05 Dec

December TrussConnect

OSHA Extends Compliance Date for Workplace Injury
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the date by which employers must electronically report workplace injury and illness data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) to December 15, 2017. This extension allows affected employers added time to adapt to the new electronic reporting system that launched on August 1, 2017.

10 Holiday Tips for Staying Healthy and Safe
As the holiday season approaches this year, keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe with these ten simple tips from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The holidays can be one of the most wonderful times of the year—and one of the most stressful. As this season approaches, help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe with these ten simple tips.

  1. Wash your hands frequently
    It’s simple, but it’s one of the most basic ways to stay healthy. Keeping your hands clean can help prevent illness and the spread of germs. To get your hands clean, wash them with soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t an option, try an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Bundle up
    When the temperature drops, be sure to wear layers of warm clothing. Because colder weather can cause health problems, check on children, older adults and pets more frequently.
  3. Actively manage your stress
    Many people experience more stress as the holidays approach. Actively manage stress by getting enough sleep. Avoid overcommitting, overspending, and try to keep a relaxed, positive outlook.
  4. Be safe when you hit the road
    Be sure to designate a sober driver for holiday parties—and always buckle up when you get in the car. If you’re traveling with kids, make sure that you buckle them in the car using a booster seat or child safety seat, according to their height, weight, and age.
  5. Celebrate smoke-free
    The holidays are a great time to renew your commitment to your, health by resolving to quit smoking. Talk to your healthcare provider for quitting tips, or sign up for our Tobacco Cessation Incentive Program.
  6. Visit your doctor
    Take care of your health for the year to come by visiting your doctor for any annual exams or screenings, which can help find problems early or before they start. Make sure your vaccinations are all up to date and consider getting a flu shot to help avoid the illness this season.
  7. Keep an extra close eye on kids
    Be sure to supervise children well this holiday season. Keep potentially hazardous toys, food, drinks, household items and choking hazards out of their reach.
  8. Prevent fires
    With decorations and celebrations, you may find that you have extra fire hazards around during the holiday season. Be sure that strings of lights are connected properly. Keep lit candles away from children and pets—as well as walkways, trees, and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves or candles unattended. Check that all your fire detectors are functioning well, and change their batteries if necessary.
  9. Practice food safety
    As you prepare holiday meals, stay safe from foodborne illness. Wash your hands and countertops frequently. Avoid cross-contamination by storing raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meats before serving, and refrigerate your leftovers promptly.
  10. Eat healthy and stay active
    Temptations abound during the holiday season. Help maintain your weight by consciously making healthier choices, like opting for larger portions of vegetables and whole grains, and smaller portions of high-fat treats. Don’t forget to exercise. Try to stay active for 2.5 hours a week, and encourage children and teens to be active for at least one hour a day. As always, before starting any exercise program, talk to your doctor and see what he or she recommends.

Offices Closed
As a reminder, Truss will be closed December 25 – 26, and on January 1. Thank you for a wonderful 2017 and we look forward to serving you in 2018!

Happy Holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

04 Oct

October 2017 Newsletter

October 2017 Newsletter

EMPLOYERS MUST START USING THE NEW FORM I-9 NOW

On July 17, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services published a new Form I-9 to be used to verify employment eligibility for new hires. Employers must complete the new Form I-9 for any employee hired on or after September 18, 2017; continued use of the old form will subject employers to significant monetary penalties.

The revisions to the new form are limited to updates in the List of Acceptable documents; specifically, List C has been renumbered and updated to include the current versions of the certification or report of birth forms issued by the U.S. State Department.

Employers are reminded that they must ensure that all new employees complete the Form I-9 within the first three (3) days of employment. The new Form I-9 may be accessed at: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9

10 TIPS FOR SPOTTING A PHISHING EMAIL

From TechRepublic
Every day countless phishing emails are sent to unsuspecting victims all over the world. While some of these messages are so outlandish that they are obvious frauds, others can be a bit more convincing. So how do you tell the difference between a phishing message and a legitimate message? Unfortunately, there is no one single technique that works in every situation, but there are a number of things that you can look for. READ MORE

EMPLOYEES: A RISKY BUSINESS

By Jeff DeWolf, Human Capital Practice Leader

He could feel the heat rise in his cheeks as a small bead of sweat rolled off his forehead and down to the tip of his nose. With a flick of his index finger, the drop of sweat was quickly removed.

