Workers’ Compensation Super Bowl

The National Council of Compensation Insurnce (“NCCI”) hosts their Annual Issues Symposium this afternoon on a shortened and virtual basis.  There is no other conference that influences what happens with workers’ compensation reserving and pricing then this one.

All major carriers and their respective mathematical prophets will be on the line to measure profitability and the components thereof for the last year and historic.  Even more importantly this year, the prediction of go-forward profitability and pricing guidance/trend.

Click to access II_AIS2020-Agenda.pdf

Mr. Donnell starts off at 1:00, State of the Line at 1:15 and Bob Hartwig does a COVID presentation 2-3.  Very much condensed than usual and for the first time that I know of… its free!

We will be summarizing our interpretations of these presentations later in the day but please check out if you have the time.  Hartwig, especially, is a tremendous speaker –

The links below to join…

Plan to join us for NCCI’s Annual Issues Symposium—AIS Virtual<https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/AIS_LiveStream_UserCapture.aspx?aisinvitelinkclick=yes>, May 12, 2020, 1:00 p.m. ET.

AIS Virtual is the premier workers compensation event offering actionable intelligence around the industry’s most relevant issues.

These helpful tips will get you ready:

 

  • For optimal viewing, use Chrome or Firefox and log in early to test your system’s livestreaming capability.

 

  • Log in will be available 15 minutes prior to our start time, and you’ll be able to enjoy our AIS Virtual preshow content as we count down to our 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff.

 

Following the main program, view our interactive Meet the Experts session, and access additional insights via our AIS Virtual Highlights Report on ncci.com.

For more information, and the full AIS Virtual agenda<https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Documents/II_AIS2020-Agenda.pdf>, visit ncci.com<https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/II_AIS2020-Registration.aspx>.

WCIRB Releases Cost Evaluation of Conclusive COVID-19 Presumption

See below from the WCIRB regarding the projected cost of COVID-19 claims to be filed by ‘Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers’….At the low end, if only 4.8% of California ECI workers file claims related to COVID-19, the cost to the system will be an astounding $2.2B!

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WCIRB Releases Cost Evaluation of Conclusive COVID-19 Presumption

Oakland CA, April 20, 2020 – The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) released its Cost Evaluation of Potential Conclusive COVID-19 Presumption in California Workers’ Compensation. The evaluation was completed in response to an April 8, 2020 request from the California State Assembly Insurance Committee to assess the impact of a conclusive presumption that COVID-19 claims arising from certain front line workers are presumed to be work-related. Specifically, the WCIRB was requested to provide the cost impact of a conclusive COVID-19 presumption for health care workers, firefighters, EMS and rescue employees, front line law enforcement officers and other essential critical infrastructure (ECI) employees.

The WCIRB estimates that the annual cost of COVID-19 claims on ECI workers under a conclusive presumption ranges from $2.2 billion to $33.6 billion with an approximate mid-range estimate of $11.2 billion, or 61 percent of the annual estimated cost of the total workers’ compensation system prior to the impact of the pandemic. The WCIRB noted that in developing this estimate it did not include a provision for non-ECI workers who may file a compensable workers’ compensation COVID-19 claim, nor did it adjust for the COVID-19 claims of ECI workers that may be compensable in the absence of a conclusive presumption.

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This and other important workers’ compensation topics will be discussed tomorrow during part 2 of NAPEO’s Coronavirus Updates webinar where our very own, Paul Hughes, will share his thoughts.  Click here for registration details.

 

NCCI Updates on Payrolls and Experience Mods – COVID-19

The National Council of Compensation Insurance (“NCCI”) has come out over the last few days with some important calls in regard to CoVid-19. 

Foremost, the NCCI is changing the class code for those that are still being paid and work from home, but under a different scope of employment.

Secondly, many States continue to revise their triggers for “presumptive coverage” for workers’ compensation.  In all States, first responders are considered to be covered on an occupational basis.  In others, the definition has been expanded to “health care workers”.  In others (ie Illinois), this definition has been expanded beyond first responders and health care workers to pretty much anyone that could be public-facing to include workers in restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores etc.

