Does your company have a learning and development program? If not, it’s time to get on board!
What Is Learning and Development in HR?
Learning and development programs are crucial to HR functions. It is part of the company’s talent management strategy. The goal of learning and development is to align individual employee goals and performance with the company’s overall mission.
Here’s how it works. The HR manager in charge of learning and development curates a list of skills necessary to achieve the company’s mission. The manager then meets with individual employees or teams for interviews and performance appraisal. He or she identifies which skills are already president and well-honed, and also where the skill gaps are. At that point, HR can find training programs for employees to fill those gaps.
Ideally, the training will be cost-effective and well-matched to the company’s and employees’ needs.
What Is the Difference Between Training and Learning and Development?
Learning and development might sound similar to a traditional training program. So what’s the difference?
Good question. And it’s not just a fancy new name for an old idea. The main difference between a training program and learning and development is that the latter is more personalized and targeted. Whereas traditional training programs might offer classes and seminars to an entire department at once, a learning and development program would match training to the specific employees who need it.
Unlike a traditional training program that is focused only on skills training, the person-centered learning and development approach may include steps that are not directly linked to employee performance. But this approach is based on the idea that capable people make capable workers.
For example, a learning and development program may prescribe training that improves someone’s general performance skills. This training might include goal-setting, time management, emotional intelligence, leadership, or something similar. They may not lead to an immediate boost in technical performance. But they can pay off in increased productivity in the long term.
In addition, learning and development programs seek to improve an employee’s career trajectory, not just his or her technical skills. Not only should employees receive training in skills that will help them achieve the company’s mission. They should receive training in leadership and areas that align with their own values. This helps nurture their personal and career growth. It also helps to build a collaborative relationship between employee and employer.
What Are the Benefits of Learning and Development Programs?
Let’s talk about two of the major learning and development program benefits: Employee retention and ROI.
When you invest in your employees and their career development, you are taking a huge step toward better retention. Most people will work hard for you–and feel more loyal and committed–when they see that you are investing in them. This is especially true for younger workers. They want employers who will allow them to learn from people with expertise in their field, and they want it to happen now.
One of the great things about learning and development programs is that it focuses on every employee at all times. This is not a five-year plan that expects employees to wait their turn for leadership training or advanced skill development. It is targeted, personalized, and constant, so your employees won’t go looking for another employer who will offer them the career development that they want.
In addition, by identifying training and developing skills that align with an employee’s values, you are showing them how your company’s values align with theirs. Today’s workers want to work for organizations that share their personal values. In fact, one survey found that 50% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a values-aligned organization.
Supporting employees to help them understand who they are and what matters to them most has the added benefit of encouraging them to think about the personal legacy they want to leave. It creates commitment and engagement. This is what keeps people around long term.
Return on Investment
The second major benefit of learning and development programs is that it has a great ROI. Remember, these programs specifically target skills development that aligns with the company’s mission and goals. It is much more cost-effective to train only those employees who need a particular skill than it is to provide blanket training to an entire department.
And like we mentioned above, learning and development programs tend to create better employee engagement and boost morale. This often leads to increased productivity.
What Are the Best Learning and Development Strategies?
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. You want to implement a learning and development program, but how do you do it? What are the strategies you should employ?
Focus on the technical skills your company needs. It would be a waste of time to try to stay on top of all of the latest trends in business technology. Instead, hire experts to provide specific training in the technical skills your employees need.
Create personalized learning plans for each employee. These plans can incorporate any company-wide training that is occurring, but they don’t have to. There are so many opportunities for skill development and growth. Reward people who take the initiative to identify areas of need in their own learning plans. This is a great way to create a culture of learning and development.
Offer leadership development at all levels. Leadership skills shouldn’t be limited to managers and supervisors. Teach all of your employees to be leaders in their fields. Not only will it nurture their career development, but it will also set them up to be successful thought leaders in their current roles.
Embrace “micro-learning” opportunities. Your training doesn’t have to be the multi-day, off-site mega training that was popular in the last few decades. These are expensive and time-consuming. You can supplement (or even replace) these formal training events with ongoing micro learning opportunities. These often take the form of short videos, articles, online training, or brief mentoring meetings. Many of these mico-learning opportunities have the added benefit of being on-demand, so employees can access them at convenient times.
Invest in “whole person” development. Teach your employees about your organization’s mission and values, and let them assess whether or not those values align with their own. Help them discover their own interests and personal career needs.
Even if your company already offers some type of training program, we recommend that you consider adding learning and development to your tableau of HR functions. It will improve employee retention, boost productivity, and help to accomplish company-wide goals. What’s not to love?
