This is about risk mitigation. To increase the chances that a loss will not shut operations down permanently, organizations must assess their exposures accurately by asking some questions.
- What is the most the organization could lose from a shutdown? Commercial Property insurance policies define “loss of income” as the sum of the expected pre-tax profit or loss and necessary continuing expenses. For example, if the expected profit is $300,000 and necessary continuing expenses are $100,000, the potential loss of income is $400,000. To calculate their exposure to business interruption losses, organizations should refer to their balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow statements. Insurance companies also have worksheets available to assist with the calculation.
- How much insurance should be carried? Once the organization knows the dollar amount of its exposure, it must decide how much Business Interruption insurance to buy. The key considerations are the length of time the insurance is likely to apply and the coinsurance percentage the organization must meet. Coverage usually begins 72 hours following the damage to the property and ends when business resumes at another location or when the building should be repaired with reasonable speed, whichever occurs first. If the organization decided that the coverage period would be around six months, it could buy an amount of insurance that would satisfy a 50% coinsurance requirement. If the interruption would last longer, higher coinsurance percentage and limits would be necessary.
- How long will it take business to return to normal? Even after operations resume, it could be some time before revenue returns to normal levels. Customers who had gone elsewhere during the shutdown might be slow to return. The standard insurance policy extends coverage for 30 days after operations resume, but some businesses might need more time than that, especially if their businesses are seasonal. For example, a seaside restaurant in New Jersey that makes most of its profits during the summer will need additional coverage even if it can re-open in November.
- How much of the normal payroll expense will continue during the shutdown? The organization will need the continuing services of some employees while it attempts to re-open, but other employees might not be necessary. For example, accounting staff will be needed to pay mandatory expenses such as property taxes and collect receivables earned before the shutdown. Employees who stock shelves will not be needed if there are no shelves to stock.
- Does the business depend on other businesses for revenue? A business can suffer a loss even if its own building is untouched. A loss that shuts down a key customer or supplier or damage to nearby property that causes authorities to close off access to the street can devastate a business’s bottom line (this happened to many businesses affected by 9/11). Special insurance coverage is available to protect against this possibility.
Our insurance team can help you answer these questions and identify insurance companies that can meet coverage needs. With some effort and planning before a loss happens, an organization can emerge from a shut down and return to profitability.
Hiring young people might be tempting for a business. After all, the labor is affordable since kids don’t demand high salaries and won’t need health, retirement and vacation benefits like their older counterparts. Kids are also enthusiastic, willing to do grunt work and able to handle hard labor. Before you hire minors, though, understand the law.
Federal Child Labor Rules
Find the rules about child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It divides minors into categories based on their age.
Children under 13 may not be employed unless the job is on a farm or in a business operated by parents or guardians.
Children who are 14 to 15 years old have several restrictions.
- During the school session, they can work a maximum of three hours per day and 18 hours per week.
- Non-school sessions can include eight hours of work per day and 40 hours per week maximum.
- They may only work from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. or until 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day.
- Hour and day restrictions do not apply for kids who are employed by parents or guardians.
- They may not perform hazardous jobs, including driving motor vehicles, mining, operating certain power tool, logging, manufacturing or meat packing, packaging or slicing.
- State minimum wage guidelines apply.
Children who are 16 to 17 years old can work unlimited hours per day and days per week. Certain hazardous job limitations and state minimum wage guidelines apply.
Children over 18 are considered adults and have no restrictions on work hours or days.
Exceptions to FLSA rules do not apply to kids who work as actors, deliver newspapers or work at home with evergreen materials. Agricultural exceptions also exist.
If you decide to hire minors, make sure your paperwork is in order.
- Use an official birth certificate, driver’s license or other document to verify the minor’s age.
- Obtain an age certificate from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division.
- Your state may require you or your minor employee to get a work permit available through your state’s Department of Labor.
- Get permission from the minor’s parent and school. The authorization form is available from your state’s Labor and Industry department.
- Retain employment records for at least three years. The information includes the employee’s name, address, occupation, employment dates, pay rate, hours worked and pay received.
Before you hire minors for even small tasks like filing papers or cleaning your office, check the federal laws and your state’s Department of Labor’s website. Talk to your insurance agent and attorney, too, as you make sure you’re following the law.
A nationwide study by the Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions (IWS) found that only 10% of middle-class workers believe that they have enough savings to cover medical emergencies and the long-term cost of a critical illness.
Diseases such as cancer, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s can be life-changing financially, as well as personally. Although most respondents said that, even with Medical and Disability Income insurance, they would need out-of-pocket funds to cover their expenses from a serious medical condition, they lack the savings to fall back on. Nearly half (45%) felt they would never recover financially from a battle with Alzheimer’s or dementia; for cancer, the percentage is 38%.
Out of 1,001 survey participants between the ages of 30 and 66 and annual household incomes of $35,000 to $99,999, 75% have saved less than $20,000. Among these, half have less than $2,000 in savings – and one in four have no current savings.
One-fourth of respondents “did not know” what resources they would use to help offset their expenses, says IWS. Others would use credit cards (28%), loans from friends and family (23%) or financial institutions (19%) to help cover what insurance doesn’t.
Washington National Insurance Co president Barbara Stewart advises employees to give themselves a reality check about the financial burden of critical illness. “Find out what your current insurance will – and will not – cover” says Stewart, “and then assess your overall financial health. Identify the gaps between the resources you would need and the options you have.”
We recommend that you offer your employees Critical Illness coverage as a voluntary benefit that will provide an extra layer of financial protection when they face the challenge of a serious disease. Give us a call.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) previously reported that over 40 percent of businesses affected by a disaster do not reopen. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and that number is likely to be higher as the economy reopens.
We hope these tips will help, as America re-opens.
