Should You Be Paid for the Time You Spend on Your Commute?

Employment trends expert discusses new research and how it could apply to American employees  

CommuteResearch has shown that the American commute keeps getting longer and longer, with the average worker now traveling 26 minutes to get to their place of employment. No wonder a new survey has found that American workers now say that they should be considered ‘on the clock’ when they are commuting, and that their pay should reflect the time they spend traveling to and from work.

“According to this new research, when Wi-Fi is available to commuters who are traveling by bus or train, these employees use their devices to accomplish work tasks and prepare for their work day,” says Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm. “As a Chicagoan, I have seen this firsthand, as many hard-working individuals taking the El, the Metra or the bus often log-in and start accomplishing work tasks before they even set foot in the office.”

However, the question is, should employees be compensated for this time they spend working while in transit?

“There are many things we need to consider when it comes to this discussion,” says Wilson. “Is the employee hourly or salary? Is their work being monitored? Will employers be able to verify that work duties are completed during a commute? Is there a higher risk of errors or miscommunications when a person is working on a crowded, bustling train as opposed to sitting quietly in their cubicle? And, if the employee is hourly, what potential impact would compensation present to overtime?”

Wilson says we also need to consider the changing landscape of employment as it relates to technology and remote employees.

“As many job tasks can be accomplished with nothing more than an internet connection and a smartphone or laptop, and as more employees are working remotely, it is not far-fetched to assume that an employee can complete valuable and timely job functions while sitting on the train,” says the employment expert.

However, financial compensation might not be the only benefit to consider.

“If an employee works remotely on the train and thus finishes their tasks early for the day, perhaps it would be beneficial to consider letting workers have flexible schedules,” says Wilson. “In essence, you will be paying employees with more free time, rather than higher pay.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

The Senate Will Soon Vote on Reversing a Critical Part of Obamacare

Group employment expert explains upcoming vote on H.R. 3798 and why it’s a shame that more Americans aren’t aware of this crucial bill

ACAThe Senate could vote this week on a bill which would take apart a good deal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including a key piece of legislation which required employers to offer health insurance to all employees who work 30 hours or more per week.

“The average American doesn’t know too much about H.R. 3798, and that’s a shame, because I can’t think of a vote which would have a larger impact on employees’ pay and their workdays,” says Rob Wilson, group employment expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm which helps companies of all sizes to run more effectively.

Wilson says that H.R. 3798 will reverse President Obama’s prior legislation which required all full-time employees to be offered health insurance…and, then defined full-time employment as workers who put in 30-hours a week.

“Many people in the industry were surprised with the thirty-hour-a-week legislation,” says Wilson. “Forty-hours-a-week has always been considered full-time in American businesses of all industries, so it seemed a bit arbitrary. Unfortunately, it also had a negative impact on employees. Employers slashed workers’ hours to keep them under the 30-hour mark and avoid paying for their health insurance, meaning that these workers had to supplement their pay by getting another job. In essence, many employees wound up working 2 nearly full-time jobs, and still without company-provided health insurance.”

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New Study: Employees Won’t Commit to Companies Anymore…Unless They Offer Flexible Work Options

Employment trends expert explains how to retain talent in a competitive market driven by agile employment demands 

FlexWorkAs the economy strengthens and jobs’ numbers improve, employees now have more options and bargaining power than in recent memory. However, a new Emerging Workforce® Study suggests that these new options are changing the way employees consider possible job opportunities, and in turn changing the way that employers attract and retain staff.

“The new research shows that the number of contingent workers has increased by 14 percent since 2017,” says Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm that is renowned for their impeccable service and forward-thinking practices. “Additionally, over 40 percent of employees say they will only work for a company which offers such freelance or work-from-home options.”

Known as “agile employment,” Wilson explains that employees are looking for more control over their work lives and they expect companies to adequately respect those needs and offer such opportunities.

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Study: Employees in the Dark About Their Healthcare Plans

Group employment expert explains new study and how it costs employers big-time

Insurance ConfusionA recent study found that 25 percent of employees do not understand the basics of their healthcare plan, while 32 percent are further confused by their plan’s additional benefits. And, 67 percent say that they are given little to no advanced preparation when it comes to choosing new plans.

“These findings line up with what I have heard from many of my prospects, especially in recent months,” says Rob Wilson, group health employment expert and President of Employco USA. “With President Trump’s new alterations to the Affordable Care Act, many people are confused about their coverage and their requirements for coverage. For example, some people think that President Trump removed the penalty for Americans who do not have insurance, however, this relief actually does not come into effect until 2019, so people can still face financial punishment if they are not covered.”

Wilson says that employees are not the only ones who suffer when they are in the dark about healthcare coverage. “Employers will suffer as well if their employees make uninformed healthcare decisions,” says Wilson. “This includes employees who choose the wrong healthcare plan, employees who neglect to appropriately use their benefits, employees who erroneously have adult children on their healthcare plan, etc.”