Lastly, the NCCI has decided that CoVid-19 claims should not be applied to experience modifications.  It is yet to be seen the 10 independent bureaus follow suit, but this is a big deal for those that are on guaranteed cost programs

Part 2 of our NAPEO CoVid-19 seminar on workers’ compensation with NAPEO is tomorrow at 2:30.  Hope to see you on the call —-

The below the latest from our friends at the NCCI –

Employers May Exclude Payroll to Employees Not Working for Workers’ Comp: NCCI

By | April 20, 2020

Businesses that have suspended operations due to COVID-19 but continue to pay employees who are at home but not working will not have to include the payroll paid to these employees in the calculation of their workers’ compensation premium.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is preparing a reporting code that will be filed for approval by state regulators. The organization hopes to file it this week.

NCCI, the industry’s largest workers’ compensation data and rating organization, will file the change in the 36 states where it is the official rating bureau.

“We’ve had a meeting already with the insurance regulators telling them that it’s coming and sharing some information with them so that they’re ready for it and we hope that they’ll do a quick approval, Jeff Eddinger, senior division executive, Regulatory Business Management, for NCCI told Insurance Journal.

California’s rating bureau has already announced its own rule that this payroll paid during the shutdown will be excluded from reportable payroll. Other states with their own rating bureaus or monopolistic state funds are expected to follow suit.

Citing a desire for consistency across states, the North Carolina Rate Bureau told Insurance Journal it is waiting to see the NCCI rule change and will likely file that language for use in North Carolina.

The rule change is for payroll for people who can’t do their normal jobs from home, but are still getting paid. Without this rule change, that payroll would be included in calculating the employer’s workers’ comp premium. A workers’ comp premium is based on payroll.

“The rule change is going to basically take the payroll for that period of time where the worker’s furloughed and remove it from the calculation,” said Eddinger,

“You can make an argument that while they’re not doing their job, they don’t need workers’ comp coverage so the employers don’t need to pay the premium for that time.”

The trade-off is that a company that excludes an employee’s payroll can’t report any claims for that employee, Eddinger added.

The rule will be retroactive, most likely to March 1. How long the code will remain available will depend on how long shutdowns are in effect.

He said NCCI considered using an existing code for idle workers but determined a new rule would be better.

In another change, NCCI will also begin tracking COVID-19 related claims.

Eddinger does not think the payroll rule change will have a material impact on workers’ compensation carriers.

“It’s like hitting the pause button so you’re not charging premiums, but you also don’t expect any claims so in the end you think that it’s just going to be a wash,” he said.

It’s similar to the situation with auto insurers giving discounts on premiums for certain months, knowing that there will be less traffic and thus fewer claims.

Here is how NCCI’s explains the move on its website:

“NCCI recognizes that circumstances around COVID 19 are extraordinary and warrant an expedited rule change to address the question of payroll for employees who are being paid but are not working as it relates to the basis of premium. If approved, this rule change will be distinct from “idle time” under our current Basic Manual rules (Rule 2-F-1), and a corresponding statistical code 0012 will be created for reporting this payroll. This payroll will not be used in the calculation of premium.”

NCCI has a COVID Resource Center on its website that includes answers to frequently asked questions and a new analysis of the economics impact of coronavirus on the workers’ compensation industry.

COVID-19’s Impact on the PEO Industry: Flash Survey by LL Roberts Group

PEOs Dealing with the Coronavirus

This PEO Flash Survey regarding how PEOs are dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak involved several interviews with PEO owners and executives, PEO brokers, Insurance brokers serving PEOs, bank representatives that work with PEOs and other vendors associated with the PEO Industry.  This confidential survey was conducted by LJ Roberts of the LL Roberts Group in a conversational or interview manner.  All parties interviewed in conjunction with this survey have been assured that their opinions, observations and comments will be kept confidential.  However, what I can share is that the PEOs, companies, agencies, and organizations interviewed are located and operate from coast-to-coast.  As a result, these observations and opinions are representative of a national perspective concerning the Coronavirus and its impact on PEOs and business in general.

The comments, opinions, insights, plans, and observations of those interviewed are presented as bullet points below:

  • “As a longtime veteran of the PEO Industry, I’ve never seen anything like this and believe that we are a long way from seeing the worst of it” was a comment made by one mid-sized PEO executive.  This observation was echoed by several of those interviewed.  This observation indicated that those interviewed are in uncharted waters and are now making difficult decisions on challenges not previously experienced by their organizations.

 

  • “I expect this to last for 6 months” was a comment made by one PEO owner and was consistent with many of the remarks made by the survey’s interviewees.