“Could you, uh, repeat the question?” Bill Thomas asked as he looked over at the judge and then back to the opposing attorney.

“Please explain what your firm has done to prevent the events which Miss Johnson claims have occurred?” replied EEOC lead attorney, Mark Jackson.

Bill’s mind raced. He thought about the claims of sexual harassment Sherry Johnson had leveled against a member of his management team. While he didn’t doubt her claims, he truly couldn’t believe that the behavior had continued for three months even after she reported it to her boss.

“I, uh, I mean we as a company would never condone this behavior,” Bill stated as authoritatively as he could. “We have a policy against it! It’s in our employee handbook, I believe. Isn’t that right, Janet?”

Janet Baker, Bill’s HR Director, squirmed in her seat, unsure if she was supposed to–or even allowed to–respond.

“Thank you, Mr. Thomas,” came Jackson’s reply, essentially ending Bill’s fumbling for an answer. “Just so I’m clear… Are you saying that your effort to protect your employees from discrimination and harassment in your workplace was the possible insertion of a policy statement in your handbook?”

“Well, uh, yes, I mean, no. I mean, everyone knows that the company frowns on this stuff!” Bill stammered with a rising note of defensiveness.

“So, let’s say the policy is in your handbook,” Mark interrupted. “When was your handbook last updated? When was the last time the policy itself was communicated to employees? What…”

“Objection!” interjected Bill’s attorney. “How many questions will counsel ask before allowing my client to answer?”

“Sustained. Mr. Jackson, please allow the witness to answer one question at a time,” directed the judge. “Mr. Thomas, you may answer the questions if you can remember them.”

“Uh, well, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure when our handbook was last updated,” began Bill. “And as I far as I know, employees are asked to read and agree to the workplace conduct policy on their first day.”

“So, the accused harasser read and agreed to comply with the workplace conduct policy on his first day?” asked Mark Jackson, one of the EEOC’s winningest attorneys.

“Absolutely,” replied Bill confidently. “Janet makes sure of it.”

“Okay,” said Jackson. “When was he hired?”

“Excuse me?” asked Bill.

“The date, Mr. Thomas. When was the accused hired?” repeated Jackson with a hint of irritation in his voice.

“I have no idea!” Bill said, almost shouting now. “He’s been here longer than I have! Probably twenty years or more! What does that have to do…”

Jackson interrupted him. “I think we’ve heard enough, your honor. This witness, the CEO of a successful manufacturing company, has done virtually nothing to protect employees from discrimination and harassment in his workplace. He essentially trusts employees to remember a piece of paper they read and signed during their first day on the job.”

Bill’s heart sank. He glared across the room at his HR Director, who decided at that moment that she needed to check her phone for some important information. He looked to the left and made eye contact with company attorney and CFO Harry James. Harry shook his head ever so slightly, and with eyes slightly widened, mouthed the words… “We’re in trouble.”

—————————

If reading the above account made you as uncomfortable as it did me while I wrote it, then it did its job. Unfortunately, while the story above is fiction, stories like it play out in real life all too often.

Having employees is a risky proposition, but we often don’t invest much in mitigation strategies for that risk. We buy insurance in case our buildings burn down. We invest in security systems to prevent the loss of valuable equipment or information. We even pay IT experts to prevent data breaches which could ruin our business.

The EEOC has been very clear about what they consider to be responsible corporate behavior for the prevention of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation: effective training, clear policies, solid reporting procedures, and responsiveness when incidents occur. It even spelled out what is viewed as effective training. I’ve seen those expectations, and watching an awkward, outdated, sexual harassment video from the seventies is not it. In fact, the EEOC has essentially sent the message that if you “check the box” with a policy statement and add minimal online training, you won’t receive any real credit for preventing bad practices in your workplace.

