Reminders for you New Year’s Celebrations

Yet another post about Covid-19 safety, but this is our new normal so here we go! With the close of 2020 and all of its wonderful tidings (pun-intended), how do we safely celebrate the Hope of the New Year without bringing additional risk of Covid-19? The CDC has some pointers, check out this link for their article on “Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings.”

In Summary

If possible stay within your Risk Pod! Your Risk Pod are those that have been part of your pandemic social group and have been taking measures to reduce the spread of the virus. People that have not been a continued part of your Risk Pod add different levels of risk for exposure.

Covid-19 is mostly spread through respiratory droplets through talking, coughing or sneezing. Find out how people have been feeling before you open your home; don’t be afraid to monitor for fevers before entry.

This virus is also known to be of spread concern through contaminated surfaces and then contact made via nose, mouth or eyes. Keep cleaning supplies nearby and use them regularly.

If your celebration is a must try and schedule for an outdoor function where people can practice social distancing. Make sure ample access for hand washing is available.

Back in May of 2020 the R Naught or reproduction number (R0) of Covid-19 was between 2 and 3 for the United States meaning for each 1 person infected the virus, on average, can be spread to 2 or 3 additional people. As of December 7th the United States was reporting R0 between 1 and 1.25. We saw spikes in new cases in November. For more Covid-19 tracker information check out Covid19-projections. There is a great amount of machine learning visuals and information on the virus here.

Whatever your celebratory activities are to ring in 2021, we at Libertate Insurance hope you Have Fun and Stay Safe! Don’t kiss strangers at the Drop of the Ball! Keep your Mask On!

Preparing for the 2020 Flu Season – Debbie Downer Alert

Knowing the difference in symptoms. Check out this great visual from WFMTV news.
Brought to you by the insurance professionals at Libertate Insurance  

Preparing for Flu Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Each year, the seasonal flu has a marked impact on businesses and employers, causing increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and higher health care costs. The past few flu seasons have seen high hospitalization and mortality rates, which has public health experts fearing another deadly flu season.

Unfortunately, the 2020-21 flu season isn’t the only health crisis employers and employees have to address this year. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the workforce, and the combination of another potentially bad flu season and the pandemic has public health experts worried.

As an employer, are you well-positioned to help keep your employees healthy and minimize the impact that influenza has on your business? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends strategies to help employers fight the flu and talk to employees about what a flu season during the pandemic looks like.

Educate Employees on the Flu vs. COVID-19

Unfortunately, because the flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, some of the symptoms are similar. For example, as we now know, common flu symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, congestion, cough and sore throat. All of those are currently considered symptoms of COVID-19.

One of the difficult aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the symptoms are wide-ranging and vary in severity. Some with COVID-19 may experience little to no symptoms, while others may be severely ill and require hospitalization.

Due to the similarity in symptoms between COVID-19 and the flu, it may be difficult to determine whether an employee has the flu or COVID-19 without being tested. As such, it’s important to encourage employees to stay home if they are sick and suggest a COVID-19 test.

Consider allowing employees to work from home, if they’re healthy enough to complete their work or while they wait for test results, and encouraging employees to take paid time off if they need to. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to take time off to recover, they may be eligible for leave under a multitude of federal and state laws.

