The Barkley Buzz – June 2017

Welcome to the June 2017 Edition of The Barkley Buzz

In This Issue:

~ Employee Benefits
~ Human Resources Brief
~ Risk Management
~ Workplace Wellness
~ June Holidays

Did you Know?

Generally, wellness incentives are subject to the same federal tax rules as any other employee rewards or prizes.

Cash and cash equivalents (for example, a $100 gift card for taking a health risk assessment) are always taxable.

Another taxable example is an employer’s payment of gym or health club membership fees, unless the membership qualifies as medical care.

Employee Benefits


House Passes Changes to Overtime Rules

OVERVIEW

On May 2, 2017, the House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act (also known as H.R. 1180). If approved, H.R. 1180 would authorize private employers to offer compensatory time instead of overtime pay for nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours per week. H.R. 1180 still needs approval from the Senate and the executive branch before it becomes law.

Compensatory time off is already a common practice for many federal and state employers, but it is not currently allowed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for private employers. H.R. 1180 would amend the FLSA to allow this practice, if certain conditions are met.

ACTION STEPS

Because H.R. 1180 is not yet law, no action steps are currently required of any employers.
This Compliance Bulletin is provided for informational purposes only, to assist employers in understanding the changes H.R. 1180 would bring to current overtime compensation practices in the private sector.

Compensatory Time Off

Currently, the FLSA requires employers in the private sector to pay overtime wages to nonexempt employees for all hours of overtime worked. If approved, H.R. 1180 would amend the FLSA to allow private sector employers to provide either overtime pay or compensatory time off to nonexempt employees who work overtime hours.

H.R. 1180 is proposing that compensatory time off be calculated at the rate of 1.5 hours of compensatory time off for every hour of overtime work. As it stands, H.R. 1180 would expire within five years of its enactment. In addition, the bill would limit the amount of compensatory time off eligible employees may receive to 160 hours.

H.R. 1180 would only apply to private sector employers, meaning that if it were to be adopted, it would not affect current compensatory time off requirements for public sector employees.

Voluntary Agreement and Usage

Under H.R. 1180, both employers and employees would have to agree to compensatory time off instead of overtime wages. In unionized environments, compensatory time off would have to be allowed by any applicable collective bargaining agreement. The agreement would need to be preserved in writing and take place before any compensatory time off begins to accrue.

Finally, the language of H.R. 1180 would prohibit employers from coercing or forcing employees to agree to receive or use compensatory time off instead of overtime wages. This means that employers would not be allowed to directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten or coerce (or attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce) employees to agree to receive or use any accrued compensatory time off.

Eligibility

Under H.R. 1180, employees would be eligible to receive compensatory time off after 1,000 hours of continuous employment during the previous 12 months.

Payment for Unused Compensatory Time

H.R. 1180 would require employers to allow employees to use any earned compensatory time off within a reasonable period, as long as this does not unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.

However, employers would be required to provide monetary compensation to their employees for any compensatory time off that is not used by the end of the calendar year, although employers would be able to determine a different 12-month period as long as it remains consistent.

Unused compensatory time would need to be paid at a rate that would at least be equal to the employee’s regular wage rate. The employee’s regular rate would be the higher of:

  • The regular wage rate at the time the overtime work was performed; or
  • The regular wage rate at the time the unused compensatory time off must be paid.

Payment for unused compensatory time off would be required within a month of the end of the 12-month period.

More Information

We will continue to monitor the progress of this bill through the legislative process and update you as more information becomes available. In the meantime, contact Barkley Insurance & Risk Management for more information regarding the FLSA and overtime wage payment requirements.

Human Resources Brief

Only One-third of Employees are Engaged at Work

Engaged vs. Disengaged Employees

Engaged employees are more than just satisfied with their jobs, they are committed to the company and its goals. They have passion, pride and energy for their work and their organization, and are willing to go the extra mile on a regular basis. Employees who are truly engaged stay because they enjoy their work and support the company.

On the flipside, disengaged employees simply work for a paycheck, favorable working conditions or job security.

It’s important to note that employees can enjoy their work and be satisfied without being necessarily engaged

The Impact of Engagement

Employee engagement has been linked to decreased turnover rates and increased productivity, efficiency and profits. This information indicates that employee engagement is critical to retaining the best and the brightest employees at your organization.

