Overtime Rule – Legal Update

This post was written by Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources, and originally appeared here. Since the new salary level test for overtime pay was first announced, we have offered extensive training and counseling on the Fair Labor Standard Act and who is required to be paid overtime. Many of the questions we got… Read more »

The post Overtime Rule – Legal Update appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post was written by Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources, and originally appeared here.

Since the new salary level test for overtime pay was first announced, we have offered extensive training and counseling on the Fair Labor Standard Act and who is required to be paid overtime. Many of the questions we got were about other aspects of this law as well. The new salary level which was to go in effect on December 1st has now been stopped by a temporary injunction. Alexandria HR Advisor Patricia Frame offers the following information and recommendations for how you could handle this last minute change.

The New Overtime Rule – Legal Updateovertime-rule-legal-changes-blog

Planned for a December 1, 2016 effective date, the new overtime rule which raised the salary level test to $913 per week under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has been suspended by a federal court which issued a temporary injunction.

This means that you do not have to make changes to who gets overtime or to raise pay based on this rule now. At this time we do not know what will happen next. The US Department of Labor could appeal the ruling, the court could move to hearings over a final decision, or the entire matter could get ignored until the next administration takes action.

  • If you have taken any actions to meet the $913 salary level test, be careful what you do. Rolling back raises is legal, but is fraught with employee morale and retention risks. Walmart has already announced that it will not do so, as it had granted wage increases in preparation to meet this rule.
  • If you have communicated any plans or information on this change to your employees, do communicate that the change has been temporarily blocked by a federal court and that you will comply with current law fully while awaiting further information.
  • Even if you have not communicated anything to employees, do expect that many may know of this rule change and have been expecting a pay raise or overtime pay. Pay attention to your employees and address any specific concerns individually.

This salary level test is only one of three tests under the FLSA which must be met to decide whether an employee must be paid overtime or not. It is the duties test which is the most problematic for small businesses – and the most important in determining who must be paid overtime. Many executives and founders do not understand it. Some think that people with college degrees are automatically exempt or that all supervisors are or have other misconceptions. This is a common issue all HR consultants see, as do the staff at the Alexandria SBDC and other advisors. There has been a significant rise in legal risk as employees become more aware of their rights and take action. An employee or ex-employee can file a claim against an organization simply and without cost via the state wages and hours agency. Law firms exist whose main business is to bring such charges and they advertise. The number of such cases has been increasing for a decade as a result. If you do not really understand the duties test or have not recently audited your positions, now is the time to do so to be sure you are in compliance with current law.

This post originally appeared at: http://shrinsight.com/the-new-overtime-rule-legal-update/

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Roundtable Recap: Last-Minute Holiday Marketing

I’m sure you are in the same race to the end of the year that most small business owners face around the country, and around the globe. No matter your political persuasion, this year’s election campaign cycle was surprising not only because of the outcome, but also since it was so hyped up in the… Read more »

The post Roundtable Recap: Last-Minute Holiday Marketing appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

I’m sure you are in the same race to the end of the year that most small business owners face around the country, and around the globe. No matter your political persuasion, this year’s election campaign cycle was surprising not only because of the outcome, but also since it was so hyped up in the media that we didn’t realize time was passing so quickly. And, so, here we are, 35 or so holiday shopping days. And, you need to grab the opportunities that avail small businesses during the winter holidays shopping season. Alexandria SBDC’s final Business Development Roundtable of 2016, was focused on last-minute holiday marketing and the group had many ideas about how to show your company’s best image during the holidays. Here are some highlights and my thoughts from the discussion at this month’s Roundtable.

Mainstream Holidays Shoppingsbs

Traditionally the major winter holidays season run from late October until the end of December.  As a last-minute holiday marketer, you can still benefit from the vast amount of dollars spent during this holiday shopping season. First, attune your target market to the season by decorating not just your retail environments and offices, but make sure that your website, social media profiles, and even your email marketing templates match the holiday seasonal themes. You can also devise promotions, discounts and giveaways that match your company’s style and target markets. You can choose to call your top 20% of customers to let them know about the sales, email your clients through your email marketing software, and post signage in your retail windows and doors (as allowed by your local authorities) so that passersby know about the holiday buying opportunities. These are all simple and easy to do, even at the last-minute.

“Shopping” Holidays

Over the past decade, we’ve had a new series of “shopping” holidays born here in the United States. Remarkably, they don’t all stem from pure commercialism; but, we’re Small Business entrepreneurs here, so let’s put on our healthy capitalism hats and take advantage of these selling opportunities for our businesses, whether retail or service-based. Those shopping holidays are Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.

