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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

July Business Newsletter

Employee Drug Use Reaches 12-year High

The positive drug test rate for the U.S. workforce was 4.2 percent in 2016, according to the Drug Testing Index (DTI) released by Quest Diagnostics. This represents a 5 percent increase over the positive rate in 2015, and the largest single-year positive rate since 2004.

The DTI analyzed over 10 million workforce drug test results from 2016 and categorized employees into three categories, including employees with federally mandated drug tests, the general workforce and the combined U.S. workforce. Here are additional details about the DTI’s findings for specific drug types:

  • Marijuana—The positive test rate for marijuana increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing, which is used in the general workforce. Federally mandated marijuana tests only utilize urine tests, and the positive test rate increased 10 percent in 2016.
  • Cocaine—Positive test rates for cocaine in post-accident drug tests were more than twice as high as pre-employment screenings.
  • Amphetamines—Positive test rates for amphetamines have risen 64 percent between 2012 and 2016 for the general workforce. Quest Diagnostics attributes this increase to the prevalence of prescription drugs, including Adderall.

In order to create a safe, productive workplace, you need to watch out for potential drug use at your business.

Political Discussions Hurt Job Performance

Many people can get worked up about politics, but a new survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) has shown that political discussions in the workplace can have a big impact on your employees’ job performance.

The APA surveyed U.S. employees about the impact of political discussions after the 2016 presidential election, and found that these discussions have a detrimental effect on job performance and relationships with co-workers. The survey found that 40 percent of employees have experienced a negative outcome following a workplace political discussion, such as reduced productivity or difficulty getting work done. Additionally, 24 percent of employees said they avoid some co-workers solely because of their politics.

According to the APA, social networks and constant news reports can cause individuals to adopt an “us versus them” political mentality, which can lead to conflict. As a result, it’s important to encourage respect, collaboration and courtesy in your workplace to ensure that your employees feel supported and remain productive.

New Executive Order Aims to Improve Cyber Security

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order to improve the country’s cyber security and protect key infrastructure from cyber attacks. The order also emphasized the importance of strengthening the cyber security of federal agencies. According to a survey from Thales Group, a cyber security company, 34 percent of federal agencies experienced a data breach in the last year, and 95 percent of agencies consider themselves vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The executive order did not create any ongoing cyber security requirements, but instead laid out goals to assess the current state of cyber defenses and develop deterrence strategies. Here are some of the requirements of the executive order:

  • Federal agencies must draft reports on their ability to defend themselves against cyber threats.
  • The departments of Energy and Homeland Security must assess potential vulnerabilities to the country’s electrical grids. The executive order specifically mentions that prolonged power outages could pose a threat to national security or damage the economy.
  • Various federal agencies must review the cyber defense plans of U.S. allies in order to cooperate during international cyber attacks.

Apple Creates $1 Billion Fund to Support U.S. Manufacturing

Apple, the world’s largest technology company, recently announced that it will create a $1 billion fund to support U.S. manufacturing. Although the company is based in the United States, it has faced criticism for outsourcing most of its manufacturing and taking jobs from U.S. workers.

Apple’s CEO stated that one goal of the fund was to support smart manufacturing and to create a ripple effect in industries that support smart manufacturers. For more information on the manufacturing fund, visit Apple’s website.

DID YOU KNOW?

A U.S. Court of Appeals recently barred the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from requiring recreational drone owners to register their unmanned aircraft. The FAA had originally required recreational drones to be registered in order to help identify aircraft that posed a hazard, and to pass on safety information to operators. However, the court’s ruling will not impact the use of drones for commercial use, as these aircraft must still be registered with the FAA before they are used.

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2 years ago · by · 0 comments

Help Workers Plan For Their ‘GOLDEN YEARS’

For your workers to enjoy the full financial benefits from their 401(k) plans, experts recommend that employee education sessions make sure that participants:

  • Contribute enough to receive the maximum match. One expert estimates that at least one in three employees don’t make the maximum contribution, which means they’re leaving free money on the table.
  • Avoid account trading. Because it’s all too easy for plan participants to panic at market bottoms and be over-confident at tops, advise them not to open their account statements during these periods.
  • Diversify. Concentrating account balances in one or a few funds that employees feel will perform well or are safe means making a risky bet on only one economic scenario.
  • Keep their money in the plan. Employees who take out loans on their funds, make withdrawals or cash out a 401(k) when they change jobs will have to pay taxes and penalties that reduce plan payout by almost 50%, which will make it impossible to save enough for retirement.
  • Keep saving. Workers stop saving for a number of reasons. The equity market falls, their spouse loses a job, they want to save outside the plan for a home, car, boat, marriage, etc. It’s far better to lower their contribution if necessary, without going to 0%. Remember, employees need to average 15% in savings over an entire career to retire at their current standard of living.
  • Focus on the bottom line. The most important factor in a 401(k) is not the allocation of assets, market timing, or investment performance, although these are important. It’s how much the employee saves!

Make sure that you follow these guidelines in retirement planning education for your employees. They’ll be grateful for your encouragement and support.

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2 years ago · by · 0 comments

When Can I Use Unemployment Insurance?

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Most employers have to carry unemployment insurance on their employees. Do you really understand, though, when you can use your unemployment insurance benefits? Knowing the answer to this question can help you make important decisions about using this coverage.

What is Unemployment Insurance?

Unemployment Insurance is designed to help you cover expenses when you’re between jobs. It usually gives you a percentage of your working wages rather than a full paycheck.

Unemployment laws also vary by state. Although they follow guidelines from the federal government, each state’s Department of Labor determines how much coverage workers get when they file for unemployment.

Who’s Eligible to Collect Unemployment Benefits?

If you’ve been laid off or fired and are not at fault, you may qualify for unemployment. You will generally be disqualified from receiving unemployment, though, if you:

*Quit without having a good cause,
*Are fired for misconduct,
*Resign because of illness,
*Become involved in a labor dispute or
*Leave to get married or attend school.

What are Unemployment Insurance Limits?

Most states allow you to receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. In cases, you may be eligible for extensions based on federal guidelines or your state’s unemployment rates.

When Should You File?

As soon as you’re laid off or let go from your job, file for unemployment. It often takes two to three weeks for benefits to start, so a delay in filing means a delay in receiving benefits.

Also, realize that unemployment is not a free ride. While you can use the money to pay any expenses, you typically have to prove that you’re looking for employment to receive ongoing benefits. You’ll also have to report any hours you worked.

Unemployment insurance gives you some financial assistance if you lose your job.
Don’t quit and expect to be compensated, though. Discuss this coverage with your employer, insurance company or Department of Labor if you need further clarification.

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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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Info@ScurichInsurance.com

(831) 661-5697

Available 8:30am - 5:00pm