Why is Now a Good Time to Review your Payroll and HR for 2021?

Why is now a good time to review your payroll and HR service for 2021?

It’s always good to have a plan for the ordinary occurrences and the extraordinary ones as well.

Taking a vacation is something we all like to do but it can be hard for small business payroll administrators to go on vacation when they have a weekly or bi-weekly payroll to get out and get out on time.  Baron understands this need and can provide backup for your payroll person. No need to plan around your payroll for your staff to take that much-needed break!

And while taking a vacation can be planned and is one of the good things about running a business, occasionally, bad stuff happens too. What do you do if your payroll person falls ill or they have to be out for several days or weeks without any notice? And, no one else in your company knows how to do payroll?  Never fear, Baron has got your back! Again, Baron can pick up the slack when you need us to, no matter the circumstances.

Call us right now at 631-266-2500 and let’s talk about your needs, both the ordinary and extraordinary, and how we can help you.

Why Should I Evaluate My Payroll and HR Provider Now?

At this time of year, many business owners are evaluating the return on investment they get from their vendors.  Payroll and H

R fall into that category and are sometimes one of the first areas business owners look to.  Here are some things to take into consideration when taking a look at your payroll and HR vendors:

 

  • Has your current payroll and HR provider helped you with navigating the PPP loan administrative process?
  • Have they helped you move forward with the calculating of the New York state sick time rule?

 

If your answer to these questions is NO, maybe we can help!

 

Baron Payroll helps business owners evaluate what they need for their company in a way that helps that company move forward with a great ROI. Because we are local, we work to fit YOUR needs and be a great fit for YOU, not the other way around.

 

If you are looking for a great new payroll system, give us a call at 631-266-2500.  We can help you find a stronger more efficient way to run your payroll and HR.

Here’s The Best Time Clock For The COVID-19 Era — No Human Contact Required

The Face Clock helps employers by offering a touchless way to clock in and out. But its benefits extend far beyond germless surfaces. Learn how the Face Clock works and how it will help your business.

By Larry Kagan, Founder & CEO, Baron Payroll

A long line of workers punching in, all touching the same keypad – it’s a recipe for crowding and germs, both of which can be a problem in the COVID-19 era.

The Face Clock, a biometric time clock that scans an employee’s face in seconds, doesn’t require a bunch of people touching the same surface. And it helps companies keep the most accurate time records and prevent time theft at the same time.

It’s not wildly expensive or exceedingly futuristic. It uses technology that matches an employee’s photo to scan their facial features, similar to cell phone technology that scans your face to open your device.

The clock also helps business owners comply with the New York State laws requiring employers to keep daily time records because it connects to our cloud-based software.

If the Department of Labor comes knocking on your door, you can have confidence the Face Clock maintains accurate records of employees’ time because it is impossible to cheat it. DOL knows your employee had to physically be there to clock in and out, and your time records are pristine.

Put simply, the Face Clock works, in many cases, better than other timekeeping options.

For businesses, it takes a short time to get set up, and then you probably won’t think much about it again. It runs smoothly and simply for employees and employers while allowing companies to comply with labor laws.

“They love it so much that they refer friends to us because of it,” said Bill Elkins, a sales executive for Baron Payroll.

How the Face Clock works

The face clock uses two built-in cameras to take a three-dimensional image of the employee’s face.

When an employer chooses the Face Clock, it typically takes less than 20 minutes to mount on the wall and connect it to wireless internet.

After that, the employer will enter employees’ IDs and register their faces into the system.

When an employee walks up to the clock, situated at about the height of a light switch, it uses a proprietary algorithm to match a person with their profile in the system. The clock analyzes data mostly on the upper half of a person’s face, like their cheekbones, eyes and nose.

This can be tricky for people wearing cloth face coverings, so employees may need to quickly remove their mask only for a second or two to ensure the scan works.

It typically can read people’s faces fine if they wear glasses or have a beard. Sometimes, long hair, like bangs that cover the eyebrows, can hinder the scan, but simply moving hair out of the way resolves this problem.

The clock works with the timekeeping software to log the times an employee punches in or out.

“I was sincerely surprised by how easy it was,” said Eric Jones, president of Workforce PayHub, a Michigan-based payroll services company. “It’s got to be the easiest clock to set up, in my mind, because you literally put it on the wall, connect it to Wi-Fi and you’re done.”

Because the system uses its own algorithm, there are minimal security concerns for employees because the information that could be gleaned from the system likely wouldn’t be sensical to outside parties. The system doesn’t store repeated images of employees; it just logs the times they come and go.

How it compares to other clocks

The Face Clock isn’t the first or only biometric timekeeping device. The term “biometric” essentially means physical identity of the human body, like fingerprints, retinal scans, palm prints or the shape of your face.

Other biometric clocks include fingerprint and hand clocks. With both of those options, employees are touching the same surface over and over, creating the potential to transfer germs.

“We’re actually getting more interest now that we have an option for them to just walk up to the clock and look at it, without having to touch a single thing. It’s more sanitary,” Jones said.

But beyond that, other biometric clocks still can allow employees to skirt them. For example, with a fingerprint clock, an employee only enrolls a few fingers. Purposely using a finger that’s not enrolled, the employee could pretend the clock isn’t properly reading their fingerprint.

However, with a face clock, the employee has only one face and as soon as they get close to the clock, it clocks them in and out. If an employee holds up a picture of their face, it won’t work because the image is only two-dimensional.

Some companies still use systems that require employees to punch in and out with a punch card or on a keypad. Those, too, can be cheated by employees who “buddy punch,” or punch a clock using someone else’s card or code.

All of these methods of cheating the clock cost a company money. Using the Face Clock can help prevent this time theft.

The Face Clock also prevents people from being able to vandalize it. It is sealed, durable and can be used in factories and dirty work environments..

“Employees can’t get into the clock’s menu system. Only designated administrators can. If someone tries to tamper with the clock, let’s say take it off the wall or do something to it, the clock shuts down,” Elkins said.

How it helps with recordkeeping

As a business owner, keeping accurate time records for all your employees prevents problems if the Department of Labor reaches out.

Sometimes, the DOL may want records of hours worked by a terminated employee, from years ago. With some timekeeping systems, it can be hard to dig up old records, and even harder to prove the hours the employee actually worked.

The audits and investigations can be stressful, time-consuming and costly for a company.

Because the Face Clock uses biometrics and can’t be cheated, records can prove to the Department of Labor that an employee was, without a doubt, working when the system says they were.

The Face Clock improves attendance by ensuring employees arrive on time and are at work when they say they are. Plus, it provides critical documentation if an audit or investigation comes about.

The Face Clock is almost like an insurance policy, and it can be the best insurance a business owner has for employee compliance.

What it costs

Some biometric clocks can cost upward of $3,000.

But the good news is our Face Clock isn’t one of them.

It costs about $600. And, as noted, the setup is quite painless.

There’s a monthly charge for the cloud-based software subscription that connects with the Face Clock.

The price is one of the clock’s most attractive features. The low price, combined with the potential to keep employees honest about the hours they work, makes for money saved.

It’s phenomenal. Business-owners tell me the face clock pays for itself in two months, and all the savings after that goes right to their bottom-line.

Do I Have to Pay My Employees Overtime? Here’s What New York State Law Says

There are several aspects of New York State laws to keep in mind when classifying an employee as exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay. Getting it right will save you from costly mistakes in the future.

By Larry Kagan, Founder & CEO, Baron Payroll

It may be easier to pay an employee a salary – you can avoid having to keep track of their hours, their pay will be the same every week.

But it may not always be legal.

If you’re trying to figure out whether you need to pay an employee overtime, it’s not as simple as deciding whether you want to pay an employee a salary or hourly. Legal requirements set forth who receives overtime and who doesn’t.

The terms people often use are hourly and salaried, and that salaried workers don’t have to be paid overtime. That’s not the case.

Instead, the terms to focus on are exempt and non-exempt. All employees must be classified as exempt or non-exempt. They also should have a written job description that details the work they do.

An employee either meets qualifications to not be required to receive overtime pay, or they do not meet those qualifications and must receive overtime pay.

State and federal laws dictate whether an employee is exempt from overtime. Since New York State’s requirements are more stringent, they are the ones employers who operate in the state need to follow. An employee must first meet or exceed a certain level of pay to be considered exempt. They then must fall into specific categories of workers who can be exempt from overtime.

At the beginning of the year, the threshold for what’s considered an exempt employee in New York State increases again.

Beginning in 2021, in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, the minimum salary to be considered exempt will be $1,050 per week, or $54,600 per year. In the rest of the state, it’s $937.50 per week. New York City’s rate won’t increase this year; it remains $1,125 per week.

By the end of 2021, employees in New York City and in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties will need to make $1,125 per week to be considered exempt from overtime. For the rest of the state, the rate will remain $937.50 per week.

If you had an employee who barely met the requirement to be considered exempt this year, they now will not be, unless they receive a raise.

How can an employee be exempt?

If an employee who is not exempt from overtime works more than 40 hours per week, they receive time-and-a-half pay for their overtime hours.

