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R&R Insurance Blog

Classifying Workers Correctly - New Wisconsin Joint Task Force to Enforce

Posted by Brian Bean

Contractor-vs-EmployeeGovernor Evers has signed an Executive Order 20 to create the Joint Task Force on Worker Misclassification.  

It means that there will be additional resources allocated to enforcing worker classification.  It impacts all employers in the area of workers compensation, unemployment insurance, and civil rights.  In fact, we had a visit to one of our customers within the first week of the task force being in place!

Need help distinguishing an independent contractor vs an employee?  Check out our 7 min video describing the differences from a work comp perspective: https://youtu.be/NSZ61KnEym0

Following is a link to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s website regarding proper worker classification: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/worker_classification/

In addition, here is a link to more detailed articles on this subject: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/gov-evers-signs-executive-order-creating-joint-task-force-on-payroll-fraud-and-worker-misclassification/

Additional resources:

 

Topics: Workers Compensation

Best Practices for Hiring Minors

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Hiring minorsWith the employee shortage many companies are facing, attracting and retaining talent is critical. An untapped resource for many industries is younger talent – such as high school students. While minors can be a very valuable resource for employers, there are best practices to keep in mind so your organization continues operating safely and efficiently.

Wisconsin's employment of minors laws prohibit the use of certain potentially hazardous equipment by minors under the age of 18. Included on the list are jobs such as:

  • Motor vehicle driver and outside helper
  • Power driven fixed or portable machines
  • Roofing or on or about a roof
  • Use of ladders

Note: The list is not exhaustive. If you have questions about a particular piece of equipment, we encourage you to contact the Department's Equal Rights Division or visit the Department of Workforce Development’s website for specific definitions.

Additional considerations when employing minors:

  • Minors 15 and under may not be employed in "manufacturing, mining, or processing occupations." This includes occupations that require the performance of any duties in workrooms or workplaces where goods are manufactured, mined, or otherwise processed. See Wis. Admin. Code § DWD 270.13(13).
  • The Student Learner Exemption: A "student learner" is a student of an accredited school who is employed on a part–time basis to obtain both scholastic credit and employment training under a bona fide written school-work training program agreement.
  • A student learner is permitted to do some work that is otherwise prohibited if the student learner is performing service within a bona fide school-work training program
    • Sponsored by an accredited school
    • Authorized and approved by
      • The state department of public instruction,
      • The technical college system board, or
      • The department's youth apprenticeship program
  • Each school-work training agreement shall:
    • Include the name of the student learner;
    • Be signed by the parent, employer, and school principal;
    • Be kept on file by both the school and the employer; and
    • Shall provide all of the following:
      • That the work of the student learner in the occupation declared hazardous under ss. DWD 270.12 and 270.13 is incidental to the student learner's training, and shall be intermittent and only for short periods of time (i.e., for 5% or less of the total work hours);
      • Direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person.
      • Safety instructions will be given by the school and correlated by the employer with on-the-job training.
      • A schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job.

 

In addition to equipment, there are other crucial elements to keep top of mind when hiring minors. A sample of these elements include:

  • Employees under the age of 16 need to have a Child Labor Work Permit signed by their parent/guardian. Employers must reimburse the $10 fee, as well as provide a letter for the employee to receive their Work Permit.
  • While the equipment list provided by the DWD is helpful, there is additional training that needs to be provided with each of the tasks or tools that minors will be using. Per OSHA, this training needs to be documented.
  • Cell phone policies are becoming increasingly important. From cell phone use while driving, to having social media accessible at employees’ fingertips, it’s important to outline the Dos and Don’ts.
    • Do phones need to be put away while driving?
    • When are phones allowed on the jobsite?
    • Can pictures with company logos be shared on social media?

 

R&R Insurance has numerous resources to help your organization attract, train, and attain young talent. To learn more, contact a Knowledge Broker.

Ladder Safety Month | March

Posted by the knowledge brokers

iStock-934417128To celebrate ladder safety month, now is the time to 1) review your ladder safety program, 2) conduct ladder safety training, and 3) test your ladder safety knowledge. The following outline provides an overview of using ladders properly.

Climbing Position

  • Climb a ladder by holding on to the rails and not the steps.
  • Climb facing the ladder with your body centered between the rails.
  • Use three points of contact, with at least three extremities attached to the ladder at all times.
  • Do not twist your body while climbing.

Lifting Items

  • Do not climb with hands full of gear.
  • Put any materials you need to take up a ladder into a tool bag/belt that you wear on your person.
  • Use hand lines, hoists, or manlifts to lift and lower heavy objects.

Protective Gear

  • Fall protection must be worn based on the hazard assessment if you are working on scaffolding or on the roof of the building.
  • Footwear with good support, non-slip soles, and free of mud, oil, and any other slippery debris is required when working on a ladder.
  • Safety glasses or hardhats may be required for overhead work.

Stepladder Guidelines

  • Never stand on the top two steps.
  • Fully open step ladders. Never use a stepladder in a partially-closed position.
  • Ladders must have a spreader or locking device. Open and lock cross spreaders.
  • Stepladders must not exceed 20 feet in height.