Truss encourages our clients to see this as simple risk management. It can help protect you financially, but best of all, it helps you ensure a safe, respectful, and fair environment for employees.

We offer the program a “Workplace of Respect™” that meets the EEOC’s standards of effective training. Leveraging adult learning theory and brain science, it uses a common-sense approach by appealing to the participant to treat others with decency and honor. While providing the basic legal information, it’s intended to change hearts and minds as people start to see others as valuable and deserving of respect.

For more information about Truss’ offerings in this or other areas, contact Jeff DeWolf, at 913-735-5354 or jdewolf@trussadvantage.com

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween from your friends at Truss!

31 Aug

September 2017 TrussConnect

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TRUSS PRESENTS: MARIJUANA AND OTHER SUBSTANCES IN THE WORKPLACE

Webinar on Thursday, September 7 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CST.

With recreational and medical marijuana now legal in multiple states, employers may be left wondering what restrictions they can, and can’t, have in the workplace. We’ll discuss the legal landscape for both recreational and medical marijuana use, including potential ADA issues. And we’ll go over other drugs employers should be concerned about. Join us as we discuss testing options and tips on crafting a drug and alcohol policy that best fits your company. Register Here.

TIPS FOR OPEN ENROLLMENT SUCCESS

Health care benefits can be a top recruitment toll for attracting top talent, making it essential that you ensure your employees clearly understand their options and are able to make an informed decision. Truss recommends HR and benefits professionals make this process easier by thoroughly explaining any changes before and during the busy open enrollment period.

Even when employers offer only two or three health plan options, the serious decision to select the right coverage at open enrollment can overwhelm employees.

Are there any changes?

Years ago employer-offered coverage varied little year to year making it easy to simply roll over benefit elections. Unfortunately, the days of easy selection have passed.

Today, we more and more employers are looking for ways to reduce the cost of health care. This includes offering plan designs with higher out-of-pocket cost costs, which means employees must compare plans and understand the potential costs. For example, deductibles might double or co-pays could rise.

Change is normal but even with just a slight increase, families need to understand out-of-pocket costs so they can budget appropriately.

Over Communicate

Many employers successfully use a multipronged approach before, during and after open enrollment by holding in-person meetings, health fairs, webinars, and online portals or apps that centralize all of the year’s benefit information.

Most companies should begin their Open Enrollment communication campaigns 60 to 90 days before open enrollment starts. Larger companies may see the need to start earlier. The industry standard for the open enrollment period is 30 days; most small to mid-size companies still hold it in November.

In the end, a successful open enrollment campaign helps employees understand any impending health plan changes, review their options, and select the right plan for themselves and for their family.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SURETY BONDS

Surety bond vs Insurance: What’s the difference?
Both surety bonds and insurance are needed for obtaining license, or to be in compliance with local laws. So what’s the difference? Simply put, insurance protects a business against loss, while a surety bond protects a third-party from a breach of contract from said business.

How does it work?
A surety bond is a third-party guarantee that a business will meet their legal and contractual obligations. It is guaranteed by a bonding company on behalf of the issuer, but does not protect the purchaser of the bond; it is similar to co-signing on a loan. The bonding company guarantees that the business will fulfill their obligations. Insurance is a two-party agreement, where the risk is transferred from the insured to the insurance company.

What should I look for when selecting a surety agent?
There are two aspects you need to evaluate before you hire any surety agent. First, they must possess the knowledge to be your business partner by providing you with advice, suggestions and feedback on many aspects of your business. This would include accounting, operations, internal controls, business perpetuation and more. Their knowledge ensures you will be properly represented as the agent seeks surety support on your behalf in the market.

Second, because every surety is different, your surety agent must have detailed knowledge of the various surety markets. A knowledgeable surety agent with strong connections across multiple markets will be able to match you to the best surety partner for your required bond needs.

