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  • New New York State Laws

    06/08/2016

    Minimum Wage (In places other than New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties)

     This applies to all workers in all industries

    • The hourly minimum wage will increase as follows:
      • $9.70 at the end of 2016
      • $10.40 at the end of 2017
      • $11.10 at the end of 2018
      • $11.80 at the end of 2019
      • $12.50 12/31/2020
      • Thereafter, the DOL will set an indexed schedule for it to increase to $15.00
      • Beginning in 2019 NYS will conduct an annual analysis of the economy to determine if continuing the increase is still viable, or if it should be suspended temporarily.

     Paid Family Leave

     It will apply to all employers regardless of number of employees.

      • It appears it will optional for public employers (as opposed to it being mandatory).
      • Employees can participate in the program after they have been employed by their employer for 6 months.
      • Employees will be able to take time off to:
        • Bond with an infant during the first 12 months following birth, adoption, or foster care.
          • Employers will be able to request proof of birth, adoption, or foster care.
    • Care for a family member (ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, or the parent of a spouse or partner) with a serious health condition.
      • Employers will be able to request proof of disability for covered family members, and will be able to request documentation that the employee is a primary care giver.
    • Help out with taking care of personal issues (financial, child care, etc.) when a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent is called to active military service.
      • Employers will be able to request proof of call to active duty.
      • It will be implemented in phases
        • The first phase will begin in 2018.  Employees will be able to receive 50% of their average weekly wage.  This will be capped at 50% of the statewide average weekly wage.
        • It will increase each year until 2021.  At that time, it will be capped at 67% of an employee’s average weekly wage.  That amount will be capped to 67% of the statewide average weekly wage.
        • The program will work similar to NYS statutory disability insurance. 
        • There will be a waiting period similar to NYS disability for the employee’s own disability.
        • No waiting period for family care leave.
        • Employees will have similar job protection to that of FMLA (guaranteed job upon return).
        • Employees will pay a premium.
        • Employees who work for companies large enough to be covered under the federal FMLA will NOT be eligible for two different leaves; FMLA and NY’s paid family leave will run concurrently.

     Disclaimer:       The above information came from the actual Bill.  It could change slightly by the time the regulations are publish.

  • Wage Theft Prevention Information

    01/20/2015

     On December 29, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law amendments to the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (the "WTPA"). Bill A08106C (Assembly), S05885-B (Senate). The most notable amendments eliminate the WTPA's annual wage notice requirement and increase the penalties associated with violations of the WTPA.

    Following are key points of the amendments:

    • Employers are no longer required to provide all employees with a wage rate notice on or before February 1 of each year. Employers are still required to provide new employees with the notice. This must be done within 10 days after date of hire.
    • Failure to provide a wage notice upon hire can result in a penalty of $5,000 per employee.
    • The DOL's investigation can go back 6 years.....meaning they can look back at ALL your wage records for 6 years, not just WTPA violations.
    • If you are a repeat offender, be prepared to start providing the DOL with wage and employee information.  The DOL will be posting that publicly on their web site, including your employee head counts.
    • In addition to the DOL fines, there can be civil penalties ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
    • The amount of damages that an "aggrieved" employee can now get can go up to $20,000.
    • If the company is an LLC, the 10 members with the largest percentage of ownership shares will be jointly and personally liable for all debts, unpaid wages, or salaries due to employees of the LLC.
    • Your fines will be used to fund a WTPA enforcement account.  Monies collected from employers who violate the WTPA will be used to offset the costs incurred by the administration and enforcement of the WTPA.

    Either way, you will pay.  It's just much easier to complete the CORRECT forms, and complete them correctly.   Here is a link to a NYS DOL guide that will help you with the process:  http://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS53.pdf 

    Remember, it really is easy to keep yourself out of trouble !

  • December's Declarations

    01/06/2015

    Alzheimer’s is a Form of Dementia

    Last month my Mom celebrated her 84th birthday.  I am so lucky to have her at all, much less have an elderly Mom who has use of all her faculties.  5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.  Although it is a disease that can affect people of any age, it is more prevalent in our senior population; 13% of all seniors in New York State have a form of Alzheimer’s.  

