Friday, October 2, 2015

What's a PEO and How Can It Help My Business?

What's a PEO, and why should I use one?

A: Here's all you need to know: A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is one of the best-kept secrets of many successful small businesses. Essentially, these bodies handle all your HR needs, including payroll and administration, employee health and retirement benefits, workers' compensation insurance, state and federal compliance issues and even worker training.

All you're left to do is hire, supervise and promote (or fire) your employees as needed. Of course there is a cost for contracting out your HR department, but consider this list of positives.

  • PEOs manage thousands of employees and can therefore purchase insurance and benefit plans at a significant savings or allow you to offer higher-quality plans to attract and retain skilled employees.
  • Experienced professionals in HR, benefits, payroll, risk management and other aspects of employee administration are on the job. Want to institute a 401(k) plan or flexible spending account? The PEO will do it. No need for you to figure it out yourself.
  • The PEO will provide HR manuals for your employees, and the policies and procedures will be maintained in compliance with ever-changing state and federal laws and regulations.
  • A PEO will help with employment-related regulatory compliance (ADA, payroll, OSHA, EEOC, etc.), a huge advantage that can be worth more to your business than the money saved on benefits costs.
  • The PEO can provide effective management and access to payroll records, benefits, personnel data, vacation and sick-time accruals and specialized reports.
  • If you have an HR-related employee claim, such as a discrimination allegation, a PEO will know what to do and will take the lead on managing the claim process.

Ordinarily the savings on group health and benefit plans alone will more or less outweigh the cost of hiring a PEO to tackle these duties. But don't forget the peace of mind that a PEO offers. Take one of my fast-growing clients: When this team opened a new office in a distant state, they had no clue how to administer payroll there. When I came onboard, we hired a national PEO that was able to make the process of opening offices and hiring employees in other states painless and risk-free.

The most important bit of advice when it comes to hiring a PEO: Do your due diligence. You want your PEO to be financially responsible and stable. The best are accredited by the Employer Services Assurance Corporation and have a current Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16 audit (formerly known as an SAS 70). Make sure they have a deep presence in your industry, and get references.

As to knowing when your business could use a PEO, I believe it's the moment your accounting department asks for a dedicated HR person (even a part-time one) to handle all the paperwork. The sooner they can offload that work to someone who really knows what they're doing and return to managing your balance sheet, the better.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Don't be confused, PEOs are not just a Staffing Agency.

Is a PEO just a staffing agency?

PEOs are often confused with temporary staffing agencies. While the two share some slight similarities, the model is different.

PEOs assign their own, existing employees to take over your human resources administrative tasks. The PEO is responsible for most of the behind-the-scenes human resources tasks, such as negotiating health insurance, benefits packages and retirement plans. PEOs deal with reporting wages to the IRS. Essentially, the PEO is handling all the business and administrative tasks related to employment.

These tasks can result in positive outcomes such as:

Fewer administrative tasks. Companies don't have to spend time focusing on tasks like payroll and benefits administration, freeing up hours for you to focus on running and improving the business.

Fewer mistakes. For small businesses in particular, the rules and laws surrounding payroll, benefits and tax reporting are often outside their realm of expertise. PEOs specialize in human resources tasks, so they're less likely to make a costly or harmful mistake.

Legal protections. Most PEOs provide civil defense and employment liability insurance in case a former employee sues the company for discrimination or wrongful termination.

Cost savings, better benefits. Because PEOs are often large companies, they can negotiate better benefits packages and lower insurance costs than most small businesses. However, keep in mind that you are paying the PEO a fee for this benefit. To make sure you're coming out ahead, it's important for you to weigh the service fees against the added benefits.

Staffing agencies, on the other hand, typically provide companies with short-term or special-project employment. They provide the labor, but they do not handle behind-the-scenes administrative tasks like benefits negotiation and tax reporting. If you use a staffing agency to hire human resources employees, those administrative responsibilities will lie with your company.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Slower Job Growth May Give Fed Pause on Raising Rates

The American economy added 173,000 jobs in August, a weaker showing than expected that makes it more likely the Federal Reserve will delay its long-awaited increase in interest rates when policy makers meet in two weeks.

But there was just enough positive data in the report on Friday from the Labor Department to keep a September move in play, even as Wall Street increasingly looks at the possibility of a Fed move in October, or at the central bank’s last meeting of the year, in December.

The report was hotly anticipated, mainly because it represents the last major piece of data that the central bank will have on hand before its meeting on Sept. 16 and 17.

Although hiring in August was well below the 220,000-job gain that economists had expected, the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent, the lowest since early 2008.

