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7 days 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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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Critical Illness Insurance can be an employer sponsored voluntary benefit.

4A 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.

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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Getting Back to Business Quickly After a Disaster

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.

Seek Assistance
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

  1. The Small Business Administration – Apply for a low-rate, long-term loan through the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
  2. Your bank – Talk to your banker about a low-cost loan or other financial assistance. Paycheck Protection Plan is still available.
  3. Insurance agent – File a claim and discuss your ongoing needs.
  4. 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.

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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

Working from home? Some cyber-security considerations.

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.

Encrypt Everything

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.

Limit Access

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

Strengthen Passwords

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.

Log Out

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.

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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

Ways To Improve Focus In The Office When Spring Fever (and March Madness) Strikes

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.

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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

Build Better Relationships With Co-Workers

Closer relationships among co-workers boost collaboration, teamwork, morale, productivity, job satisfaction, and wellness. As you observe Relationship Wellness Month in February, encourage better work relationships with these suggestions.

Do a Good Job

Employees who consistently do a poor job force their co-workers to do more work. Resentment grows, and your company may miss deadlines and lose customers.

Give employees a clear job description and set expectations for performance. Then celebrate employees who do a good job and meet their goals.

Accept Differences

While it’s tempting for employees with similar interests to congregate together and avoid others who are different, greater acceptance improves relationships and personal well-being.

For this reason, provide opportunities for diverse employees to work together and find common ground. Plan team-building activities, too, as you celebrate and accept differences.

Share Less Personal Information

Your employees are human and will bring personal problems to work. However, distracted employees can make mistakes or cause accidents. Sharing too much information also causes discomfort and conflict between co-workers.

Remind employees to be professional at work. Also, promote the mental health benefits of your employer-sponsored health insurance or provide counseling services for employees.

Avoid Gossip

Juicy tidbits of information about co-workers may seem entertaining, but gossip breaks down morale and can cause projects to suffer. It also reduces trust and respect.

Spread awareness about the dangers of gossip. You can also remind employees to change the subject or walk away from such conversations.

Manage Conflict

Disagreements and conflicts are normal, but these situations create tension and inhibit collaboration.

Create a straightforward conflict resolution process, and maintain an open door policy. With these conflict resolution strategies, co-workers address issues, resolve challenges and restore relationships.

Assist Others

Meeting a deadline or managing a big project can strain busy employees and increase stress.

Promote helpfulness and collaboration as you ease strain, stress and pressure. Everyone on the team can and should work together to get the job done right and on time.

Stay Positive

Sometimes, bad things happen. Employees may make mistakes, struggle to adapt to change or feel unappreciated. Negative and bad moods are contagious, though, and affect everyone.

Instead of allowing negativity, implement a complaint procedure. Then lead by example as you promote positivity.

Plan Fun

In the midst of busy workdays, your employees may not have time to socialize and truly get to know their co-workers.

Schedule an outing, activity or another fun event at least once a month. Give employees time to unwind, relax and get to know each other better.

To observe Relationship Wellness Month, look for ways to improve rapport at work. These tips help you build better relationships among co-workers and increase employee and company success.

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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

Available 8:30am - 5:00pm