Preparing Your Workplace for Flu Season During the Pandemic

There are a variety of steps employers can take to protect employees and prepare for flu season—which may include steps you’ve taken in response to COVID-19—regardless of whether employees are in the office or working remotely.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Host an on-site, socially distanced vaccination clinic—One of the most important steps for preventing the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination. The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine each year. Hosting an on-site flu vaccination clinic can help educate employees about the importance of vaccination and make it easier for them to get vaccinated.
  • Encourage employees to get the flu vaccine—If you choose not to or are unable to provide an on-site flu vaccination clinic, you can still emphasize the importance of vaccination to your employees and educate them about local opportunities to get vaccinated.
  • Disinfect and clean the office—Because the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain on surfaces long after they’ve been touched, it’s important that your business frequently cleans and disinfects the facility. Some best practices include:
    • Cleaning and disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs. Check with your cleaning company, they may not be performing these extra steps to ensure the viability of your employees and ultimately your company.
    • Discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
    • Providing disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
  • Implement and enforce social distancing protocols—Social distancing is the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Social distancing best practices for businesses can include:
    • Avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people
    • Instructing workers to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people
    • Hosting meetings virtually when possible
    • Limiting the number of people on the job site to essential personnel only
    • Leveraging work-from-home arrangements and staggered shifts when possible
    • Discouraging people from shaking hands
  • Employee safety training—Ensure that all employees understand how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the flu, taking into account:
    • Respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene—Businesses should encourage good hygiene to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. This can involve:
      • Providing tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles
      • Providing soap and water in the workplace
      • Placing hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene
      • Reminding employees to not touch their eyes, nose or mouth
      • Asking employees to wear a mask or face covering when social distancing is not possible
    • Staying home when sick—Encourage employees to err on the side of caution if they’re not feeling well, and stay home when they’re sick or are exhibiting common symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu.

These strategies may not be right for every organization. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to implement additional prevention strategies.

The key is having a strategy and making sure everyone is informed and on board. Reach out to Libertate Insurance for additional resources on preparing your workplace for flu season.

Where Does My PPP Funding Leave Me?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has useful guidance in regard to the Paycheck Protection Loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  Weighing on most of us is how these loans are going to impact our businesses long term, as the guidance from the Small Business Administration (SBA) keeps changing.

The SBA was very quick in issuing the note agreements, payment terms and interest rates on the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), also noting that if an advance was given under these loans the advance amount would be deducted from the potential forgiveness of the PPP loan. Yes, an advance under one loan would be an offset to the portion of allowable forgiveness under another!  The EIDLs are not forgivable but they have been set up on 30 year terms; seemingly manageable.

One important thing I’ve taken away from this experience is that the PPP loans were issued and managed through the SBA approved private lenders and then backed by the SBA. This meant, after digging around on the internet, calls to our lender and calls to the SBA that the forgiveness application would be handled by the lender.  Oddly enough, it didn’t seem like our lender knew that.  After much persistence, I found that forgiveness applications were being accepted and processed for those applicants that received funding in excess of $2M.  That meant the “small-business” funding recipients, the originally intended recipients of the CARES Act would have to wait for any clarity or solace on how these funds would ultimately be of impact.

I think it’s safe to assume that we all understand the rules as they currently stand and we are admittedly thankful for the CARES Act.  The end game goal with the PPP loan is that you needed to keep staff on payroll, if you laid anyone off you needed to rehire them and overall you needed 60% of the funding to go towards payroll with the remaining funding allowed towards mortgage interest, rent and utilities.

Again, that leaves me with the question of what the overall impact to the business will be. This is where it counts!  Let’s for a moment consider that we have utilized the funding properly and within the terms of forgiveness at 100% with the EIDL advance that was received also having an impact.  We essentially received a pass for a period of time related to our payroll costs, rent, and utilities.  The expenses are still sitting on our P&L,  we have a note that will be forgiven which will ultimately end up as income, but the IRS will be limiting the deduction of these expenses from our business’ taxable income.

What does this mean?  Now is the time to pull your General Ledger and scour through your P&L line items.  Understand your normal deductible business expenses and make sure that you have items classified properly for your tax reporting.  Don’t leave this for your tax preparer to question; nobody knows your business like you do. Who in your company is responsible for credit card allocations? How many times do you use your corporate credit card and the accounting team inadvertently books those charges to meals & entertainment or distributions, when in actuality it was a corporate team building lunch related to a client account or a client meeting, i.e. business meal, marketing or travel related expenses.? Meals & entertainment are limited at 50%, be cautious as to what is classified here.  Marketing, travel and mileage are 100% deductible.