At that level, joblessness is nearing the level that economists and the Fed consider close to full employment, and inflation foes worry that an unemployment rate significantly less than that might result in an overheated economy in the long term.

That might seem strange to tens of millions of workers still looking for raises and full-time positions, but there are nascent signs that wages are finally beginning to tick higher. In contrast to the disappointing headline number, average hourly earnings rose by a better-than-expected 0.3 percentage point rate in August.

Payroll gains for June and July were revised upward by 44,000.

Click here to read full article.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Obamacare's latest trend: sticker shock

Sun Sentinel By Sally C. Pipes

Americans rank health costs as their top financial concern, according to Gallup.

That's not likely to change anytime soon. Health insurers are requesting massive premium hikes for next year -- some in excess of 50 percent.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. The Affordable Care Act has been driving up costs since its creation. And thanks to a new wave of mergers among health insurers prompted by Obamacare, America's health cost crisis will only grow worse.

Premiums are skyrocketing nationwide.

Regulators in Oregon just green-lit a 25 percent increase for Moda Health Plan. A popular Utah insurance plan is seeking a 45 percent increase. Blue Cross Blue Shield is requesting price hikes ranging from 23 percent in Illinois to 54 percent in Minnesota.

Nationwide, premiums for the most common plans will increase by an average of 14 percent next year.

Even in states where premium growth is slowing, people are stretching their budgets to pay for insurance. On California's exchange, rates are slated to increase just 4 percent next year.

But the state's premiums have long been among the highest in the nation. Folks in northern California will pay $384 a month, on average. That's $70 higher than the average premium for a mid-level plan nationwide.

It's no wonder that four in 10 Californians shopping on the exchange say that they struggle to pay their premiums.

Obamacare has caused premiums to spike before, especially for younger folks. Since the law went into effect in 2013, premiums for 23-year-old women have risen an average of 45 percent, while men of the same age experienced 78 percent increases. Premiums for 30-year-olds surged 35 percent for women -- and 73 percent for men.

Click here to read full article.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The 5 employee benefits trends you need to know

The landscape is abuzz with reports on the importance of benefits in attracting and retaining employees.

To help bosses recognise the most popular benefit packages in the market in the past five years, Human Resources picked out five interesting trends in employee benefits based on the 2015 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey.

Firstly, the report showed that the percentage of organisations that offer health care and wellness benefits has increased.

Some of these benefits included mental health care coverage (91%), contraception coverage (83%) and vision insurance (87%).

The increased cost of health care in recent years has also led in a shift in health care costs to employees with an 8% increase in the use of health savings accounts (HSAs) (43%) and a 10% increase in employer contributions to HSAs (30%) over the past five years.

Secondly, companies have been offering preventive health and wellness benefits – one of the strategies to bring down the cost of health care benefits.

Some perks under this category include wellness resources and information (80%), general wellness programmes (70%), health and lifestyle coaching (46%) and preventive programmes specifically targeting employees with chronic health conditions.

Thirdly, there has been an increase in monetary related benefits such as financial and compensation benefits and retirement savings and planning benefits.

More organisations have been seen to offer spot bonuses/awards (34% in 2011 and 45% in 2015) as well as non-executive incentive bonus plans (43% in 2011 to 49% in 2015).

At the same time, more organisations are offering Roth 401(k) or similar defined contribution retirement savings plan (31% in 2011 to 48% in 2015) and retirement-preparation specific planning advice (37% in 2011 to 48% in 2015).

Fourthly, there has been an increase in several leave benefits since 2011 such as paid sick leave plans (37% to 42%), paid family leave (25% to 27%) and paid maternity leave (16% to 21%).

Despite this however, fewer organisations are offering paid vacation leave donation programmes (15% to 8%) and a paid vacation cash-out option (16% to 8%).

Lastly, as compared to 2011, there has been a decline in the provision of certain family-friendly benefits such as bringing children into work in emergencies (33% to 22%), child care referral services (17% to 9%) and on-site parenting seminars (4% to 1%).

30/06/2015 Tue 12:50 in All markets by Jerene Ang

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Obamacare Sticker Shock Arrives: Insurance Premiums To Soar 20-40%

Two months ago, we outlined why the CPI-boosting Affordable Care Act is on the verge of bankrupting that all important driver of the US economic growth engine — the American consumer.

Put simply, inflation in medical care services costs hadn’t yet reared its ugly head because many insurers were as yet unable to gauge the full base-effect impact of Obamacare on their P&L. That, we said, was about to change: “After finally digesting the true cost of Obamacare, any recent insurance prime hikes will seem like a walk in the park compared to what is coming.

Sure enough, insurers have now taken a close look at exactly how much socialized medicine is costing them.

Not surprisingly, the picture isn’t pretty.

