ABS Offers Clients Free Access to Premier HR Library

"...your unbiased advocate, providing expert strategy matched to your company's goals and objectives"

 

ABS helps our clients deal with the complex world of Human Resources and Benefits Compliance by offering free access to HR 360.

HR 360, Inc. is the premier, award-winning online HR library that provides comprehensive, easy-to-navigate and understand human resource and benefits guidelines, news and information both on a federal and state level. Whether you need a form, poster, the newest information on health care reform laws or state employment laws, HR360 delivers the information, tools and forms you need to stay compliant. HR 360, Inc. also provides a great range of online tools including a job description developer and salary benchmarking tool to help you manage your HR needs.

Our professional teams of attorneys, HR specialists, editors and advisors, have over 10 years of experience in developing and maintaining award-winning online HR and benefits content, guidelines and forms for over companies nationwide.

Our interactive guides provide easy, step-by-step guidance on how to comply with a broad range of HR and benefits needs from COBRA and FMLA to how to interview, hire and terminate employees. Whether you have 5 employees or 500—we provide the guidelines that will help you comply with the laws written in plain English so it’s easy to understand.

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  •  
     

    In mid-November, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2016-70, which extends the due date by 30 days for furnishing forms under Sections 6055 and 6056 for 2016 and extends good-faith transition relief from penalties related to 2016 Section 6055 and 6056 reporting. The IRS does not anticipate extending the deadlines or transition relief from penalties to reporting for 2017.

    What Is Good-faith Transition Relief?

    In determining good faith, the IRS will take into account whether a reporting entity made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting the required information to the IRS and furnishing it to individuals (such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission to the IRS or testing its ability to transmit information to the IRS).

    Important Dates to Remember

    The 2016 furnishing and reporting deadlines are as follows:

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    (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

    President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017. In a video address published in late November, Trump released a plan for his first 100 days in office.

    During his campaign, Trump called for a repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, his plan does not indicate that he will be repealing it in

    the first 100 days of his presidency. Instead, his plan is focused on issues that include proposals related to immigration, defense policies and trade deals.

    Advanced Benefit Strategies will continue to monitor the presidential transition and any changes that will be made, and provide updates as necessary.

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    On Nov. 22, 2016, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction, halting the enforcement of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime rule nationwide until further notice. The rule, which was set to take effect on Dec. 1, 2016, would have increased the salary threshold for the “white collar overtime exemptions” from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year.

    What Is the Future of the Overtime Rule?

    The DOL may be facing an uphill battle in implementing changes to the overtime exemptions. Despite this, supporters of the rule remain committed to what they describe as fair increases in the overtime exemption salary threshold.

    The DOL has filed a motion for an expedited appeal of the Nov. 22 injunction. The court process, though, is lengthy and it is unclear whether or not the appellate court will make this case a higher priority than others. This means that a final court decision could take months and will probably not be made by Inauguration Day. If a decision is not made on the overtime rule by the time Trump is inaugurated, he may request the DOL to withdraw its appeal.

    In the event that the DOL is successful in its appeal, it is possible that the state plaintiffs who are involved in the court case could file a petition to be heard by the full circuit, which could delay the court’s order. It is also possible that Trump could take executive action to block or amend the rule, but it is not clear at this time what approach he would take to change or undo the rule. If the appellate court strikes down the rule, though, further court or executive action would not be necessary.

    What Does This Mean for Employers?

    The judge’s ruling gives employers across the country a reprieve from having to raise salaries for exempt employees to the new threshold or pay them overtime.

    Employers that have already made adjustments to comply with the new rule may find it difficult to reverse any changes. However, employers may decide to postpone any changes that have not yet been made.

    Employers should continue to watch for new developments related to the overtime rule, as some uncertainty remains. Until a final decision is reached in the case, employers can rely on existing overtime exemption rules.

