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.

Payroll and HR your way

Why is now a good time to review your payroll and HR service for 2021? Because you want to start the new year off on the right foot.

As a small business, it is smart to want to tailor your payroll to your business, not have to fit a mold set out for you by national payroll companies.

If you’re tired of inflexible payroll software, if you’re tired of having to call in for reports that you should have access to right now, if you’re tired of waiting on the phone and giving your credentials 3 – 4 times to get the wrong answers, then give us a call.

Call Baron Payroll at 631-266-2500 and get someone on the phone right away who can help tailor your payroll to your business and your needs, not the other way around.

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.

 

 

 

Is it legal for employees currently collecting unemployment to come in and work?

I’m often asked by business owners who have recently furloughed or laid off employees, if it’s legal for employees currently collecting unemployment to come in and work?   

The answer is yes.  It is possible for employees to collect unemployment even if they are still working. Unemployment is not an all or nothing thing, it can be partial. 

Here’s the BIG qualifier: as long as the employee works less than 4 days in a week and earns less than $504 in the week, the employee may receive partial unemployment benefits. 

So, for example if you call an employee in to work 1 day this week and they earn $300, they can still collect partial unemployment benefits. If you call them in 2 days this week and they earn $600, they cannot collect unemployment this week because they earned over $504 this week, but they will still collect unemployment the following week. 

So, my advice to you, if you have employees collecting unemployment and you need them to come into work, Call Them In. 

Is my PPP Loan Free Money?

I’m often asked by business owners if the PPP Loan is free money for me?  

The answer is, it depends.  

It’s either a loan you need to pay back, or free money depending upon what you do with it when you get it.  There are some conditions that need to be met for your PPP Loan to be forgiven. 

One condition is, you must spend at least 75% of your loan proceeds on payroll. 

Additionally, the day your loan is funded, the clock starts and only the next 8 weeks count.  Knowing this, you should be very strategic and pick a funding date that makes the most sense for your business. 

So, my advice to you, is to call your payroll company and make sure they are providing you with the special PPP reports during your 8 week period. This way, every payroll, you can manage your spend, and make sure you’re on target to hit the 75% threshold. 

What should I do about the Mandated Sexual Harassment Training in New York?

I recently polled a group of business professionals at an event.  I asked how many of them had done the mandatory New York State Sexual Harassment Training. 

To my surprise, out of nearly 80, only 80 percent said they had NOT done anything yet. 

Here are two things that might happen if you do not get it done. 

First, your employees could expose you to a sexual harassment lawsuit out of ignorance because they have not been trained. 

Second, if a lawsuit should occur, your risk of incurring enhanced damages does increase because the minimum requirement of training was not met. 

I understand this may not be high on your priority list.  You may not have the time to do this yourself or you may not know what to do next..   

If you have a trusted advisor to call, get on it. Alternatively, Baron can help you get it done.  Just one call and we will get you started. 

New Overtime Rules for NYS Effective 2020

In my conversations with business owners, I’ll ask them to name 2 major classifications of their employees. What I typically hear are things such as full-time and part-time; or hourly and salaried, but rarely hear the answer I’m looking for: which is EXEMPT & NON-EXEMPT.  

Most business owners have no idea that they are required to classify all jobs at their company as either exempt or non-exempt. Not doing this, or getting this wrong, can cost your company a lot of money. 

So, what’s the difference between EXEMPT & NON-EXEMPT, and what’s the big deal?  

It has to do with overtime. Most people think if the employee is salary, there’s no overtime; and if they are hourly, they get paid overtime, AND THAT’S NOT TRUE. 

Exempt employees are not subject to overtime and to qualify as EXEMPT, they must pass these 3 main tests:  

  1. They’re paid on a salary basis; which means they get paid a fixed amount and are expected to finish the tasks required of them, whether it takes 30 hours or 50 hours in a week.  

SO, IF THEY’RE PAID HOURLY, THEY CANNOT BE EXEMPT. 

  1. In New York State, they must earn a minimum annual salary,or threshold, based upon where they work. These salary thresholds just increased in NYS again, so starting January 1, 2020, if the employee works in: 
  1. NYC or the five Boros, the NEW min salary threshold is$58,500 per year 
  1. for Nassau, Suffolk or Westchester the NEW min threshold is $50,700 
  1. and for the rest of the NYS, the min annual threshold is$46,020 

SO, IF THE EMPLOYEE EARNS BELOW THE MINIMUM SALARY THRESHOLD, THEY CANNOT BE EXEMPT. 

  1. The third test is that the employee performs job duties considered EXEMPT by the Department of Labor.  These duties are not based upon the employee’s title; but instead, on the employee’s actual job duties.  The most common department of Labor exemptions are for executive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales.  

SO, IF THE EMPLOYEE’S ACTUAL JOB DUTIES FALL OUTSIDE OF THE SPECIFIC Department of Labor EXEMPTIONS, THEY CANNOT BE EXEMPT. 

As a payroll company owner, my advice to you is to call your payroll company immediately and make sure all your employees are classified correctly as exempt and non-exempt. I would also suggest that you to ask your payroll company to verify that you are paying overtime correctly to all your employees.  

New York State New Minimum Wage Rates. Are You in Compliance?

Attention Business Owners and HR Professionals. It’s Larry Kagan from Baron Payroll with another red hot topic for year-end. NYS min wage has increased again starting December 31, 2019. Unlike most other states that have just one min wage rate, NYS has multiple min wage rates. 

The new min wage rate for Nassau, Suffolk & Westchester is $13 per hour. For NYC and the 5 Boros, it’s $15 across the board and for the remainder of NYS, it’s $11.80 per hour. However, for fast-food workers outside of NYC, the min wage is $13.75 per hour. These changes are effective for all days worked starting December 31st, and the keywords are “DAYS WORKED.” 

I’m often asked: because December 31 usually falls within a pay period, can our company pay 2 different min wage rates in the same pay period? This answer is YES, and you should! 

For example, if a company has a bi-weekly pay period covering Dec 23rd through Jan 5th, you should pay the old min wage rate for Dec 23-30; and the new rate for Dec 31 through Jan 5th.In this example, if you pay the old rate for the entire pay period, you are out of compliance. If you pay the new rate for the entire pay period, you just overpaid your employees.  

My recommendation to you is to call your payroll company regarding the new, NYS min wage rates, and make sure you are in compliance and are not overpaying your employees.