There are four things you should do when interviewing a potential agent:

  1. Ask them about their relationships within their surety markets.
  2. Test their accounting and business law skills.
  3. Obtain a list of client contractor referrals.
  4. Ask your other valued business partners (such as your attorney, banker, or CPA) about the agents you are considering.

How does surety pricing work?
It depends on the situation and many factors affect pricing. If you upgrade your financial statement presentation as part of the bonding process, it may affect your rates favorably. A new company may have more challenges acquiring rates than a more established one. The quality of your agent is also an important factor. An agent who has good working relationships with markets will be more likely to place you in a better market.

More questions on assessing your surety team can be found here: http://trussadvantage.com/our-services/surety-bonds/

DO YOU WANT A WORKPLACE OF RESPECT?

Finally, a new approach to “harassment training.” We’ve all seen the cheesy videos with paid actors and cringe-worthy animations that are often associated with training videos. Preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation is important for every workplace, and should not just be left to an outdated video or boring lawyer-led lecture.

Workplace of Respect™ is an innovative program offered in partnership with Wolf Prairie LLC that replaces those dated, awkward, and ineffective ‘harassment’ training programs that we’ve all endured.

This real-life learning program addresses all the legal requirements while focusing on the real purpose of this sort of training: Creating a great workplace filled with respect, honor, and welcome behavior.

For pricing and more information on our Workplace of Respect program and workshops, contact 913.735.5354 | jdewolf@TrussAdvantage.com.

TRUSS HOLIDAY CLOSING

As a reminder, Truss offices will close early on Friday, September 1 and also be closed on Monday, September 4 in observance of Labor Day.

25 May

TrussConnect June 2017

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BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF KC OPTING OUT OF ACA EXCHANGE IN 2016
On May 24, Blue Cross Blue Shield of KC announced that it will no longer offer or renew plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual market in its service area for 2018. They currently serve a 32-county area in Kansas and Missouri. This decision will affect approximately 67,000 individuals, but it will not affect 2017 coverage.

For further detail, and to read Blue KC’s press release, visit their website at www.bluekc.com.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RANSOMWARE
How you can ramp up your network security

A wave of cyberattacks hit in 150 countries on Friday, May 12. Estimates indicate that this latest strain of ransomware – known as WannaCry – has impacted hundreds of thousands of computers. The impact this ransomware has is more dangerous than others due to its ability to spread itself across an organization’s network via vulnerabilities in Windows computers. If you are running Windows, it is recommended that you check your system. All available security updates should be installed immediately.

As its name suggests, this ransomware holds an infected computer hostage and demands the owner pay a $300 ransom to regain access. There is no known fix at this time. Leading industry experts and antivirus companies are working hard to find ways to decrypt files on infect computers.

Tips for combating ransomware:

  1. Always keep your security software updated to protect your system from new threats.
  2. Be wary of unexpected emails, especially when they contain links or attachments. Do you know the sender?
  3. Ensure you have network security liability coverage.
  4. Backup! Attackers hold leverage over their victims by encrypting files. If you have backups of your data, you can restore your files once the computer has been cleaned up.

Do you have cyber liability coverage in place? No? Contact Truss today to speak with a trusted advisor on how you can ensure your business is protected.

For more information specific to the WannaCry virus, and for more tips to combating ransomware, visit Symantec’s website.

TRUSSU WEBINAR: PERFORMANCE EVALUATION AND EFFECTIVE COACHING
Great performance management can mean the difference between highly engaged employees and those who are just punching the clock.

Join us on June 6 as we discuss the differences between coaching and progressive discipline, with a special focus on ways to encourage employee development and growth. We’ll also look at some of the common elements of a performance evaluation, which format may be a good choice for your workplace and best practices for conducting performance meetings.

REGISTER TODAY: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/371782645316586243

TWOWEST WEBINAR: ESTATE PLANNING 101
Join TwoWest on June 22 for a financial education webinar as they discuss estate planning.

REGISTER TODAY: https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/3105090488798749953

TRUSS HOLIDAY CLOSING
As a reminder, Truss will be closed on Monday, May 29 in observance of Memorial Day.