testing.