You can research each of these holidays and learn more about their traditions and various tactics for being able to sell to your target markets on these days. Something to take note of is that these holidays are shifting in a variety of ways, such as Black Friday is starting to creep into Thanksgiving Day,  Small Business Saturday is turning into week-long and sometimes month-long celebrations of the Shop Small movement in some Main Street areas, and Cyber Monday is being celebrated early on Cyber Saturday. Learning about these differences can help inform future years’ holiday marketing campaigns.

So, what can you do last-minute? I suggest you think of some creative way to provide a promotion or discount to your target market and communicate to them via email. Since you don’t have very much time, email is the most effective mechanism unless you have a large and highly engaged Social Media following.

Community and Charitable Efforts

Finally, even last-minute, there’s always an opportunity to bring the spirit of the winter holidays season to your target market by partnering with charitable and community-based organizations in your area, so reach out to them and see in what ways you can do so. It may be as simple as making a donation to the organization of choice in your clients’ honor, or coordinating a food drive for those in need. Holiday campaigns that build goodwill for your business during the winter holidays season brings top-of-mind awareness for sales in the New Year.

As we close out 2016, Alexandria Small Business Development Center and I thank you, all the Roundtable participants who have joined us through 2016! The Roundtable is a free program where we bring you, Small Business owners and allies, throughout Alexandria together to discuss issues important to Small Business in Alexandria. Without your contributions and attendance there would be no Roundtable. I have the pleasure and honor to have been the facilitator of the Roundtable for going on seven years and I welcome those who have not yet joined us at the Roundtable before or those who have been away for a while, to come join us in 2017. You’re welcome to bring your lunch, your thoughts and experiences, and absorb the wisdom of your fellow Alexandria Small Business owners.

Be safe and enjoy time with those with whom you care about this winter holidays season! See you in 2017!

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Shop Small for the Holidays in Alexandria, VA

This holiday season, make your shopping experience memorable and worry-free in Alexandria, the DC region’s Shop Small headquarters for independent boutiques. You can opt small and shop a local experience in a magical setting of holiday wonder all season long. New this year is 116 King Holiday Pop-Up and expanded Random Acts of Holiday Cheer. The season… Read more »

The post Shop Small for the Holidays in Alexandria, VA appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This holiday season, make your shopping experience memorable and worry-free in Alexandria, the DC region’s Shop Small headquarters for independent boutiques. You can opt small and shop a local experience in a magical setting of holiday wonder all season long.

Image Credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria

Image Credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria

New this year is 116 King Holiday Pop-Up and expanded Random Acts of Holiday Cheer. The season includes an alternative Black Friday experience on November 25, 2016 with free parking and deals from nearly 50 boutiques, and Small Business Saturday on November 26, 2016 with in-store activities in which visitors can meet the makers and small business shakers and enjoy exclusive “Shop-Taste-Create” experiences.

During the holidays, historic Old Town Alexandria is transformed into a winter wonderland reminiscent of a simpler time. Meet the makers and small business shakers at dozens of independent boutiques that welcome you with greenery at their doorsteps, offering everything from chic fashions and home décor to classic toys and gifts for dogs. With 80% of Alexandria boutiques and restaurants being independently owned, it is easy to get expert advice and products curated by local owners who are often on site to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your “nice” list.

Check out the Visit Alexandria blog at ExtraAlex.com for a full run down on the following:

116 King Holiday Pop-Up
November 10-December 31, 2016

Random Acts of Holiday Cheer
Saturdays November 26-December 24, 2016 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 

Black Friday Alexandria
November 25, 2016

Small Business Saturday
November 26, 2016

Learn more about holiday shopping and events at VisitAlexandriaVA.com/holidays.

The post Shop Small for the Holidays in Alexandria, VA appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Shop Small for the Holidays in Alexandria, VA

This holiday season, make your shopping experience memorable and worry-free in Alexandria, the DC region’s Shop Small headquarters for independent boutiques. You can opt small and shop a local experience in a magical setting of holiday wonder all season long. New this year is 116 King Holiday Pop-Up and expanded Random Acts of Holiday Cheer. The season… Read more »

The post Shop Small for the Holidays in Alexandria, VA appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This holiday season, make your shopping experience memorable and worry-free in Alexandria, the DC region’s Shop Small headquarters for independent boutiques. You can opt small and shop a local experience in a magical setting of holiday wonder all season long.

Image Credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria

Image Credit: M. Chenet for Visit Alexandria

New this year is 116 King Holiday Pop-Up and expanded Random Acts of Holiday Cheer. The season includes an alternative Black Friday experience on November 25, 2016 with free parking and deals from nearly 50 boutiques, and Small Business Saturday on November 26, 2016 with in-store activities in which visitors can meet the makers and small business shakers and enjoy exclusive “Shop-Taste-Create” experiences.

During the holidays, historic Old Town Alexandria is transformed into a winter wonderland reminiscent of a simpler time. Meet the makers and small business shakers at dozens of independent boutiques that welcome you with greenery at their doorsteps, offering everything from chic fashions and home décor to classic toys and gifts for dogs. With 80% of Alexandria boutiques and restaurants being independently owned, it is easy to get expert advice and products curated by local owners who are often on site to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your “nice” list.

Check out the Visit Alexandria blog at ExtraAlex.com for a full run down on the following:

116 King Holiday Pop-Up
November 10-December 31, 2016

Random Acts of Holiday Cheer
Saturdays November 26-December 24, 2016 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 

Black Friday Alexandria
November 25, 2016

Small Business Saturday
November 26, 2016

Learn more about holiday shopping and events at VisitAlexandriaVA.com/holidays.

The post Shop Small for the Holidays in Alexandria, VA appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

HVAC: Accounting for stuff only the birds can see!

Old Hvac Unit
Old roof top HVAC unit scheduled to be replaced.

Necessary – What has this got to do with me? I am building a chic new retail store. I need to focus on the design, merchandise displays and retail image. Who sees this? I know – I know, the space must have functioning heat and air conditioning but, really, why do I need a structural engineer? I want to put my budget were it is visible to my customers.

Most commercial HVAC units will last 15 to 20 years. They probably cost over $10M each without any distribution and, in all but special circumstances, you cannot hope to have a functional commercial space without them. They are as basic as the walls, roof, plumbing, lights, etc. So when the HVAC company, landlord, or MEP engineer says it is time to replace you can be pretty sure they are correct.

Fundamental – Few would argue that it is completely fundamental for a tenant to understand who is responsible for the original installation, subsequent maintenance, repair and eventual replacement of the heating and air conditioning in a space. Neglecting to do this would be like moving into a space that might or might not have walls, yet I am often surprised by retailers who are unclear about, even disinterested in, these issues. Until something goes wrong that is.

Bar Joist
Bar joist hold up the roof and are common in retail environments.

Required – But I digress. My intention is not to outline heating and air conditioning systems common to small commercial projects, which is nicely done here. It is, rather, to explain why structural engineering is required for the installation of an HVAC unit. Consider this; all commercial HVAC systems have parts, many of which are large, heavy and sit on something, i.e., the roof. The unit in the photo, for example, weighs upward of 1,200 pounds. Now take a critical look at the structural framing system in the other photo, and ask yourself if it looks like it will be sufficient to hold up the concentrated load created by the installation of half a ton of equipment. In this case the structure is actually holding up the unit shown, so the answer happens to be yes – barely. I point this out because in many cases, especially in existing buildings without available structural drawings, common sense might lead one to ask if a new mechanical unit weighs the same as the one being replaced. Be aware that where common sense fails, the building code does not.

Structural load calculations and drawings which have been certified by an authorized professional are required before building departments will issue a permit allowing heavy equipment to be installed in, or on, a new or existing building. This, of course, includes mechanical, as well as other types of equipment. I mention the later as an aside for all you restaurant owners out there. Restaurant equipment is heavy and installing it in old buildings like those found in historic areas can create problems for unaware owners. Also, in the case of replacement equipment, it is less involved but still necessary to evaluate a new unit even if it weighs less than the old one. In the case under consideration, the replacement HVAC unit proved to be heavier than the existing, meaning it became necessary to provide structural reinforcement before the new unit could be installed.

Roof top image shows location of existing HVAC equipment.
Roof top image shows location of existing HVAC equipment.

How – So what steps were required? How did we arrive at this conclusion? First we had a contractor go up onto the roof and take photos of the exiting equipment, including a close up view of the label. This allowed the mechanical engineer to research the existing unit with the manufacturer who was able to provide a weight. A new unit was then specified according to the new design for the space. Efforts were made to avoid additional expense by matching the new unit with the old and installing it in the same location. Eventually it was determine that, although the location could be maintained, the replacement unit was going to be heavier than the old one. Had it weighed the same or less, the mechanical engineer would have so noted it on the drawings and been done.

Since this was not the case, it became necessary for the structural engineer to completed the process. He went to he site, analyzed the structural type, crawled up on a ladder, measured the bar joist, and checked the location of the existing equipment. Upon returning to his office, he went through a series of calculations to see if the structure was sufficient to accommodate the new unit. Since it was not he had to design and specify additional reinforcement adequate for the new equipment. This information was delivered in the form of signed and sealed drawings and calculations, along with certified architectural and MEP documents, to the building department with the permit application.

Why – The point of this discussion is to show those contemplating a commercial building project what a single line in a lease assigning responsibility for the heating and air conditioning equipment can indicate. In my experience all reputable landlords give full disclosure about the age and condition of the mechanical systems in their properties. Many provide substantial construction allowances for unit replacement and other improvements. Few, though, take into consideration the amount of engineering required in order to make the actual improvement. Professional services, Architectural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Structural, are expensive and should be accounted for in the budget for a building project. I would suggest that forewarned is forearmed.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

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Looking for a model? Companies ARE already purple, America!

Business leaders are expected to leave politics out of the workplace and, for the most part, that’s probably good advice. However, businesses are made up of people and people chose sides on November 8 or opted out of the process altogether. Some of those people were delighted with the results partying into the wee hours of the workday calling in …

Business leaders are expected to leave politics out of the workplace and, for the most part, that’s probably good advice. However, businesses are made up of people and people chose sides on November 8 or opted out of the process altogether. Some of those people were delighted with the results partying into the wee hours of the workday calling in ...

IRS Announces Filing Date Changes

The following blog post was sent by the Internal Revenue Service with the request that it be circulated to all employers who furnish W-2 forms to employees or 1099-MISC forms to independent contractors.  There is a change in the date when such forms must be filed with the Social Security Administration.  All small businesses should… Read more »

The post IRS Announces Filing Date Changes appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

The following blog post was sent by the Internal Revenue Service with the request that it be circulated to all employers who furnish W-2 forms to employees or 1099-MISC forms to independent contractors.  There is a change in the date when such forms must be filed with the Social Security Administration.  All small businesses should review this information to be sure that they are in compliance.

New Jan. 31 Deadline for Employers

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted last December, includes a new requirement for employers. They are now required to file their copies of Form W-2, submitted to the Social Security Administration, by Jan. 31. The new Jan. 31 filing deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC reporting non-employee compensation such as payments to independent contractors.taxes-blog-image

In the past, employers typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of these forms. In addition, there are changes in requesting an extension to file the Form W-2. Only one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 is available and this extension is not automatic. If an extension is necessary, a Form 8809 Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns must be completed as soon as you know an extension is necessary, but by January 31. Please carefully review the instructions for Form 8809, for more information.

“As tax season approaches, the IRS wants to be sure employers, especially smaller businesses, are aware of these new deadlines,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We are working with the payroll community and other partners to share this information widely.”

The new accelerated deadline will help the IRS improve its efforts to spot errors on returns filed by taxpayers. Having these W-2s and 1099s earlier will make it easier for the IRS to verify the legitimacy of tax returns and properly issue refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. In many instances, this will enable the IRS to release tax refunds more quickly than in the past.

The Jan. 31 deadline has long applied to employers furnishing copies of these forms to their employees and that date remains unchanged.

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Overtime Q&A

Businesses and nonprofit organizations have been readying themselves to comply with the new regulations on Overtime; i.e. which employees must be paid at time-and-a half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Alexandria SBDC HR Consultant Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources presented a webinar on the subject, which can be seen… Read more »

The post Overtime Q&A appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations have been readying themselves to comply with the new regulations on Overtime; i.e. which employees must be paid at time-and-a half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Alexandria SBDC HR Consultant Patricia Frame of Strategies for Human Resources presented a webinar on the subject, which can be seen in its entirety here. In addition, there are annotated slides which set forth the particulars of the new rules available.We urge all small businesses and nonprofit organizations to review both the PowerPoint and the Webinar to make sure that they are in compliance. We recently asked Patricia Frame a few basic questions that employers have about the new laws:

Q: Am I covered by the rule change?overtime-image

A: The simple answer is that if your organization brings in at least $500,000 in gross receipts, contributions, etc., or if you are engaged in Interstate Commerce (any business or communication across state lines – Virginia to DC or Maryland, for example), you are covered and need to comply with the law. Some special exceptions (for some charities) to this general statement are included in the PowerPoint and the Webinar.

Q:  Everyone in my organization makes over $47,474 annual salary, so I can ignore this rule change, right?

A:  Wrong. Exempt status is tied to the duties of the job, not just salary or job title.  Again, see the resources linked above for a complete explanation.  In addition, full details are available from the Department of labor E-Laws at www.dol.gov/elaws.

Q:  I hear that there are some lawsuits that have been filed and pending bills in Congress.  Can I ignore this until they are settled?

A:  While there are challenges, it is unlikely that these will delay implementation of this new rule, and you should be prepared for it when it goes into effect on December 1, 2016.

Webinarhttp://alexandriasbdc.org/interactive_resource/understanding-new-overtime-rules-webinar/

Annotated Slideshttp://alexandriasbdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/OvertimePresentation624.pdf

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