The Feds Look to Expand the Current Overtime Rules

The Feds Look to Expand the Current Overtime Rules

For the first time since 2003, the Department of Labor is reviewing options to overhaul the overtime rules for American workers. Following an executive order from President Obama, the Department has developed a set of proposed rules and opened a 60-day period for the public to make comments on how the expanded rules would affect their businesses and lives. Overtime pay is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act which is enforced by the Department and covers the majority of private and government workers at both the local, state and federal levels.


Overtime Threshold

New Overtime Thresholds

The key provision of the proposed rule changes would slightly more than double the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from $23,660 per year or $455 per week to $50,440 per year or $970 per week for employees classified as executive, administrative or professional (EAP). Another group, the highly compensated employees (HCE) would see their base rise from $100,000 to $122,148. Certain employees of the motion picture industry would have a different base of $1,404 per week instead of the old amount of $695.

Other Issues In the Proposed Rule Changes

In addition to the increase in the base salary exemption amounts, the Department also seeks comments on several other issues during the 60-day period. These issues included automatic indexing of future exemption amounts, whether to include non-discretionary bonuses in the base salary and a refinement of the duties test.


Base Salaries

Indexing of Future Exemption Base Salaries

The Department proposes to have the exemption amounts in future years tied to an index such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is a well-known and established index that measures inflation across a broad number of common consumer items. It is used as a basis for many other pricing adjustments such as the annual adjustments to Social Security payments. Using the CPI, would adjust the exemption level based on inflation from year to year.

Alternatively, the Department is considering tying the annual exemption level changes to a percentile of all weekly full-time wages as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The proposed rule would select the 40th percentile as the basis for the annual changes. Using this method, the Department feels that market conditions would be reflected in the annual adjustment.

As an aside, this employment law content was written to inform, educate and protect small businesses from compliance issues. If you have employees, you’ll need quality protection. If you’re operating on the west coast, try one of our labor law posters for complete employer compliance. If you’re looking for compliance posters, you’ll find the most up to date, lawyer-reviewed employer postings available.



The Question of Non-discretionary Bonuses

Historically bonuses have not been figured into the exemption thresholds. Now the Department is seeking comments on what types of bonuses are paid and what affect they should have. While the highly compensated employees must be paid $455 as a weekly base, the balance of their $100,000 annual income can be made up of non-discretionary income such as bonuses, commissions and other forms of compensation. The proposed rules would limit the amount of this form of compensation to 10% of the exemption base.

Duties Test

In considering the other changes, comments on whether the duties test is working appropriately are being sought. Currently, an employee must spend a specified amount of their time performing assigned duties congruent with their primary job to be considered exempt. For an example, an accountant’s primary duty is doing accounting related work, but if the employee spends an inordinate amount of time every week helping pack and ship product, then the employee fails the duties test and is legible for overtime pay. The State of California has set as a benchmark 50% of the employees time as the amount spend on their primary function, and the Department is considering using that as the national standard as well.



Consequences of Expanding Overtime

Recent studies by the National Retail Federation (NRF) suggest that the cost to business to convert now salaried employees to hourly non-exempt workers would be in excess of $800 million dollars and that overtime would surpass the $9.5 billion mark. Likely, employers would reduce the number of full-time employees to compensate for this increased expense burden. The NRF also believes that real wages will go down as a result of the proposed expansion and that there would be other issues as a consequence of these changes. Reclassifying employees from salary to hourly would lead to decreased motivation and productivity according to the study’s authors.

Conversely, the Department’s own research believes the real cost to employers would be in the $250 million range. Employees would benefit from an increase in their paychecks of $1.18 – 1.27 billion dollars.

Comment Period

The Department will accept written comments from interested parties until the end of the 60-day public comment period which runs to September 4, 2015. After the comment period closes the Department will review the public comments and will then draft its final rules for publication. That process could take as much as several months to several years to complete. The last time overtime rules were reviewed in 2003, it took thirteen months before the final rules were published.