 

  • “We are preparing for worst case scenarios” shared one PEO owner as he is having daily meetings with his senior staffers.

 

  • “This is the most overblown event that I have ever witnessed in my life” stated one PEO owner.  He went on to speculate that the Media was using this as a draw for viewers and readers.  He also feels that there are political factors at play (why the Coronavirus outbreak is so overblown in his opinion).

 

  • “We are reaching out to the state unemployment commission so that we can properly instruct clients on how their employees can get unemployment benefits quickly. While we are always thinking about fighting unemployment claims, this situation is different” shared one PEO owner.

 

  • “This Coronavirus situation will impact how we do business after it’s all over” was a comment made by one PEO representative.  Other interviewees expressed similar observations.

 

  • One PEO owner stated that “most of our client companies cannot go weeks without operating, so we are expecting several clients to simply go out of business”.  Clients going out of business was a possibility that several interviewees shared.

 

  • “This is going to be much worse that the 2008 economic crash” and “this will be the worst SUTA crash the PEO Industry has ever seen” were the comments from one PEO owner.  He also mentioned reports that he attributed to federal government representatives on TV that predicted a possible 20% unemployment rate on the other side of this crisis. He went on to say that he’s grateful that a lot of his clients are priced on client-based SUTA.

 

  • An expectation that the Millennials will be the most impacted from a psychological standpoint. Comments to the effect that the Millennials have never been “economically tested” were shared as a concern.

 

  • A big concern for most interviewees was “communication”, both internally and with their clients. “we need to double-down on our communication processes and initiatives” was one comment made.  Daily phone meetings with work at home employees will be crucial, shared one PEO executive.

 

  • “I can foresee us needing to call upon our rarely used credit line at our banks” was one PEO owner’s expressed expectation.

 

  • “We better be concerned with and thinking about our technology” stated one PEO owner who just placed an order for 6 laptops for possible assignment to work from home staffers.

 

  • “This is a time when leaders show what they are made of and new leaders or key players emerge” was a wise statement or insight

 

  • It was reported that numerous client companies of the PEOs represented in this survey have totally suspended operations or dramatically limited such.  The client company industries that seem to have been mostly impacted are restaurants and the hospitality industry at large, transportation companies and retailers.

 

  • Already, according to a couple the PEO owners interviewed, clients are requesting PEO rate reductions due to the crisis.  One PEO owner expressed concern with this becoming a growing request or expectation of his client base.

 

  • One PEO with an overweighed hospitality industries book of business was especially concerned.  Already mandated closures of restaurants and bars has impacted that PEO’s business, but how long will it be before people are comfortable going out to eat or to go to bars after the crisis is dealt with?—that was the concern expressed.

 

  • “Rotating staff” was a common initiative referenced by the PEO representatives interviewed.  Cutting their internal staffs at the office in half (or more) by having a rotation of having employees work one day at home and the next at the offices.  This was seen as a effort to support “social distancing” and to minimize the number of employees working at the office at one time.

 

  • “Certain job functions cannot or should not be performed by staffers from home” was a comment from one PEO representative.

 

  • “We expect that some of our clients and even our PEO will be taken advantage of by some workers that simply see this crisis as a opportunity to take time off from work” stated one PEO representative.

 

  • One crucial factor to consider when determining if PEO staffers will be allowed or instructed to work from home is the quality of their internet connectivity and computers.  Some employees lack either or both internet connectivity and/or a home computer or laptop. A few of the PEO representatives stated that they were assigning laptops to some staffers and a couple had recently bought extra laptops for this very purpose.

 

  • A PEO representative stated that they were having their staffers working from home use their office voiceover IP phones at home.  This was allowing them to receive and initiate calls from their office phone lines while working at home. Another PEO was having the office phones and extensions for staffers working at home forwarded to the employee’s cell phone while they are working from home.

 

  • “Core crews” will be needed at the PEO’s base of operations were consistent responses with all the interviewees. When pressed for what team members at the PEO would be classified as “core” the common response was “our leaders” and those associated with getting printed checks and reports out to the clients. Payroll, IT, HR, and accounting were the types of personnel that would be called upon most during the Coronavirus outbreak according to most interviewees.

 

  • “Hyper-hygiene” was another practice that was referenced by several survey interviewees.  Emails, bulletins, texts, posters, handouts are all being utilized with the PEO’s internal staff and with their clients. Handwashing, using disinfectant cleansers, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc… are all tips and practices being promoted.

