Tag Archives: Mountain States Employers Council

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Service helps employers Understand Affordable Care Act

Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC), a leader in human resource and employment law services for the business community, announces its Health Care Reform Assessment program, a specialized service helping employers understand and comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  This service analyzes the impact of health care reform on an employer and provides steps to implement the changes necessary to ensure compliance.

The Health Care Reform assessment includes a one-hour consultation with a health care reform specialist working through a customized, detailed checklist for implementing the necessary changes related to the Act. Available to existing members, the assessment helps member companies navigate requirements of the law, including:

·         Qualifications necessary for an organization to be considered an “Applicable Large Employer,” including how to analyze variable hour, seasonal, and part time employees
·         Insurance affordability and minimum value requirement calculations
·         Potential fees for not providing compliant coverage to the vast majority of all full-time employees
·         Considerations for joining the Small Business Insurance Marketplaces
·         Eligibility for tax credits for employers who do provide insurance
·         What employee notices are required under the Act and when they must be delivered

“It’s important that employers continue to prepare for the impending requirements of the Act even with the delays of the employer mandate until 2015,” said Mountain States Employers Council’s Ryan Sarni. “Employers should take advantage of this additional time to make sure they fully understand the impact on their business and start the process of preparing for the changes. Additionally, employers who are offering insurance next year still have a host of new requirements that will impact their plans.”

MSEC also offers its members free access to the new Health Care Reform Learning Zone, a comprehensive online tool providing easy access to an interactive, informative portal to guide them through the administrative details and requirements of health care reform. Based on the demographics of the employer, the tool guides members through the relevant Affordable Care Act requirements.

Non-members who are interested in learning more about the assessment, online learning zone tool or MSEC membership can contact Karen Stafford, Membership Development at 602.955.7558 or 800.437.9262 (toll free) or email azinfo@msec.org for more information.

iPhone Business Apps

‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend a growing concern

The rise in popularity of smart phones, tablets and laptops has blurred the increasingly thin line between professional and personal life, between work time and personal time. But it’s is also creating security concerns for business owners who let their employees use those tech toys for work.

“Employers need to address the question of how to react to the inevitable or current use of personal or shared devices by their employees,” said Cheri Vandergrift, a staff attorney for Mountain States Employers Council, a leader in human resource and employment law services for the business community. “From IT issues to privacy and litigation concerns, companies that ignore the rising ‘Bring Your Own Device’ tide may find that BYOD brought nothing but disaster.”

While an AccelOps Cloud Security Survey of IT security personnel ranked BYOD as the top source for fear of incurring data loss, there are also concerns regarding employee privacy should litigation ensue and the question of using personal devices goes into the courtroom. The use of personal devices in the workplace stirs questions within the IT, legal and human resources departments of companies.

“Data access and ownership are significant legal issues that surround the BYOD trend,” said John Balitis, director at Fennemore Craig. “Employees accessing employer systems with personal devices can create major network security risks and employer IT staff accessing the devices to support them can infringe on employee privacy. Further, how to define who owns what information on the devices is challenging.”

Laurent Badoux, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office, said there are a number of legal issues that could arise from the BYOD trend. Among them:

* Breach of confidentiality — especially with medical or financial data.
* Commercial espionage or unfair competition.
* Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims of unreported or unpaid time.
* Dispute as to ownership of data stored on personal devices.
* Claims of harassment, defamation, invasion of privacy, etc. from improper social media posting of workplace conduct.
* Negligence torts if an exployee tries to answer a work text or email while driving and causes an accident.

“The most glaring risk (an employer takes) is that sensitive confidential corporate data becomes compromised, either because an outsider is able to access that data through an employee’s device or to copy data stored on that device,” Badoux said. “When their sensitive data becomes compromised, companies face damage to the bottom lines and public image.”

According to Travis Williams, senior counsel at the Frutkin Law Firm, if a company believes information is jeopardized, or upon termination of an employee’s employment, the employer may have the right to seize the device for a short time to ensure proper protection or removal of company’s sensitive information.

“Employees need to understand that business information on their device is the property of the employer,” Williams said. “The employer has the right to protect the information. The protection may allow the employer to seize or force ‘wipe’ the device to ensure proper removal of the information.”

While there is no doubt that the BYOD trend has given tech-savvy employees the opportunity to create a more flexible schedule and therefore increase their productivity, experts said it’s imperative that companies find a balance between protecting sensitive work data, while still providing employees flexibility and independence.

“Have a policy that specifically addresses what employees can and cannot do with PEDs (personal electronic devices) used for work-related purposes and enforce that policy,” said Tibor Nagy, Jr., a shareholder at the Tucson office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. “Be sure the policy addresses what happens to employer data when the employee leaves employment.”

Experts said companies who worry about issues related to the BYOD trend should look to impose tighter security constraints, develop technology guidelines and policies or employ mobile-device management tools, services and systems.