Other Guidelines

  • Do not use ladders as a work platform.
  • Keep the area around the bottom and top of the ladder free of debris.
  • Allow only one person on a ladder at a time.
  • Do not move or extend the ladder while occupied (i.e., no ladder jumping).
  • Check the ladder for damage and defects before use. If damaged or defective, immediately remove the ladder from service and get rid of it.
  • Get help when moving large ladders or working on uneven terrain.

For additional informtion, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) provides no cost ladder safety training for the workplace that aligns with OSHA's general industry ladder requirements. Click here to learn more about their program.

Topics: Safety

R&R Insurance Named #1 Bonding & Insurance Firm for 2nd Year in a Row

Posted by the knowledge brokers

RR19_Best Bonding and Ins FirmFor the 2nd year in a row, R&R Insurance has been ranked the "Top Bonding and Insurance Firm" by The Daily Reporter readers! 

Annually, The Daily Reporter has surveyed it's readers on number of questions related to Commercial construction categories (best abatement, best material supplier, best scaffolding company, etc.) as well as general business questions.  Participants wrote in company names for their top votes. 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote!

Topics: Awards

Preventing Fraud & Phishing Attacks

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Conceptual digital image of lock on circuit backgroundLarge or small, all businesses are a target for cyber-attacks. Whether it’s a fraudulent email being sent from someone disguised as the COO, or an intercepted wire transfer - businesses must continue to be diligent in preventing these situations from occurring within their four walls.

With the help of experienced professionals, we’ve developed a list of tips to help your organization avoid fraud activity (such as forged checks or stolen cards) and business email compromise.

Payments & Checks

  • Convert all paper based payments to electronic. Checks contain a company’s entire banking identity, so the more they can be avoided, the better.
  • Keep checks in a locked drawer that only specific employees have access to.
    • If using signature stamps, keep these in a locked drawer as well - but separate from any checks.
  • Monitor check orders and limit those who handle the checks.
  • Review and update the signature cards at your bank annually (at a minimum).
  • Never pre-sign checks – under any circumstance.
  • Implement ACH filters and Positive Pay.
  • Use dual authorization for ACH and wire transactions.
  • Review transactions before they’re sent to the bank.

IT Systems

  • Work with your IT department or vendor to ensure safeguards are in place.
  • Flag all outside emails as “external.”
  • Be aware of fraudulent emails (typos, poor grammar, inconsistencies in email addresses, etc.).
  • Change passwords frequently and don’t have your internet browser “save passwords.”

Employee Processes

  • Provide education to employees on fraud and fraud prevention.
  • Have a social media policy in place to limit what is being used in the workplace and while connected to the company’s wi-fi network.
  • Have a process in place for when employee involved with Accounting leave the organization.
    • Alert your bank of employees who’ve left that had banking responsibilities.
    • Change passwords that previous employees had access to.

For more information about having the right insurance in place to properly protect your business, contact a KnowledgeBroker at R&R Insurance or take the free cyber risk calculator below.

Cyber Risk Calculator

 

Sources:
Westbury Bank

Association for Financial Professionals
BVS Performance Solutions
JP Morgan Chase

Topics: Cyber

Employee Benefits: Attract, Retain, and Secure Employees

Posted by the knowledge brokers

employee-retentionA consistent challenge for majority of businesses is how to effectively attract and retain employees. With millennials making up the majority of the workforce, businesses must alter their tactics in order to stay ahead.

Like years before it, 2018 was no exception to the rising increases of health insurance coverage.  Since 2017, single coverage insurance premiums have increased by 3% while family coverage has increased by 5%. Nowadays, employees get their pick of affordable health care coverage options that best suit their lifestyle. That being said, employers must be able to differentiate themselves if they want to attract and secure talented employees.

A successful tactic for retaining employees is taking a look at the needs of the employee and stacking them against financial realities. The outcome of this is to offer meaningful benefits and cover majority of their costs.

Meaningful Benefits: Benefits employees actually want and will use.

Securing Talent

Turnover is a reality that all businesses have to cope with. But poor retention is something you can change. To do this you have to know and have these three things:

  • Know the reasons behind why employees have decided to part from your company
  • Data: have analytics and information for why people leave as well as why people are staying
  • Analyze: be able to put all of the information gathered so you can implement effective tactics and change the future outcome

Amongst the information gathered, you want to design strategies that will better your goal of securing talent. Look for patterns and brainstorm ways that you can break that particular trend (ex. Why people are leaving?).

Understanding the Millennial Mindset

As mentioned earlier, millennials are flooding today’s workforce. This makes them the prime target for your attracting efforts. Medical, dental and vision insurance alone are not going to have millennials flocking to your company. So how do you start from here? You need to understand the mindset of a millennial. They put choice and affordability at the top of their list. The main goal in all of this is to enhance lives by reducing financial burdens.

To learn more about how to effectively attract and retain employees, click here or contact a KnowledgeBroker for more information.

