A 7.5% Workers’ Compensation Rate Decrease Has Been Approved By The OIR

HOT OFF THE PRESS from our friends at NAPEO!

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has issued a Final Order granting approval to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) for a statewide overall decrease of 7.5% for Florida workers’ compensation insurance rates. This applies to both new and renewal workers’ compensation insurance policies effective in Florida as of January 1, 2020.

“Florida is an ideal place to do business and I am committed to keeping our workforce and economy strong. This decrease in workers’ compensation rates is very good news for employers and one more reason for companies to be located in our great state,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Florida businesses are the backbone of our economy and when they see cost savings, our local communities benefit. Affordable workers’ compensation insurance means more workers are protected. It is great to see the costs of this coverage continue to decrease for those businesses who call Florida home,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis.

“I am pleased to issue this order, reducing workers’ compensation rates for Florida’s businesses, providing another year of rate relief. Increased innovation in workplace practices and continued emphasis on safety for employees has meant a decline in the workers’ compensation claims and Florida businesses will see the results of those efforts reflected in their insurance rates,” said Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier.

Commissioner Altmaier approved the NCCI amended rate filing, which met the stipulations of the Order on Rate Filing issued by the Commissioner on October 24, 2019.

For more information about the NCCI public hearing and rate filing, visit OIR’s “NCCI Public Rate Hearing” webpage.​ 

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets. For more information about OIR, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @FLOIR_comm.

Sponsored by Libertate Insurance Services, LLC

Why James River Insurance Dumped Uber Account

Interesting article published today out of the Insurance Journal by Suzanne Barlyn about insuring Uber.  Not surprisingly, carriers continue to be perplexed with gig-economy exposures.

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A Bermuda-based insurer that recently severed ties with an Uber Technologies Inc. affiliate said on Thursday the risk of providing driver ride-hailing coverage had become too great and that it had mispriced policies during its initial years on the account.

James River Group Holdings Ltd said on Oct. 8 it would cut ties with a unit of Uber, its largest client, and cancel all related policies as of Dec. 31 this year.

Florida was an “outsized contributor” to the insurer’s Uber problems, especially in 2016, given a large number of uninsured and underinsured motorists, said James River Chief Financial Officer Sarah Doran in a call on Thursday with analysts to discuss its third-quarter financial results.

The insurer cut back on its exposure to Uber’s Florida market in 2017, Doran said.

James River boosted its cash reserves by a total of $57 million during the 2019 third quarter. Of that, $50 million was for 2016 and 2017 losses stemming from its Uber account, the insurer said.

James River late Wednesday said it withdrew $1.2 billion in funds held as collateral in a trust created by an Uber affiliate to cover current and future claims.

Insurance is one of the largest expenses for ride-share companies, an issue that many analysts cite as a risk for the ride-share industry’s profitability.

“In Uber, we wrote a new type of risk that originally seemed to be highly profitable,” J. Adam Abram, James River executive chairman and chief executive officer, said in the Thursday call.

But the nature of that risk changed as Uber rapidly expanded into new regions, added tens of thousands of drivers, and moved into other business lines, Abram said. Uber’s businesses now include food delivery and freight.

“Candidly, in some years, we mispriced the risk,” Abram said.

James River’s poor results for its Uber account in 2016 and 2017 spurred it to negotiate a “substantial pricing increase” for 2018 and charge similar rates for 2019, Abram said.

James River bought reinsurance for a third of the Uber account in 2019, but does not expect profits on the account for 2018 and 2019 to offset earlier losses, Abram said.

A new California law designed to limit the use of “gig” workers ultimately swayed James River to cancel the Uber account, despite coverage now being “well-priced,” Abram said.

The law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, spells out when companies must treat “gig economy” contract workers, such as ride-hailing drivers, as employees. “We believe (it) will adversely alter the claims profile for ride-share companies,” Abram said.

James River expects to process about 18,500 Uber-related claims while winding down the account, Abram said.