For the group employment expert, education is one of the most important steps when it comes to making sure that a company’s healthcare costs are as trimmed and streamlined as possible.

“It’s important to have representatives from your chosen health insurance provider come to your office on a regular basis in order to talk to new employees as well as refresh the minds of older employees, especially as so many changes are afoot in this industry,” says Wilson. “I would also advise employers to regularly send out emails with information about their plans, but more importantly, also snail mail. An informative packet in the mail which an employee can hold in their hands and share with their family to help discuss options and compare benefits will be invaluable.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Why Blue Cross is Slashing the Cost of Premiums Across the United States

Group employment expert explains what employers and employees need to know about the future pricing of the group health plan

Slashing PremiumsBlue Cross Blue Shield is proposing premium cuts in many states across America for 2019, with some states seeing as much as a 5% decrease or more. However, there could be more to this story than meets the eye.

“Blue Cross is cutting prices now because they over-estimated how much they needed to hike their premiums last year,” explains Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group employment expert. “They set the rates too high, which is understandable as there was so much uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act and how President Trump would alter Obamacare. But, now that we have a clearer picture of the fate of the Affordable Care Act, Blue Cross can go back to rectify their initial over-estimation.”

Wilson says that, regardless of the cause, a decrease in premiums is nearly unheard of, and a hopeful sign of things to come.

“Blue Cross has not reduced the cost of their premiums in years,” says Wilson. “For example, in Illinois, my home state, premiums have been going up every year, in some cases even jumping up by 17 percent such as in 2015. So, for people of Illinois to finally see price decreases is simply unprecedented.”

Wilson says even the states in which Blue Cross Blue Shield is proposing premium increases don’t have to fear. “Not every state is going to see a decrease in Blue Cross Blue Shield premiums in 2019, and some may even see an increase, but this increase will be very slight.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

How Employers Can Keep Healthcare Costs Down

Group healthcare expert reveals how employers can save big on healthcare plans in 2019

Healthcare CostsAccording to the most recent data, premium healthcare plans for individuals in 2019 will increase by 15 percent in many states across America. As the Affordable Care Act continues to be in flux, employers are very concerned about how they can help keep healthcare costs down.

With insurance renewals approaching later this year, Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, offers some tips that can help employers save on healthcare costs while also keeping employees happy and healthy:

  • Move to consumer-directed health plans. “Instead of traditional PPOs, high deductible health plans might be a smarter choice for you. With these plans, employees pay for preventive care visits, which in turn teaches them to watch prices and become better spenders. It empowers employees and gives them more ownership over their own health choices and costs.”
  • Consider surcharges for smokers. “Now, with HIPPA and the ADA, there are some concerns regarding employers regulating an employees’ decision to smoke or not to smoke. However, what you can do is encourage smokers to attend smoking cessation classes. If smokers attend these groups, you can offer them the premium discount even if they are not able to stop smoking.”
  • Implement spousal surcharges. “Many companies are now charging their employees a spousal surcharge. With this cost-saving measure, employees will have to indicate if their spouse has access to healthcare at their job. If they do have access to healthcare elsewhere, but your employee still wants them to be on your plan, they might have to pay a small amount of more than employees who aren’t making this same choice.”
  • Shift the claim cost to employees. “Some employers are reducing costs by shifting the claim for cost to employees,” says Wilson. “For example, instead of offering a PPO with a $30 dollar co-pay, you might shift that to $40 or $45 employees.”
  • Encourage virtual office visits. “e-Medicine is becoming a growing trend, and for good reason. It can help keep costs down while helping to decrease the amount of time doctor’s visits can take. It’s a win-win for employers: Your employees are able to see their doctor and get back to work in less time and with less cost.”
  • Shift part of the premium cost to employees. “For example, instead of playing 75 percent of the premium, in 2019, you might ask your employees to pay 73 percent. It is a small but meaningful reduction, and one that will not to be too costly for your workers,” says Wilson.
  • Encourage health initiatives. “Workplace wellness programs aren’t just going to reduce your overall health costs, they are going to ensure that your employees are healthy, happy and productive. So, whether you want to have an on-site fitness center, or hand out Fit bits or incentivize healthy eating and fitness programs, anything you can do to get your employees moving and eating more mindfully will have massive paybacks for you.”
  • Make sure employees know their benefits. “It is common for many employers and insurance providers to send out information about the employees’ health plans via email, but people’s inboxes are so packed with junk that they might not open these messages,” says Wilson. “It might be a smart idea to rely on snail-mail when it comes to keeping employees informed and on top of their health care spending. To this end, on a quarterly or bi-annual basis, you might want to send out packet with tips and package benefits to employees’ home address, or leave it on their desk.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

What Illinois Employers Need to Know About New Required Retirement Plan

Chicago-based employment expert explains “Illinois Secure Choice”

Starting in May 2018, a new retirement plan called Illinois Secure Choice is being introduced in Illinois. For the first several months, this program will be voluntary, but beginning in November 2018, employers will be legally required to participate in this plan. However, many companies are still woefully uneducated or undereducated about this program.

