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Kyle Pardo

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Employers Plan Slight Acceleration of Wages, Salaries in 2019

Posted by Kyle Pardo on Jan 3, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Massachusetts employers plan slightly larger pay increases in 2019 than in 2018, though the projected raises remain below the national average, a new AIM survey has found.

WageIncreases2019The 2018 Associated Industries of Massachusetts HR Practices survey found that employers project a 2.86 percent salary increase for 2019, up from 2.66 percent in 2018. Salary increase budgets have remained less than 3 percent since the recession of 2009, despite a 3.4 percent state unemployment rate and a persistent shortage of qualified workers.

AIM survey participants also project an increase in recruitment activity during 2019. Forty-two percent of employers expect an increase in recruitment activity versus 33 percent last year.

National surveys predict average salary increases of 3.2 percent this year. MassBenchmarks reports that wages and salaries for Massachusetts workers rose an average of 3.2 percent during the second and third quarters.

“With unemployment trending down and the January 1, 2019 minimum-wage increase, HR professionals across the state will continue to face new challenges. They’ll need to stretch payroll budgets; attract, retain and reward top talent; and comply with new and existing requirements across the entire HR spectrum,” said Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of AIM HR Solutions, which conducted the survey.

Manufacturing companies anticipate the most generous 2019 salary increases at 2.9 percent.  Service companies expect to boost wages 2.65 percent.

The salary projections come amid a swirl of contradictory economic and regulatory signals ranging from an impending increase to the Massachusetts minimum wage and implementation of paid family and medical leave to a slowdown in cost increases for health insurance.

Health premium increases for HMOs slowed to 6.35 percent during 2018 from 8.32 percent in 2017. Similar price moderation took place within consumer-driven health plans, tiered networks and high-deductible health plans.

Still, rising health premiums continue to force employers to shift costs to employees. Forty-eight percent of companies plan to increase co-payments for HMO plans during 2019, while 33 percent will boost deductibles and 55 percent will increase employee costs.

Eight companies are seeking to control health costs by prohibiting spouses from enrolling in coverage if they have access to health insurance through their own employer.

The Massachusetts minimum wage will increase to $12 per hour in 2019 and then accelerate to $15 per hour by 2023, a shift many employers believe will cause wage compression and drive up annual pay. Premium pay for Sunday retail work will be phased out during the same period.

The HR Practices survey results are based on responses from 170 companies, more than half of them manufacturers.

Download the HR Practices Report

Topics: Compensation, wages, AIM HR Practices Survey

Massachusetts Employers Required to Give Some Workers Time Off to Vote

Posted by Kyle Pardo on Nov 1, 2010 9:45:00 AM

Voters in Massachusetts head to the polls tomorrow to cast their votes in state, Congressional and local elections.  Federal law does not require companies to allow employees time off from work to vote, but Massachusetts law in some cases does. It is in your best interest to communicate a voting-day policy to your employees prior to Election Day.

Voting Time OffPolls in Massachusetts will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Massachusetts General Laws Section 178 states that employees working in manufacturing, mechanical or retail industries whose shift begins at 7 a.m. may not be required to work during the first two hours that polls are open – as long as the worker has requested a leave of absence in advance.

The law does not specify whether the leave is paid or unpaid.  In all other industries, if polls are open two or three hours prior to an employee’s regular work hours, the employer is not required to provide time off to vote.  Employers may require employees to request time off in advance.

Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont do not have state laws specifying time-off requirements for employees on Election Day.

Many employers require employees to vote during non-business hours.  Employers may need to be flexible and take an employee’s commuting distance into account when determining the appropriate amount of time to allow for voting.

Employers may not require employees to forfeit their normal lunch time for the purpose of voting.  It is also important to remember that employers may not discipline or retaliate against employees for taking time off to vote.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, Employment Law, Election 2010

Does Your Company Qualify for the Federal Health-Care Tax Credit?