 

  • Most of the PEO owners and executives interviewed stated that they have internal (PEO) planned staff reductions. Some have already implemented reductions and are considering more. The common observations is that revenues are dropping rapidly due to client company payroll reductions or total suspensions. “It’s easy math” said one PEO owner referencing that the PEO’s staff size and payroll are a factor of the revenue generated, which is based on client companies processing payrolls through the PEO.

 

  • “I’m focused on assessing the probable economic impact on our PEO and what I need to do now to prepare for a dramatic reduction in revenue” was shared by one PEO owner, however other interviewees expressed the same concern.

 

  • At least two of the PEO owners interviewed stated that they have not yet considered internal PEO staff layoffs but acknowledged that that would be a possibility.

 

  • A few of those interviewed said that they have already heard of PEOs that were contemplating closure.  Others predicted that there will be PEOs that “go out of business” as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.  At least one of the PEO owners interviewed said that he will be looking for a “fire sale of PEOs prior to them going under”.

 

  • After speaking with PEO bank representatives and the PEO representatives that work with treasury management, there does not seem to be any concern with banking.  Bank representatives confirmed that they are implementing their own “work from home” initiatives, reducing operating hours, and utilizing minimal branch staffs during this Coronavirus outbreak. The bankers feel like they are a crucial and required facet of not just serving the PEO Industry, but in supporting the worldwide economy and society—as a whole. No changes in how PEOs are served are planned at this time by the bank representatives interviewed.

 

  • An optimist PEO owner said that this is “SARS 2.0”.  He went on to state that his PEO had done very well since the last declared virus outbreak.

 

  • Increasing “cloud-based file share processes” was another initiative that some of the PEO representatives shared.  Those respondents stated that they already had such practices in place but would add staff members to that access and expand capacity to utilize this type of resource.

 

  • Some of the PEO owners expressed pride in how their key employees were stepping up and declaring their commitment to the PEO and the clients.  Volunteers for staying at the office (as part of the aforementioned “core crew”) were noted. At the same time, one PEO owner stated that this situation has been “enlightening” to him as it pertains to various staff members.

 

  • A question that asked (or fear expressed) was that WSEs that become infected with the Coronavirus will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.  This was a particular concern for those PEOs with large deductibles associated with the PEOs’ workers’ comp polices. One workers’ comp broker expressed that he expects that to end-up being the case (i.e. that Coronavirus claims will be compensable under workers’ comp). While SUTA rate increase were commonly fears and expected as a result of this crisis, might experience modifiers for the PEOs to be impacted as well, was at lease one PEO owner’s concern.

 

  • “Our leaders need to work hard to keep spirits up (referring to the PEO’s internal staff)” was a PEO owner’s comment.

 

  • A push to promote pay cards and direct deposits to those client companies that still issue paper checks is underway at some of the PEOs interviewed. A mild concern that FedEx might suspend operations was expressed by a couple of PEO representatives.

 

  • PEO representatives shared they are keeping a close eye on what the federal government is doing in the way of any “economic relief package”.

 

  • Asking PEO sales reps to stay away from the office was a precaution one PEO reported.  This is due to the salespeople moving amongst different locations (prospects and clients) stated the interviewee.

 

  • “During and after this crisis, we will be considering our expanded use of outsourcing non-client facing functions for our PEO (back office functions like reconciliations and payroll processing were mentioned)” was shared by one PEO owner.  He said that he thinks that this type of outsourcing (to India) could reduce the costs associated with those functions by as much as 50%.

 

  • “We are looking at every cost cutting measure that we can take in order to deal with lost revenue” stated a PEO owner.  He mentioned staff reductions, elimination of travel and entertainment expenses, and reduced hours for part time workers.

 

  • Interestingly, a couple of the PEO owners are planning “sales promotions” such as “no admin fees” for one, two and even three months for new accounts that come onboard during this crisis.  Also, sales promotions are being implemented by some PEOs in the form of bonuses on new business to be paid to the agents or brokers.

 

  • The PEO brokers seem to be the most stunned as they feel that they have no control and are dependent on the PEOs to tell them what is happening and what will happen moving forward.  Of course, PEO commissions to brokers are based on payrolls processed and typically do not involve any form of “base salary”.