    Six in 10 people with dementia will wander. A person with Alzheimer's may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Wandering among people with dementia is dangerous, but there are strategies and services to help prevent it.

    In New York State there are 170,000 people age 85 and older that have Alzheimer’s.  We owe it to ourselves to be educated about this horrible disease so we can help identify it in those people we know and love.  Here is a good, easy to read source of information about dementia and wandering: 

    http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-wandering.asp#ixzz3L354Kzyh 

    New Stuff

    No WTPA!!!

    You do not have to complete a WTPA form for employees this January!  Yippee!  Less paperwork.  You still have to complete one for every new employee you hire. 

    2015 W-4 & IT-2104

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf  

    http://www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/current_forms/wt/it2104_fill_in.pdf

    New York Minimum Wage Poster

    http://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS207.pdf 

    Other than in the health care arena, there isn’t anything else new for the beginning of 2015.   Hopefully your health care broker/consultant has you all set for this year’s open enrollment period.  Even though they might handle it for you, ultimately it is your responsibility.  Here are some tips from our friends at KBM Management for open enrollment so you can double-check to make sure you are on track:  http://www.kbmmanagement.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=58&cntnt01origid=15&cntnt01returnid=62

  • October's Odd Mix Newsletter

    11/10/2014

    Succession Planning

    What if one or more of your key employees could no longer perform the duties of their job?  Accidents happen; unplanned deaths happen, disabilities happen, and when they do, there is a way to help the business survive.  It’s called succession planning.

    Succession planning doesn’t have to take you a long time to do.  You can keep it as simple as you like, or get as in-depth as you like.  Whatever you decide, here are a few important things to do/consider:

    1. Identify key/critical positions
    2. Analyze the positions and identify skills sets needed
    3. Identify who is  your organization has those skills sets; identify the gaps in skills sets; and develop a plan to close that gap.
    4. Develop your written succession plan summarizing your findings.
    5. Take action.
    6. Keep monitoring and updating your succession plan; don’t let it sit on a shelf gathering dust.

    In future newsletters we will give you more detail on each of the above 6 steps.  There is never a better time to start than now!

    COBRA – It’s Alive

     

    We haven’t heard much lately about COBRA, but don’t even think for a minute that it’s been swept under the rug.

    Remember, there are two (2) notices that employees must get with regard to COBRA.  Even if you have less than 20 employees, and don’t fall under federal COBRA regulations, you still need to comply with NYS Insurance regulations, which mirror COBRA.

    (1)    When employees first enroll in a covered plan, they need to get the notice that outlines their rights.

    (2)    Continuation Notices must be given when an employee loses coverage.

    You do NOT have to provide the above to employees who are not enrolled in any of the plans mentioned below.  You DO have to provide the notices to covered dependents.

    The above only applies to employees enrolled in a “COBRA covered” plan.  Those plans are medical/dental insurance plans and FSA’s.  There may be other plans covered under COBRA also, such as HRA’s, and some of the cancer insurance type plans.

    Please take this seriously. There was a case this past August where an employer neglected to give the proper notices; the fine, including attorney’s fees, totaled $42,000. 

    I have a one-page summary sheet giving a few more requirements; email me if you want one.  I can also give you a referral for someone to administer your COBRA for you.  There is no charge for either of these.

    Time off for Volunteer Firefighting

    Effective December 22, 2014 - During times of a declared emergency, employers, in most cases, are required to give volunteer firefighters and emergency responders time off to carry out their volunteer duties.  The employer can request documentation.  The law does not include NYS employees; they are covered under civil service law.

    Reminder

     If you are a New York State employer and have employees who are paid a commission, you must have it in writing according to NYS employment law.

