Employees and others around the country are filing legal claims related to COVID. It is a feeding frenzy. Insurance markets are stressed and PEO risk managers have full plates managing and mitigating claims. The future is uncertain; however, we have sufficient data to paint a decent picture of where we are today and attempt some predictions.
The House of Representatives recently passed legislation designed to radically transform the labor relations landscape. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021, or PRO Act, passed the House on March 9 after an earlier version of the same bill failed to clear the Senate last year. However, now that both houses of Congress and the White House are controlled by the Democrats, this proposal stands closer than ever to becoming law. What do PEOs and their clients—both unionized and non-unionized—need to know about this startling prospect?
In the February 2021 issue of PEO Insider,® I described several changes that the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of December 2020 made to the employee retention tax credit (ERTC) that was created in March 2020 legislation. Less than three months after the CAA became law, Congress again modified the ERTC in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This quick succession of legislative action has required small businesses—and the PEOs that assist them—to sort through a whirlwind of ERTC changes with little guidance from the IRS, which has struggled to keep pace with the statutory changes.
As the nation remains cautiously optimistic that the various vaccines being administered to the population will be effective against COVID, some states are relaxing restrictions and many businesses are considering or have already reopened their offices. This article addresses health and safety issues associated with returning workers to work.
Just over a year ago, the COVID pandemic hit in full force. Shutdown orders were issued across the country, in-person work was limited to essential employees only, and new COVID-related laws were passed in rapid succession. As many businesses struggled to operate while complying with COVID health and safety orders, they were faced with leave and accommodation requests from employees due to COVID-related issues such as employees or their family members being at increased risk of severe illness, employees fearful of returning to the workplace, and working parents unable to work onsite because of school and childcare closings.
Everyone knows 2020 was a unique year, given a contentious presidential election combined with a (hopefully) once-in-a-century pandemic. As some may have felt that the federal government was not doing enough, many state and local governments stepped in to fill the breach. The result? An explosion of state and local laws that make being an employer even harder than it already was. Most prominent: mandatory telework for employees able to do their jobs remotely.
The recent cyber attack on PrismHR was a true testament to the integrity of our industry. We all have had sleepless nights worrying about cyber security, and no matter how detailed our emergency plans may be, no one really knows how these situations will play out. When word got out about the attack, all PEOs, whether Prism users or not, had a visceral reaction. This was the emergency we feared most, and it was happening.
COMPENSATION TRENDS DURING THE PANDEMIC • OFFICE USE DOWN, COLLABORATION UP • OSHA NATIONAL EMPHASIS PROGRAM • UPSKILLING & RESKILLING CRITICAL TALENT POOLS • ACHIEVING BUSINESS SUCCESS: ‘THE AFFINITY PRINCIPLE’ • 13 GROWING CAREERS
Both Amie Remington, Esq. and Rod Jordan, Esq. were introduced to NAPEO at the very outset of their careers with their respective PEOs. Amie, 2020-2021 Legal Advisory Council (LAC chair), is general counsel for LandrumHR, based in Pensacola, Florida. She started with LandrumHR on September 5, 2005, at NAPEO’s Annual Conference & Marketplace in Dallas, Texas. That is where she attended her first NAPEO LAC meeting, and she has been involved ever since, serving as chair for two years prior to 2010. Rod, senior vice president HR, general counsel, and secretary of the TLC Companies, based in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, was the 2018-2019 chair of the LAC. He first became involved with it in the mid-2000s after being encouraged by an associate member company. Both joined to learn about the PEO industry and its legal challenges, both continue to be involved to help improve the PEO operating environment, and both share their insights into the work of the LAC, legal issues facing the PEO industry, and the future legal climate in this Q&A.
Over the course of the past year, the volume and rapid pace of legislative and regulatory change has been enough to overwhelm even the largest of organizations, much less small and mid-size businesses who might not have resources dedicated to navigating the complexities brought on by COVID. PEOs offer a unique solution to this problem for small businesses, providing the regulatory expertise of a large business at an affordable cost, along with the ability to advocate for the needs of small businesses with policymakers.
Much has changed since the arrival of the Coronavirus more than a year ago. This holds true for government relations and public policy, and it is especially true for the PEO industry. Prior to COVID, NAPEO’s federal engagement model was almost entirely focused on PEO-specific issues, such as the Certified PEO (CPEO) program and the tax treatment of PEO clients who are pass-through entities. Upon the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the focus of PEO federal engagement became the survival of small businesses.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the workplace has been dramatic. As employees continue to work remotely, employers are being confronted with new employment challenges. One such challenge involves situations in which valuable employees are relocating to work from locations outside the U.S. This brings many complications to the employment relationship, as the laws of the jurisdiction will apply in most circumstances.
COVID and other factors have resulted in a hardening insurance market for PEOs and their client companies. While COVID is a recent phenomenon, longer-term issues are also contributing to the current market shift. This article will consider the impact on several PEO-sensitive insurance coverage lines and potential risk mitigation strategies.
Many PEOs provide I-9 and E-Verify-related services to their client companies. Generally, if the client company employee is assigned under the PEO relationship, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows the flexibility to split up the process between the PEO and the client company, but either company may be penalized for non-compliance.
Unprecedented times. Flatten the curve. Social distancing. We’ve heard (and used) the buzzwords ad nauseam, but the one that has been most overused and yet remains elusive is this notion of “the new normal.” The COVID pandemic has been challenging for everyone. Many companies with solid business continuity plans (BCP)s were able to adapt quickly and almost seamlessly to the changes that became necessary. While some that didn’t have BCPs were still able to launch new and innovative ways to operate, others were forced into layoffs and had to take a crash-course in furloughs.
Arguably, the pandemic shutdown has had the most dramatic effect on the economy in modern times, especially small and mid-size businesses. The PEO Index quantitatively indicates what we already anecdotally observed: PEOs substantially helped SMBs navigate through the uncharted and treacherous waters of the shutdown.
During the recent cyberattack that hit our industry in early March, I was watching carefully as our member PEOs somehow managed to work through this enormous wrench thrown into the works. How on Earth can PEOs operate without access to their data? But they did. Everyone pivoted. These were the cards they were dealt, and so they just had to figure out how to get paychecks and benefits to their clients. And they did.