October 2014 Newsletter

Welcome to the Four Point HR Newsletter

New EEOC Guidance On Pregnancy In The Workplace

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and it forbids discrimination on the basis of Pregnancy, Childbirth, or related conditions, which constitute unlawful sex discrimination. 

Some of the more common issues that may surface in your workplace include:

  • A request to provide FMLA for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave for any pregnancy, adoption, or bonding with a newborn child.  In cases where you know an employee is expecting a child, all Four Point HR clients should offer FMLA, as required by law.
  • Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. At the same time, no business should ever require a pregnant worker to take a leave of absence unless or until, the leave is medically required by the employee’s physician.
  • An employee who has just returned from the birth of a child, may request a Lactation room. This is a covered, pregnancy-related medical condition and employers are asked to provide a comfortable, private room as needed, when requested. (Important:   A women’s restroom does not meet the criteria for this particular request.)

Remember that the law prohibits discrimination of any kind, including any discrimination related to pregnancy.  If you should have questions about any of the statements above, do not hesitate to call Human Resources for clarification or additional information.

Through the years there have been a number of updates to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and on July 14, 2014 the EEOC issued guidelines that detail the fact that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act might require reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related disabilities or work restrictions.

As part of the Reasonable Accommodations suggested by the EEOC, employers should be aware of any restrictions placed on an employee with pregnancy-related disabilities and/or work restrictions.  Possible accommodations include:

  • Providing light duty work for an employee, where a physician requires it.
  • Adjusting policies to allow more frequent breaks – as needed by the employee.
  • Temporarily asking another employee to assist the pregnant worker where lifting or other restrictions are required.

Some best practices for these issues are as follows:

  • When an employee has a pregnancy-related concern, all Managers must work with the employee to ensure that they have the reasonable accommodations that they need during their pregnancy.
  • Managers can ask employees to request any accommodations they may need upfront, vs. attempting to lift something by themselves, that may be too heavy.
  • Train Managers to recognize the needs of any employee with a disability to respond promptly and avoid any potentially dangerous situations or safety hazards.
  • Be sure that all Managers in your business know that the definition for DISBILITY is very broadly defined today — and each Manager should come forward to Human Resources to obtain reasonable solutions.
  • If the particular accommodation that an employee requests, would present a hardship to the business, contact for Kathryn Schene at Four Point HR (727-518-6488) to discuss the request and possible alternatives for the impacted employee.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Update

While the employer shared-responsibility provision, or employer mandate, under the Affordable Care Act has been delayed, it is on track to be implemented in 2015 and large employers should be aware that the number of employees in 2014 will be used to determine if you are a large employer and subject to the mandate. Now is the time that employers must evaluate their work force and consider plan changes in anticipation of the 2015 employer penalty.

Small business owners who employ less than 50 full-time employees are not required to provide health insurance. To determine how many full-time employees a company has, combine all the hours every employee works, whether full time or part time, and then divide that number by the 30-hour work week, which is what the ACA defines as full time.  While the Affordable Care Act can be very complicated some examples are:

Beginning in 2015, if you’re an employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees, do not offer affordable health benefits and at least one of your workers receives a premium tax credit to reduce the cost of coverage they buy through the Marketplace, you will be charged a $2,000 fee for each uninsured employee if 70% of your workers are not covered. The first 30 employees are exempt from the penalty.  For example, if two of the employees receive a tax credit for the year for enrolling in a state health insurance exchange-offered plan, the employer will be required to pay $40,000 ($2,000 x (50 – 30) = $40,000), assessed on a monthly basis ($3,333.33 per month). If employers with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents do offer coverage to their full-time employeesbut the coverage is “unaffordable” (9.5 percent of income or higher) to certain employees or does not provide “minimum value” (the plan’s share of total cost of benefits under the plan is less than 60 percent), the employers face a penalty of $3,000 times the number of full-time employees receiving a premium tax credit/subsidy for exchange coverage (not to exceed $2,000 times the total number of full-time employees minus 30).

Another employer with 50 full-time employees offers health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan to all of its employees. One employee receives a tax credit for the year for enrolling in a state health insurance exchange-offered plan. The employer has designed its plan so that the employee only portion of the premium is no more than 9.5 percent of the employee’s W-2 wages. Therefore, under the safe harbor, the employer is not subject to a penalty with respect to that employee even though the employee receives a premium tax credit.

To qualify for federal insurance subsidies, a full-time employee must meet several criteria. First, his or her household income must be less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of the size involved. For example, in 2011 the amount of household income to qualify would be $89,400 for a family of four. Second, if the employee’s employer provides coverage under an employer-sponsored plan, the plan must be determined to be unaffordable or to not provide minimum value. An employer-sponsored plan is unaffordable if an employee’s portion of the insurance premium exceeds 9.5 percent of the employee’s household income. Since employers typically do not know their employees’ household incomes, the IRS has issued a safe harbor that permits an employer to measure the affordability of coverage based upon an employee’s W-2 wages from the employer. That is, for a plan to be affordable, the employee contribution cannot exceed 9.5 percent of the employee’s W-2 wages.