  • Dirty Dozen Health Care Plan Requirements

    09/10/2014

    Thanks to KBM Management 315-449-0229, www.KBMmanagement.com for the following:

    HEALTH AND WELFARE PLANS -  CHECKLIST OF REPORTING & DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS 

    Document

    Description

    When to Provide

    1.  Summary Plan Description (SPD)

    ERISA requires plan sponsors of group health plans to comply with certain disclosure requirements including the requirement to supply employees with an SPD.  To be legally compliant, an SPD must have certain statutorily defined information about the underlying plan that is specific to the employer and is not contained in the Certificate of Coverage supplied by the insurance carrier or TPA.

    Must provide SPD to participants within 90 days of being covered by the plan.  Must provide an updated SPD once every five years from the date of the previous SPD if the plan is modified (or once every ten years if the plan is not modified).

    2.  Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)

    Provided by request from the Carrier.  The SBC is a summary of the health plan with a focus on key features such as: covered benefits, cost sharing requirements, limits on coverage, and excluded benefits.

    Must provide to participants and beneficiaries at the time of initial enrollment and annually with open enrollment materials. Must provide to special enrollees within 90 days after special enrollment.  Must also provide within seven business days of a request from a participant or beneficiary. 

    3.  Notice of Exchange (Marketplace) Availability

     

    Must provide notice to all newly hired employees about the availability of the health insurance marketplaces.

    Must be distributed to employees within 14 days of hire.

    4.  Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (“CHIPRA”) Notice

    Must provide notice of potential opportunities for premium assistance under state Medicaid or CHIP to all employees annually. Can include the required notice in annual enrollment materials or SPD (if re-distributed) each year.

    Annual distribution.

    5.  Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable or Non-Creditable Coverage

    Must provide to all Medicare Part D-eligible participants and beneficiaries annually, prior to the start of the Medicare Part D open enrollment period (i.e., before October 15). Must provide in certain other situations as well.

    Annual distribution prior to October 15th of each calendar year.

    6.  Initial COBRA Notice

    Notice provides a brief overview of the employee’s rights and obligations under current Cobra law.

    Must provide to covered employees and spouses within 90 days of when coverage begins.

    7.  COBRA Election Notice

    The election notice describes the rights to continuation coverage and explains how to make an election.  The Plan Administrator must furnish an election notice to each qualified beneficiary—the covered employee, covered spouse, and any dependent children who loses coverage in connection with the qualifying event.

    Employer must notify plan administrator within 30 days of the qualifying event.  The Plan Administrator then has 14 days following receipt of the notice of qualifying event to notify qualified beneficiaries of right to elect COBRA.

     

    8.  Notice of Unavailability of COBRA

    Group Health Plans may sometimes deny a request for COBRA coverage, including an extension of coverage when the Plan Administrator determines the requestor is not entitled.  When the Plan Administrator makes the decision to deny a request from an individual, the plan must give the individual Notice of Unavailability of COBRA Coverage.

    Employer must notify plan administrator within 30 days of the qualifying event.  If plan administrator determines that the individual is not entitled to COBRA, the plan administrator has 14 days following receipt of the notice of qualifying event to notify qualified beneficiaries that COBRA is unavailable.

     

    9.  Early Termination of COBRA

    If COBRA coverage is terminated earlier than the maximum time period for which COBRA must be made available COBRA enrollees must be notified.

    Must provide notice to qualified beneficiaries as soon as practicable after determination of coverage termination.

    10.  Notice of Insufficient COBRA Payment

    If COBRA premium payment was insufficient (but only by an "insignificant amount").

    Must provide notice of insufficient payment and give a reasonable period of time (such as 30 days) to cure the deficiency before terminating COBRA.

    11.  Participant and Beneficiary Requests Documents

    If a participant or beneficiary makes a written request for a copy of plan documents, including the SPD, SMMs and Form 5500.

    Must be provided within 30 days of the request.

    12.  QMCSO Receipt and Determination Notices

    Qualified Medical Child Support Order.  Must provide notices of receipt of a proposed order and of determination regarding the order.

    Upon receipt of a QMCSO.