“An employer absolutely should implement a BYOD policy if the employer allows or encourages employees to use personal devices for work,” Balitis said.

Badoux said an effective BYOD program should include:

1. Mandatory Mobile Device Management software
2. Clarification of expectations on ownership of data, privacy and access to dual-use devices.
3. “Acceptable Use” procedures harmonized with the employee handbook or agreement).
4. A well-crafted social media policy.

“Do not allow highly sensitive employer, personnel, health information, or customer data to be stored on an employee’s PED, unless you are certain that device will be used and protected to the same degree as an employer-owned device,” Nagy said. “Only allow PEDs that are ‘enterprise; enabled. Enterprise requirements include encryption of storage media; the ability to remotely wipe or clean a device; the ability to enforce password changes and password complexity; the ability to apply upgrades and patches; and the ability to revoke rights to data or corporate network access.”

Flexible Workplaces

Arizona Employers Learn Workplace Violence Prevention

The Phoenix business community has already experienced several tragedies, with the first workplace shooting of the year in January, and the most recent incident involving a personal relationship issue erupting into another workplace shooting. Though the circumstances leading to these violent outbreaks differ, business owners and human resources professionals can learn from them and be prepared to prevent similar situations.

On Wednesday, June 5, expert speakers Dr. James Turner and Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC) staff attorney Dave Dixon will share a series of interactive vignettes designed to help employers to respond promptly, effectively and appropriately to inappropriate workplace behaviors that create disruption in the workplace, while also minimizing risks related to unlawful discrimination under the ADA, even as disability claims continue to rise. The workplace violence discussions and other significant employment and labor law trends and changes are part of this year’s Employment Law Update at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 W. Dunlap Ave., in Phoenix.

While violent behavior can manifest for many different reasons, mental illness is often a root cause. Employers must discern between abnormal but harmless behavior and the signs of a violent progression. MSEC, a leader in human resource and employment law services, helps employers understand the legal and psychological aspects of mental illness; identify warning signs of aggression; and ward off or respond to escalated incidents.

“Whether in the workplace, or society-at-large, failure to effectively manage conduct that may or may not be related to mental illness may bring consequences from simple organizational inefficiencies to the more tragic and violent consequences we have all too frequently seen,” said Dixon.

For more information about MSEC’s services or the Employment Law Update, visit www.msec.org.

For 70 years, MSEC has hosted educational events such as the Employment Law Update for employers throughout the Western United States to maintain productive employer/employee relationships and to build effective, successful businesses.

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Survey Projects Pay Increases Across Arizona in 2013

Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC), a leader in human resource and employment law services for the business community, announced the findings of its recent employee pay projections survey and found that Arizona employers are anticipating a 2.8 percent pay increase in 2013. The projected increase is higher than the 2.4 percent projected increase for 2012.

Survey findings were collected from 580 organizations in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming and represented a cross-section of industries, including the government, manufacturing, natural resources, non-profit, technology, financial and real estate, insurance, health care, retail and wholesale, service, construction, and utilities.

“Our survey data indicates that employers in Arizona are looking more positively at economic conditions in 2013 and projecting continued improvements in employee pay,” said Patty Goodwin, director of surveys for Mountain States Employers Council.  “Mountain States Employers Council surveys member organizations throughout the year to build an understanding of compensation budget and views related to economic conditions.  Survey data can then help employers across the state with total compensation planning and benchmarking for their organizations.”

Key findings from the survey included:
> Pay increase projections by location. Of the three states surveyed, employers in Arizona reported the highest pay increase projection at 2.8 percent, while Colorado and Wyoming came in at 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.  Metro Phoenix employers projected a 2.9 percent pay increase; Tucson employers surveyed predicted a 2.6 percent increase.
> Arizona non-profit and public sector employees projected to see greatest increase. Non-profit employers across Arizona are forecasting raises of 3.4 percent in 2013; government employers (not including utilities) are projecting a 3.1 percent increase.
> Arizona manufacturing industry reports lowest projected increase. Manufacturing employers report a 1.9 percent projected increase in pay for 2013, and come in the lowest of industries participating in the survey.
> Compared to previous years, Arizona employers’ projections are up from the 2.4 percent increase in pay estimated for 2012. By industry, Arizona’s public employers last year reported the lowest pay projection at 0.0 percent and the retail/wholesale industry the highest projection at 2.8 percent.

“Mountain States Employers Council watches a number of economic and compensation indicators to assist Arizona decision makers in planning future salary adjustments and the surveys help provide a complete look at the local market,” said William L. Smith, Jr., MSEC vice president.  “Our goal is to support local organizations by serving as a clearinghouse of business, economic and human resources information used in the development of personnel policies, benefit design, and compensation plans.”

For more information, visit MSEC.org.