In some cases, forecasters grossly underestimated the number of claims they would likely receive, and indeed, even a PhD economist can tell you that when the amount going out for claims is greater than the amount coming in via premiums, there’s a problem with the model and because staunching the outflow is effectively now forbidden, something has to give on the receivables side of the equation which means dramatically higher premiums.

Submitted by Tyler Durden of

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Supreme Court saves Obamacare

Washington (CNN)Obamacare has survived -- again. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court saved the controversial health care law that will define President Barack Obama's administration for generations to come.

The ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces. It staved off a major political showdown and a mad scramble in states that would have needed to act to prevent millions from losing health care coverage.

"Five years ago, after nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate, we finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few but a right for all," Obama said from the White House. "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay"

In a moment of high drama, Chief Justice John Roberts sent a bolt of tension through the Court when he soberly announced that he would issue the majority opinion in the case. About two-thirds of the way through his reading, it became clear that he again would be responsible for rescuing Obamacare.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Washington whipped into frenzy ahead of ObamaCare ruling

The wait is almost over for what could be the last big legal threat to ObamaCare.

Court watchers are working themselves into a frenzy awaiting a decision on King v. Burwell, one of the most anticipated cases of the year.

On opinion days, dozens of reporters are packing into the court or swarming the steps outside, while nearly 10,000 people tune into SCOTUSblog for live updates. False reports attempting to predict the timing of the decision have only further fueled the hype.

Across Capitol Hill, Republicans in the House and Senate briefed their members for the first time on Wednesday, trying to calm fears about what could happen to the 6.4 million people whose health insurance subsidies are at stake in the case.

Some of K Street’s biggest lobby firms are drafting “predecision” memos and briefing clients, even those outside of the healthcare realm about how they could be hit by a ruling.

Democrats are also getting nervous.

On the same afternoon as the Republican meetings, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell privately met with members of the New Democrat Coalition on Wednesday to talk about the case.

"In my state of Georgia, 500,000 people would lose their insurance — 8 or 9 million people across the country. And all [states] have to do is put the exchanges in place,” Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) said as he left the closed-door meeting.

A spokeswoman for the coalition’s chairman, Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), said she couldn’t discuss details, but confirmed the administration’s response to the case was the “main topic of discussion.”

The growing anticipation surrounding King v. Burwell exploded shortly after midnight Wednesday, when news first broke that GOP leaders would begin briefing rank-and-file members about the case.

The meetings took place in separate corners of the Capitol a few hours apart, and both drew unusually large scrums of reporters.

Facing a barrage of questions after the Senate’s lunch-time discussion, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) allowed a half-dozen reporters to cram into his elevator, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had already stepped inside.

“Easy, easy,” Cruz said as he was backed into the corner.

“This is an unusual situation isn’t it? We have a presidential candidate in here!” Barrasso exclaimed. He then allowed the gaggle to follow him onto the subway beneath the Capitol Dome and back to his Dirksen Building office, with more questions along the way.

Republicans have spent four months quietly crafting contingency plans for King v. Burwell. While the case drew some attention during oral arguments in March, the hype is approaching new heights with just a few days left of court decisions this summer.

This week’s meetings marked the first time that most members heard details about those plans.

Click here to read full article: By Sarah Ferris - 06/21/15 05:00 PM EDT

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fortune Business Solutions reaches close to 500 Million Annually in 2014

Our Mission:  

The Fortune Business Solutions team is dedicated to providing your company with innovative, hands-on Human Resource Management and comprehensive and cost-effective employee services and benefits that allow you to attract and retain high quality personnel. The result is a better working environment for your employees and, therefore, increased efficiency and profitability for your company.

Established: October 1997

Number of Employees: 18,000+

Revenues: $488,489,781 Million Annually (2014)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How Will ObamaCare Affect Your Small Business?

March 24, 2015

While the majority of employers and employees won’t pay any additional taxes under the ACA, there is an increase to the current Medicare part A tax for businesses and employees making over $200,000. There is also a requirement for employers with 50 full-time equivalent employees or more to offer health insurance to full-time workers or pay a penalty starting in 2015 / 2016.

FACT: 90% of US firms have less than 20 full-time employees and about 96% of firms have fewer than 50 full-time employees. More than 96 percent of firms with 50 or more employees already offer health insurance to their workers. Less than 0.2 percent of all firms (about 10,000 out of 6 million) face employer responsibility requirements.  

ObamaCare helps most small businesses. The fact is, small business owners have historically had a much harder time providing themselves and their employees with insurance due to rising health insurance costs; meanwhile bigger businesses have remained largely unaffected due to the leverage buying large group health plans gives them. This problem has only gotten more severe in the past decade.  

