Florida PEO Legislative and Legal Update: April 21st at 2p est.

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SAVE THE DATE: Given all of the recent legislative activity in Florida, you will not want to miss the upcoming FAPEO PEO Legislative and Legal Update on 4/21/21 at 2p est. See details and login information below.

On April 21st there will be ten days left of Florida’s legislative session and there remain a lot of unanswered questions. One bill provides SUTA rate relief for all Florida job creators hit with rate increases from social costs from the pandemic. Another bill would shift liability for workers’ compensation fraud from construction contractors to PEOs. You’ll discover which bills have stopped moving forward as well as which ones are likely to become law.  And, what this means for your PEO. 

No registration necessary.  Just show-up on April 21st at 2:00 pm Eastern by clicking: HERE

If you don’t have an electronic device with an internet connection you may access via phone: 

Phone: (929) 205-6099

Meeting ID: 829 5013 3757

Passcode: 738647

Florida PEO Legislative & Legal Update

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Eastern/1:00 pm – 3:00 PM Central

Florida PEO Legislative Briefing

  • David Daniel, Florida PEO Governmental Affairs, Smith, Bryan & Myers 

Legal Issues Impacting Your PEO

  • Michael Miller, FAPEO General Counsel, Fisher & Phillips LLP

Deputy General Counsel Report

  • Torben Madson, FAPEO Deputy General Counsel, The PEO Law Firm

National PEO Legislative & Legal Issues Briefing

  • Nick Kapiotis, General Counsel
  • Michael Kreiter, Senior Director of State Government Affairs, National Association of Professional Employer Organizations

House Bill 1305: Week in Review

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Happy Friday!

Here’s a recap of the recent activity regarding House Bill 1305:

  • The bill now moves to the House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. This hearing could be as early as Thursday, April 1, 2021
  • NAPEO and FAPEO have asked that we all email our state representatives regarding why this bill is bad for the PEO industry

More to come…

Have a great weekend!

Happy Women’s History Month from PEO Compass!!

In addition to the United States, Women’s History Month is celebrated in the UK and Australia. Though declared a formal ‘month’ by Congress in 1987, many have been celebrating the vital role of women dating as far back as March of 1911!

To discover more, visit the National Women’s History Museum or the Women’s History Month website sponsored by the Library of Congress.

For NAPEO members, this Thursday is the next Women in NAPEO (WIN) event of which Libertate is a proud sponsor. Teresa Carroll, President of Oasis, a Paychex Company will discuss the habits and behaviors that are holding women back as outlined in the book How Women Rise by Sally Helgeson and Marshall Goldsmith. For registration information, click here.

Finally, as a woman who has been fortunate enough to be surrounded by intelligent hard-working female role models her entire life (my grandmother being one of them – pictured below), I am so proud of this month! Sharlene Singleton, here’s to you!

Sunz Holdings Announces Significant Investment from Blackstone Tactical Opportunities

Congrats to our friends at Sunz!!

Bradenton, Fla. (Dec. 23, 2020) – SUNZ Holdings, LLC (“SUNZ”) announced today that funds managed by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (“Blackstone”) have acquired a significant stake in the company to help fuel SUNZ’s continued expansion. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SUNZ is a leading provider of workers compensation insurance and related services such as policy administration, claims administration and customer support. SUNZ delivers technologically advanced solutions for its customers – with a specialized focus on risk sharing programs for Professional Employer Organizations, staffing companies and large organizations.

Menes Chee, a Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, said, “SUNZ is exceptionally well positioned for future growth. Blackstone is excited to partner with their first-rate management team to help the company continue to expand into new markets and verticals so it can best serve its customers.”

Steve Herrig, CEO of SUNZ, said, “This partnership should propel SUNZ to a new level by enabling us to pursue new market opportunities and expand our national footprint. We look forward to a synergistic collaboration with Blackstone and to further accelerating the expansion of our specialized programs.”

About SUNZ Holdings, LLC

SUNZ Holdings, LLC is the parent company of SUNZ Insurance, a national workers’ compensation
insurance company headquartered in Bradenton, Florida. SUNZ Insurance develops unique workers’ compensation programs that deliver innovative and tailored solutions to protect businesses and their employees. SUNZ understands its clients need for fluidity, offering workers’ compensation insurance options that do not begin and end with the printed policy. SUNZ believes that a safe work environment and healthy workforce is the foundation for a successful business. There are several affiliate companies within the SUNZ Holdings enterprise that provide related and ancillary services to the workers compensation insurance industry. These companies include Next Level Administrators, WatchPoint, Avalon Subrogation Partners, and Ascential Care Partners. For more information, visit www.sunzinsurance.com.

About Blackstone

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long- term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our $584 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.

About Tactical Opportunities

Tactical Opportunities (Tac Opps) is Blackstone’s opportunistic investment platform. The Tac Opps team invests globally across asset classes, industries and geographies, seeking to identify and execute on attractive, differentiated investment opportunities. As part of the strategy, the team leverages the intellectual capital across Blackstone’s various businesses while continuously optimizing its approach in the face of ever-changing market conditions.

Contacts

Blackstone
Matt Anderson
+1-212-390-2472 matthew.anderson@blackstone.com ###

COVID-19 Relief Bill

Our friends at NAPEO are always keeping us up to date with pertinent information impacting PEOs and Small Businesses. They released the following yesterday related to the COVID-19 Relief Bill.

COVID-19 Relief Bill: What It Means for PEOs & Small Business

Yesterday, the House passed an omnibus spending bill that included $1.4 trillion to fund the federal government and $900 billion of additional COVID relief by a vote of 399-53. The Senate then passed the legislation by a vote of 92-6. The bill now heads to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it.

Tax Provisions

The omnibus spending bill – which is almost 5,600 pages long – contained many tax provisions that impact PEOs. Randy Hardock and Courtney Zinter of Davis & Harman (NAPEO’s outside tax counsel) have prepared a document containing the details of these provisions and how they apply to PEOs.

Specific tax provisions of interest to PEOs include:

  • Paid Sick and Family Leave Credits
    • Extends the paid sick and family leave credits against employment taxes from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for three additional months to March 31, 2021.
    • The bill does not extend the FFCRA’s mandate to provide paid sick leave or paid family and medical leave beyond December 31, 2020.
  • Changes to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)
    • Repeals the provision denying the ERTC to employers receiving a PPP loan. Instead, mechanisms would be created to prevent the same wages from being used for both PPP loan forgiveness and the ERTC.
    • Extends the ERTC to apply to wages paid before July 1, 2021 (instead of January 1, 2021).
    • Increases the credit percentage from 50 percent to 70 percent of applicable wages.
    • Increases the per-employee limitation on applicable wages from $10,000 total to $10,000 per calendar quarter. In combination with the increased credit percentage, this would increase the maximum credit per employee from $5,000 to $7,000 per quarter (up to $14,000 for the first two quarters in 2021).
    • The following language was added to the ERTC provisions that specifically addresses PEOs: Any forms, instructions, regulations, or guidance described in paragraph (2) shall require the customer to be responsible for the accounting of the credit and for any liability for improperly claimed credits and shall require the certified professional employer organization or other third-party payor to accurately report such tax credits based on the information provided by the customer. [Emphasis added.]
      It is not clear whether this provision applies retroactively or just to new credits taken in 2021.
    • Makes the ERTC available if the business experienced a decline of at least 20 percent in gross receipts (instead of a 50 percent decline) as compared to the same calendar quarter in the prior year.
    • Modifies the small employer definition of qualified wages to apply to employers that have 500 or fewer employees (instead of 100 of fewer employees).
  • Creates a temporary employee retention credit of 40 percent of qualified wages up to $6,000 (maximum credit of $2,400 per eligible employee) for eligible employers affected by certain qualified disasters. This credit is retroactive and does not apply to COVID-related disasters.
  • The bill also extends the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for five years.

Paycheck Protection Program and Other Small Business Assistance

In addition to the tax provisions, the COVID-19 relief portion of this legislation contains additional assistance for small businesses, which NAPEO has been lobbying Congress in support of. Specifically, it contains the following provisions designed to assist small businesses:

  • Creates a second loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, called a “PPP second draw” loan for smaller and harder-hit businesses, with a maximum amount of $2 million.
  • Creates a simplified application process for loans under $150,000.
  • Expands the expenses that can be covered by a PPP loan.
  • Makes 501(c)6 organizations that do not lobby eligible for PPP loans.
  • Makes the expenses covered by PPP loans tax deductible.

Details on these provisions can be found on this document provided by the Community Banker’s Association.

Unemployment Insurance

The COVID-19 relief provisions also make the following changes to unemployment insurance:

  • Unemployed individuals get an additional $300 per week from December 26, 2020 to March 14, 2021.
  • Extends and phases out Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a temporary federal program covering self-employed and gig workers, to March 14, 2021 and extends benefits from 39 to 50 weeks with all benefits ending April 5, 2021.
  • Extends and phases out Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) which provides additional weeks when state unemployment runs out, to March 14, 2021 (after which no new applications) through April 5, 2021.
  • Extends provisions to March 14, 2021, including interest-free loans to the states.

No federal money was provided to shore up the short falls in state unemployment funds.

Miscellaneous Provisions

The omnibus spending bill contained so-called “tax extenders,” which are temporary provisions in the tax code that are designed to support specific economic activities. There are two provisions of interest to PEOs that have been extended for five years. They are: 

  • The employer credit under section 45S for paid family and medical leave, originally enacted as part of tax reform in 2017.
  • The expanded exclusion for employer-provided educational assistance, including student loan repayment benefits as enacted as part of the CARES Act. NAPEO has lobbied in support of this provision.

For more information visit NAPEO’s COVID-19 Resource Center or contact Thom Stohler.

NAPEO is offering a webinar on this bill and the impacts for PEOs and their clients on January 8th at 2pm EST. Not a Member of NAPEO? Find out how to join here.

Looking for a PEO or have questions on whether or not a PEO is right for you; visit our site at Libertate Insurance and get the questions you have answered.

Chief Actuary Antonello to Be Next CEO of Employers Holdings

Excited to announce that former NCCI Chief Actuary, Katherine H. Antonello, will take the helm at Employers beginning next April. Here’s to hoping 2021 will bring this great carrier into the PEO space!

Source: Insurance Journal

Small business workers’ compensation insurance specialist Employers Holdings Inc. has named Katherine H. Antonello as its president and chief executive officer.

She will take over upon the retirement of Douglas D. Dirks on April 1, 2021. Dirks will be retiring after heading the company for more than 27 years.

Antonello joined EMPLOYERS in August 2019 as executive vice president and chief actuary of the company. Prior to joining EMPLOYERS, Antonello served as the chief actuary for the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) from 2013-2019.

Antonello has more than 25 years of workers’ compensation insurance experience having held leadership roles in actuarial, policy services, claims and internal audit functions. In addition to working at NCCI, she has worked at Lumbermen’s Underwriting Alliance and the consultant Milliman.

Katherine Antonello

Michael J. McSally, chairman of the board, said that in her “relatively short tenure” with the company, Antonello has demonstrated her “ability to be a visionary and think strategically” about the business.

“As a mono-line company, we have the size, talent and entrepreneurial spirit to excel at what we do best,” commented Antonello. “We understand comp. I look forward to continuing our digital transformation, focusing on exceptional service to injured workers and ease of doing business for our agents, partners and policyholders.”

Reno, Nevada-based Employers Holdings operates throughout the United States, with the exception of four states that are served exclusively by their state funds. It offers its coverages through Employers Insurance Company of Nevada, Employers Compensation Insurance Co., Employers Preferred Insurance Co., Employers Assurance Co. and Cerity Insurance Co. Not all companies do business in all jurisdictions.

Friday the 13th! Weekly Round Up

Did you know that Friday the 13th occurs in any month that begins on a Sunday? Quite simple math but I never really thought about it! The fear of Friday the 13th affects an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute. However, studies on accident trends show that fewer accidents are reported on this day, as people are likely more cautious and limit travel and activities. You can find more interesting tidbits on the history of Friday the 13th at Earthsky.org

Here are our highlights from the week

Veteran’s Day 2020

The United States just honored its Veterans with the observance of Veteran’s Day. The anniversary of Veteran’s Day marks the end of World War I back in 1918. Originally coined as Armistice Day, to reflect the signing of the armistice between the Allies of World War I and Germany, was renamed Veteran’s Day in 1954 to honor all those that have served in the U.S. Military. November 11th is also celebrated by other countries as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day. While times have certainly changed for our Country since the early 1900’s, I thought sharing the below quote from President Woodrow Wilson, on the first anniversary of such an important day, was fitting for the times.

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.” You can find more on the History of Veteran’s Day, here at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also always accepting donations and volunteers. Learn more on how you can show thanks and give back, year-round, to those whom have given us so much.

MilitaryBenefits.info has put together a listing of the 2020 Veteran’s Day Free Meals and Deals for those of our Veterans reading this post, many of them throughout the week and month of November.

To all Veterans, We thank you for your sacrifice, your bravery, and our freedom.

Hot for PEOs and Small Business

AllRisks is pushing their Self-Storage Facility Program in light of non-renewal trends related to program administrators losing their markets. AllRisks has been providing solutions for storage-related exposures including products for boat/RV storage operators, self-storage facilities and converted buildings. They have 2 exclusive Self-Storage Programs with National Capabilities. AllRisks offers over 30 National Specialty Insurance Programs ranging from Amusement Insurance to Tattoo Shops. Contact Libertate Insurance today for more information.

PIE Insurance released updates of important need to know facts about workers compensation claims fraud and how to protect your business. Types of workers’ comp insurance fraud fall into three categories:

1- Employees committing claim-related fraud by fabricating details surrounding an injury. Injury claim indicates injury happened at work in the warehouse, when it really happened on a ski trip over the weekend

2- Employers may engage in policy-related fraud by falsely reporting employees as contractors or by improper employee classification; i.e. admin desk position is reported when employee is actually a warehouse worker performing manual labor

3- Healthcare professionals can commit medical provider fraud by performing unnecessary services to collect insurance payments, fraudulent billing or partaking in kick-back programs

Workers’ comp fraud has historically cost between $6 and $7 billion dollars each year based on estimates from CAIF (Coalition Against Insurance Fraud) and the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau). Insurance fraud is a white-collar crime and can lead to fines and imprisonment, and increased premiums and penalties for small businesses. The Claims Journal issued an article in August of 2020, indicating that with COVID-19 the California Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau is estimating annual losses in the state of $1.2 billion, extrapolated nationally approximating $5 billion. The plan to combat fraud? Data! Insurers are accessing cross-payer, multi-year claims data to identify repeat claimants, attorneys and medical providers.

How do we protect ourselves and our businesses? Educate and Document!

  • Be forthcoming about physical requirements and hazards of the job
  • Educate employees as to the proper way to lift, pull, and carry objects
  • Provide training on work-related hazards, exposure risks, and safety equipment
  • Inform employees and new hires about a zero-tolerance policy for false claims
  • Teach employees how workers’ comp works and how to correctly report injuries
  • Provide a safe way for employees to report suspicious workers’ comp activity
  • Maintain and report accurate records regarding employee roles and numbers

This is great HR information to help support businesses and mitigate risk. If you have questions or are limited in your HR resources contact Libertate Insurance today, we can help.

NAPEO released its November 2020 edition of PEO Insider, for members. Interesting Featured Articles in this month’s release include Q&A on State Legislative and Regulatory Trends, Non-COVID-19 Developments in the States, What PEOs Need to Know About the SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act, and so much more. Take a few minutes and dive into some of these interesting and useful articles. NAPEO is a great organization for all things PEO.

NAPEO also hosted an online webinar last night, for members, going over the 2020 Election and what’s next! Georgia and Washington are in recount and lawsuits have been filed in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada as well as Pennsylvania.

Notable key dates in the upcoming months:

December 8th – states are required to settle all disputes

December 14th – Electoral College meets at state level and votes for President

January 6th – Joint Session of Congress counts electoral votes and declares a winner

January 21st – President is sworn in

If you are not currently a member of NAPEO, visit their site here and learn how to join.

Weekend in Sports

There are a ton of football events continuing this weekend with football seemingly back in full swing. South Alabama vs Louisiana, Notre Dame vs. Boston College, Miami vs. Virginia Tech, USC vs. Arizona, Florida State vs. NC State and the list continues, hope you have the opportunity to catch your favorite team. For our NFL roster Kansas City comes in the first ranking spot for week 10, they have a bye week so we won’t be able to watch them play this weekend. The next highest ranking teams are Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Pittsburgh squares off against Cincinnati 4:25pm ET catch them on FOX and Baltimore will battle New England at 8:20pm (ET) available on NBC. Find more on your favorites here at ESPN.com

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!