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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Hiring Considerations When Employing Interns and Employees That Are Minors

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.

Paperwork Requirements

If you decide to hire minors, make sure your paperwork is in order.

  1. Use an official birth certificate, driver’s license or other document to verify the minor’s age.
  2. Obtain an age certificate from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division.
  3. Your state may require you or your minor employee to get a work permit available through your state’s Department of Labor.
  4. Get permission from the minor’s parent and school. The authorization form is available from your state’s Labor and Industry department.
  5. 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.

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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

Spring Cleaning – Morale Booster?

March 19 was the first day of spring – which makes this a good time to think about some “spring cleaning” around your workplace.

A thorough cleaning can enhance safety by eliminating hazards. Why not welcome in the spring by taking a careful look at some occasional and infrequent housekeeping tasks?

For example, clutter builds up in most work areas, creating such hazards as fire, tripping and blocked exits. Spring cleaning is the perfect time to dispose of:

Trash. Got a pile of broken pallets on the loading dock? Dumped a lot of construction debris on the back lot? Remove anything not in use that has piled up from the site.

Equipment. That frayed sling or wobbly ladder might be out of service, but if it’s not easy to repair, why is it still there?, even if it has a “do not use” tag on it, someone in a hurry or not paying close attention might use it anyway — and regret it afterward.

Chemicals. Old or unused chemicals create unnecessary workplace hazards. They might be flammable or toxic. What’s more, many chemicals that aren’t dangerous when purchased can become so as they deteriorate over time. Dispose of chemicals that are no longer in use, have passed their use-by dates, or have missing or illegible labels.

Clean and Repair. Besides clearing out the clutter, your spring cleaning can address infrequent needs that will boost worker safety and health. For example, maybe it’s time to clean and/or service:

Signs and labels. Signs and labels are important for workplace safety, warning workers of low clearances, identifying machinery controls and power sources, showing workers which direction materials in pipes are flowing, and much, much more. However, they also take a lot of abuse. Replace damaged signs and illegible labels, clean signs that have become too grimy to read, and re-hang signs that have been knocked askew.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. A health hazard evaluation by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that properly maintained HVAC systems were associated with a decreased incidence of lower respiratory symptoms, allergies, and asthma among building occupants. Proper maintenance controls mold, bacteria, allergens, and other contaminants within the system.

Offices. University of Arizona researchers found that office phones, computer keyboards and mice, and desktops harbor 400 times more infectious bacteria than office toilet seats. Yet in most offices, vacuuming and emptying the trash are the only regular cleaning performed. Encourage workers to take disinfecting wipes to office surfaces — not just once a year, but daily if possible — to reduce infectious illness transmission in the workplace. Also, have your cleaning crew do an extra thorough job from time to time.

Remember, the cleaner your workplace, the safer your workers. Our risk management professionals would be happy to chat further– just give us a call.

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6 months ago · by · 0 comments

Flu Prevention Tips That Protect You and Your Coworkers

Flu season typically peaks between December and February, but it can last as long as May. Because the flu spreads quickly between people who work in close quarters, you really need to understand flu prevention tips as you protect yourself and your coworkers this flu season.

Get Vaccinated

The flu shot is one of the best preventative measures you can take since it combats the season’s main flu virus that is expected to affect the most people. Although the vaccine’s antibodies won’t begin protecting you for two weeks, get yours today, and encourage your coworkers to get their flu shots, too.

Stay Home if You’re Sick

Of course, your job is essential, but going to work when you’re sick only infects everyone else. Stay home, focus on getting better and remind your coworkers to stay home if they’re sick.

Disinfect Office Surfaces

Disinfectant spray and wipes will be your best friends this flu season. Use them to clean germs off your computer keyboard, printer key pad, phone, pens and pencils, doorknobs, drawer pulls and anything else you and your coworkers touch regularly.

Cover Your Nose and Mouth

Sneeze or cough into a disposable tissue to prevent your germs from spreading to others.

Wash Your Hands

As frequently as possible, wash your hands in hot, soapy water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wipes also kill germs, but use them only when soap and water are unavailable.

Don’t Touch Your Face

Flu germs on your hands spread quickly when you touch your face, so protect yourself by keeping your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes.

Go to Bed

Enough rest increases your immunity and ability to fight germs. Your chances of staying healthy increases when you grab a few a few extra minutes of sleep every night.

Eat and Drink a Healthy Diet

From loading up on fruits and veggies to drinking water, your body will stay strong when you fuel it with healthy foods.

Are you ready to stay healthy this flu season, especially with the current Coronavirus outbreak? Follow these tips and talk to your doctor about additional ways you and your coworkers can stay healthy this year.

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10 months ago · by · 0 comments

Risks for employees that work remotely

Modern technology has made it easier than ever for employees to work from home and still remain connected to their place of employment. Using remote employment has actually become a popular trend over the last ten years, especially since selling to the global market has become such an important factor in a business being competitive. Many businesses have found that they can minimize their expenses and attract international customers with more attractive prices if they decrease their overhead by allowing workers to remotely commute.

Despite the many benefits of using remote employees, there are downsides. Many employers considering this trend wonder how they can ensure workplace safety when the employee’s physical workplace is their own home. Another consideration is the degree of employer liability in remote employment.

Fortunately, OSHA has addressed some of the safety issues surrounding remote employment. According to OSHA guidelines, employers are required to maintain a safe workplace, even for employees working from their own home. OSHA will not require an employer to inspect a remote employee’s home worksite, nor inspect it themselves.