A report by the common wealth fund in 2006 showed the nation’s smallest firms pay an average of 18 percent more in health insurance premiums for the same benefits than those in the largest firms, while costs of providing health insurance to small business employees had been rising higher than inflation rates prior to the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Employers must offer health insurance or be subject to penalties.

Employers must offer health  insurance that is affordable and provides minimum value to their  full-time employees and their  children up to age 26 or be subject to penalties.

This is known as the employer mandate. It applies to employers with 50 or more  full-time employees, or full-time equivalents, and will be phased  in during 2015 and 2016 based on employer size. Employees who work 30 or more  hours per week are considered full-time.

To learn more, click here.

Starting in 2015, all employers are required to report the following to OSHA

Safety & Health

OSHA has developed an updated record keeping rule. The rule was effective on January 1, 2015 and requires that establishments in states under Federal OSHA jurisdiction must comply with the new rule as of the effective date. Starting in 2015, all employers are required to report the following to OSHA:
  • All work related fatalities-Within 8 hours of finding out about them.
  • All work related inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees-Within 24 hours.
  • All work related amputations, with or without bone loss-Within 24 hours.
  • All work related losses of an eye-Within 24 hours.
For any inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, Employers only have to report if the action occurs with 24 hours of a work related incident. Employers have three options to report the event and are required to:
  • By phone to the nearest OSHA area office during normal business hours.
  • By telephone to the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
  • OSHA is developing a means of reporting events electronically, which will be available soon.
When reporting the event to OSHA, be prepared to provide as much information, in detail about the event being reported. Information regarding this new requirement is available in detail on the OSHA website at www.osha.govor you can contact Jess Carrillo, Safety & Risk Manager at Fortune Business Solutions.

Human Resources
Giving thanks for good performance 

Employees respond to recognition and rewards

According to U.S. workers, the most common form of recognition their employer provides is salary increases based on merit (39 percent). Less than a third (31 percent) said that direct supervisors express verbal or written appreciation, and only about 1 in 4 (24 percent) reported that their organization uses performance-based bonuses or promotions as a form of recognition. These were some of the findings of a survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence.

Employees who said that recognition practices are fair, that direct supervisors provide recognition effectively, and that they value the recognition they receive reported a variety of positive outcomes. They reported higher levels of job satisfaction, a greater likelihood to work harder because of the recognition they receive, stronger motivation to do their best, and a greater sense of feeling valued. In addition, employees who received recognition more recently also reported higher levels of satisfaction, motivation, and work effort.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • More than a quarter of working adults (28 percent) said that written or verbal appreciation from their direct supervisor is important, but when it comes to the types of recognition that working Americans say are important to them, money tops the list. Six out of 10 employees (62 percent) cited merit-based salary increases as important, followed by fair monetary compensation (47 percent), performance-based bonuses (43 percent), and promotions or advancement (38 percent).

  • Men and women reported that recognition in general is equally important to them (87 percent), but men were more likely than women to report being satisfied with their employer’s recognition practices (54 percent vs. 46 percent), to believe that recognition is provided fairly in their organization (52 percent vs. 42 percent), and to say their supervisor provides recognition effectively (56 percent vs. 47 percent).

  • Although 4 in 10 employees reported working remotely at least sometimes (30 percent sometimes, 5 percent often, 6 percent always), no significant relationships were found between employees working remotely and their satisfaction with recognition or how long they plan to stay with their current employer.

Source: BLR

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2015 Update: Upgrading our payroll and benefits systems

Over the past year Fortune has invested a great deal of time in upgrading our payroll and benefits systems. The areas that we are concentrating on are the areas that affect our clients’ bottom line as well as creating improved efficiency. The specific areas in which we are focusing are as follows:

HRPyramid Vision

(Rollout will start July 1, 2015) 

· Single integrated platform with payroll, human resources, benefits administration and online new hire processing
· 100% Browser based
· Granular access control
· Web-Services enabled
  Cloud delivery

Online New Hire Processing

(Available immediately)

· Efficient New Hire Processing
· Integrated e- Verify processing
· Integrated background screening
· Workflow engine and notifications ensure timely processing
· Employee initiated life event processing

Online Benefits Enrollment

(Available immediately)

· Seamlessly integrated with Payroll and Imaging
· Enhanced benefits setup
· More efficient and accurate enrollment

ACA Compliance

· Any clients that have more than 50 full time employees and do not offer health insurance should contact us so we can share with them the compliance pack we have developed to protect them from any penalties in the future.

Read more about the FICA taxable wage base has increased from $117,000 to $118,500 in 2015. The SUTA wage limits are listed below: