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Fool Proof Your 401k Plan Today

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The harsh reality is you may pay more in fees than what is in your retirement! This is the unfortunate reality many are facing, as the Department of Labor estimates 77 percent of 401k plans are out of compliance. To be deemed “qualified,” a 401k plan must satisfy the requirements listed under the Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a). If a plan fails to meet these requirements, then the plan is deemed “disqualified” and favorable tax benefits may be lost.

To avoid these losses and extra fees, 401k retirement plans should be reviewed every year. Use this informal checklist as a means to keep you compliant.

  1. Does your plan reflect recent changes?

A 401k plan must be supported by a formal written document that complies with the Internal Revenue Code. Anytime there is a change, the written document must be amended to reflect the most recent change. Generally, the IRS establishes a deadline by which all changes must be adopted. This requirement applies to all 401k plans for as long as assets remain in the plan. To stay up-to-date on any changes you may review the Notice 2013-84. To avoid any mistakes moving forward consider using a calendar noting when changes must be complete. Review your document annually and always keep constant contact with the company that sold you the plan.

  1. Do the plan’s operations adequately follow the terms of the plan?

Failure to comply with the plan’s terms is the most common mistake revealed during an audit. The most important thing to remember here is that although the employer is responsible for keeping the plan in compliance there may actually be many others servicing your plan. If that is the case, everyone should be aware of any changes made to your plan, whether that is modifications to how you operate your plan or changes made to plan trustees. Developing a communication plan can help keep all fiduciary partners reliable.

  1. Do you use the proper definition of compensation for all deferrals and allocations?

You may use different definitions of compensation for different purposes so it is important that you use the proper definition for deferrals, allocations and testing. According to the IRS, a plan’s compensation definition must satisfy rules for determining the amount of contributions. One such rule is that the amount of compensation under the plan can’t exceed $260,000 in 2014 (subject to cost-of-living adjustments in later years.) The best practice to ensure definitions are followed is to perform an annual review of compensation definitions and also make sure whomever is in charge or determining compensation is properly trained, and that align with your own providers definitions.

  1. Were terms followed with regards to employer matching contributions?

Make sure that what you say you will do, you do. Review the plan document to determine the employee eligibility requirements and matching contribution formula and make sure that is congruent with operations. If need be, contact your plan administrators to ensure they have adequate payroll records to make the proper calculations.

  1. Could your plan pass the Actual Deferral Percentage/Actual Contribution Percentage nondiscrimination tests?

Every 401k plan, with the exception of certain auto enrollment and 401k safe harbor plans, must satisfy the annual ADP/AFC nondiscrimination tests. These tests ensure that contributions for less highly compensated employees are proportional to contributions made for owners and managers (highly compensated employees). For more information on what these tests actually determine, see page 25 of this 401k Plan Guide provided by the IRS. Make sure you are communicating with plan administrators about proper employee classifications to stay compliant with plan terms. In most cases, to avoid testing, you may consider a safe harbor or auto enrollment plan.

  1. Did you mistakenly exclude an eligible employee from making a deferral?

In the case of elective deferrals, don’t assume you know who is eligible and not. Rather, treat each employee who receives a W-2 as eligible unless determined otherwise by plan terms. If you do make this mistake; however, make a qualified non-elective contribution in order to compensate employees for the missed deferral opportunity. To avoid this, monitor census information and apply participation requirements.

  1. Are elective deferrals limited to the amount specified under IRC 402(g) for the calendar year?

IRC 402(g) indicates limits for elective deferrals plan participants can exclude from taxable income in a calendar year. This limit under section 402(g) is $17,500 for 2014. Make sure to inspect deferral amounts of plan participants to ensure deferral limits aren’t exceeded. Failure to distribute deferrals in excess of the limit may result in additional taxes and penalties for both the employer and participant.

  1. Are employee elective deferrals deposited in a timely manner?

Make sure you know the earliest date you can segregate deferrals from general assets and compare that date with the actual deposit date to ensure you don’t miss a deadline. If you miss the deadline for contributing participant deferrals to the plan trust you may have to pay an excise tax – determined by the amount involved in the transaction. The initial tax is 15 percent on the amount involved, but if the transaction goes unpaid an additional tax of 100 percent of the amount may be due. As soon as you can deposit deferrals you should, and in no event should the deposit be later than the 15th business day of the following month, or 7 business days after payroll for plans with less than 100 participants.

  1. Do participant loans conform to the requirements of the plan and IRC Section 72(p)?

Many 401k plans permit loans to participants. Before allowing participants to borrow money from the plan, be sure your plan document allows for this type of transaction. Be sure to review the plan document and all outstanding loans to ensure employees are repaying their loans in a timely manner. Make sure you have procedures in place to prevent loans that are prohibited transactions and ensure plan provisions on loans are being followed. Violations may be treated as taxable distribution to the participant. Also, ensure your plan document explains who is responsible for collecting delinquent loan payments.

  1. Were plan terms followed with regards to hardship distributions?

Because life happens, a 401k plan may allow employees to receive hardship distribution due to immediate financial need. According to law, a hardship distribution may be made because of:

  • Medical care expenses incurred by the employee, employee’s spouse or dependents;
  • costs directly related to the purchase of a principal residence (excluding mortgage payments);
  • payment of tuition, related educational fees and room and board expenses for the next 12 months of post-secondary education for the employee, employee’s spouse, children or dependents ;
  • payments necessary to prevent eviction from an employee’s residence or foreclosure on that residence;
  • funeral expenses and
  • certain expenses relating to the repair of damage to an employee’s residence.