 

  • Some PEO vendors and insurance brokers expressed that the adverse impact on them will likely be somewhat delayed as reported workers’ comp premium collections are not immediate and PEO failures are not yet identified or reported. They seem to feel a bit “powerless” in assisting their PEO clientele.

We will continue to communicate with our survey respondents and will look to provide an update later during this Coronavirus crisis in order to keep our PEO friends and affiliates aware of Industry veterans’ experiences, observations, and opinions.  Please let us know if you have any questions or additional comments that you want to share.

LL Roberts Group

 

G&A Partners Celebrates 25 Years!

Congrats to G&A Partners who celebrates 25 years in business this year!

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HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–G&A Partners, a national professional employer organization (PEO) and human resources services provider, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The company is one of the largest and fastest-growing privately owned PEOs in the U.S., boasting a 93% client-retention rate and a Net Promoter Score that is 30-times higher than PEO industry standards.

Founded in 1995 by Chairman and CEO Antonio “Tony” Grijalva and President and COO John W. Allen, G&A Partners is a world-class HR services company that helps its clients build and maintain thriving businesses as they pursue their dreams and passions.

“We put people first at G&A and treat them like family,” Allen said. “Our employees are a cut above and they love what they do. Their energy and their joy are contagious, and that is what provides a phenomenal experience for our clients.”

The company has big plans to further expand over the next quarter-century, with the short-term goal to double in size over the next few years through organic growth and acquisitions.

“Everybody needs to employ good people,” Grijalva said. “Everybody needs to create an inviting culture that attracts and retains top talent. We offer our clients the tools and services to accomplish that goal, which also helps them grow and succeed.”

Grijalva and Allen discovered the need for outsourced HR not long after they formed their own CPA firm in the early 1990s. Their clients with small- and medium-sized businesses came to them asking whether they would consider expanding their services to payroll, employee benefits, and other HR functions.

Enough of a demand was present that Grijalva and Allen decided to purchase a temporary staffing agency and create G&A Partners (originally called G&A StaffSourcing) in 1995.

The business venture paid off and today G&A has evolved into a full-service PEO with nearly 400 employees that serve more than 2,000 companies comprising around 56,000 employees. G&A Partners has been consistently recognized as one of the best places to work in several of the markets where it operates.

About G&A Partners

G&A Partners, one of the nation’s leading professional employer organizations (PEO), has been helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, take better care of their employees and enjoy a higher quality of life for more than 25 years. By providing proven solutions and technology in the areas of human resourcesemployee benefits and payroll administration, G&A Partners alleviates the burden of tedious administrative tasks and allows business owners to focus their time, talent and energy on growing their companies. Headquartered in Houston, G&A Partners has offices throughout Texas, as well as in ArizonaCaliforniaColoradoIdahoIllinoisMinnesotaNevadaUtah, and Latin America.

Department of Labor Issues Final Rule to Allow Associations and PEOs to Sponsor Retirement Plans

REIT
Final rule defines a PEO as an employer under ERISA and clarifies rules for PEOs to offer retirement benefits

On July 29, 2019, the Department of Labor (the “Department”) issued a final rule to facilitate and expand the availability of multiple employer defined contribution plans (“MEPs”). The final rule provides clarity regarding the types of “bona fide” groups or associations of employers as well as professional employer organizations (“PEOs”) that are permitted to sponsor retirement plans.

NAPEO supports the rule, as it is another step in in formalizing the legal framework for PEOs to provide benefits for their client’s shared employees. This action, along with the passage of the Small Business Efficiency Act contained in the Tax Increase Prevention Act (H.R. 5771, Public Law 113‐295) which created the voluntary IRS PEO Certification Program, demonstrates the federal government’s recognition of the PEO industry and the important role it plays in supporting our nation’s small businesses.

With respect to PEOs, the final rule does two things. First, it states that a “bona fide” PEO is capable of establishing a MEP. The rule then creates a safe harbor criteria for determining whether a PEO that sponsors a MEP is performing essential employment functions.

A copy of the final rule can be found here.

A summary of the final rule can be found here.

A detailed analysis on this issue from the Groom Law Group can be found here.

A recording of a NAPEO-sponsored webinar on this issue can be found here.

A copy of NAPEO’s comments on the proposed rule can be found here.
NAPEO Article can be found:

https://www.napeo.org/advocacy/what-we-advocate/federal-government-affairs/peos-retirement-regulation/dol-meps-finalrule