Several organizations are available to help your business rebuild after a disaster strikes. Here is a link to federal information on disaster assistance – https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
- The Small Business Administration – Apply for a low-rate, long-term loan through the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
- Your bank – Talk to your banker about a low-cost loan or other financial assistance. Paycheck Protection Plan is still available.
- Insurance agent – File a claim and discuss your ongoing needs.
- Community – Ask your community, including neighbors, clients and vendors, to help clean up, rebuild and return to business as usual.
When disaster strikes, your business must be prepared. These steps can help. If you don’t have these steps in place, consider implementing them today in preparation for the next disaster.
Review Your Business Contingency Plan
If you don’t already have one – create a business contingency plan. It’s part of your emergency preparedness strategy. This backup plan outlines the steps you’ll take if you ever face a disaster, and it will address:
- Business continuity. COVID-19 or other pandemics do not qualify for this coverage. It may be a while before we have clarity on this from insurers and courts.
- Emergency response
- Crisis communications
- Information technology
- Incident management
- Employee assistance
Some of the questions this document answers include:
- Who is the go-to contact?
- How will we accept, fill and track orders?
- What alternatives are available if our vendors are non-operational?
- What’s the best way to secure data?
Examine your business contingency plan today and make sure it addresses all your needs. With it, your business can regroup quickly after a disaster strikes.
Review Your Insurance and Risk Protection
You probably carry typical business insurance such as liability, property and employee coverage. Read these policies carefully, and store copies of your insurance documents in a safe place where they are easily accessible any time.
If you see gaps in your coverage or notice that you don’t have coverage for certain disasters, purchase additional policies. An umbrella coverage or flood insurance are two examples of insurance products that protect your business. For more details on how to prepare insurance-wise for an emergency of any kind, talk to your insurance agent.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, more people are opting to away from crowds and social situations – and may work from home.
While and employer’s cybersecurity insurance can reduce liability, it makes sense to also implement several security measures in the telecommuting (work-from-home) policy to protect the company.
Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks
Sure, your employees could connect to their neighbor’s wireless network or use public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop. These unsecured networks can open the door for cybersecurity breaches, though. Instruct employees to only connect to secure Wi-Fi networks or provide a safe and secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) for use as they work.
Maintain Security Settings
To protect work-issued devices and confidential data, you may set security settings on the devices you give telecommuters. Remind employees that they should not use a proxy or other method to get around those security settings. Doing so will compromise their device and the company’s data.
From apps to data, everything employees access from their work-issued device should be protected by encryption. This security measure makes it harder for thieves and hackers to steal or access information.
Employees should only have access to essential data and files, not the company’s entire virtual filing cabinet. This limited access protects information and improves security
To get into the device and access various files, employees should use secure passwords. The ideal password contains letters, numbers and symbols, is not easy to guess and is unique to each site. Change passwords at least once a month, too. For additional safety, utilize a two-step authentication process, PIN or token system when logging it.
Prohibit Device Lending
It’s common for telecommuters to let a co-worker or family member use their laptop or phone for a few minutes to check email, play a game or make a call. Discourage this practice since the other person could download questionable content, drop or damage the device, access confidential files, or otherwise compromises the device or security.
Protect Devices from Theft
Leaving a laptop, tablet or phone unattended gives thieves an invitation to steal the device. Remind employees to keep their devices with them at all times and not leave their work devices unattended or in an unlocked vehicle. Likewise, they should take care to secure USB drives and other accessories from theft. You can add tracking capabilities to devices for additional security.
After every work session, employees should log out of the websites they accessed, their Wi-Fi network and their device. This log out procedure protects company data.
Telecommuting is a privilege that benefits your employees and company. Use these security measures to protect everyone.
A rise in temperatures this month can signal spring fever in your office. Your human resources department staff can improve focus and keep everyone on task in several ways.
1. Provide New Challenges
Your employees may feel distracted in part because they’re bored, so provide challenges. Ask them to work in a different department for a day, take on a special project or work with a high school intern. The challenge can provide a welcome distraction and jump-start focus and concentration.
2. Offer a Class
Give employees the opportunity to learn a new skill. You can poll your staff for suggestions or offer foreign language, management or coding classes. While learning something new, your employees will focus on something other than the nice weather.
3. Promote Exercise
Physical activity improves focus, an excellent reason to host a fitness class over lunch, offer discounts to the local gym or encourage employees to bike or walk to work. As your staff members add more exercise into their daily routines, they also focus better on their work-related tasks.
4. Encourage Breaks
Remind employees that breaks can improve their mental health, productivity and focus. Set a timer for hourly stretch breaks, and share the value of regular lunch breaks away from the desk.
5. Change the Scenery
Hang colorful artwork around the office or commission a floral mural in the break room. You can also allow employees to meet at a local coffee shop, play disc golf during lunch or hold walking meetings outdoors. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the warm weather, and the change of scenery boosts creativity, productivity and motivation.
6. Stock Healthy Snacks and Beverages
Fill your break room with healthy food and beverage options, including fruit, veggies, whole grains and water. These snack options boost mood and creativity and improve your employees’ overall health.
7. Play a Game
Challenge employees to participate in a March Madness basketball bracket, host a chili cook-off or reward teams who reach productivity goals. Games keep employees entertained and as a bonus, you’ll see a stronger spirit of cooperation.
8. Bring the Outdoors Inside
Plants can purify the air and improve mood. Arrange plants around the office as you bring a bit of the outdoors inside your office.
9. Adjust Work Hours
If your employees can arrive early and leave work early, they get to enjoy the warm, sunny afternoon weather. Adjust work hours, if possible, and allow employees to indulge their spring fever while completing their work.
Spring fever might try to curtail productivity in your office, but you can improve focus with these steps. Everyone will be happier and work smarter thanks to your efforts.