INFINITI HR and Quad M Solutions, Inc.’s Wholly-Owned Subsidiary NuAxess 2, Inc. Have Executed a Definitive Agreement for Their New Joint Venture Company PrimeAxess, Inc.

lhttp://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/10/15/1929865/0/en/INFINITI-HR-and-Quad-M-Solutions-Inc-s-Wholly-Owned-Subsidiary-NuAxess-2-Inc-Have-Executed-a-Definitive-Agreement-for-Their-New-Joint-Venture-Company-PrimeAxess-Inc.html

PEOs, Hamburgers, and Joint Employment

Happy Monday!  Re-publishing this fantastic update from Mike Miller regarding joint employment.

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Who would have thought that PEOs would have anything in common with McDonald’s, Hamburger University, and joint employment? Well, earlier this month a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a decision interpreting California law regarding a joint employment issue that PEOs will be able to utilize with regard to the bourgeoning number of wage claim cases in California and elsewhere that have been filed against PEOs. In this California case, the Plaintiffs, among other allegations, alleged that they were denied proper overtime premiums, meal and rest breaks, and other benefits in violation of the California Labor Code. Most significantly, the Plaintiffs also alleged that McDonald’s and its franchisee are joint employers and that McDonald’s is, therefore, liable for the wage violations. The district court had held that McDonald’s is not a joint employer of the franchisee’s employees and was not liable for these wage claims and had dismissed these claims in a summary judgment action. On appeal, the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling.

Similar to how PEOs operate, the franchisee, and not McDonald’s, selects, interviews, hires, trains, supervises, disciplines and fires its employees. The franchisee also sets the employees’ wages and their work schedules and monitors their time entries. There was no evidence that McDonald’s performed any of these functions. Interestingly, evidence in the record, if viewed in a manner most favorable to the Plaintiffs (as must be done in a summary judgment proceeding), would have permitted a finding that McDonald’s could have prevented some of the alleged wage-and-hour violations but did not do so, and yet this did not impact the Court in its decision.

Under the franchise agreement, McDonald’s required the franchisee to use its Point of Sale (“POS”) and In-Store Processor (“ISP”) computer systems every day. Managers of the franchisee took various courses at McDonald’s Hamburger University and then trained other employees on topics such as meal and rest break policies. The franchisee also voluntarily used the McDonald’s computer systems for scheduling, time keeping, and determining regular and overtime pay through applications that came with the IPS software.

Under the applicable California Wage Order, an employer is defined as one “who directly or indirectly, or through an agent or any other person, employs or exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of any person.” In construing this Wage Order, the California Supreme Court has set forth three alternative definitions as to what it means to “employ” someone. These three alternative definitions, any one of which can establish an entity as an employer, are as follows:

(a) to exercise control over the wages, hours or working conditions, or (b) to suffer or permit to work, or (c) to engage, thereby creating a common law relationship.

With regard to whether McDonald’s exercises “control over the wages, hours or working conditions” of the employees of the franchisee, the 9th Circuit pointed out that McDonald’s does not “retain ‘a general right of control’ over ‘day-to-day aspects’ of work at the franchises.” The Court held that McDonald’s involvement with the workers did not represent control over wages, hours, or working conditions.

With regard to the “suffer or permit to work” definition of employer, here too McDonald’s did not meet the test for being an employer. In one of the more significant aspects for how this case may impact PEOs, the Court stated:

The question under California law is whether McDonald’s is one of Plaintiffs’ employers, not whether McDonald’s caused Plaintiffs’ employer to violate wage-and-hour laws by giving the employer bad tools or bad advice.

I have written previously about the importance of not referring to the manner in which PEOs do business in California as being the “leasing of employees.” The 9th Circuit gave credence to this position when it referred to a staffing agency supplying employees to another entity and having such a manner of doing business fit under the “suffer or permit to work” standard for being an employer. Clauses found in PEO Service Agreements stemming from the early days of the industry such as the PEO shall have the power to “withhold employees’ services from the client,” not only is not an accurate representation of the realities of the PEO/client relationship in 2019, but also is a worrisome clause. As the 9th Circuit pointed out in this decision, the determination of whether an entity is an employer under the “suffer or permit to work” standard turns in part on whether an entity has “the power to prevent plaintiffs from working.” Consequently, in California, a PEO’s not retaining or assuming “a general right of control over factors such as hiring, direction, supervision, discipline, discharge, and relevant day-to-day aspects of the workplace behavior of the franchisee’s employees” is crucial in avoiding the determination of employer status under California law.