From the Author:

This article was provided by Neches FCU, an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer. Neches FCU is one of the top Texas credit unions and has an attentive team of professionals ready to manage it’s wide base of members. When their doors open at any of the several locations, the core goal of “Ultimate Member Satisfaction” becomes the imperative for every employee. They are well-respected for a personal, dynamic and positive work environment, delivering a memorable service experience, and where clients are known personally. Neches FCU has about $438 Million in assets with over 45,000 members. Neches FCU is recognized by members and the business community as one of the best credit unions in Texas and an actively involved partner, helping our Family, Friends and Community!


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10 Safety Strategies for Moms Considering Home Pregnancy

10 Tips for Working Moms Thinking About Home Pregnancy

As I am 38 weeks into this pregnancy, I must say — these past few weeks have been trying. For one, my iron levels are incredibly depleted. On top of that, I have been enduring some crucial pain in both my lower back and my pelvic region. Needless to say — I am pretty much ready for my precious Baby Oats to grace us with an appearance.

Pregnancy Labor at Home

Pregnancy Labor at Home

During my last doctor’s appointment, the midwife slipped me a note on a bright orange piece of paper. That piece of paper was so critical for me that I wanted to give her a giant hug.

That piece of paper has some valuable tips on how to jumpstart your labor in a safe manner. Full disclosure, I’m pretty hesitant to share these tips because I’m not a medically trained professional. So keep in mind that while I am not qualified to give medical advice, I’m simply passing along these notes.

These points will not work unless your body is ready for labor, but they will speed up the process in a natural manner. I’ll typically pick individual items while I’m carrying my 1st child in his Babyjogger City Select stroller. It’s great exercise for me, restful and soothing to my toddler and helps me break up the monotony of just being at home all the time.

Pregnant Moms Should Use Primose Oil

Pregnant Moms Should Use Primose Oil

1: Primose Oil Capsules

Since these capsules are pure oil, you can either insert them or swallow them. The purpose of this oil is to prepare your cervix for labor. It is recommended that you take 500 mg two times per day as long as you are at least 38 weeks pregnant.

2: Red Raspberry Tea (In Leaf Form)

Experts conflict on whether or not you should start drinking raspberry tea. On one hand, some people say you can take it at any point after your initial trimester, while others say not to drink it until you reach full term. The advice I was given suggests that you start drinking 2 cups of this leaf tea once you reach 36 weeks. Once you wish 38 weeks, double dose and double it again at 40 weeks. The beauty behind this tea is that it prompts natural and fluid contractions.

3: Stimulate Your Nipples

Stimulating your nipples produces oxytocin, which helps induce labor. You can either use your hands and fingers or a breast-milk pump. Some women say they have even gone into labor from playing with their nipples.

Pregnant Moms Should Consider Homeopathic Remedies

Pregnant Moms Should Consider Homeopathic Remedies

4: Homeopathic Remedies

Warning, be sure to speak to your physician before trying this remedy. You need to make sure that you are getting your homeopathics from a source that is professional and reputable. I take blue cohosh pellets daily for four days straight before taking three days off and repeating this remedy.

Pregnant Couples Need to Maintain Intimacy

Pregnant Couples Need to Maintain Intimacy

5: Make Sweet Love

This is the good one. You have probably heard that having sex is a great way to induce labor. The science behind this is that sexual intercourse releases oxytocin and that sperm contains elements that also help induce labor. This is a tried and true method throughout the years. In fact, I have been told that it is literally the only method that is reliable in inducing labor in a natural way. If you still feel in the mood for sex while nine months pregnant, that’s a bonus and you should definitely go for it.

6: Rub Your Belly

A good old-fashioned belly rub is just what the doctor ordered. To do this, makes a few drops of sage oil and castor oil and rub them liberally on your pregnant belly every single night. The bonus is that the oil smells great and also adds moisture to your skin.

Pregnant Mothers Should Enjoy Long Walks

Pregnant Mothers Should Enjoy Long Walks

7: Go For A Long Walk

I took this advice for about a week and a half while carrying Little Oats. I would go to the mall after eating dinner and take a few laps. This is great on a number of fronts. It allows your baby to settle, while also applying pressure to your cervix. Aside from this, it is an excellent form of exercise that will help you from a mental and physical standpoint.

Mental Preparation is Key for Pregnant Working Moms

Mental Preparation is Key for Pregnant Working Moms

8: Prepare On An Emotional Level

You need to realize that going into labor is potentially mentally and emotionally taxing. This item often gets overlooked by a lot of people. Take it upon yourself to spend some quality time by yourself in a quiet room, visualizing the process. This can help take some of the fear and anxiety out of it while also giving your body what it needs to relax.

9: Stretch It Out

If your doctor says that you are ready for it, you can have them separate bags of moisture from your cervix. This will pump out hormones that will get you ready to induce labor. Don’t try this at home and without doctor supervision.

Pregnant Moms Will Find Castor Oil Useful

Pregnant Moms Will Find Castor Oil Useful

10: Use Castor Oil

As a warning, taking castor oil can cause severe diarrhea. This can also be enough to make you not go into labor. Speak to your midwife and physician about this and follow the recommended dose that they offer. As for myself, I will pass on this recommendation unless I absolutely cannot take it anymore and have exhausted all other options.

Here’s a great video for anyone considering home pregnancy:

About the Author:

Stay tuned for more articles on my journey. You can check out my baby blog for more details on products and ideas that I’m trying or using in my day to day Mommy life. If you’ve got neat little life hacks that are great for expecting or current Moms, send me an email or leave a comment on my blog. I’m always on the look-out for exciting ideas to try.


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Simplify Holiday Retail Employee Scheduling Using 7 Simple Tweaks

Simplify Retail Employee Holiday Scheduling Using Seven Simple Tweaks


Holiday work shift

Holiday work shift

Scheduling your employees can be a challenge any time of the year, but when the holidays come around, that challenge is greatly intensified. Accommodating employees who are going out of town, those who want to take time off to be with family or those who simply like to take their annual vacation before Christmas can be tough. Fortunately, you can take control of the schedule as the holidays inch closer by using the following seven tips:

1 – Know Their Availability Before the Holidays Approach

One of the things you can do is to find out about an employee’s availability before the holiday season approaches. Most people will know their plans for the holidays before they actually arrive, so this can be a great time to take advantage of this knowledge. Ask them to put in their requests for time off at least a month in advance so you can be ready.

Employee incentives

Employee incentives

2 – Inform Employees of Holiday Incentives

Some companies offer incentives, like holiday pay, for working on major holidays. If your company offers this, make sure that everyone knows about it. You might find that there are plenty of people who want to work as they want the extra money.

3 – Find out What Needs to Be Covered

Since there will certainly be people on your staff who want to work on and around holidays, find out as soon as possible who these people are. When you do this, you will have an idea of what shifts can be covered and how many people you will need to schedule on top of that. Again, the sooner you find this information out, the better off you will be.

Fairness with employees

Fairness with employees

4 – Be as Fair as Possible With Your Holiday Scheduling

The two main holidays that people want off are Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some businesses, however, will still need coverage on those days. In this case, be as fair as you can and try to schedule employees on Thanksgiving or Christmas instead of both. You may find that a sign-up sheet will help, too, as you can see who prefers to work on which holiday.

5 – Don’t Book Employees on Too Many Shifts

The last thing that you will want to do when it comes to holiday scheduling is to get overzealous with your schedule. This means that you want to avoid booking employees for too many shifts, if possible. What does this mean? It means that you should not schedule an employee to work on Thanksgiving, and then expect them to work on Black Friday unless it is unavoidable.

Working overtime

Working overtime

6 – Watch Your Overtime Hours

It isn’t just your employees who need to pay attention to the holiday schedule; you will need to do it, too, as you will want to watch your overtime. Many times, employees will rack up hour after hour of overtime and holiday pay, and that can cost your company a lot in wages. Do your best to work hard and track who is working a lot of overtime and who is working the holiday time-and-a-half hours. You might have to start limiting some of your employees’ schedules.

7 – Get Your Schedule Posted as Soon as Possible for the Holidays

Finally, you want to make sure that you are posting your holiday schedule as soon as you can. There will inevitably be changes to the schedule as people switch shifts and try to accommodate their personal schedules. You can avoid most of the call-offs and no-shows, however, by posting the schedule as soon as you can. Did you know that these challenges can be solved by having employee time and attendance software that simplifies your staff management tasks? Emerging businesses like yours typically engage employee scheduling software tools to creatively – and competently handle the shift requirements of their staff.


Employee work schedule

Employee work schedule

Though you likely won’t find it to be fun when scheduling your employees’ shifts for the holidays, hopefully you will find it a bit easier this year than it has been in years past. By using some or even all of the above suggestions, you should definitely see an improvement.  If you have ideas on this topic to share, hit our Twitter page and leave your comments or suggest some useful links to explore on this topic.


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Brands in E-file Tax Software You Can Trust

Who are the Most Well-Known Brands in E-file Tax Software?

Online tax filing is inexpensive and the instructions are easy, so many business tax preparers will be choosing to e-file  their taxes in 2015. If you would like to use e-filing to file your taxes but are uncertain as to which company has the best software, the following information should help you make an informed choice.

e-File Tax Software

e-File Tax Software


Top E-filing Tax Software

TurboTax is currently the number one tax-filing software out there. They have the highest accuracy and best support out of all tax programs. TurboTax has been around for many years, and most who file their own taxes  choose to use this software.

Cons of TurboTax
The only con of using TurboTax is the fact that you can’t import your tax information from other software. Other than that, this software is nearly perfect for any tax return. Many other tax programs are not as user-friendly as TurboTax, so it’s highly recommended to choose this software first, when filing your own returns.

This software is a very good one, second only to TurboTax. It’s fairly easy to use when filing your own tax returns. You can file a free federal return and pay as little as $14.99 for a state return. Even if you don’t have all the knowledge needed to file taxes, this software makes it easy.

Cons of TaxACT
Unfortunately, TaxACT does not provide free telephone support, in case you run into trouble and need help. You also cannot use a mobile version of this software yet to file your taxes. Either way, this is a great software to choose when you want to file taxes online.

H&R Block
Although this company is well known for filing taxes in person, they now offer software do you can file your own taxes online. They have made the online version easy enough to use that you don’t have to go into the office to file your taxes.

Cons of H&R Block
You can file very complicated returns using H&R Block’s online filing, but their returns are more costly than some other programs. Because they have implemented their experience with tax filing into the software, they can charge more money. The cost may still be worth it if your tax return is complex but you still want to file online.

This company is well known for their online e-filing. They offer audit assistance if needed. Individuals in the military can file for free; otherwise, their e-filing is very low cost. Prices are listed on their site, so there is no guesswork for what you’ll owe. The software is easy enough to use, so anyone can file, even with very little e-filing knowledge.

Cons of TaxSlayer
If you prefer to download software directly to your computer, TaxSlayer does not provide downloadable versions of their program. You must purchase a CD-ROM from their site or another store, which will take additional time. This may be a problem for some, but overall, it’s still a good choice for e-filing online.

eSmart Tax
This software is actually a part of Liberty Tax, which is a well-known name in the tax industry. If you’re doing 1040 filing, you can get do so for free or for a low cost, depending on certain factors. The best part is that free chat support is available for all customers, whether you are paying for your services or not.

Cons of eSmart Tax
There is no telephone support available,  only chat support. You must create an account before being able to utilize chat support, making it impossible to ask any questions at all, unless you open up an account. Depending on the complexity of your taxes, you may or may not be bothered by their limited customer service choices.

e-Filing in The Cloud?

If you want to file 1099 forms online, but don’t want to use desktop software, there are options.  You can use the latest cloud technology. The industry terminology is SaaS, or Software as a Service. Basically, it’s highly secure web software that functions as good as desktop software – and most time better. Why? It’s really simple. It shortcuts some of the process with transferring your data between software applications that may have “communication issues” and become an IT test for you.

Typically, these SaaS services are available via a website address, which means you can typically do your filings from anywhere. Software updates and support issues are typically non-issues because the website software is constantly updated and scrutinized for improvements. The bottom line is that e-file services are a massive time-saver and a productivity booster for any company that needs to do tax filings.

We’ll go over some of the industry leaders in another post, but here’s the video for one of the industry leaders – They file 1099 online for you – as well as W-2’s – and deliver printed copies to the recipients. Check them out, even if you’re just looking for criteria to do a wider comparison of providers to choose from.


Many are choosing to do their own taxes through e-filing as opposed to going to an expensive tax preparer. E-filing is significantly lower in cost than using a professional tax preparer, and may cost as little as a tenth of the cost of a professional preparer. If you’re looking to save money, you should choose to file your taxes online.  Stop by our Delicious page, and post your comments or resource links to debate this matter further.

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Do You Really Need Labor Law Posters Littering Your Office?

Labor laws and running a business.

If you run a small business, there are basics you need to be aware of. There are several rules and regulations you must comply with, to operate legally. The authorities require you to display labor posters that relate to your industry. Meaning, you must display the correct posters offering information your employees need. These requirements are enforced by U.S. laws, and should be taken seriously. Lack of adherence these guidelines could result in your business being fined, or shut down.

Labor Law posters help you comply with the rules and regulations.

Labor Law posters help you comply with the rules and regulations.

They’re designed to protect both you and workers.

Labor postings provide valuable details your employees need to know. They show information regarding their rights or safety procedures when in the workplace. Labor laws change frequently, and this becomes a critical detail for you as a business-owner.  Unless you are checking on these changes daily, you could be at risk and not even know it.

Find the right labor law service for you.

Finding a provider that alerts you of new posting changes and updates is a good idea. More specifically, search for one with in-house legal staff to offer detailed info. A good long term supplier will have competent customer assistance as well.

Labor postings provide safety details employees need to know.

Labor postings provide safety details employees need to know.

The repercussions of not having the right posters can be steep.

Businesses that fail to comply usually ended up with large fines. Worse yet, they can be shut down until they are back in regulatory compliance. Posters are designed to protect both you and your employees.  They share vital information, and make the workplace a safer environment.


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The Purpose Of The HCFA CMS 1500 Form

The most significant medical billing form today.


If you’re in a medical office position, typically, insurance reimbursements come from submissions of specific forms. There are so many that they can become downright confusing. In most offices, the HCFA CMS 1500 form is the most widely used document submitted for reimbursement.

The form was previously known as the HCFA 1500 but has since been named CMS 1500. The name change came as a result of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Most medical offices use this form to bill some of the Medicaid State Agencies.

All insurance paid treatments require the CMS 1500 for payment

All insurance paid treatments require the CMS 1500 for payment

Usually used by non-hospital patient care providers and medical suppliers.

The rule is that you must file the form with the payer within 365 days of providing the service to your patient. Cms 1500 Claim forms can only be used if they are printed with a specific ink. This makes getting downloaded or photocopied copies of the form unusable for turning in claims. The forms are scanned using a specific technology called Optical Character Recognition.


Scanning errors happen – often.

Almost 100% of the time, if the ink is not the needed quality on the form, scanning errors result. It’s critical that you have the form with the exact ink and information on it to have a successful form submission. You can ensure your form submissions are accepted by using the latest form edition, along with the correct ink color and quality. Omit these 2 simple guidelines, and it could result in form rejections, and delayed reimbursements. Obviously, you should only buy cms 1500 version 02/12 forms from a source with a reputation for quality products.


A chance you could not get paid at all.

What’s worse is that if you wait too long to re-send the corrected form, there’s a chance you may not be paid at all. So make sure when purchasing this form, you are buying from a company that is reliable, and has the exact ink that is needed. The result of this diligence is a stream on timely insurance payments for your services rendered. The alternative to using the paper format of this is to use 1500 claim form software. It’s typically more expensive, but for large companies, it can save a great deal of time and money.


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