Contractor’s Errors & Omissions – Time to take a serious look.

Jonathan-BelekWe live in a very litigious society – lawsuits are not only common but they are now becoming a part of business day to day life.  Most contractors understand the need for standard liability insurance – the majority of jobs require a certification stating that ample coverage is in place.

But,  are you aware that your standard liability coverage will NOT protect you from potential liability exposures resulting from errors in your work, or negligent acts of your subcontractors or an independent contractor hired to perform work on your behalf?   The insurance that WILL protect you is called Errors & Omissions coverage or E&O.

Here’s why Contractors – both big and small should strongly consider including Contractor’s E&O in their insurance portfolio

  • Customer’s expectations are greater than ever – they are quick to point the finger at a contractor’s work. Even a simple complaint could result in a lawsuit. The cost to defend adds up quickly.
  • The current market is very competitive – contractors are being forced to do more for less – often with very strict timelines.  Mistakes are more likely to happen when your team is under a tight deadline.

Here are some great examples of E&O exposures for Contractors:

  • Carpet Installer –A new employee picks up the wrong carpet at the warehouse, delivers it to the jobsite and the installation crew spends 3 days installing the carpet before the owner of the business realizes it wasn’t the one that was chosen. The Carpet has to be removed, a cost in itself. What if the business has to shut down an additional day or two to accommodate you replacing the carpeting?  Losses can add up quickly
  • HVAC – a dealer is installing a couple new AC units on top of a manufacturing building.  The worker failed to install the correct supports and the AC unit falls through the roof damaging not only the roof, the unity but also the equipment below AND injuring several of the client’s workers.
  • Landscapers -  The wrong chemical was applied to a condo complex lawn – not only does the turf die, but the chemical possibly got into the nearby brook.  The cost to replace the sod and the potential pollution clean-up hit 6 figures.  The cost of the correct chemical $75.99.
  • Carpenter – Sub contractor doesn’t follow the blueprints and incorrectly places support beams.  The structure is deemed unsafe by the inspector and has to be taken down and re-done, delaying the project and costing the Carpenter thousands.

Don’t risk not being covered.  Mistakes happen and legal fees can shut down your business quickly if the right Risk Management plan is not in place.

For more information on Contractors E&O coverage – give me a call, I’d be happy to review your current program.

Jon Belek

jbelek@srfm.com

Job Descriptions: Many businesses overlook this key HR must have – do you?

Marty SheaJob descriptions are an essential component of any organization. Not only is it important that they are thorough and accurate when first crafted, it is also vital that they are kept up-to-date, as employees’ job functions may evolve.

Inaccurate or outdated job descriptions can also negatively affect recruiting and productivity, are a detriment to the employer-employee relationship and pose serious legal risks for the company.

 Impact on Recruiting

When a recruiter is told to hire a new employee, he or she should have a clear idea of the type of person to hire—specifically which qualities, skills and experience to look for to yield a solid group of candidates. This can be gleaned from a detailed job description. Without one, the recruiter cannot hope to find a candidate that will match the manager’s expectations for the position.

On the applicant side, prospective employees need specific job descriptions to decide if the position is a good fit for their qualifications and their desired career. Well-written, accurate job descriptions will ensure that the most relevant, qualified candidates apply for the job.

Employer Expectations

Having a comprehensive job description creates a concrete set of expectations for the employer to communicate to the employee. The employee is aware of his or her responsibilities as outlined in the job description, so there is less confusion about job expectations. It can also serve as an evaluation tool for employers to measure job performance based on pre-defined job duties.

Legal Implications – the fine print.

Perhaps most importantly, accurate and up-to-date job descriptions will limit company liability. Job descriptions have been successfully used by employees against former employers in recent litigation.

  • Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA defines exempt and non-exempt status—exempt employees are not subject to minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. This can be a serious liability if an employee began work under exempt status, but is now performing non-exempt work as well without an updated job description. The job description must make clear whether the employee is exempt or not and must be in line with the duties the employee is actually performing—failing to do so can leave companies vulnerable to lawsuits.
    • Exempt: The employee must be paid a salary (not an hourly fee) and perform duties defined as relatively high-level work in which the employee uses judgment and discretion on a regular basis. The employee’s primary duties must fit this classification in order to be considered exempt.
    • Non-exempt: Any employee who is paid by the hour is non-exempt, and thus subject to minimum wage and overtime requirements.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA stipulates that employers define the “essential functions” of a job, which are the basic duties that an employee must perform. An individual is only protected under the ADA if he or she is capable of performing the essential functions of a job, so it is vital that these functions are specified.

Don’t overlook this key HR must have – the Employee Job Description – it should be part of your overall Risk Management program.

Concerned that your company may have a gap and be at risk?  Clients of Sinclair Risk & Financial Management have access to Human Resources Management and other tools to help improve their business’s bottom line.

If you are struggling with creating the correct job descriptions, other HR compliance documents or are concerned that perhaps your current Risk Management program is less than stellar – give me a call, we can take a review and get you on the right track.

Marty Shea. VP of Sales

mshea@srfm.com

P: 203-284-3208

C: 860-202-1773

 

 

 

Life is a highway. Drive safe this summer

Marty SheaYou’ve been on the road for hours, hauling your load in the sweltering heat. The sun is so hot it crawls on your skin. You have only a few miles to reach your destination to get some needed rest when your rig starts to overheat.

Your day just got longer…. and hotter.

Summer driving for long-haul truckers present certain challenges. But there are ways to stay ahead of the game by protecting truckers from the heat and performing seasonal safety checks and basic maintenance on trucks.

Here are seven tips to keep your fleet in tip top shape and safe this summer.

Check your oil.  You want a cool engine during long summer hauls. Make sure there is enough engine oil to keep your truck engine cool and well lubricated. Check the gauge often to make sure the levels are adequate.

Keep your tires inflated. Tires wear out faster in hot temperature, so check your tire pressure before you head out on the road in order to prevent flats or blowouts.

Check your battery. Believe it or not, the heat takes a toll on batteries. Check your battery to be sure the heat is not evaporating the fluid and overcharging it.

Keep an eye on coolants. Check your antifreeze level. Keeping it in normal range will prevent trucks from overheating and creating engine trouble. Always remember to never remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled.

Check your brakes.  Make sure your brakes are working properly. Hot temperatures can compromise them.  The last thing you need is a brake issue as you are descending a mountain!

Keep yourself hydrated. Rigs need fluids to keep them running properly and so do truckers. Drink plenty of water. Keep bottled water with you while driving so you can hydrate yourself and avoid heat stroke and cramps.

Wear Sunscreen. UV sun rays are dangerous and can penetrate glass. Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, wear polarized sun glasses and wear long sleeves.

These are just a few tips for keeping your fleet safe on the road this summer- for more information on our Safety Training program for the Trucking Industry, drop me an email mshea@srfm.com

 

 

Contractors – Hiring summer help? Follow these safety tips

Jonathan-BelekChances are you remember your first summer job. Maybe you delivered newspapers or hauled bales of hay on the farm. Looking back, the experience and skills you gained on the job was invaluable. And the money you earned helped pay for college or to buy a new stereo.

Each year, about 6 million young people swell America’s workforce by taking summer jobs. It seems like a win-win situation for everyone involved. But hiring young workers can be risky for your company if they aren’t properly trained.

It’s a proven fact that new employees are more likely to be injured on the job than seasoned workers.  The statistics rise dramatically for younger workers. According the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 335 young workers died in job-related injuries in 2013.Construction Worker

If you are hiring young workers this summer follow these safety tips from OSHA to reduce work-related injuries.

  • Communicate with your young employees. Giving them clear instructions for every task they are responsible for will cut potential injuries. Encourage them to ask questions. When new employees, especially teenagers, understand why they’re being asked to do something, they’re more apt to comply.
  • Make sure equipment operated by young workers is safe and legal to run. Let them know what equipment they are not allowed to use. Young workers should never work alone.
  • Train young workers to recognize job hazards and to know what to do if they get hurt on the job. They also should know how to report an injury, or spot a hazard.
  • Provide young workers with personal protective equipment required for your industry such as steel-toed shoes and hard hats.

For more information on hiring young workers visit OSHA’s teen worker website by clicking here or give me a call – that’s what I’m here for!  203-265-0996

Make it a safe and happy summer for your company and for your young workers.

At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, managing risk is in our DNA.

Jonathan Belek

jbelek@srfm.com

Construction Risk Management Consultant

Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set Aside Arrangement – What you need to know!