Lastly, with regard to the third part of the test, “to engage, thereby creating a common law relationship,” the Court concluded that according to California common law “[t]he principal test of an employment relationship is whether the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired.” The Court stated that while perhaps arguably there was evidence that McDonald’s was aware that its franchisee was violating California’s wage-and-hour laws with respect to the franchisees employees, there was “no evidence” that McDonald’s had the requisite level of control over the Plaintiffs’ employment to establish a joint employer relationship.

While the Court went on to dispose of other peripheral issues, the Court’s discussion did not change the fact that McDonald’s did not have sufficient control to make it an employer. I have talked for many years about making sure your service agreements are 21st century service agreements and this case drives home the importance of updating service agreements.

DOL Issues New Salary Limits for Overtime Exemptions

OVERVIEW

On Sept. 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new final rule that updates the salary thresholds that some individuals must meet in order to qualify for a
minimum wage and overtime exemption under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The final rule becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2020. The final rule affects the exemptions for executive, administrative and professional (EAP) employees, highly
compensated employees (HCEs), employees in the motion picture industry and individuals who work in various U.S. territories.

ACTION STEPS

The final rule’s Jan. 1, 2020 effective date leaves little time for employers to prepare for the changes. Employers should:

  • Determine which currently exempt employees have
    salaries below the new threshold; and
  • Decide whether to increase salaries for these
    individuals or reclassify them as non-exempt
    employees.

The 2019 Overtime Final Rule

As expected, this final rule includes updates to the standard salary level for the EAP and HCE exemptions and allows employers to count up to 10 percent of an employee’s nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) as part of the employee’s standard salary level. The rule also creates special standard salary levels for the exemption that applies to employees in the motion picture production industry and some U.S. territories. The table below shows the salary levels for the EAP and HCE exemptions that will apply on Jan. 1, 2020. The final rule’s salary levels are different from the 2016 rule and the 2019 proposed rule.

Nondiscretionary Bonuses

The final overtime rule will allow employers to use up to 10 percent of an employee’s bonuses to satisfy salary level requirements if:

  • The bonus, commission or other incentive pay is nondiscretionary; and
  • The employee receives this incentive pay at least annually (during any given year or 52-week period).

The final rule also contains a “catch-up” provision that enables employees to remain exempt when their nondiscretionary bonuses aren’t enough to meet the salary level required by an FLSA exemption. Under this new rule, employers must make a “catch-up payment” within one pay period at the end of the 52-week period before losing that employee’s exempt status. The DOL has warned that any catch-up payment “will
count only toward the prior year’s salary amount and not toward the salary amount in the year in which it is paid.”

Additional Updates

The final rule sets a special salary level of $380 per week for American Samoa, and sets a special salary level of $455 per week for employees in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The rule also establishes a base rate threshold for employees in the motion picture producing industry of $1,043 per week. This new threshold can be prorated based on the number of days the employee has worked. The DOL intends to update the standard salary and HCEs total annual compensation levels more regularly in the future through notice-and-comment rulemaking.

DOL Issues New Salary Limits for Overtime Exemptions

The Value of Human Capital

Being a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), you are in the business of helping others run a successful business.  With the sustained low unemployment rates we have experienced over the past several quarters, human capital has become a precious intangible asset for many companies.  Your clients are among them.

Helping your clients identify, hire and retain employees successfully is a tremendous value add which can help set you apart from other PEOs.  After all, an organization is often said to be only as good as its people.

To this end, I hope you find the following article from the Harvard Business Review on 7 Ways to Set Up a New Hire for Success by Michael D. Watkins both helpful and informative.

For more content on successful hiring and related topics, visit your Libertate myWaive portal, or speak to a Libertate representative.

 

No one has a bigger impact on new employees’ success than the managers who hired them. Why? Because more than anyone else the hiring manager understands what his or her people need to accomplish and what it will take — skills, resources, connections — for them to become fully effective.

Managers also have the biggest stake in onboarding their new hires effectively. Research has shown that being systematic in onboarding brings new employees up to speed 50% faster, which means they’re more quickly and efficiently able to contribute to achieving desired goals. Effective onboarding also dramatically reduces failure rates and increases employee engagement and retention.

The earlier bosses start supporting their new hires, the better. The time between when someone accepts an offer and comes to work is a precious resource that can be used to jump-start the process. But even if new employees already are on the job, there are many ways to get them up to speed faster.

Of course, the starting point is to take care of the “onboarding basics” — such as documentation, compliance training, space, support, and technology. Fortunately, most companies do a reasonably good job with those elements.

It’s the deeper work of integrating new hires where the real work of bosses begins. Here are seven key ways to accomplish it:

Understand their challenges. 

Onboarding is among the toughest types of job transitions. Why? Because new hires, even if they are experienced professionals, are unfamiliar with the business, don’t understand how things really work, lack established relationships, and have to adapt to a new culture. Research has shown that challenges in the latter two categories are the biggest reasons for quick turnover. New employees have to learn a lot and may be feeling quite vulnerable, even when they seem outwardly confident. That’s even more likely to be the case when people have relocated for their jobs, so also face change in their personal lives, or if they’re moving up a seniority level, so must adjust to a new managerial role.

Some might respond by playing it safe and sticking too much to what they already know; others may overcompensate, behaving like they have “the answer,” rather than asking questions and figuring out how to add value.

So it’s important for bosses to reassure recent hires that learning is more important than doing in the early days.

Accelerate their learning.

The faster a new hire learns about the organization and their role, the more they will be able to accomplish in the critical first months. To accelerate the learning process, managers must first focus on what focus on what they need to learn in three areas. Technical learning is insight into the fundamentals of the business, such as products, customers, technologies, and systems. Cultural learning is about the attitudes, behavioral norms, and values that contribute to the unique character of the organization. Political learning focuses on understanding how decisions are made, how power and influence work, and figuring out whose support they will need most.

Bosses should also think about how they can help new employees. This means not only personally providing, as early as possible, the best available information but also thinking about who else is best placed to impart those important lessons.

Make them part of the team.

While it’s possible that new hires will work independently, it’s more likely they will be part of a team (or teams). The sooner they build effective working relationships with their peers, the better, and there’s a lot a hiring manager can do to make this happen.

The starting point is to make sure the team understands why the person has been hired and what role(s) they will play. It’s also important that bosses formally introduce new employees — to everyone — as soon as possible after their arrival and make it clear that teams are expected to help their new colleagues acclimate and move up the learning curve. A small initial investment of time and effort in connecting the new hire with the team will pay long-term productivity and performance dividends.

Connect them with key stakeholders.

Outside of the new hire’s immediate team, there are likely to be many other stakeholders who will be critical to not only their learning but also their success on the job. And it may not be obvious who those people are, why they’re important, or how best to connect with them.

One simple way bosses can facilitate these connections is to make a list of names, including brief notes on each, and then make introductions, explaining why it’s important that they connect. Then schedule a date, perhaps in 30 to 45 days, to check in with the stakeholders to make sure that the new hire’s network is taking shape.

Give them direction.

Employees can’t — or shouldn’t — get to work before bosses set clear expectations.  The right guidance helps them answer three key questions:

  • What do I need to do? This means defining their goals and the timeframes for accomplishing them, as well as the measures that will be used to evaluate their progress.
  • How should I go about doing it? This means being specific about what strategies they should use to accomplish the goals, including what activities they should and should not prioritize.
  • Why should I feel motivated to accomplish it? This means communicating a vision for what the organization is striving to accomplish and helping new hires see the part they play in realizing it.

