SCA Contracts

The DOL has sufficient funding to hire over 200 full time additional Wage & Hour Investigators. The funding was provided over the past several years by the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA).

Timothy J. Helm, Chief for the Branch of Government Contracts Enforcement for the Wage & Hour Division of the DOL has been responsible for the hiring and training of these individuals. According to Mr. Helm and his staff, open investigations are at an all-time low as a result of the additional investigators. At the quarterly Professional Services Council (PSC) Labor Relations meetings, Mr. Helm spoke of violations following a DOL audit, mentioning that his goal is to debar contractors instead of negotiating settlements with them.

We have been encouraging contractors, as a result of the above, to ensure that all their personnel dealing with these Service Contact Act (SCA) and Davis Bacon Act (DBA) contracts have the appropriate training to handle DOL audits. If contractors have not had all their respective personnel properly trained, they should make sure that this is done as quickly as possible.

We have been coordinating Service Contract Act training programs for the PSC Association three times a year, and these will continue in 2012 in March, June and November. We have also designed a one-day Davis Bacon training program that will be held in early April 2012. The DOL Wage & Hour staff has agreed to participate in this training, as they have always done with the SCA programs.

Additionally, MARAL, LLC has been offering SCA and DBA one day training programs in Rosslyn, VA and at client locations for the past several years. Their schedule and registration procedures can be found on www.eventville.com/maral or e-mail Al Corvigno at acorvigno@marall.com.

Some contractors are reluctant to provide their employees working on SCA or DBA contracts the appropriate fringe benefits listed on their respective Wage Determinations. In lieu of providing the fringe benefits, they choose to pay a cash value. While this meets the minimum legal requirement, it actually increases the cost to both the contractors and the employees due to the taxable implications.

At Cleary, we know how important a comprehensive benefits package can be to your continued success. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700 and we will work with you to create a plan that meets your fringe benefit obligations and provides your employees with valuable benefits.

Voluntary Benefits

In previous years, employers offered voluntary benefits to retain employees, attract strong candidates and boost morale. They weren’t as popular as they are now. Since there has been significant growth in economic pressures, most employers want to use these benefits because the plans have no direct costs for them. However, employers’ costs aren’t the only benefit. Many employers offer these benefits because their employees are able to afford them. The same employees may not be able to afford similar benefits on their own.

Advantages of offering voluntary benefits include:

1. Desired Benefits
Employees usually ask prospective employers about disability, life, health and dental benefits. It’s always beneficial to be able to offer good prospective employees the benefits they desire.

2. No Employer Expenses
The only thing better than being able to offer employees the benefits they desire is being able to do so without paying much. The payroll tax savings gained from Section 125 offsets the administrative costs that are often associated with voluntary benefits.

3. Group Rates
Since the rates are calculated for a group, individual costs for employees are lower. This means that employees are able to enjoy the same great benefits they desire for an affordable cost. Employees enjoy the benefit of paying less upfront for costly medical procedures or illnesses. If a serious illness or accident occurs, plan members receive cash benefits. These benefits may be used for groceries, travel, living expenses or other expenses related to the medical issue.

4. Lower Employee Turnover Rates
Employers who offer better benefit packages to their employees enjoy a low turnover rate. Good benefit choices also attract good prospective employees. When employment levels are high, it’s essential for employers to have the best benefit offerings to attract the best job candidates.

5. No Secondary Market
Some of the best programs are only offered in plans that are sponsored by employers. This aspect is also more attractive to prospective employees because they can’t obtain the same insurance coverage without working for the employer who offers it.

6. Fosters Goodwill
Employees appreciate employers who show that they care enough to offer good benefit options. This shows employees that the employer cares about their individual needs and the needs of their families.

7. Good Underwriting
Most individuals are not able to find life or disability coverage on their own. This is especially true for individuals who have a medical history that is not favorable. Voluntary benefit plans have simple underwriting requirements. They are also guaranteed without any health questions.

As business owners seek better ways to manage healthcare expenses, they also seek more flexible benefit choices. In addition to reducing costs to employers, voluntary benefit plans reduce FICA contributions. Whether employers offer indemnity, discount or insurance, voluntary benefits are the best choice for employee relations, employee retention and company savings.

At Cleary, we know how important a comprehensive benefits package can be to your continued success. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700 and we will work with you to create a plan that meets your business objectives, takes into account state and federal laws, and capitalizes on incentives and innovative solutions now being offered.

Power Outages

Winter is right around the corner. Depending on where you live, this could mean extreme amounts of snow and/or ice; and with that comes power outages. While there is little you can do about a winter power outage once it has happened, you can take steps to prepare yourself.

Lots of Water

When you lose power for weeks at a time, water becomes a guarded resource as there is no way to use the toilet or bathe without some type of extra water supply. Preparing gallons or buckets of water is one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself. If you should lose power and you have not saved water, think of what available resources you may have. This may mean getting water from a local lake or pond (if it is not frozen over). As with any water source that has been sitting for a very long time, remember to boil the water prior to use.

A Cooking Source

It is important to have some way to cook food (and boil water); there are several available options. You may want to consider purchasing a gas stove and having it installed now. If you do not have a gas stove, consider using your grill. Though you may only think to use a grill in summer, it can really come in handy during a winter power outage – as long as it hasn’t been covered by several feet of ice! Keep in mind that an outside grill should only be used outside.

Easy-to-Make Foods

Although it is always best to have a source available to boil water, it is a good idea to stock up on some foods which require minimal to no cooking when you know that a big storm is about to hit. Some options include bread, peanut butter crackers and cups of soup which require only boiled water to heat. As always, canned foods make excellent choices to have handy.

A Source of Light

Light becomes crucial during a winter power outage, especially if your power should go out for weeks at a time. Given winter’s reduced daylight hours, having candles and flashlights on hand is important. Don’t forget to stock up on matches and new batteries.

Outside Sources of News

Keeping in touch with the real world can help bring you a sense of hope that things will improve. Having a portable radio will provide you with news in your area, weather predictions and information around when your power may return. A cell phone can also be used to call the electric company or local centers offering updates. Keep in mind, however, that a cell phone battery needs to be recharged, so consider having a charger that can be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter.

A Source of Heat

Many people invest in wood stoves or gas heating so that they can have a source of heat available for use during an outage. This can be a great idea even if you do not use your heater at any other time of the year. Having blankets, sweatshirts and extra layers available is also very important. Remember to keep babies and young children bundled up well. If your child wants to go outside to play during a winter power outage, the best thing you can do is say no, as they may have a hard time getting warm again after experiencing such cold.

A winter power outage can be an inconvenience to many, especially if lengthy, so it is important to be prepared. Many families begin making preparations mid-fall, such as stocking up on flashlights and water, just in case there is an unexpected autumn snow or ice storm.

Concerned about your personal insurance coverage? At Cleary, our experienced Personal Lines department will work with you to evaluate your insurance needs, identify exposures and create a customized insurance portfolio. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700.