combsandco


NY Forward Safety Program Guidance

NY Forward

Thanks to our good friend, Michael Futterman, Partner at McCusker, Anselmi, Rosen & Carvelli, P.C.* for the below helpful information for our New York clients and friends!

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Each business or entity, including those that have been designated as essential under Empire State Development’s Essential Business Guidance, must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A business may fill out THIS TEMPLATE to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection. Business owners should refer to the State’s industry-specific guidance for more information on how to safely operate. For a list of regions and sectors that are authorized to re-open, as well as detailed guidance for each sector, please visit: www.forward.ny.gov.  If your industry is not included in the posted guidance but your businesses has been operating as essential, please refer to ESD’s Essential Business Guidance and adhere to the guidelines within this Safety Plan.

Please continue to regularly check the New York Forward site for guidance that is applicable to your business or certain parts of your business functions, and consult the state and federal resources listed below.

Here is a helpful list of things to keep in mind during this time:

  • New York businesses must create a COVID-19 health and safety plan for employees and the public. A template includes provisions for developing physical distancing protocols, providing personal protective equipment to employees, creating hygiene and cleaning protocols, implementing communication practices, creating a COVID-19 screening process, adopting contact tracing protocols, and developing a plan for cleaning and disinfection. It’s also a great resource for NJ businesses.
  • Make sure to implement mandatory health screening assessments including a questionnaire and temperature checks.
  • Limit the total number of employees in the office, enforce 6ft social distancing, and modify/reconfigure the office to allow for social distancing.
  • Provide workers with facemasks at no cost and have an adequate supply in case of need for replacement. Train workers on how to use PPE. Limit the sharing of objects (i.e. tools, machinery, etc.)
  • Adhere to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements of the CDC and Department of Health. Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations in the office. Clean and disinfect the offices on a routine basis.
  • Communicate, post signage and train employees on COVID 19 issues.
  • Employees who are sick should stay home or return home if they become ill at work.
  • Don’t forget about your leave obligations under FFCRA, Emergency FMLA, New York State COVID-19 leave, New York Paid Family Leave, New York City or Westchester Earned Sick Time, New Jersey Earned sick Leave,  or short-term disability leave
  • Consider a delayed reopening or a slow opening, allowing employees to continue to obtain increased unemployment benefits.
  • Don’t forget about your wage and hour obligations i.e. when you reduce salary/hours, pay wages, furlough employees, have employees work from home, impose temperature checks, pre-shift sanitizing, or daily check-in procedures.

*Attorney Advertising: The foregoing is a summary of the laws discussed above for the purpose of providing a general overview of these laws. These materials are not meant, nor should they be construed, to provide information that is specific to any law(s). The above is not legal advice and you should consult with counsel concerning the applicability of any law to your particular situation.



How to Decide Which Employees to Bring Back from Furlough

Strategizing on how to bring some furloughed employees back?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

 

1. Create a staffing plan that revolves around the needs of the COMPANY first. Ask yourself where you anticipate being busy and where you may be slower. Create a plan accordingly.
2. Choose which staff return based on unique skill sets needed, overall job performance, seniority/tenure, or their willingness to do jobs outside of their normal scope.
3. DO NOT discriminate based on age, perceived disabilities, or by retaliating for taking paid sick leave.

Make sure to DOCUMENT your process ahead of time and COMMUNICATE to your staff your plan to avoid unnecessary stress for everyone.

*REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY OR HUMAN RESOURCES VENDOR FOR ADVICE* If you need these types of vendors, we can refer you to them.



To the Mizzou Grads of 2020!

Combs 2020

Thinking of all the Mizzou grads this weekend in the class of 2020!

I graduated in 2001 from the Ag School with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management. I’ve always described my degree as a business degree with cooking classes and where all the fun people were. I started out at Mizzou with a full ride in Air Force ROTC for a Chemical Engineering degree and had 4 additional declared Majors (Mechanical Engineering, Atmospheric Science, Elementary Education and double Major in Communications & German) until I found my home with the HRM people….hey, it’s not my fault I have so many different interests.

I even remember when I decided to look into HRM, my father was in town for a military ball that was at the main conference center at the time (Holiday Inn Select) and he said “Suz, I was talking to some kids at the Front Desk and they told me their Major was Hospitality, I think you’d really enjoy that and could see you being a meeting planner.” So I went at checked out the program, talked to Professor Michael Keene and Dr. Jim Groves, switched to the program, started showing up on the Dean’s List and served as a TA for Hospitality Accounting and Professional Bar & Beverage Management. I also went back and worked at that same hotel at the Front Desk and in Corporate Sales before landing at the Hearnes Center to work in Events where I got to help plan concerts and sporting events.

I still hold dear the friendships I made my Freshman year and beyond. The past 4 years I was lucky enough to be asked to “come back home” and serve on the University of Missouri Alumni Board, work with the Mizzou Law Veterans Clinic and excited to announce that I will be a part of The Jefferson Club Board of Trustees this coming Fall. Every time I think of my professional journey, Mizzou has been in the background as my foundation for my career, my business and my connections. So to the Mizzou grads that have a case of the Ho Hums since they won’t get to cross the stage this weekend, know that you are honored by this Alum and so many others. When I look back, I don’t remember the ceremony, I remember the people that helped make me Mizzou Made.

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PPP Forgiveness Application Process & Documents to Prepare

Here’s a follow up on yesterday’s post, did you get the PPP loan and now you are concerned about the process and what documents you need to prepare in order to have the loan forgiven?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

The CARES Act requires employers to apply for loan forgiveness with the same lender they applied for the PPP loan at the end of the eight-week period following the disbursement of their loan.

When applying for loan forgiveness, employers will need to provide the following information:

  • The total requested amount to be forgiven
  • Documentation verifying the number and pay rate of FTEs on payroll:
    • Payroll tax filings with the IRS
    • State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings
  • Documentation verifying covered mortgage interest, rent or lease obligations, and utilities
  • Certification from an authorized representative for the employer that all supplied documentation is true to the fullest extent possible
  • Certification from an authorized representative for the employer that the amount requested to be forgiven complies with PPP guidelines

After submitting an application, lenders must make a decision on whether an employer’s PPP loan will be forgiven, or how much of the loan will be forgiven, within 60 days. In some cases, a lender may ask for additional information. Employers should monitor their application and pay attention to any requests for additional information. For questions on your company’s loan forgiveness eligibility or application, contact your lender.



Maintain Eligibility for PPP Forgiveness

Did you get the PPP loan and now you are concerned about making sure the loan is fully forgiven?  Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.

U.S. small businesses that were able to secure financial relief through the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program should consider the following to help their cause for qualification of forgiveness of the full principal amount of the loan and any accrued interest:
• Use the loan funds only toward: payroll, including salary, wages, tips and covered benefits for employees; rent or mortgage interest; and utilities.
• Ensure at least 75% of loan funds are allocated for payroll costs.
• Maintain the level of full-time employee (FTE) headcount without reduction during the eight-week covered period.
• Maintain the salaries and wages of your workforce during the eight-week covered period. Any reduction of more than 25% for any employee who makes less than $100,000 will reduce the amount forgiven.
• Preserve proper documentation to support the amount of proceeds used for payroll costs, rent or mortgage, and utilities.
• Prior to June 30, 2020, restore all full-time employment and salary levels back from any reductions made between Feb. 15, 2020, and April 26, 2020. As mentioned above, preserving proper documentation is important, as this information will be used by your lender when evaluating whether an employer qualifies for PPP loan forgiveness.
For more information regarding loan forgiveness eligibility, go to the following link: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/…
Video on how to APPLY for Forgiveness will be released tomorrow!


Employer Checklist: How to Support Workplace Mental Wellness as you Reopen

Mental HealthAs talks of reopening start happening and, as an employer, you begin to make a strategy for what this will look like, Mental Wellness should be in the forefront of your checklist.

Mike Veny, Mental health speaker, drummer and best-selling author shares a powerful checklist on how to support your employees during this time.  This list includes:

1. Change the way you view everyone.

2.  Understand there are different levels of anxiety.

3.  Remember everyone has a unique home situation.

CLICK HERE to download the entire list and advice on how to implement!

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http://www.mikeveny.com

213-458-8369

mike@mikeveny.com

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Wonder Woman Wednesday: 2020 Broker of the Year finalist: Teri Weber

I was honored with receiving this award in 2017 and thrilled that Teri Weber is a finalist for this year!  Today, on Wonder Woman Wednesday, we wanted to honor her and share the article she was in at BenefitsPro!

Click Here for the original article!

2020 Broker of the Year finalist: Teri Weber

Have questions about absence management or disability leave policies? Teri Weber is your go-to gal.