Even if expectations were discussed during the recruiting process, you need more in-depth conversation as soon as new hires start to make sure they’re not coming in with any misconceptions about what they need to do to be successful.

Help them get early wins.

Early wins are a powerful way for incoming employees to build confidence and credibility. People new to a job and organization often want to prove they can do it all and fall into the trap of trying to take on too much, too soon, thereby spreading themselves too thin.

The manager’s job is to instead keep new hires focused on the essential work they should  prioritize and by pointing them to ways they’ll make rapid progress on these goals. Part of this is teaching them how to “score” wins in ways that are consistent with the organization’s culture. You want employees to get their early wins in the right way.

Coach them for success.

Finally, bosses who are serious about onboarding don’t just provide intensive early support then leave new hires to “sink or swim.” It takes time for new employees to become fully integrated and able to operate 100% autonomously and productively, so it’s important for hiring managers to continue to connect with and coach their people. This can be as simple as scheduling regular “how are things going?” check-ins, perhaps every couple of weeks, until there is nothing left to talk about.

Also, when managers see new hires struggling, they should intervene. It’s a common mistake to treat new hires too gently, thinking it’s best to give them time to adjust and that early issues with, say, peer relationships and cultural fit, will resolve themselves. But this can easily create vicious cycles in which employees unknowingly dig themselves into holes from which they can’t climb out. The longer a negative dynamic persists, the more difficult it is to reverse.

As bosses apply these guidelines, they should keep in mind that “effective onboarding” is not just about helping external hires. Employees making internal moves can face challenges that are as tough or tougher. This is especially the case when they are coming from different units, have been shaped by different cultures, or are moving from different geographies. Managers should can the same approach to accelerate everyone joining their teams.


Michael D. Watkins is a cofounder of Genesis, a professor at IMD Business School,and the author of The First 90 Days and Master Your Next Move (Harvard Business Review Press).

Latest NAPEO White Paper Shows ROI Of Using a PEO is 27 Percent

See below from our friends at NAPEO.  Solid results!!

AUSTIN, TexasSept. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The average client of a professional employer organization (PEO) can expect a return on investment – based on cost savings alone – of 27.2 percent, according to a new study released today by the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) at its annual conference in Austin.

Conducted by noted economists Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer of McBassi and Associates, the study is the seventh in a series. Previous research by Bassi and McMurrer examined the benefits of using a PEO, finding increased profitability and growth, higher employee satisfaction, and lower employee turnover for companies that use a PEO.

The new report focused solely on costs and calculated savings for PEO clients in five HR-related areas:

  • HR personnel costs
  • Health benefits
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment insurance (UI)
  • Other external expenditures in areas related directly to HR services (payroll, benefits, etc.)

The average cost savings from using a PEO is $1,775 per year per employee, according to the study, which also reinforced the findings of earlier research, again showing notably lower employee turnover, higher rates of both employee and revenue growth, and enhanced employee benefit offerings.

“We have known for some time now that using a PEO is good for a company in a variety of ways, and we now have a compelling and impressive number on the actual ROI of using a PEO,” said NAPEO President & CEO Pat Cleary. “When you put this new data on costs savings and ROI together with the data we already had on business growth, turnover, survival and employee satisfaction, it’s clear that there really is no better value proposition than PEOs in the HR space.”

PEOs provide HR, payroll, benefits, workers’ comp, and regulatory compliance assistance to small and mid-sized companies. By providing these services, PEOs help businesses improve productivity, increase profitability, and focus on their core mission. Through PEOs, the employees of small businesses gain access to employee benefits such as 401(k) plans; health, dental, life, and other insurance; dependent care; and other benefits typically provided by large companies. A copy of the full study is available here.

About NAPEO
The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) is The Voice of the PEO IndustryTM. NAPEO has some 250 PEO members that provide payroll, benefits, and other HR services to between 175,000 businesses employing 3.7 million people. An additional 200 companies that provide services to PEOs are associate members of NAPEO. For more information, please visit www.napeo.org 

SOURCE National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO)