Thanks to your health insurance policy, you can receive routine checkups, specialist consultations, lifesaving medications and necessary procedures for just a few dollars a month. Your premiums may be rising this year, though, because of increased health insurance policy costs and decreases in your employer’s budget. Instead of dropping your coverage or paying a fortune for health insurance, stay healthy and balance your personal budget in the new year with six tips.
1. Review Your Benefits
Does your current health insurance policy include vision, dental or prescription medicine coverage that you rarely use? Dropping these options could reduce your health insurance costs.
2. Shop for Private or Government Exchange Health Insurance
Instead of automatically accepting your employer’s coverage with higher monthly premiums or fewer benefits, shop around. Private or state sponsored health insurance could be a more affordable option for you.
3. Increase Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Put your good health to good use and elect to pay lower monthly premiums in favor of higher out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, your deductible and copays will increase, but you could save money in the long run.
4. Consider Joining Your Spouse’s Policy
If your spouse or partner has employer-sponsored health insurance, discuss the costs of joining his or her policy. You could save money by switching to family coverage instead of carrying individual policies.
You should also check out your options after qualifying events occur in your life. In those cases, you may be able to switch your health insurance coverage and save money. Those events include:
- Child Birth or Adoption
- Legal Separation or Divorce
- Death of Spouse or a Dependent
5. Rethink Insurance Options When You’re Laid Off
January is a typical month for downsizing. If you lose your job, you could be eligible for Cobra (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). You continue to pay your health insurance premiums plus a two percent administrative fee, and your insurance does not lapse.
The costs of COBRA can be expensive, though, especially when you aren’t receiving a paycheck. You have 60 days to decide if you want your COBRA benefits or not, so start researching private options as you make the best financial decision for you.
6. Get and Stay Healthy
Little things like exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking can reduce your health care costs since you’ll see the doctor less often. Additionally, your employer may offer wellness incentives for healthy living that can reduce your premium costs. Even if they aren’t offered, you will save money when you get and stay healthy.
This January, take time to review your health insurance. With these six tips, you can save money, be healthy and stay on budget in the new year.
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.
11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
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.
11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
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.
12 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.