Overtime pay is not optional. An employee can’t waive their right to receive it; otherwise, employers would only hire those who said they didn’t want to be paid overtime.

First, an employee must meet or exceed the financial threshold required by New York State (on Long Island, that will be $1,050 per week in 2021). If they don’t meet this threshold, they are not exempt from, and must be paid, for overtime.

If they do meet this income threshold, they must pass also pass a second test. Your employee must be a specific kind of worker with certain kinds of duties that fall into various categories of exemptions.

Many of these exemptions include work that exercises independent judgment, where an employee makes important decisions that impact the company. Specific exemptions include executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and other skilled-work positions.

An employee’s title, even if it includes the words used in the exemptions, isn’t as important as the actual work they do. Their job duties dictate whether they should be considered exempt.

Generally, if a person works with their hands, they likely are entitled to overtime.

Getting it wrong can be costly

Knowing how to properly classify an employee saves you money in the long run. If you classify incorrectly, you could end up facing a lawsuit or investigation for not just unpaid overtime, but fines and damages.

And it’s often not just one employee you would have to pay back wages to. If the state starts an investigation, it will likely include all employees.

A concept called “double liquidated damages” may also apply, which means an employee gets double the amount they would be owed in back pay.

It can be a big financial hit, as well as a reputational one. Someone at the company will likely take the fall for the impropriety.

Even if the company goes out of business, the employer could be held personally liable, putting their personal assets in danger.

How we can help

I say this all the time — we’re not the payroll police. But as a local New York company, we are well-versed on the numerous and complex New York state and local employment laws. Unlike the national payroll companies, we have specialized knowledge in New York.

We will tell you if we notice you’re doing something wrong, so you can decide what changes, if any, may be best for you and your business to take to avoid financial danger.

We can help you figure out the best way to classify your employees and write job descriptions that clearly detail the work they do.

The dangers can be great. And one way to avoid this kind of pitfall is straightforward and financially painless.

We can reverse-engineer your payroll expenses to ensure that you’re still paying an employee the same amount per week, but that they are properly classified. Their pay statement may change to show regular and overtime hours, with regular and overtime pay, but the total amount of pay is the same as when you were paying them as a salary. You are just displaying it differently on your employee’s pay statement to comply with the employment laws.

You can make your numbers work while ensuring you’re following the laws on overtime and exempt vs. non-exempt employee classification. You will sleep better at night knowing there are no surprises or potential financial knockout punches looming over your head.

 

 

 

LS-54

When I speak with business owners and HR professionals, one of the biggest challenges I hear is making sure “I have all of my new hire paperwork in order.”

One of the forms that I find the business owners fail to have done is the LS-54.  This form is the notice of pay rate and payday and is required by New York State. 

This form is needed every time you hire a new employee or an employee has an increase in pay rate.  This form is very easy to fill out, you need our employee’s rate of pay.  You need to know if they are weekly, monthly, or bi-weekly payroll when their payday is.  Whether it’s Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday and what their overtime rate is.  Then they sign it and you sign it and it’s done. 

What is your risk involved in not having one of these forms? 

There is a penalty of $5,000 plus double liquidated damages, which is another $5,000 to equal $10,000 in possible damages.  The risk is very high in not having the LS-54 filled out with each employee, by the way, there are different LS-54 forms for your hourly employees and there is also on for your salary employees. 

The good news is if you’re working with a payroll company they should be doing this for you already.  If they’re not what you could do is go to the New York state department of labor website and look up the LS-54 form notification of pay rate and payday.

Is Our Company Required To Offer Paid Time-Off?

Let’s talk about time-off.  I’m often asked are there any regulations requiring our company to pay employees for time off?  In the old days, the answer was NO.  Today, the answer is MAYBE. 

In states, like New York, there are laws that require some employers to pay for sick time.  Other business, just choose to provide paid time off as another employee benefit.  You may be wondering how many different time-of categories should our company have? Many companies have moved away from having separate time-off buckets for vacation, sick, and personal days. 

It’s easier for companies to combine all these buckets into one called Paid Time Off or PTO.  You may be thinking isn’t if best for our company just to give employees 2 weeks paid time off, all UPFRONT, every year?

  Not necessarily.  That’s old fashioned and was popular when businesses kept tracking of time off with a spreadsheet. Businesses would lose money if an employee took two weeks PTO in January and then suddenly quit in February? 

There is a better way.  Have your employees accrue a little bit of time and earn PTO every single pay period. Your payroll company should easily be able to do these two things for you: First, accrue PTO every pay period for all your employees, and two, accrue PTO based on each employee’s hire date. 

This way the system will automatically increase PTO accruals based on length of service, so employees with more tenure will automatically earn more PTO time.