Are men and women being paid the same salaries for doing the same work within your organization? According to Forbes, 92% of employers believe they are paying staff fairly, while only 65% of employees believe the same.
In a highly competitive talent market this difference might keep you up at night. Most guides for identifying and acting on gender pay equity issues assume your company has 500+ employees, plenty of salary data to crunch, and some skill with statistical analysis tools. But the reality is that out of the approximately 6 million businesses operating in the US, 90% have fewer than 20 employees. Small and medium-sized businesses account for 50% of the total employment in the US. Smaller employers face unique challenges when it comes to finding and addressing gender pay issues in the workplace:
Despite the challenges, attention to pay equity is tremendously important for smaller employers from a business, social responsibility, and compliance standpoint. Promoting equal pay practices improves employee efficiency and productivity, helps attract the best employees, reduces turnover, and increases employee commitment. Here is a three-step approach to tackling gender pay equity for smaller employers.
Step One: Understand the Issue
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and later Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 together tell us that employers must pay equal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. An employer cannot deny women equal pay for equal work which broadly includes access to transfers, promotions, pay increases, and benefits.
Gender stereotypes and biases – conscious or unconscious – influence managers and HR people alike. Women are generally perceived as thoughtful, caring, and willing to compromise while men are perceived as ambitious, assertive, and self-reliant. These biases can lead to women receiving fewer promotion opportunities, being passed over for training, and not being given central roles on large projects. Unintentional gender bias can disrupt pay equity throughout the employee life cycle especially during:
Recruiting and Hiring – Research shows that men and women take different approaches during salary negotiation. Negotiation is often viewed as assertive masculine behavior. Women are reluctant to attempt salary negotiations because of anticipated backlash from the company. Women who express masculine behaviors are often viewed negatively, assertiveness can be seen as aggressive or demanding. Also, companies which gather prior candidate pay and adjust starting offers up and down based on that information can be inadvertently continuing gender pay gaps job after job. Even the composition of the hiring team can unconsciously impact the number of men or women your business hires. If an interview team is comprised exclusively of male interviewers, they may be more likely to find common ground with male candidates.
Work Schedules – Women are disproportionately expected to handle childcare and household matters compared to their male counterparts. This means women are more likely to need part-time arrangements, telecommuting options, flexible working hours, and request leaves of absence for themselves or to care of family members. Employees seeking these kinds of arrangements are sometimes viewed as less ambitious than other employees, are given less responsibility at work, and are considered less often for promotion into senior management. Financially, women returning from leaves of absence, maternity being the most common leave in the US, often experience lags in their salary growth because of absence during annual performance and merit cycles.
Opportunities for Advancement – Women make up only 29% of senior level management in the US and only 2% of CEOs. There are fewer women than men in the leadership pipeline, receiving mentorship from existing leaders, or being offered career development plans.
Step Two: Find the cause
You don’t need a compensation analyst on staff to analyze pay gaps. Use this simplified approach:
Arrange employees in groups by similar role. Title might not be enough if your organization doesn’t have standardized titles. Look for employees who perform similar work and group those together.
Compare the salary of employees in the same, or similar jobs and identify any instances where employees are paid differently and are also different genders.
Expect to find differences in how people in the same role are paid, don’t panic or pretend those differences don’t exist. A pay difference doesn’t necessarily mean there is a gender pay issue. Focus on figuring out why the differences exist, identify patterns, investigate the largest gaps first.
Here are some things to consider:
Did the male employee negotiate more firmly than the female employee during recruiting?
Is your company missing job descriptions or a formal recruiting process and leaned heavily on the candidate’s prior pay information rather than established salary ranges for the position?
Are performance ratings for male and female employees in the same role similar, yet are they paid differently?
Are female employees regularly being rated lower than male employees by certain managers, or across your organization?
Are female employees being paid at their pre-leave salary when returning from work, even though they are achieving the same performance results as male colleagues in similar roles?
Are male employees asking for pay increases more regularly than female employees?
Are male employees being formally or informally mentored with greater frequency than female employees?
Step Three: Take action
Creating an action plan within your organization can correct and prevent gender pay equity issues. The best approach to building your business case is to collect and list gender pay differences that cannot be explained, and those that can be explained but are not justified because of the influence of some factor from step two. Discuss this list with appropriate managers and senior leadership to determine how the gaps you’ve identified can be corrected in line with the budget and overall business strategy.