In summation, if the PPP funding was utilized within the forgivable guidelines you should be able to apply for forgiveness at 100% less the EIDL advance you’ve received. These forgiven expenditures will be unallowed deductions on your tax filing for the year so make sure your other business related expenses are classified properly to capture as many deductible expenses as possible to reduce your tax liability. Connect with your lender and identify their protocol for the forgiveness application. A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can be immensely helpful in providing canned reporting for both the PPP application process and the allowable payroll costs under the 8 week or 24 week option under the PPP loan needed for the forgiveness application.  

If you are unsure as to whether or not a PEO makes sense for your small business, we can help you decide! Libertate Insurance Services has a client first motto and works hard to help transfer risk in your business. So whether you’re looking for a PEO or you are a PEO seeking hard-to-place markets, connect with us today. Visit our website here for more info or check out the rest of the PEO Compass blogs here.

We would love to connect with you!

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Research credits: IRS.gov, uschamber.com, sba.gov

Lifting Travel Restrictions

As the country slowly starts to reopen and travel restrictions begin to be lifted, it reminds me of how hard the travel industry has been impacted by COVID-19. Finding workers compensation coverage for this industry can be difficult due to the exposures associated with these risks. Libertate Insurance Services works closely with Beacon Aviation in placing coverage for this industry.  Beacon Aviation Insurance Services knows the ins-and-outs and provides workers compensation coverage for general aviation businesses.

Beacon’s Program offers the following:

Payment Options

  • Pay As You Owe
  • Carrier Direct Bill
  • Carrier Direct Debit
  • Credit Card

Endorsement Options

  • Foreign Voluntary Compensation
  • Voluntary Compensation
  • Waiver of Subrogation
  • Defense Base Act (DBA) Coverage
  • Employer Liability Coverage “Stop GAP”

If you need help placing your workers compensation with your travel or aviation risk, contact Jenny Bush, at jbush@libertateins.com. Click the link below for more details on Beacon’s Program.

Beacon Aviation Program Appetite

 

Expect Open Enrollment to be Virtual! How to Prepare.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Open Enrollment Employers can expect major disruptions to open enrollment this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As such, employers should stay apprised of current trends and begin preparing sooner rather than later.  Contact your PEO for additional insight or Contact Libertate Insurance if you are considering a PEO.

Trends to Watch

Many organizations are expected to hold entirely virtual open enrollment due to the coronavirus. Virtual enrollment has been trending for several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic is helping to solidify its prominence. A virtual enrollment process typically includes an online enrollment platform for selecting benefits, hosting remote meetings between employees and HR, and downloading benefits resources.

Also, many employers are meeting current employee needs through supplemental health plans with an emphasis on overall well-being. Adding optional health benefits can be a way to limit additional employer spending and provide assistance to employees who need it.

Ways Employers Can Prepare

Open enrollment isn’t always a clear-cut process. Employers can review the following strategies and consider how similar initiatives might improve their own open enrollment efforts:

  • Reach out to employees to determine what kind of enrollment process will work best for them.
  • Confer with management about any operational restrictions that may influence open enrollment.
  • Meet with stakeholders to solidify what the enrollment process will look like.
  • Inform all stakeholders about the enrollment process and where to find benefits resources.
  • Communicate to employees about open enrollment using multiple channels.
  • Understand what additional, supplemental plans are available:
    • Critical illness insurance
    • Cancer insurance
    • Hospital indemnity insurance
    • Accident insurance

Speak with Libertate Insurance today for additional open enrollment resources.

Should You Partner with A PEO? Can a PEO help your small business?

Understand the Importance of What PEOs are Doing for Their Clients; Consider what a PEO can offer your small business; Having a business relationship that benefits you!