Nate-DanielsThe title of this blog sounds complicated, and I do this stuff for a living!  Because it’s confusing and complicated, I wanted to take a few minutes to put it all in layman’s terms. So here goes…

SCENARIO: Your employee has a workers’ compensation claim. It could be a work related injury, illness or disease. It’s serious. They have been out of work for an extended period of time and medical bills are more than anyone anticipated.  When this claim settles, the percentage of the permanent partial disability and any future medical services related to this work injury, illness or disease will be taken into consideration. The settlement may require that funds be set aside to pay for future medical bills.

If your employee is a Medicare beneficiary, or eligible to enroll in Medicare within 30 days of the settlement date, they can have a Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-aside Arrangement (WCMSA) into which they can deposit these funds. CMSA is a financial agreement that allocates a portion of the workers’ compensation settlement to pay for future medical expense.

According to www.medicare.gov here is what the employee can and can’t do with the funds:

  • Money placed in your WCMSA is for paying future medical and/or prescription drug expenses related to your work injury or illness/disease that otherwise would have been covered by Medicare.
  • You can’t use the WCMSA to pay for any other work injury, or any medical items or services that Medicare doesn’t cover (for example, dental services).
  • Medicare won’t pay for any medical expenses related to the injury until after you have used all of your set-aside money appropriately.
  • If you aren’t sure what type of services Medicare covers, call Medicare before you use any of the money that was placed in your WCMSA.
  • Keep records of your workers’ compensation-related medical and prescription drug expenses. These records show what items and services you got and how much money you spent on your work-related injury, illness or disease. You need these records to prove you used your WCMSA money to pay your workers’ compensation-related medical and/or prescription drug expenses.
  • After you use all of your WCMSA money appropriately, Medicare can start paying for Medicare-covered services related to your work-related injury, illness, or disease.

We understand that this is complicated.  If you still need help with the process, give our team at Sinclair Risk & Financial Management a call – it’s our job to make sure your company’s bottom line is protected and your employee’s interests are as well.

Nathan Daniel

ndaniel@srfm.com

Franchise owners: The secrets to managing Millennials!

It’s no secret that one of the challenges of launching and maintaining a successful fast food franchise is attracting and retaining quality employees.

Turnover in the restaurant business is rampant. Half of a fast food restaurant’s staff will leave within a year, and casual dining establishments don’t fare much better at 44%.

Combine this already tough landscape with the particular tendencies of the millennial generation (roughly speaking, today’s teenagers up to the early 30s) and you’ve got a difficult recipe to work with. The problem is these entitled youngsters who just don’t understand how to behave in the workplace, right? WRONG!

Turns out the stereotypes of millennials — they need constant reassurance, they can’t take criticism, they are unprofessional and don’t understand workplace etiquette — are not true, according to an eye-opening report by IBM. In fact, that kind of negative personality type comes in all ages and is no more likely to be found in someone under 35 than in an older employee.

But broadly speaking, millennials are different from other workers…in a good way! Tech-savvy, optimistic, idealistic, and open-minded, they bring a different set of expectations to the workplace — something smart franchise owners can capitalize on…if they have the knowhow.

Most franchise owners have a need to tap into younger workers to help get the job done. They are motivated, energetic, resourceful, and quite often, a bargain. So, once you’ve tapped into this growing slice of the workforce, how do you keep them happy?

First, don’t stereotype! Treat your millennial employees as individuals. It’s easy to assume a series of personality traits based on age and appearance, but if you do, you’ll just be doing yourself and your business a big disservice. Invest time into learning the particular strengths and interests of each employee.

Provide inspiring leadership. Establish a framework that helps draw in millennials to your business strategy while providing lessons they can take with them as they climb the ranks in your company (or, if elsewhere…think of it as paying it forward.)

The-secrets-to-managing-Millennials!

Give solid feedback and don’t shirk from offering constructive criticism when warranted. Don’t be afraid to explain why something isn’t up to snuff. Your millennials can take it…they just don’t want to be in the dark, unsure of how they’re doing.

Improve the customer experience of your business.  Millennials are the most marketed to generation, ever, and they care about how your company’s actions and policies affect consumers. Often on the front lines, millennials are eager to play a positive role in customer relations. Making sure your policies are customer friendly helps keep your young staff motivated and has a very positive effect on your bottom line.

Embrace technology and use it to solve problems. Millennials, born with a screen of some kind at hand, have little patience for filling out paper forms in triplicate when software can do the job in a tenth of the time. Make your staff happy and increase productivity by employing technology when appropriate.

These tips are not only good strategies for interacting with your millennials, but with your entire workforce. At Sinclair Risk, we can help franchise owners get the most out of their staff.

Got franchise questions? Contact me today.

Diane Kietner

dkietner@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

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Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law effective July 1, 2015

Shannon HudspethOn Nov. 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure, known as the “Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative,” to provide earned paid sick leave to employees.The Earned Sick Time Law is effective July 1, 2015, and generally covers all employers in Massachusetts. However, employers must comply with existing collective bargaining agreements or contracts that have more generous leave provisions.

On April 24, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General filed draft regulations to implement the Earned Sick Time Law, which clarify practices and policies in the administration and enforcement of the law. The draft regulations are not final, therefore, employers are not required to comply with them.

Also, on May 17, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General announced a delay in implementation of the earned sick time requirement, until Jan. 1, 2016, for certain employers who satisfy the requirements of a “safe harbor.”

Covered employers

In general, all employers in Massachusetts are required to comply with the Earned Sick Time Law. However, the paid leave requirement only applies to employers with 11 or more employees, as follows:

  • Employers with 11 or more employees must allow all employees to earn and use paid sick time.
  • Employers with fewer than 11 employees must allow all employees to earn and use unpaid sick time.

Eligible employees

All employees—including part-time, temporary and seasonal employees—working in Massachusetts are eligible to accrue earned sick time. Whether an employee’s accrued earned sick time is paid depends on the size of his or her employer.

Employers may restrict the use of earned sick time for the first 90 days of employment.

Accrual of earned sick time

The Earned Sick Time Law requires that employees earn a minimum of one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, starting July 1, 2015, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year.

Employees must be permitted to carry over up to 40 hours of earned but unused sick time into the next calendar year. However, the law does not require employers to allow employees to use more than 40 hours of earned sick time in a calendar year.

Reasons for leave

An employee may use earned and accrued sick time, whether paid or unpaid, to:

  • Care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition affecting the employee or his or her child, spouse, parent or parent-in-law;
  • Attend routine medical appointments of the employee or his or her child, spouse, parent or parent-in-law; or

Address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or his or her dependent child.

Notice and certification requirements

When possible, and when the need for leave is foreseeable, the law requires employees to make a good faith effort to provide advance notice of leave to their employers.

In addition, employers may require medical documentation or certification for the need to use earned sick time if the employee is absent for more than 24 consecutive work hours. However, an employer may not delay or deny sick time if this certification is not received.

Employee protections

An employer may not interfere with an employees’ right to use earned sick time and may not retaliate against any employees who request to use earned sick time.

Draft Regulations

On April 24, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General filed draft regulations to implement the Earned Sick Time Law. These draft regulations clarify practices and policies in the administration and enforcement of the Earned Sick Time Law including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Requirements that an employer’s paid time off, vacation or other PTO policy must meet in order to be considered an allowable substitution for an earned sick time program;
  • How employers are to address the “transition year” of July 1, 2015, until the beginning of the next calendar year for employee accrual and use purposes;
  • Employer documentation and recordkeeping requirements; and
  • How the Earned Sick Time Law affects attendance policies that reward employees for good attendance.

The draft regulations are not final. Therefore, at this time, employers are not required to comply with them. There will be various public hearings on the draft regulations, including a public comment period, which ends on June 10, 2015. The draft regulations, as well as information on public hearings and comment submissions, are available on the Attorney General’s website.

Delayed Implementation safe harbor

Employers who satisfy the requirements of a safe harbor may delay the implementation of earned sick time until Jan. 1, 2016, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General.

To qualify for this safe harbor, all of the following requirements must be met:

  • The employer must have had a paid time off policy in place as of May 1, 2015;
  • The employer’s paid time off policy must have provided employees with the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off during the 2015 calendar year; and
  • Any paid time off, including sick time, used by an employee from July 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2015, must be job-protected leave subject to the law’s non-retaliation and non-interference provisions.

On or before Jan. 1, 2016, all employers operating under this safe harbor must adjust their paid time off policy to conform to the requirements of the Earned Sick Time Law.

More information on the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law is available on the Massachusetts Attorney General’s website.

Shannon Hudspeth, SPHR

shudspeth@srfm.com