The most proactive things you can do to ensure gender pay equity going forward are:
Create a written policy and guidelines about bias-free recruiting. Ensure interviewing teams are diverse. Avoid basing starting pay decisions on a candidate’s prior salary (if known), and instead on the value of that job within your organization.
Talk to managers about fairness and consistency in the performance review process. Make pay decisions based on skill and contribution.
Create and follow a consistent, transparent process for promotions, transfers, and pay increases.
If you operate a business with 50 or more full-time employees, you’re probably wondering what your ACA filing requirements are for 2019. We’ve put together this comprehensive post to help you understand ACA filing. Get to know what it means, who needs to do it, how to do it, and other helpful tips. Let’s get started.
What is ACA Filing?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires businesses who meet certain requirements to report the health coverage options provided to their employees. The IRS then collects information from employees showing which employer-provided health insurance plans were offered, along with coverage information. This is how the government ensures businesses comply with ACA filing requirements.
Is ACA Reporting Required for 2019?
You’re probably wondering if you’re required to partake in ACA filing for the 2019 tax season. There is a specific criteria you must meet to be eligible for ACA filing. If you have 50 or more full-time employees, typically that means you should distribute a Form 1095-C to employees. Form 1095-C is an employer-provided health insurance offer and coverage insurance document. This form is used to see whether employees enrolled in one of the offered health coverage plans and if they’re eligible for the premium tax credit. Although no major changes have been made to Form 1095-C for 2019, employers still need to make sure their data for 2018 are correct.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to submit the information from your employees’ Form 1095-C through a Form 1094-C. The latter simply transmits Form 1095-C to the IRS. If you’re an employer who offers self-insured health coverage to non-employees who enroll in coverage, you’ll need to report information about coverage offered to staff on Forms 1094-B and 1095-B.
If you meet the requirements for ACA filing, here’s how to do it. According to the IRS, “ACA information returns and transmittals are electronically filed through the ACA Information Returns system, also known as AIR.” The IRS encourages most organizations to file electronically regardless of their size.
For more detailed information on ACA filing requirements, visit the IRS website.
What is the Penalty for not Filing 1095-C?
Employers who meet ACA filing requirements have until January 31, 2019, to distribute Form 1095-C to staff members. Organizations must then file copies of each Form 1095-C with the IRS by February 28, 2019.
Failure to do so will result in penalties from the IRS. Companies who submit late or incomplete forms can be subject to fees of $250 per form– or up to $3 million for the year. Failing to file at all can cost $500 per form. Depending on the size of your organization, these costs can add up fast.
Stay on top of these forms and their deadlines to avoid expensive fees along with an accounting nightmare. It’s important to have a top-notch accounting team to help you comply with ACA filing requirements and ensure team members are set up for success.
This article is intended to be purely informative and is not meant to offer any legal or compliance advice. Make sure to consult legal counsel if you have questions regarding your ACA filing.
Remember when it was a taboo to speak openly about one’s salary? Discussions about pay the workplace were discouraged — and sometimes outright forbidden — by many employers. But keeping silent about wage rates is no longer the norm, and employers who forbid discussions about pay are violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The NLRA is clear about employees’ rights and employers and unions’ responsibilities as they apply to labor situations and conditions. The law protects employees’ right to talk about their organizations’ pay rates.
What the law says
On employees’ rights, the law states:
“Employees covered by the NLRA are guaranteed the right to form, join, decertify, or assist a labor organization, and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, or to refrain from such activities. Employees may also join together to improve terms and conditions of employment without a union.”
The law also, “protects the rights of employees to act together to address conditions at work, with or without a union. This protection extends to certain work-related conversations conducted on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.”
As for employers and unions’ responsibilities, the law, “forbids employers from interfering with employees in the exercise of rights to form, join or assist a labor organization for collective bargaining, or from working together to improve terms and conditions of employment, or refraining from any such activity. Similarly, labor organizations may not interfere with employees in the exercise of these rights.”
What pay secrecy is and why it’s ending
“Pay secrecy” isn’t merely a personal privacy issue, it’s a genuine workplace policy in many companies. In organizations where pay secrecy policies are implied, management simply discourages employees from discussing their pay with coworkers. But in other organizations, pay secrecy policies are in writing, typically in employee handbooks.
These law violations, however, are coming to an end. Workers and employee advocates are demanding pay transparency, a trend led in part by tech companies and startups, bolstered by workers’ discovery of gender– and race-based wage disparities. A report by the job board Hired found that men are offered higher salaries than women 63% of the time. African-American women are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women performing the same work, based on research by Lean In and the National Urban League.