Check out the article below to see how PEOs work to protect small business clients

_____________________________________________________________________

THE EXPANDING PEO WHEELHOUSE: HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES SURVIVE

COVID-19: STORIES OF ADAPTATION: HOW SERVICE & DELIVERY CHANGED

BY KATHRINA SALADRIGAS

Eighteen weeks have passed since we sent our first COVID-19 newsletter to Regis HR Group clients. Looking back, we could not have anticipated the scope of support our clients would need. In addition to inquiries about traditional human resources matters, we received an unprecedented number of questions about general business operations from employers, to the point of, “What can we do to survive?”

PEOs are uniquely positioned to help our local economies (and the country as a whole) recover from the pandemic, so here are some of things we hope all PEOs will implement to help their worksite employers overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

EMPLOYERS DESERVE A BETTER ANSWER THAN ‘THAT’S NOT WHAT WE DO’

Laws such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act(FFCRA) are being passed and subsequently changed at an extraordinary rate, so employers are reasonably overwhelmed:

  • What government-sponsored financial relief is available to our business?
  • How do layoffs and furloughs affect health benefits?
  • Is our business an “essential” business?
  • Who is eligible for sick leave under the FFCRA?
  • Do we have to close our facility if an employee tests positive? If yes, for how long?

This is a very small sample of the questions creating uncertainty and anxiety for business owners. While some of these questions are business-specific and can only be addressed by the employer’s legal counsel and/or tax professional, there are practical steps PEOs can take to support these employers without defaulting to “that’s not what we do:”

  • We’ve learned that monitoring regulatory changes and providing brief descriptions (one to three sentences) with links to the governing body in a timely fashion reassures clients that they have a trusted partner to lean on and reduces worries about missing something.
  • Similarly, sharing a finite list of well-researched government resources that consolidate information from multiple regulatory bodies (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Resuming Business Toolkit​) saves employers time and reduces the incidence of misinformation.
  • We’ve learned that employers appreciate live interactive webinars where they can connect with employment lawyers and tax professionals. To this end, Regis HR Group has sponsored eight webinars (at no charge to PEO clients) with topics ranging from FFCRA requirements to Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness, with additional webinars scheduled in the upcoming weeks.
  • Perhaps most importantly, we’ve witnessed the significance of the human connection (albeit socially distanced). Our entire team, from our payroll specialists to our president, has proactively worked to check in with our clients and ask, “How can we help?” Often, the answer is not something in our traditional scope of services, but we’re committed to do what we can.

HELPING EMPLOYERS ADJUST TO THE ‘NEW WORKPLACE’

The pandemic has created a seismic shift in our traditional workspace. Whether or not this shift is temporary remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, employers are finding it difficult to adjust to the new workplace.

To help mitigate the stress that accompanies these significant changes, we have provided several tools to educate employers and their managers about how to get the most out of their employees in remote work environments, how to maintain employee morale, and how to continue to communicate effectively as a team.

Some employers find themselves in a position to reopen, but their pre-pandemic staff is refusing to return. We are helping these employers find qualified staff, often by connecting them with employees who have been laid off by other clients.

For clients that are hiring during this ordeal, we are sharing resources on interviewing best practices and, in particular, educating them about the importance of behavioral interview questions.

While it has long been commonplace to ask behavioral interview questions to assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills, resiliency, and adaptability in demanding/high-stress work environments (such as healthcare, investment banking, and hospitality), the pandemic has demonstrated that these skills are central to the success of every business.

To that end, PEOs should be encouraging employers to ask behavioral interview questions, in addition to assessing candidates on previous experience—because past behaviors can help predict future performance. Examples of behavioral questions include:

  • “Tell me about a chaotic situation you experienced in a professional setting.”
  • “Describe a time that, despite your best efforts, things did not work out as you had envisioned.”

FACILITATING REPORTS FOR PPP FINANCING & MEANINGFUL BUSINESS CONNECTIONS

Lenders participating in the Payroll Protection Program, which helped businesses across the United States maintain their workforces during the COVID-19 crisis, required employers to submit payroll reports quickly and accurately.

In addition to producing detailed payroll reports that included employee salaries, wages, commissions, cash tips, group health benefits payments, retirement benefits payments, state or local taxes, etc., Regis HR Group was able to help small businesses connect with local, community banks participating in the Small Business Administration’s PPP loan program.

Our clients thanked us for these introductions because community bankers were often more helpful with questions about PPP loans and more responsive than their counterparts working for national banks. Similarly, the community banks were thankful for the introductions because, prior to the pandemic, many of these employers had not considered partnering with a local bank for their routine banking and financing needs.

WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER

COVID-19 remains a clear and present danger, but we are confident that working together, our country will overcome this crisis. We are motived by the dedication of our team and inspired to work harder each day to earn the gratitude of our clients.

Moving forward with the support of PEOs across the nation, we can serve our clients in new ways and emerge stronger from this pandemic.

KATHRINA SALADRIGAS

Marketing & Talent Acquisition Director

Regis HR Group

Miami, Florida

Hurricane Season Reminders

This year’s hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th. We encourage our clients to prepare their business for the 2020 Hurricane Season. Take action early to protect your assets and your people.

Pre-Planning

Review all of your insurance policies and understand what is covered.

Verify Employee Contact Information

Maintaining accurate employee contact information is critical during an emergency. COVID-19 has led to an increase in remote working and the need to know where each employee is located-not just in a directory, but in real time. Send a quick memo to your employees asking them to update their contact information. This will help management check on their well-being and keep them informed.

Build Your Emergency Plan

Refer to websites like FEMA and National Hurricane Survival Initiative to help you build your company’s emergency plan. You will want to include details on securing your business assets, ensure your data is backed up, review contracts, customer communication strategies, and recovery plan.

Create an Emergency Response Team

Define clear roles and responsibilities for essential staff members.

Group Management Services Acquires Corporate Business Solutions

GMS expands its footprint with addition of Georgia-based HR outsourcing provider.


prnewswire.com/news-releases

RICHFIELD, Ohio, June 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Group Management Services Inc. announced today the acquisition of Corporate Business Solutions, a Georgia-based Human Resources Outsourcing provider.

CBS was founded more than 20 years ago as a third party 401(k) administrator, developing over time into handling a full array of HRO services. This acquisition will add about 70 clients and 3,500 worksite employees to GMS.

As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), GMS provides a suite of comprehensive HR solutions, allowing clients to focus on core business. These services include Payroll, Human Resources, Risk Management, and Benefits.

Both organizations share an emphasis on giving their clients a competitive edge when it comes to the technology, service levels, and human resources they provide. This is evident in the fact that they share a 90-plus percent client retention rate, well over the industry average.

Find out how PEOs help businesses: https://www.groupmgmt.com/why-gms/education-center/what-is-a-peo/

GMS started in the Cleveland area in 1996, eventually expanding into Columbus and Cincinnati, and now have 10 offices nationwide. The acquisition of CBS will further extend their client base outside of Ohio and increase their presence in the Southeast.

“We’ve been trying to expand our footprint outside of Ohio and have been showing some success in the past five years,” GMS President Mike Kahoe said. “In 2014, we were 99 percent Ohio-based. Today we are 90 percent Ohio-based and this will move us closer to 80 percent, making us a more diverse company.”

CBS President Jim Karle adds, “The acquisition by GMS will enable CBS to further deliver on its promise to provide our clients a wide array of quality insurance products that are affordably priced. Enhancing our clients’ competitive edge has always been core to CBS – this accelerates our ability to do that for our many valued clients.”

GMS plans to continue their expansion and grow organically and through acquisitions moving forward. This is just the beginning of more to come.

About Group Management Services
GMS has partnered with more than 1,500 clients across the country, representing about 26,000 employees from 10 different locations throughout the United States. We enable those clients to outsource all their back-office functions the areas of payroll, human resources, risk management, and workers’ compensation. For more information on GMS, visit: https://www.groupmgmt.com/about-us/.