Topics: Employee Benefits

A Contractor’s Newest Threat or Opportunity – Cyber Insurance

Posted by Dan Scheider

Cyber Insurance for ContractorsCaution is often the reaction I get when discussing Cyber Insurance to construction executives in Wisconsin. From their perspective it would be a nice policy to have should the North Koreans focus their slave hacking force on a plumber in Sheboygan. The resulting ransom of 200 bitcoin for their $200 laptop seems a laughable prospect to a field that generally isn’t tech reliant. The truth, however, is that contractors are a growing target for hackers, but fear isn’t the only reason for a contractor to have Cyber Insurance.

So is greed.

Newly mandated contracts are forcing the conversation of Cyber Insurance between owners and contractors. On October 31, 2018 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) requires the use of their new 2017-revised agreement documents and to toss the old 2007 versions. Among the most standard forms are basic contract agreement between owners and contractors: A101, A102, and A103. All three of those forms have a new section dedicated to Cyber Insurance.

The relevant language begins in the from at section A.2.5.1. This segment encourages the owner to purchase Cyber Security Insurance for any loss or data breach should such an event happen on the job. This represents an opportunity for a contractor to sell the fact that they have 3rd party Cyber Insurance and can cover such a breach. Alternatively this could be a threat should the contractor have no Cyber Insurance and potentially lose out on a bid to a competitor who has said coverage.

Why was Cyber Insurance language inserted in this part of the contract? The AIA believes there is a growing threat of electronic data loss to owners after several real world examples surfaced where negligent contractors were at fault.

In 2013 an HVAC contractor in Pennsylvania was working at a Target retail store. An employee of the HVAC contractor opened a virus laced email. This email stole the identification and password of the contractor and was able to infiltrate Target’s vendor portal. From there the criminals were able to gain access to Target’s internal network. The result was the 5th largest cyber-attack in history and 70 million compromised credit cards.

Beyond encouraging owners to attain Cyber Insurance, Forms A101-3 present easy opportunities for owners to require Cyber Insurance from contractors. Further along in the contracts (section A.3.3.2.6) the owner is given a segment to fill in additional coverages a contractors is required to possess on the job. In the real world we are starting to see contracts requiring a Cyber policy– often with high limits too.

More than just a threat, Cyber Insurance represents an opportunity for contractors. Having a policy ahead of a big job not only protects your company in case of a breach, but also gives the sales or marketing department extra ammunition to make the winning offer. 

Not all Cyber policies are the same. There is a major difference between a first and third party coverage. Contact an agent to work out the best Cyber policy for your business.

Topics: Construction, Cyber

Can I Get a Discount on Insurance by Using GPS Trackers?

Posted by Bill Katzfey

GPS Tracker

 

We have seen an uptick in requests from business owners to add GPS tracking units to their fleet.  GPS tracking systems improve the odds of vehicle recovery from theft, encourages safe driving, and promote regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance.

But can they save money on insurance?  Yes.  Insurance companies are always assessing risks, so businesses with better driver records and a well maintained fleet could see decreases in their commercial auto insurance.  As an independent insurance agency, we have access to a variety of insurance companies which offer cost assistance.  For your individual situation, additional savings may apply - talk to your KnowledgeBroker about a custom savings plan for your organization.

Thinking of adding GPS trackers to your fleet?

We queried several clients and developed the list below.  While it is nowhere all-inclusive, it is a great place to start your search of looking for a GPS fleet provider.

Additional Fleet Safety Resources

Have questions if GPS trackers can help your business?  We can help: safety@rrins.com.

Topics: Fleet Safety

Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2019

Posted by the knowledge brokers

ComplianceMany employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically updated for inflation, such as HSAs, health FSAs, and transportation fringe benefit plans. This Compliance Overview includes a chart of the inflation-adjusted limits for 2019. Although some of the limits will remain the same, many of the limits increase for 2019.

The IRS typically announces the dollar limits that will apply for the next calendar year well in advance of the beginning of that year to give employers time to update their plan designs and make sure their plan administration will be consistent with the new limits.

Contact a Knowledge Broker for more information.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance

OSHA Launches Program Targeting High Injury and Illness Rates

Posted by the knowledge brokers

OSHAEffective October 16, 2018, OSHA launched a "Site-Specific Targeting (SST) inspection program".  The goal of the program is to ensure that employers provide safe and healthful workplaces by directing enforcement resources to those workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illness.  Read the full OSHA notice here

Targeted Employers or Workplaces for SST Inspection Program:

  • All industries EXCLUDING construction, schools, or municipalities
  • 20+ employees
  • Injury and illness information submitted calendar year 2016 under 29 CFR 1904.41

How can you prepare for a potential OSHA visit?

  1. Awareness: do your company have a plan if OSHA would come knocking? 
  2. Benchmark: how does your company's injury and illness rates compare to industry peers?  Are you a red flag for OSHA? 
  3. Review applicable OSHA compliance programs compared to your company practices.

Preparing for any type of OSHA audit takes commitment from leadership.  The best success are organizations with safety teams to champion safety 24/7.  R&R Insurance can help support safety personnel with self-audits, policy review, training content, and much more.  Start the conversation with an email: safety@rrins.com.

 

Topics: Safety, OSHA