In 2017, Google employees began sharing and posting their earnings online, upending the practice of keeping pay rates “under wraps.” Revelations of pay inequality have stirred up lawsuits alleging pay discrimination against a string of firms, mostly from the tech industry.
Government action to end wage disparities also is helping to end pay secrecy. Former President Barack Obama issued two executive orders: one promoting “equal pay for equal work” aimed at bringing about greater pay transparency, and a second requiring federal contractors to release compensation data to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) so that any pay discrepancies can be identified.
State and local governments have passed laws and regulations blocking employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. These mandates prevent employers from basing current wages on past pay, which for women, African Americans and others protected by anti-discrimination laws, are historically paid less than white men doing similar work. The desired result is to eliminate pay disparity when possible, which also discourages pay secrecy. So far, 13 states and 10 local governments nationwide have salary history bans, and more municipalities are expected to adopt such ordinances.
Ensuring fair pay for workers
Wage disparities occur in nearly all occupations, and factors like education, experience and skills levels can’t be discounted in configuring pay rates. But employers can take steps to ensure that their compensation packages are nondiscriminatory by:
Being transparent about compensation, which might include posting pay ranges by occupation where workers can access the information, as some employers do.
According to recent insurance industry data, only 56% of companies with 200 employees or less provide some healthcare benefits to staff members. For small businesses, with 3 to 9 staff members, healthcare is provided for less than half. Compared to large companies, 98% of whom offer the benefit, small to mid-sized businesses are challenged to compete in the marketplace. Cue the prospect of benefit pools.
For many small businesses, the cost of healthcare is a top line item. Failing to provide the benefit costs many employers top talent: while offering it can significantly impact profitability. It’s estimated family coverage per employee neared $20,000.00 in 2018: with 75% of that cost paid by businesses. In Virginia, State Senator Jill Holzman Vogel has proposed new legislation aimed at driving down the cost of coverage for smaller business through benefit pooling.
What is SB1712?
A new bill, proposed in Holzman Vogel is aimed at leveling the playing field for small businesses in her state. SB1712 would allow “sponsoring organizations,” like trade associations or local chambers of commerce to participate in multi-employer benefit pools. These pools could help reduce the cost of providing insurance to staff members at smaller firms who are paired with employees from other small companies. By allowing groups of employers to pool together, they form a larger group, where risk can be reduced along with costs.
The bill requires a sponsoring organization must have been established and in existence for at least 10 years to qualify. The organization must be a nonprofit, have a minimum of at least 5 members, and have been formed for purposes other than pooling insurance costs. If passed, the bill could allow Virginians that are self-employed or who own small businesses to get lower-cost access to healthcare coverage for themselves and their employees or reduce the cost of coverages they already incur.
What are benefit pools?
The possibility of “pooling together” to buy healthcare coverage for small businesses can be highly advantageous. Big companies are able to negotiate price more aggressively with insurance carriers because their “group” is so large. The more people within the group, the more easily the carrier can spread the risk of coverage around. The higher costs experienced by less healthy members of the group are offset by lower expenditures on those who are healthy, driving down costs overall for the business and employees. For small companies, with a smaller group, risk is not easily offset, leading to higher prices.
Benefit pools are not new. Through 2009, almost 30 states authorized these types of insurance buying cooperatives, either by state law or regulation. But many were fraught with fraud and problems, while others were closed with the advent of the Affordable Care Act. Association Health Plans (AHPs), as they were called by the ACA, were not new, but under the Affordable Care Act, new regulations were applied to protect consumers and expand the reach of these groups.
In June of 2018, the Trump administration expanded AHPs further, to provide more access for small businesses and individuals. Associations can now be made up of members from across the country (not just in the same state) if they work in the same industry, individuals may join plans, and the group no longer needs to have a purpose beyond providing health coverage.
How would benefit pools help small businesses?
For many small businesses, the cost of healthcare coverage for employees and their dependents is prohibitive. The same insurance industry study found monthly premiums for single coverage averaged $574 in 2018: $1,634 for family coverage. It’s estimated that costs will rise by about 5% for the sixth year in a row in 2019.
If small businesses and the self-employed can join a benefit pool, savings could be significant. For businesses buying coverage through ACA, small groups are defined as 1-100 employees, depending on the state. Their group rates under the ACA are based on a set of factors: location, ages of the enrollees, and in some areas, tobacco use. Once those are calculated, the rates are the same no matter which carrier is chosen. For large businesses, over 100 employees, different regulations may apply. This, along with the ability to distribute risk, can give the larger company more leverage to negotiate lower pricing by allowing carriers to compete for their business. The overall savings can be substantial.
Benefits attract and retain
For most job seekers, access to employer-sponsored benefits is second only to salary when it comes time to look for or accept a job. When a small business can offer a competitive benefits package, they may be better able to attract top talent that might otherwise go to larger organizations. In a 2016 survey, 60% of job seekers revealed they would accept a lower salary if it meant a better benefits package. Another 16% admitted they turned down an offer or quit a job because of the benefits. In today’s market, with unemployment at record lows, healthcare coverage on its own could be a tipping point when attracting potential hires.
While some younger workers may be carrying coverage under their parents’ plans, in line with the rules of the ACA staying eligible until age 26, eventually they will need to be on their own plan. Staffers that are about to age out of their parents’ plans may have no alternative but to find another job if they aren’t offered coverage with their current employer.
Holding on to employees in today’s tight market is critical. One of the top reasons (third in their list) employees quit is for better benefits, according to a recent survey. Twenty-nine percent of workers admit a better benefits package was their reason for resigning. With unemployment so low and talent shortages being seen across all industries, retention is top of mind for businesses large and small.
Reducing “presenteeism” thought through benefit pools
We’ve all heard that happy people work harder, but healthy people work harder as well. When employees have access to healthcare resources, they tend to be, well, healthier. They don’t put off doctor appointments when they’re sick, get the medicines they need and return to work faster and healthier. For employees without access to health resources, presenteeism is often the norm. The opposite of absenteeism, presenteeism occurs when employees come to work sick. In addition to infecting the rest of the team, these employees are hardly working at their best. Some estimates put the cost of these low productivity work days at $226 billion per year to US employers.
Being able to offer healthcare benefits is important to large and small businesses. Legislation like the law proposed in Virginia, could give small companies access to more affordable plans, helping them compete in the larger talent market. It’s a win/win for employers and staff members.
If you or your employees have an FSA, it’s important to brush up on FSA reimbursements. If you’re wondering what FSA reimbursements are, how your health provider handles these queries and what you should do for submitting claims, here’s what you need to know.
How do FSA reimbursements work?
Having an FSA means that you’ll at some point be asking for reimbursements on medical expenses incurred. But how exactly do these reimbursements work?
There are multiple ways a person can be reimbursed for their FSA expenses. It all depends on what type of FSA you have, and which special regulations have been outlined with your provider.
Also, keep in mind that when it comes to your dependents, you can only claim reimbursements for children that are under 13 (check out more on dependent care FSAs). Additionally, some health care insurance providers give their clients a specific credit card that’s reserved only for tracking healthcare expenses.
The two main ways to submit a claim are automatic and manual. Both types of claims require that you accompany your claim with the proper proof and documentation, however, so that’s a standard which all FSA holders need to follow.
Automatic Claims Submission
One main way that you can receive reimbursement is through an automatic claims submission. As long as you don’t have a limited use FSA, and your medical expenses were incurred at a pharmacy or provider in your network, your claim will be processed automatically.
Manual Claims Submission
Claims and expenses incurred outside the network are responsible for completing a healthcare FSA form manually. Specifically, people in this situation will be responsible for submitting a claim form alongside a completed form.
Dependent Care FSA Reimbursement
Similarly to the manual claims submission, you’ll need to submit documentation directly if you’re claiming for a dependent. Simply keep all of your information for the dependent, who must be under age 13, and email or fax it to your provider.
How long do you have to submit a claim to FSA?
Most FSA reimbursement claims are required to be submitted within 90 days that the expense was incurred. While this is a general standard, there are many special situations and regulations which might determine something different. That’s why you should always check with your employer to be sure when you can submit an FSA claim — that way you know you don’t miss any opportunities to get paid back.
What is the Deadline for FSA Reimbursement?
As discussed above, you typically have 90 days to submit your FSA reimbursement. However, some plans might also include a grace period, in which you’d have additional time to submit your claim. You might have as much as two and a half months following through the end of your plan to do so. Carryovers are another situation with might apply. If you have leftover, unused funds in your account at the end of the year, a carryover allows you to bring up to $500 of those initial funds into the next year.
It takes a village to raise a child—everyone knows this. But to raise children, run a business and meet all the other demands of modern life? Well, that’s a feat that takes a trusted network of capable, connected and committed people willing to pool time, talent and resources to help each other in a pinch. This week, Mompreneur looks at the value of creating a Help Bank, a group of people who agree to swap services on a regular basis.
Sick kids, car troubles, pet problems. Life’s minor emergencies are inevitable—and usually occur at the most inconvenient times, leaving you scrambling to find back-up so you can deal with the issue and still make it to your meeting on time. Unfortunately, not everyone has an army of grandparents waiting in the wings and asking friends for help can feel awkward, especially when you know they’re trying to keep their own balls in the air.
“With two young boys, two dogs, an elderly widowed mother, and a growing business, I figured out really early on that I needed to identify people who I could call for help when things started to go off the rails,” says Liz, who runs a contracting business with her husband in Maryland. “But I didn’t want to be that person who always asks for help without offering anything in return.” So, Liz took a look around her neighborhood and social circle, identified people who might be in the same boat and brought them all together with the express purpose of creating a network of practical support.
The result? A Help Bank, a google document containing the contact information, availability, and resources on offer of over twenty-five people in her local community. And new people join all the time.
Liz quickly realized that other moms in her circle were also trying to figure things out on the fly and that a little bit of proactive planning and networking would save them all a lot of stress.
Inspired by the listserv emails she received every day, Liz says she quickly realized that so many other moms in her circle were also trying to figure things out on the fly and that a little bit of proactive planning and networking would save them all a lot of stress. “I was getting so many emails every day from my son’s school, my church, my neighborhood mom’s group. People looking for recommendations and access to services and help. So, I decided to invite people over to brainstorm and our Help Bank was born.”
Liz’s biggest need revolved around finding someone who could pick up her kids from daycare when she and her husband couldn’t get out of late client meetings. “I don’t have a lot of flexibility in my daily schedule, but our neighbor two doors down works from home. When we realized that she would love to pick up my boys a couple times per month in exchange for me feeding her cats on the weekends when she’s traveling, we both felt like we’d hit the jackpot.”
Initially, Liz envisioned the Help Bank being a resource for working moms, but soon found the value of including people from many different stages in life.
Initially, Liz envisioned the Help Bank being a resource for working moms, but soon found the value of including people from many different stages in life. She also realized that she could get creative in the resources she and others could offer. She explains, “We have a pickup truck which is a hot commodity in our neighborhood. Our willingness to spend an hour on a weeknight or Saturday morning to help someone move a piece of furniture or pick up a load of mulch is really valuable to some people in our group and something I completely take for granted.” In addition to child and pet care, last-minute rides, extra vehicles and house sitting, members of Liz’s Help Bank also offer services like tutoring, help with science fair projects, professional expertise and interpretation services.
When asked if people take advantage of the resource, Liz noted that there have been a few instances of people not respecting the good-faith nature of the group, but that most people are more than happy to help each other however they can, whenever they can. She also explained that their spreadsheet has a column in which people note any extenuating circumstances or time periods when they’re not available.
“I think in general, people really do enjoy knowing that we’re genuinely helping each other out and that there are predetermined people who we can ask for help when we need it without the guilt of always leaning on friends or family.”
“At the end of the day,” says Liz, “It’s all about reciprocity.”
Until recently, it was legal (and fairly commonplace) for employers to refuse to hire a person because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Thanks to state and federal LGBTQ non-discrimination laws, that practice is dying out.
What Are LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Laws?
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have LGBTQ non-discrimination laws. In addition, 26 states are part of a federal circuit with a judicial ruling that interprets existing federal nondiscrimination law (under Title VII) to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Some of these states overlap.)
What does that mean? Well, quite simply, it means that employers may not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Most state laws detail prohibitions against discrimination in recruiting, interviewing, hiring, promoting, establishing work conditions or firing.
In addition, labor unions in these states may not deny membership to otherwise qualified people based on sexual orientation or gender discrimination. And employment agencies are prohibited from discriminating in job referrals or interviewing. In fact, a few states explicitly prohibit newspapers and job sites from publishing discriminatory job announcements.
Most likely, if you employ people, you are already familiar with laws that protect workers from discrimination based on sex, race, religion, national origin, and disability. LGBTQ non-discrimination laws work the same way. These states are simply adding sexual orientation and gender identity to their lists of protected classes.
It is important to note that many of these state LGBTQ non-discrimination laws address more than just discrimination in employment. Some of them address public accommodations, housing, credit, and state employees in particular. For the purpose of this article, we are focusing on employment laws only. However, if you run an organization that serves customers in one of these other areas, you may want to check out this map.
Are There Different Categories of LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Laws?
State law expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
The state interprets existing sex nondiscrimination law to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
State law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
The state is part of a federal circuit in which a court ruling found that Title VII (the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination) also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The state prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people in government employment.
The state has no law addressing LGBTQ discrimination.
Let’s examine these six categories a little closer.
1. States with LGBTQ non-discrimination laws.
In these states, employers may not discriminate against employees or potential employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The law covers all the letters in LGBTQ. (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer.)
If you’re wondering what questioning/queer means, you’re not alone. Those two words actually have a number of meanings, and all of them are acceptable, according to the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD. “Queer means that you are one of those letters (LGBT), but you could be all of those letters and not knowing is OK,” said Cleo Anderson of GLAAD in an interview with USA Network. “Questioning” is a term that the LGBTQ community sometimes uses to describe a person who is still discerning their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia fall into this category. (See this map.)
2. Existing Nondiscrimination Law Covers LGBTQ.
In Michigan and Pennsylvania, the courts have expressly interpreted existing sex nondiscrimination laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that LGBTQ workers in these two states have essentially the same rights as they would in the twenty-one states mentioned above.
3. States with LGB non-discrimination law.
In one state, Wisconsin, employers are expressly prohibited from discriminating against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. There is no state policy that protects transgender people from employment discrimination. However, Wisconsin also falls into our next LGBTQ non-discrimination laws category.
4. States where federal sex nondiscrimination law applies to LGBTQ workers.
Here’s where it gets a bit more complicated. Several federal circuits, which cover a total of 26 states, have made rulings that interpret existing federal sex nondiscrimination laws as covering sexual orientation, gender identity, or both.
To be clear, in some of these states, the courts have decided that federal law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation only. In others, gender identity only. And in still others, both sexual orientation and gender identity. In all of these states, LGBTQ people are protected from employment discrimination if that protection is specified in either the state law or federal law as interpreted by the courts. (See the map below to find out if your state falls into this category.)
5. Public Employment Nondiscrimination Laws.
This category applies to 31 states and the District of Columbia. The law explicitly forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in government jobs. This means that it is illegal for government employers to discriminate against any LGBTQ employees or job applicants. In Missouri, Arizona, and Alaska, state law only prohibits lesbian, gay, and bisexual discrimination in government jobs. And 16 states have no LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering public employees. However, several of these states are part of the federal circuits we mentioned above. This means that LGBTQ people do have some federal protections.
6. States with no law addressing LGBTQ discrimination.
Unfortunately, there are still 11 states where neither state nor federal law protects LGBTQ people from employment discrimination in any capacity.
Should Your Company Have Its Own LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Policy?
It’s important for employers to understand the law and to stay in compliance. But what about your own company policies? Should they address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity? Our recommendation is yes.
Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also better for business. Many studies have shown that a diverse workforce can improve a company’s bottom line. When your staff is made up of people from diverse backgrounds, they bring all of their unique experiences with them. This improves productivity and leads to a larger pool of ideas and strengths for your company.
You can’t achieve true diversity if any group of people feels ostracized or excluded.
A company policy and culture that welcomes employees from all backgrounds, including the LGBTQ community, can also strengthen your relationships with your customers. A non-discriminatory and welcoming business model makes customer communication easier and more effective. It creates trust
IRS AIR, also known as Affordable Care Act Information Returns, refers to the federal forms that insurance companies, self-insured companies, and large businesses must file in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The AIR also denotes how these forms need to be transmitted to the IRS.
Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C request health coverage and employer-provided health insurance information from employers and insurance companies. The specific forms you’re required to complete will depend on the type of business you operate.
Several types of organizations and individuals can use the IRS AIR System to electronically file ACA information returns. Software developers, employers, insurers or carriers, government agencies, and third parties are eligible to use the IRS AIR System.
The IRS highly encourages all qualifying parties to submit ACA forms electronically for accuracy and efficiency. It eliminates manual transcription and speeds up processing. E-filing also ensures an immediate receipt and online submission tracking, which offers peace of mind for the filing party.
How do I file my IRS AIR?
There are a few steps to filing an IRS AIR. Whether you’re an employer, insurance carrier, or third party, you’ll follow the same process when e-filing. IRS AIR filing requires registration, e-file application, and form submission. For electronic submissions, the filing party must first register online and create an account. Next, submission requires information about your business or organization to determine whether or not you qualify as an ACA Provider. For information on ACA Provider criteria refer to the IRS.
Submitting your IRS AIR is as easy as uploading the Form 8963. As we mentioned earlier, once you complete this step you’ll receive a digital receipt and tracking information. To ensure accurate reporting on Form 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C, HR software can help. Keeping track of all employee ACA filing data can be a challenge. It’s often easiest to integrate a software solution into the mix for accuracy. Depending on the filing year, information requirements can change, which is why it’s critical to maintain records year after year.
What’s the deadline to file my IRS AIR?
The IRS AIR deadline for 2019 is April 15th. E-filing follows the standard deadline for all tax returns. If you need an extension, you must file Form 4868. This form must be completed before the April 15th timeframe.
If you file for an extension, you’ll have until October 15th to file an IRS AIR. Keep in mind that an extension does not mean more time to pay. It’s simply an extended period to prepare ACA Information Returns. If you’re having difficulties filing, the IRS can help.
What are the penalties if I’m late filing my ACA information?
Late filing can result in several fees to the entity who is filing. A penalty can be assessed for each type of form that is late or completed incorrectly. Fees can range anywhere from $100-$250 depending on the form. Form 1095-C errors tend to result in higher fees. Intentional disregard for reporting requirements can also influence penalties. For more information about reporting penalties, visit the IRS information page online.
Restaurant servers, hairdressers, taxi drivers– more than 3 million Americans work a tipped job. And because part of their pay comes from tips, the federal government allows the employers of tipped workers to pay them less than the standard minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour, compared to $7.25 per hour for other employees. States are also allowed to set their own minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, and in fact, many have minimums that are higher than those of the federal government.
So does this mean that tipped employees are not entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage for an hour’s work? Not exactly. What it means is this: employers are allowed to count an employee’s tips toward their minimum wage obligations. In doing so, employers are using something called a “tip credit.”
But what is a tip credit, how does it work, and how do employers ensure that they are following the law? Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about tip credits.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tip Credits
What Is a Tip Credit?
As we mentioned above, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to pay their employees less than the standard minimum wage as long as the employee earns enough tips to make up the difference. That difference–the amount of money between the cash you pay your employees and the standard minimum wage–is called a tip credit. So for a tipped employee, minimum wage ends up looking like this:
What if my employees earn more tips than what’s needed to bring their pay up to minimum wage? Can I keep the remaining tips?
According to the FLSA, your employees have the right to retain all of their tips, and employers may not take them for any reason other than a legitimate tip pooling process. (Legitimate tip pooling is only among employees who regularly receive tips and serve customers, like servers tipping out the bartender or hairdressers tipping out the shampooer.) Even if you pay your employees the full minimum wage, you still can’t force your employees to turn over their tips.
I heard that there was a new law regarding tip pooling when the employer already pays the tipped employee the full minimum wage. What is that about?
There was a lot of confusion last year and early this year regarding this issue. There were two federal lawsuits in which tipped employees claimed that their employers illegally took their tips. The employers claimed they had that right because the employees received the full minimum wage. The cases were heard in the 9th and 10th Federal Circuits, and they had conflicting rulings.
The 10th circuit ruled that employers did have the right to keep employee tips for the purpose of tip pooling with “back of the house” employees, like cooks and dishwashers. That ruling went against the provisions of the FLSA. The 9th circuit ruled that employers did not have this right.
The Department of Labor then challenged the 9th circuit decision in the Supreme Court. However, SCOTUS left the matter unresolved by denying the DOL’s petition without comment. But according to the Department of Labor’s website, although it is still illegal for employers to keep employee tips, they will not enforce this rule if the employer pays the employee the full minimum wage and doesn’t claim a tip credit.
What about the FICA Tip Tax Credit for Employers?
Here’s where it gets a little bit confusing. There are actually two federal rules with very similar names, and they both apply to businesses who employ tipped workers. So far, we’ve been talking about the FLSA Tip Credit. But there’s also something called the FICA Tip Tax Credit, and it could save you thousands of dollars each year.
To be clear, the FICA Tip Tax Credit is only available to employers in the food and beverage industry. If your employee tipped workers in another industry, that means you can’t claim this credit. Here’s how it works: a food and beverage employer might be able to get a partial tax credit equaling the employer’s portion of the FICA tax on tip income that exceeds the federal minimum wage.
In other words, you have to pay the employer matching FICA taxes on your employees’ tip income up to the federal minimum wage. But your share of the FICA taxes on any tips your employees earn above the minimum wage would then be eligible for the Tip Tax Credit.
The current FICA tax rate, including Medicare, is 7.65%. That can add up to thousands of dollars per year for most restaurant owners.
How do I report the FICA Tip Tax Credit?
You should complete IRS Form 8846 when you do your business tax return.
This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to provide legal, regulatory, accounting, or tax advice.