When Teri Weber started working from home full time, she found it a bit of an adjustment. It was almost like being absent from work. Which just happens to be one of her specialties. Weber is a partner with Boston-based Spring Consulting Group, LLC,  an Alera Group Company. When COVID-19 began to confine millions of workers to their homes, she was swamped by client calls regarding work absences.

“‘Will quarantine be a disability?’ ‘People all want to take their sick time now; how do we do that?’ ‘What if 50 percent of our workforce cashes in on what they’ve banked? Could people do a time donation?’ ‘What do I do for employees who work from home but need to care for kids?’ It’s always a balancing act of finance and policy. It gets into the weeds quickly,” Weber says.

Related: Business continuity & social distancing: 3 tips for transitioning to a work-from-home model

But it turns out that is where Weber spends a lot of her time: in the weeds with clients, showing them the way out.

Weber became a partner with Spring Consulting in 2008, where she has focused on disciplines such as absence management that can save clients time, money, and management headaches. Absence policies can be shockingly ad hoc, inconsistent, and are often crafted in the breach, rather than the legal or human resources departments. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Weber has had to explain to clients that actions they take to attempt to manage a tidal wave of absence incidents could easily become company policy.

To one client with a question about virus-related time off, she said: “What do you want to accomplish with this? What are you hoping to do? It’s about getting to the root of why you think this policy will help you now. Because the policy can become law long after the crisis is over.” She also lends her absence expertise to the Disability Management Employer Coalition, a group of New England employers and insurance companies focused on disability and leave of absence policies.

“We speak a different language than most people,” she says. “An employee will say, ‘I need time off for something.’ That’s how they think about it. Our work is around compliance, cost and culture. We look for the best programs we can design, from leave time to return to work.”

Another area of focus is student debt and student loan payments as a benefit.

In the quest to land top young graduates, companies experiment with offering student debt payments. Weber likes to include the benefit in a plan design, but only if she believes it is being offered for the right reasons.

“It is often a targeted approach to address turnover among younger people, or to attract young talent. Other employers just want to give it as a benefit without a specific objective.” Weber asks, is the target of the benefit specific or general? Short term or long term?

“That $2,000 can make a huge difference to a young person. But does it serve your overall strategy?” she says.

One could get the impression that Spring deals largely with major employers, those who have the financial clout, employee numbers, and staffing to engage in creative plan design. But that’s not the case.

One of Spring’s most devoted clients is edHEALTH, a three-person health insurance captive based in Rhode Island. edHEALTH is a member-owned consortium that serves as the stop-loss provider for group members, mostly East Coast colleges, universities, and charter schools, including Boston College, Sarah Lawrence, Brandeis, Wellesley and Emerson.

Tracy Hassett, president and CEO of the captive, says Weber served as an early advisor to the original 24 members as they developed their model.

“When we started talking, we were faced with numerous barriers,” Hassett says. “Brokers and consultants at the schools were nervous about taking that business away from them.

Meanwhile, the schools we talked to made it clear they didn’t want to change their plan design. They wanted to be part of the consortium and save money. ‘But we don’t want to make any changes to plan design or to our carriers or upset faculty or staff.’”

Hasset feared it would take long hours over many meetings to arrive at a plan design that would satisfy all the members. Enter Weber. Working with Hassett, she helped the members reach agreement quickly on a common plan design.

“Teri is easy to talk to, offers very clear descriptions, and she made sure potential members at the time knew that we were trying to deliver a program to minimize costs and maximize coverage. That is still the role she plays and she does a wonderful job.”

In the years since, the group has grown, while costs have held steady. Average premium growth per member over the last six years had been 3.5 percent, while admiration for Spring and Weber grows every year.

“Spring has been an incredible partner since before our inception, and an incredible partner in helping us grow,” Hassett says.

Meanwhile, back in her “home” office, Weber is getting new insights into the challenges her plan members face when forced to juggle work and child are duties. Her two daughters, 12 and 14, don’t need a lot of supervision with the family cooped up in the house, but like kids all over, they have been attempting to master online learning while Mom and Dad grow accustomed to virtual meetings, the intricacies of telecommuting, and keeping dispersed teams motivated during a global pandemic.

But Weber manages to keep a positive attitude as she attempts to establish “a new normalcy at home.”

“I’m an optimist. I look for the good people out there. The sun is always shining, even when there are clouds are in the way!”

Finalists