Posted by Kyle Pardo on Jun 8, 2010 3:53:00 PM

More than 102,000 Massachusetts employers may be eligible for the new federal tax credit intended to help small companies cope with the expense of providing health insurance to employees. But how do you know whether or not your company qualifies? How much is the tax credit? And what's in the fine print?

The small business health-care tax credit provision of federal health care reform (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA) was created to reduce health insurance costs for employers with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.  The amount of the income tax credit is graduated based on the number of FTEs, but the maximum for the 2010-2013 tax years is 35 percent of the amount a qualifying employer contributes toward the cost of coverage for its employees. That's real money if you run a small business. 

The IRS recently sent post cards to approximately four million businesses nationwide that may be eligible for the tax credit, including more than 102,000 in Massachusetts.  The tax credit is available to employers meeting all four of the following criteria for tax years 2010 - 2013:

  1. The employer must either be a taxable employer or a 501(c) tax-exempt employer;
  2. The employer must have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the tax year;

    The definition of one FTE is 2,080 payroll hours per year.

    "Payroll hours" include all hours worked, as well as all hours paid but not worked (vacation, holidays, sick time, jury duty and all other paid absences).

    Seasonal workers may be excluded if they work no more than 120 days in the year. It is important to remember that the definitions of FTE and "seasonal employee" are different under the federal and Massachusetts health care reforms, and many small employers must use both - just one small example of the growing complexity of integrating state and federal requirements.

  3. The average annual wages for each FTE must total less than $50,000, calculated by dividing the total gross wages, i.e., before any deductions are made for taxes, 401(k), benefits, etc., by the number of FTEs; and
  4. The employer must contribute at least 50 percent of the individual premium cost for health insurance provided through a qualifying arrangement.  This is known as the "uniformity requirement."  The definition of "health insurance" includes medical insurance, stand-alone dental plans, stand-alone vision plans, and long-term care plans.  

For purposes of both the FTE and average wage calculations above, certain business owners, partners, and their family members, as defined in IRS guidance, are excluded, i.e., they are not deemed to be "employees."

Read the Full Article

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Health Care Reform, Health Care Costs, Controlling Health Care Costs, Health Insurance

Texting Bill Reminds Employers to Review Policy on Cell Phones

Posted by Kyle Pardo on Feb 15, 2010 11:42:00 AM

Are your employees texting behind the wheel while on company business? The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently approved a ban on texting while driving and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that operators of commercial vehicles are prohibited from texting on the road.

Employers may wish to set similar rules.

The Massachusetts House bill states that "no operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile telephone, mobile electronic device, or other device capable of accessing the Internet to compose, send, or read an electronic message while operating'' a vehicle. Drivers could only text "if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the roadway intended for travel."

It's a good time for your organization to consider implementing a cell phone policy for employees who drive on company business. A 2008 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 83 percent of survey respondents rated distracted drivers and drivers using cell phones as a "serious" or "extremely serious" problem. Drunk driving was the only issue viewed as more serious.

In addition to prohibiting employees driving on company business from talking or texting on cell phones, you may want to consider the following:

  • If you provide a cell phone for employees, do you have a monthly allowance?
  • Do you have a plan to collect company cell phones upon an employee's termination?
  • Do employees know that all communications made with a company cell phone are the property of the company and the company reserves the right to access, read, and disclose information sent to or received from its system(s)?
  • Do you have a policy notifying employees that electronic media cannot be used for knowingly transmitting, retrieving, or storing any communication that is:

            Discriminatory or harassing; 
            Derogatory to any individual or group; 
            Obscene;
            Defamatory or threatening; or
            Engaged in for any purpose that is illegal or contrary to company policies. 
 

  • Do you have a policy limiting applications from being installed or deleted from company phones without prior management approval?

Visit the AIM Online Resource Center or call the Employer Hotline for a sample cell phone policy.

Topics: AIM, Employment Law, Human Resources, Massachusetts

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