Tips for Raising Employee Engagement

By identifying areas that may be hindering employee engagement, your company can focus on improving those areas to strive toward a more engaged, productive and profitable workforce.
Although there is no tried-and-true way to raise employee engagement, experts agree that you can start by doing the following:

  • Demonstrate a top-down commitment to engagement.
  • Define your engaged purpose.
  • Prove your ability to measure and score engagement levels on an ongoing basis.

Risk Management


5 WAYS TO SECURE YOUR COMPANY’S MOBILE DEVICES

Keep your Company Devices Safe from Threats with These Proactive Step

Because of the convenience they offer, smartphones and tablet devices have become a constant presence in the modern business world. As usage soars, it becomes increasingly important to take steps to protect your company from mobile threats, both new and old.

Gone are the days when the most sensitive information on an employee’s phone was contact names and phone numbers. Now a smartphone or tablet can be used to gain access to anything from emails to stored passwords to proprietary company data. Depending on how your organization uses such devices, unauthorized access to the information on a smartphone or tablet could be just as damaging as a data breach involving a more traditional computer system. Steps to protect you should include:

Establish a Mobile Device Security Policy

Before issuing smartphones or tablets to your employees, establish a device usage policy. Provide clear rules about what constitutes acceptable use. Include what actions will follow if employees violate the policy. It is important that employees understand the security risks of smartphone use and how they can mitigate those risks. Well informed, responsible users are your first line of defense against cyber-attacks.

Establish a Bring Your Own Device Policy

If you allow employees to use their personal devices for company business, make sure you have a formal Bring your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place. Your BYOD security plan should also include the following

  • Installing remote wiping software on any personal device used to store or access company data.
  • Educating and training employees on how to safeguard company data when they access it from their own devices.
  • Data protection practices that include requiring strong passwords and automatic locking after periods of inactivity, establishing protocols for reporting lost or stolen devices, mandating certain antivirus and protective software, and requiring or strongly encouraging regular backups.

Keep the Devices Updated with the most Current Software and Antivirus Programs

Software updates to mobile devices often include patches for various security holes. Therefore, it is best practice to install the updates as soon as they’re available. There are many options to choose from when it comes to antivirus software for mobile devices, so it comes down to preference. Some are free to use, while others charge a monthly or annual fee and often come with better support. In addition to antivirus support, many of these programs will monitor SMS, MMS and call logs for suspicious activity. They can use blacklists to prevent users from installing known malware to the device.

Backup Device Content on a Regular Basis

Just as you backed up computer data regularly, so should you backup data on your company’s mobile devices. If a device is lost or stolen, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your valuable data is safe.

Choose Passwords Carefully
The average Internet user has about 25 accounts to maintain and an average of 6.5 different passwords to protect them, according to a recent Microsoft study. Obviously, this lack of security awareness is what hackers count on to steal data. Use the following tips to ensure your mobile device passwords are easy to remember and hard to guess.

  • Require employees to change the device’s login password every 90 days.
  • Passwords should be at least eight characters long and include uppercase letters and special characters, such as asterisks, ampersands and pound signs.
  • Don’t use names of spouses, children or pets in the password. A hacker can spend just a couple minutes on a social media site to figure out this information.

Health & Wellness


Tick and Tick-borne Disease Season is Here
Experts are warning that this year’s tick season could be worse and more widespread than ever due to milder winters, booming mice and deer populations, and the 2015 abundant acorn crop. Unfortunately, with the projected increase of ticks, the threat of tick-borne disease, including the most common, Lyme disease, also increases.

The best way to avoid contracting a tick-borne disease is to practice proper preventive measures, which include the following:

  • Wear light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants when in wooded areas, and tuck pant legs into socks or boots. Keep long hair tied back.
  • Wash your body and clothing after all outdoor activities.
  • Look periodically for ticks if you have been outdoors, especially if you have been in wooded areas or gardens.
  • Remove ticks within 24 hours to greatly reduce the risk of contracting disease.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about tick repellent for your pet.

Check your pet’s coat if it has been in a possible tick infested area
For more information on ticks and tick-borne disease, click here.

June Holidays & Awareness Days


Father’s Day in the United States is on the third Sunday of June. It celebrates the contribution that fathers and father figures make for their children’s lives. Its origins may lie in a memorial service held for a large group of men, many of them fathers, who were killed in a mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907.