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An EAP can keep your top players on the floor

A good basketball team is at its best when its top players are on the floor. Similarly, a company is the most productive, efficient and innovative when its best employees are in the right positions, doing great work. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for good employees to battle personal problems, such as substance dependence, financial and legal woes, or mental health issues. These struggles can negatively affect their productivity and the working environment around them. One way employers can help is by offering a benefit called an employee assistance program (EAP). A benefit with benefits An EAP helps identify at-risk employees and assist them...

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Medicare Part D Online Disclosure to CMS Due Mar. 1

The Medicare Modernization Act requires employers that provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare-eligible individuals to complete the Online Disclosure Form to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to report whether such coverage is creditable prescription drug coverage (“creditable coverage”). Creditable coverage is coverage that is expected to pay, on average, as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage. This disclosure is required annually, no later than 60 days from the beginning of a plan year—typically March 1st for calendar year plans—and at certain other times. Visit our section on Medicare for more information about how the law...

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New Expiration Date for Employer CHIP, COBRA General, and COBRA Election Notices

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has extended the effective dates of its model Employer CHIP Notice, General Notice of COBRA Rights, and COBRA Election Notice through December 31, 2019. Previously, these model notices expired on December 31, 2016. No other changes have been made to these notices. For the latest guidance regarding these notices, please visit the DOL's Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act and COBRA Continuation Coverage webpages, or contact the DOL directly at 1-866-487-2365.   ...

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DOL Adjusts Labor Law Penalties for 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a final rule adjusting for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed for violations of a number of federal labor laws. The increases generally apply to civil penalties assessed after January 13, 2017, whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015. Key Penalty Increases Penalty increases that may be of particular interest to employers include: FLSA Requirements. Repeated or willful violations of the FLSA's minimum wage or overtime pay requirements are subject to a penalty of up to $1,925 per violation (formerly $1,894); FMLA Posting. Willful violations of...

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Executive Order Calls for Minimizing Economic Burden of ACA

President Trump has signed an executive order calling upon federal administrative agencies to minimize the economic burden of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), pending repeal of the law. Until further guidance is issued or legislation is signed, however, all ACA requirements remain in effect, including penalties for noncompliance. In addition to making clear that the Trump administration seeks the prompt repeal of the ACA, the executive order specifically calls upon agencies to exercise authority and discretion to: Waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any ACA provision or requirement that would impose a fiscal...

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Envision your advisory board before you form it

Many companies reach a point in their development where they could benefit from an advisory board. It’s all too easy in today’s complex business world to get caught up in an “echo chamber” of ideas and perspectives that only originate internally. For many business owners, an understandable first question about the concept is: What should my advisory board look like? To find an answer, start by envisioning the ideal size and composition of your company’s board in terms of skill sets and personalities. The guest list First and foremost, participants in your advisory board should have skills, experience and expertise that complement your...

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PTO banks: A smart HR solution for many companies

“I’m taking a sick day!” This familiar refrain usually is uttered with just cause, but not always. What if there were no sick days? No, we’re not suggesting employees be forced to work when they’re under the weather. Rather, many businesses are adopting a different paradigm when it comes to paid time off (PTO). Under the “PTO bank” concept, employers merge most (or all) of the traditional components of excused absences (vacation time, sick time, personal days and so on) into one simple employee-managed account, typically offering not quite as many PTO days as under a traditional PTO system. One benefit...

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Is your business committed to its cost-control regimen?

At the beginning of the year, many people decide they’re going to get in the best shape of their lives. Similarly, many business owners declare that they intend to cut costs and operate at peak efficiency going forward. But, like keeping up an exercise routine, controlling costs takes an ongoing effort. You need to not only review expenses now, but also commit yourself to doing so regularly. Here are some key points to keep in mind. Choosing where to slim down A good cost-control plan starts by clearly identifying manageable expenses in every business area — no exceptions. Prime candidates include: ...

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Succession planning and estate planning must go hand in hand

As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever — and that goes for most companies. Then again, with the right succession plan in place, you can do your part to ensure your business continues down a path of success for at least another generation. From there, it will be your successor’s job to propel it further into perpetuity. Some business owners make the mistake of largely ignoring succession planning under the assumption that it’s taken care of within their estate plans. Others create a succession plan but fail to adequately integrate it into their estate plan. To avoid these mistakes, it’s important...

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Welcome F. Stephen Fishel!

Stephen Fishel joined SIMA Financial Group in 2016 and brings to the organization 40 years of experience in both corporate environment and public accounting. He has spent the last 25 years working with small to medium size businesses by providing accounting, tax and consulting services. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration, Stephen uses his accounting, tax and analytical skills to educate clients on how their financial decisions impact the growth of their business, and providing sound, unbiased counsel to help clients make the financial and tax decisions that...

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