However, OSHA may inspect the worksite of an employee that’s performing an at-home job on behalf of their employer if it possibly involves health or safety hazards and there’s a complaint. A record of all occupational illnesses and injuries must be kept on all at-home workers if an employer is subject to OSHA record keeping requirements. Keeping in mind that OSHA compliance measures shouldn’t involve controlling the home worksite of employees, employers might need to take some additional practical measures to ensure OSHA compliance.

As far as safety compliance goes, the absence of immediate supervision for remote workers is one of the main problems employers face. Experienced, highly-trained, long-term employers are generally the worst offenders when it comes to taking safety risks. This group of employees often become complacent due to the fact they’re so accustomed and comfortable with their job, feel they’re familiar with the job’s hazards, and might have escaped disciplinary action when ignoring safety procedures or taking shortcuts in the past.

One of the best ways that employers can counteract the above dangerous attitude toward safety is by using a holistic approach to safety. Employers should focus and place great importance on each individual employee actively participating in the safety process and taking responsibility for their own safety. Whether at home, on the road, or at a remote jobsite, remote employees need to be ready, willing, and able to take the appropriate actions to protect themselves in any given situation.

Employers will need employee support to make any approach to safety successful, which means that employers must have total employee involvement in the safety process. Involve your remote employees in the process of determining what’s needed to prevent injury to themselves and others during remote location work. Most employers find that the experience and firsthand knowledge of their employees is actually very advantageous in creating safe remote worksites.

Remember, employees that understand the value of safety are more likely to be motivated and willing participants. They’re also more apt to embrace safety behaviors for the longevity of their employment. Employers can reinforce their employee’s positive attitude about safety by having electronic or person-to-person safety counseling in place and ensuring safety managers are encouraging safety participation.

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1 year ago · by · 0 comments

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Roll Back Electronic Reporting Requirements After Concerns About Employee Privacy

Earlier this year, OSHA updated its electronic reporting rule after concerns that reports on workplace injuries and illnesses contain employees’ personal information. The agency also explained that under the original rule, it was possible for this information to be disclosed publicly through a Freedom of Information Act request or OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application.

The new final rule only requires certain establishments to submit data from OSHA Form 300A, and became effective on Feb. 25. Previously, establishments with 250 or more employees were also required to submit forms 300 and 301. While this requirement was removed before the March 2 deadline to submit data, OSHA stated that it’s likely that many employers automatically submitted data from all three forms, and using software to remove personal details won’t be 100 percent effective.

Some organizations believe the final rule will negatively affect workplace safety, and six states filed a lawsuit against OSHA in an attempt to reinstate the original electronic reporting requirements. However, others believe that the final rule still allows the agency to collect a summary of workplace injuries and illnesses without revealing potentially harmful personal information.

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1 year ago · by · 0 comments

ACA INDIVIDUAL MANDATE PENALTY NO LONGER APPLIES

On Dec. 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, after it passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

This tax reform bill makes significant changes to the federal tax code. The bill does not impact the majority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax provisions. However, it does reduce the ACA’s individual shared responsibility (or individual mandate) penalty to zero, effective beginning in 2019.

As a result, beginning in 2019, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage.

?The ACA’s individual mandate penalty no longer applies, beginning in 2019. However, individuals will still need to certify on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019) whether they complied with the individual mandate for 2018.

In addition, a failure to obtain acceptable health coverage for 2018 may still result in a penalty for the individual for that year on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019).

The Individual Mandate

The ACA’s individual mandate, which took effect in 2014, requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members or pay a penalty. The mandate is enforced each year on individual federal tax returns. Starting in 2015, individuals filing a tax return for the previous tax year indicate, by checking a box on their returns, which members of their family (including themselves) had health insurance coverage for the year (or qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate). Based on this information, the IRS then assesses a penalty for each nonexempt family member without coverage.

Effect of the Tax Reform Bill

The tax reform bill reduces the ACA’s individual mandate penalty to zero, effective beginning with the 2019 tax year. This effectively eliminates the individual mandate penalty for the 2019 tax year and beyond. As a result, beginning with the 2019 tax year, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members.

Impact on Years Prior to 2019

Although the tax reform bill eliminates the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, this repeal did not take effect until 2019. As a result, individuals were still required to comply with the mandate (or pay a penalty) for 2018. This means that individuals must still certify on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019) whether they complied with the individual mandate for 2018. Therefore, taxpayers should indicate on their 2018 tax returns whether they (and everyone in their family):

  • Had health coverage for the year;
  • Qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate; or
  • Will pay an individual mandate penalty.

In addition, a failure to obtain acceptable health coverage for 2018 may still result in a penalty for the individual for that year. Individuals who are liable for a penalty for failing to obtain acceptable health coverage in 2018 will be required to pay that penalty when they file their federal income taxes in 2019. As a result, some individuals may be required to pay the individual mandate penalty in early 2019, based on their noncompliance for the 2018 tax year.

Effect on Other ACA Provisions

Despite the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, employers and individuals must continue to comply with all other ACA provisions. The tax reform bill does not impact any other ACA provisions, including the Cadillac tax on high-cost group health coverage, the PCORI fees and the health insurance providers fee. In addition, the employer shared responsibility (pay or play) rules and related Section 6055 and Section 6056 reporting requirements are still in place.

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

Physical:
783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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(831) 661-5697

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