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    The new year is a great time to take stock of your company’s compliance with important federal, state, and local labor law requirements. Keep these resolutions in mind to help start your company off right in 2017:

    1. Give your poster wall a thorough check-up. Make sure all of your workplace posters are up-to-date and the correct size. Check with your state labor department for any industry-specific poster requirements that may apply to your business. Note that certain localities may also have posting requirements.
    2. Stay on top of notice requirements. From summary plan descriptions (SPDs), to COBRA- and FMLA-related notices, employers are required under various laws to provide employees with certain information about their benefits and responsibilities. Confirm that your employee communications are accurate, consistent, and in compliance with applicable law.
    3. Keep up with recordkeeping. In addition to being a good business practice, employers are required to maintain certain types of employee records in order to comply with applicable law. Verify that your recordkeeping procedures address any requirements related to confidentiality and how long to keep records.
    4. Review policies and procedures. Be sure your company policies and procedures comply with applicable labor laws related to employee leave, equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment, worker safety, and other requirements.
    5. Confirm that your workers are classified properly. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors can result in costly legal consequences. Also remember that an employee’s exempt or nonexempt status is based on his or her compensation and specific job duties. It’s a good idea to review job descriptions on a regular basis (at least annually) as well, as tasks and requirements may change. However, neither job titles nor job descriptions determine the exempt or nonexempt status of an employee.

    Our HR Compliance Quick-Check includes more tips for staying on track with compliance this year.

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    In July 2016, the IRS released a proposed rule addressing how opt-out arrangements–arrangements whereby an employer offers its employees a cash payment in exchange for declining coverage under an employer-sponsored plan–are to be taken into account for purposes of determining whether the coverage is affordable under certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. While the IRS anticipated finalizing this rule prior to the end of 2016, the IRS has announced that it expects to finalize such guidance “at a later time.”

    Latest Opt-Out Arrangement Guidance
    Until final regulations are applicable, employers can rely on the opt-out arrangement guidance provided in IRS Notice 2015-87 and the proposed rule. That guidance generally provides that, for purposes of “pay or play” and the corresponding information reporting provisions, employers are not required to increase an employee’s required contribution by the amount of an opt-out payment as long as payment was not made as part of a “non-relief-eligible opt-out arrangement.” In general, a non-relief-eligible opt-out arrangement is an unconditional opt-out arrangement (an arrangement providing payments conditioned solely on an employee declining coverage under employer-sponsored coverage and not on an employee satisfying any other meaningful requirement related to the provision of health care to employees, such as a requirement to provide proof of coverage through a plan of a spouse’s employer) adopted after December 16, 2015.

    Note: Opt-out arrangements conditioned on an employee obtaining individual market coverage could operate as an impermissible employer payment plan that may be subject to a $100 per day excise tax per applicable employee ($36,500 per year, per employee) under the federal tax code.

    Follow our Health Care Reform section for the latest Affordable Care Act updates.

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  • December 2010
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    A new law allows certain small employers–those with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees who do not offer a group health plan–to offer new “qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements” to reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses, including individual health insurance premiums, for years after December 31, 2016. The law also includes a notice requirement for these new HRAs.

    Qualified Small Employer HRAs
    Qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) are exempt from the ACA’s market reforms. To be considered a qualified small employer HRA, the arrangement generally must:

    Note: Large employers and employers who offer a group health plan are not eligible to offer qualified small employer HRAs.

    Notice Requirement
    An employer funding a qualified small employer HRA for any year must provide a written notice to each eligible employee that includes the following information:

    Effective for years beginning after December 31, 2016, the notice generally must be provided no later than 90 days before the beginning of the year in which the HRA is funded–or, if an employee is not eligible to participate in the arrangement as of the beginning of such year, the date on which the employee is first eligible.

    Check out our section on Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) for more.

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    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that tax season will begin Monday, January 23, 2017. The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017.


    Tax Season Begins January 23
    The IRS will begin accepting electronic tax returns on January 23, 2017. Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before January 23 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open. The IRS will begin processing paper tax returns at the same time. According to the IRS, there is no advantage to filing tax returns on paper in early January instead of waiting for the IRS to begin accepting e-filed returns.

    April 18 Filing Deadline 
    The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15date, as a result of a weekend and a District of Columbia holiday.

    Visit our section on Employer Tax Laws for more on employer taxes.

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    The minimum wage will rise in a number of states in 2017. Unless otherwise noted, the following minimum wage rates (per hour) are scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2017:   

    Be sure to comply with any city or other local wage requirements (which may be higher than the state or federal minimum wage) that may apply to your business.

    For more information on state minimum wage laws, please visit our State Laws section, click on your state, and select “Minimum Wage” in the left-hand navigation menu.

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