Note to Employees: If you purchase a health plan through the Marketplace instead of accepting health coverage offered by your employer, then you may lose the employer contribution (if any) to the employer-offered coverage. Also, your employee contribution to employer-offered coverage is often excluded from income for Federal and State income tax purposes (pre-tax deduction). Your payments for coverage through the Marketplace are made on an after-tax basis.

Benefits Of A Time And Attendance System

How much time out of your workweek do you or your employees spend on manual time entry? Business managers understand that paying employees tends to be where they spend most of their time. Tracking employees with a time and attendance system will substantially increase productivity, reduce inefficiencies, and solidify recordkeeping.

The amount of time gained is far greater than the time spent on scheduling because that time could better spent on tightening up your enterprise. According to the industry, the average time a supervisor spends on manually calculating data from a time card is seven-ten minutes per employee per week. That amount of time adds up significantly and translates to opportunity costs in productivity.

An integrated time and attendance solution systematizes the process of tracking employees as they clock in and out for work, resulting in accurate time collection and fewer payroll-processing errors. No need for paper time sheets, transferring to employees, approving individual time, and sending or entering information in the payroll system. Computerized systems eliminate errors associated with paper time card systems and archived records protect companies against claims of wage and hour violations. This type of system helps to comply with Fair Labor Standards Act due to the clean and precise information it provides to the department of labor. Audit trails are accessible so business owners and managers see when changes are made and who made them.

Gone Viral

By now, nearly everyone has heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which was aimed at raising awareness and money for the neurodegenerative disorder. The original premise was that once you had been nominated for the challenge, you would either donate $100 to ALS or dump a bucket of cold ice water on your head. Most people ended up doing both.

What is the lesson that business owners can learn from this? Well, the challenge spread like a wildfire through the power of social media; raising over $100 million in one month without the expenditure of a single marketing dollar.  Forbes states that there are three reasons why this initiative was so successful. It was big. It was selfless. It was simple.

What does BIG have to do with the success of all this? Was it the multitude of celebrities who were involved? It helped because a community of people was created, but it wasn’t the only factor. Everyone felt they were doing this together. It was not a stiff type of initiative. It involved humor, which also made it impossible to ignore. When thinking of ideas for your company to use to garner attention from potential clients, remember that a big idea is easy for all to understand.

Selflessness creates empathy and an urge for a viewer to become active. There is an audience effect – or increased willingness to donate or perform due to the presence of onlookers. When watching the videos of these Ice Bucket Challenges, it was clear that the participants were not afraid to broadcast themselves in unpleasant, vulnerable, and sometimes embarrassing situations.  That moved the viewers to connect with them and to accept their own Ice Bucket Challenges.

Not all marketing campaigns can use selflessness in this way, but consider your message and how this element can enhance your campaign.

Lastly, we get to simplicity, or how quickly a message can spread. If a message is simple, then it is easy to understand, turn into action, and generate a response. The Ice Bucket Challenge wanted the rules to be deliberately vague, so that people would take the ball and run with it however they wanted to. The participants were able to do whatever they wanted as long as they were taking action. Of all three elements, this is the most important. Make sure your audience understands your message that you are putting out. If you get too complicated, people lose interest in your initiative, and possibly, your business.

Free October Webinars


Audience: All Industries

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST

Kathryn Schene – Director of HR, Four Point HR

Accident investigation and the control of hazards are the direct result of safety and health programs that are well designed and easily executed. One of the keys to a successful program is unbiased, prompt and accurate accident investigation. The primary goal of this investigation is to determine measures that can be taken to prevent a similar accident in the future. It should leave managers with the ability to draw conclusions and make recommendations for change.

The webinar will examine the follow steps of an accident investigation:

  • Take Care of your Employee and Control the Scene
  • Gather Data (with the Claims Kit)
  • Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions
  • Make Necessary Changes As Necessary

Register here: https://student.gototraining.com/r/679090623762970880

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the Webinar.


Audience: Assisted Living Industry

Thursday, October 30, 2014, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST

Kim McRae – Four Point HR Consultant / Founder & President, Have a Good Life

In the world of healthcare – and long-term care, supports and services – there is currently a tremendous focus on reducing hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations.   Are your communities proactively involved in this conversation? This webinar will review why these are important focus areas for all assisted living providers.

During this webinar we will explore:

  • Why and how hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations can be harmful to elders, particularly those living with dementia.
  • What is happening at the national level to intensify the importance of this focus?
  • What this means for your assisted living community.
  • Explore and discuss the barriers and issues that you are facing.
  • Resources and information will be shared to connect you with some of the existing best practices for integration into your organization.

Register here: https://student.gototraining.com/r/4812822238141502208

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the Webinar.