“It is imperative that employers in Illinois become better acquainted with these changing retirement requirements,” says Rob Wilson, President of employment-solutions firm Employco USA, which is based in Chicago, IL and services a number of prestigious Illinois companies.  “This is especially true right now, as big changes are coming with the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program, which is a retirement savings plan that enables Illinois-based workers to save their own money through a regular payroll deduction.”

Here the employment expert outlines what Illinois employers need to know about Illinois Secure Choice:

  • Voluntary Pilot Phase. “After several delays, the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program is ready to launch its pilot phase in May 2018. Starting in May, employers that elect to voluntarily participate can begin to process employee payroll deductions and remit the funds to the retirement plan provider,” says Wilson.
  • Employer Requirement Phase. “Starting in November 2018, employers will be notified of their legal requirement to participate in the program. Employers in Illinois that have 25 or more employees, have been in operation for at least two years, and that don’t offer a qualified savings plan (e.g., a 401(k) plan) will be forced to automatically enroll their employees into Secure Choice,” says Wilson.

“Employees can opt-out at any time. Employers will be responsible for dispersing information packets (provided by Secure Choice) to each of their employees. Employers will also facilitate enrollment of employees into Secure Choice, set up the payroll deduction process, and remit employee contributions to the plan provider. Employers who do not comply with the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act may be subject to fines and penalties.”

Wilson concludes, “Instead of participating in Illinois Secure Choice, an employer can choose to offer an employer-sponsored plan, similar to ones that we have helped clients transition to. However, you need to move quickly in order to make sure you have your ducks in a row in time for these new deadlines.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Rob Wilson on Business for Breakfast: Why So Many Americans Are Still Opting out of Health Insurance

Rob Wilson discusses why so many Americans are going without health insurance on a segment of Business for Breakfast (Money Radio).

Read more on this topic here:
http://www.employco.com/blog/2018/03/26/many-americans-still-opting-health-insurance/

Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: hr@employco.com

Why So Many Americans Are Still Opting out of Health Insurance

Group health insurance expert explains why so many Americans are going without health insurance

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to bring healthcare to millions of Americans who could not afford it, but critics say that the healthcare law was a failure. In fact, many Americans are still choosing not to purchase healthcare, including those who are considered middle-class.

“Surprisingly as it might sound,  it isn’t people with low-wage jobs who can’t afford to buy healthcare in our current market,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group health insurance expert. “Due to President Obama’s changes to healthcare law, healthy people and middle-class people suddenly found themselves looking at a steep uptick in prices, and not every family can stand to foot that bill.”

While it is true that the Affordable Care Act helped to lower health insurance costs for people in the lower-income brackets, the result is that other people, such as those in middle-class income brackets, have had to pick up the slack.

“We are looking at big premium increases right now,” says Wilson. “And all it takes is a difference of $10 an hour to find yourself no longer eligible for the federal subsidy to cover healthcare costs.”

Wilson says that the reality is that buying your own individual health plans as a middle class individual or family is becoming too exorbitant, and this won’t change until ACA has been rolled back even further.

“Right now, the health insurance companies have all the power, and we need to put that power back in the hands of the consumer,” says Wilson.

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

30 Days into Trump’s Tax Reform: What’s the Verdict?

Employment trends expert discusses the stats

Tax ReformIt’s a month since President Trump’s tax reform went into effect. So how have these changes impacted the average American worker?

“One thing for sure is that the market loves it,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert. “We hit the 26,000 mark for the first-time ever, and it’s also the first time we have ever seen such a fast 1,000 point rise.”

Wilson also points out that companies like Walmart, Disney, Starbucks, Apple and Verizon have already rolled out bonuses, raises and other incentives to their employees. However, some lawmakers don’t see the value of these bonuses, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who scoffed at these “crumbs.”

“When you look at someone working at Walmart who is making $10 an hour or $20,000 a year, a $1,000 check is far from peanuts. It’s a 5 to 10 percent bonus,” says Wilson, who also points out that Walmart is increasing their wages from $13.85 to $14.50. “These wages will no doubt be matched by other companies like McDonalds among others as they try to stay desirable in the hiring market.”

The tax law is having other important changes on the economy.

“Apple has more offshore earnings than any other U.S. company, but now, as a direct result of President Trump’s tax reform, they are going to pay repatriation tax payments of approximately $38 billion to bring that money back home. They are also going to spend tens of billions on domestic jobs, manufacturing and data centers in the future,” says Wilson.

Also, starting in 2019, individual people will not be penalized for not having insurance. “The employer mandate for those companies with over 50 full-time employees is still in place, however, this removes the burden from the average American who does not want to be forced into buying costly insurance that they don’t need.”

“The bottom line is the tax plan is working,” says Wilson. “Middle America is directly benefiting from the tax reform, and I expect that unemployment and underemployment numbers will continue to decrease.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.