Be sure you are constantly amending the plan to allow for hardship distributions and make sure you understand the provisions aligned in the plan document and follow them through in operation.

If you can answer no to any of the questions above your 401k plan may not be in compliance. Granted this list is only a guideline to a more compliant plan, just because you answered yes to all these questions does not automatically make your plan 100 percent compliant. For complete ease of mind, be sure to contact your advisor.



Author Bio: As a Human Resource Professional with over 20 years of experience, Jenny has extensive experience in management, mentoring, policy development and recruiting. Jenny's team player mentality and leadership abilities make her an elite HR Director who is always on top of the latest HR trends. She relentlessly directs associates and executives to achieve their maximum potential for both themselves and their companies.

Paid Family Leave Program

New York to Implement Nation’s Most Comprehensive Paid Family Leave Program

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New York to Implement Nation’s Most Comprehensive Paid Family Leave Program

Private employers in the state of New York will soon be required to provide up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. The new law will apply to all employees of employers covered by the state’s worker’s compensation law and will be completely employee-funded via payroll deductions. Public employers are permitted to participate by opting-in to the program.

Growing Trend

These types of “paid family leave” laws continue to gain momentum. Three other states (California, New Jersey and Rhode Island) provide workers with partial pay during parental leave. Some cities have even joined in on the trend. San Francisco passed a paid family leave program in 2016, and Washington, D.C. also recently approved one that will take effect in 2020.

New York lawmakers championed this law as a pivotal step in the pursuit of equality and dignity in both the workplace and home. “New York enacted the strongest paid family leave plan in the nation to ensure that no one has to choose between losing a job and missing the birth of a child, or being able to spend time with a loved one in their final days,” said New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, upon passage of the law.

Employee Eligibility

The New York legislation originally passed in April of 2016, but the obligations for employers and employees were announced just recently.

Beginning January 1, 2018, the state’s paid family leave program will provide employees with employment protection and partial wage replacement if they spend time away from work to:

  1. bond with a child (including fostering or adopting)
  2. help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service
  3. care for a close relative with a serious health condition

A “close relative” as defined under the law includes a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent (including in-law), grandparent and grandchild. An employee must be employed full-time for 26 weeks, or part-time for 175 days to be eligible for a paid family leave benefit. An employer may permit an employee to use vacation or sick leave while on leave, but may not require its use.

 Employer Impact

The complete 12-week benefit will not be implemented fully until 2021. The amount of paid family leave and the percentage of the employee’s salary paid will be realized over four years:

 

Year Weeks
Available
Max % of
Employee Salary
Cap % of State
Average Weekly Wage
1/1/2018 8 50% 50%
1/1/2019 10 55% 55%
1/1/2020 10 60% 60%
1/1/2021 12 67% 67%

 

Employers will be required to purchase a paid family leave insurance policy or self-insure. The employee will pay the premiums of the policy via payroll deductions, beginning July 1, 2017.

For more information about the phase-in process, calculation of the Average Weekly Wage, or general information on the program, visit the New York paid family leave website.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues problems.

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Posted in Blog, Employment Law, Featured, Pre-Employment, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management

Jason Hines

by Jason Hines


Author Bio: Jason Hines is a Paycom compliance attorney. With more than five years’ experience in the legal field, he monitors developments in human resource laws, rules and regulations to ensure any changes are promptly updated in Paycom’s system for our clients. Previously, he was an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson. Hines earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and his juris doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. A fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hines also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife and daughter.

Pre-Board

5 Ways to Pre-Board Hires and Improve Employee Experience

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5 Ways to Pre-Board New Hires and Improve the Employee Experience

In today’s world of instant gratification, today’s workforce expects a good experience fast and are willing to walk if their expectations aren’t met. According to the Harvard Business Review, almost 33 percent of new hires start searching for a different job within the first six months of employment. Tackling that ambivalence early is crucial. One tangible way to ensure your employees feel engaged is through pre-boarding – preparing employees for their first day. There are several reasons employers should care about their new employee’s initial interactions with the organization. Aside from retention, pre-boarding builds confidence and gives new hires a good impression of their workplace.

Pre-boarding isn’t just a feel-good buzz word, either. It’s a win-win for employees and employers. This is especially true when it comes to the universal desire for day-one productivity. The C-suite values new hires who can become contributors faster and millennial employees crave the opportunity to do just that.

So, how do you incorporate pre-boarding into your new hire process? Below are five simple ways to get you started.

1. Hello there

Information is a necessity. Starting a new job is nerve-wracking, which is why a friendly, informational new-hire email is the perfect way to calm jittery nerves and set the stage for success. Not sure what to include? Let new hires know where to park, remind them of the dress code, and (if applicable) inform them about your HR technology and how to log-in. Whatever you decide to include, make sure it’s clear, concise and friendly.

2. Get social!

You already know how crucial a social media presence is for businesses, which is why you likely have incorporated a robust strategy that supports not only business goals, but also highlights your engaging corporate culture. Well, it’s time to show it off to a socially conscious workforce! Included in the welcome email should be your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages, and encourage new employees to explore and engage with their preferred social channels. It may seem like a small gesture, but facilitating a space where new hires have the ability to discover your values, culture and people is actually quite big.

3. A video is worth a thousand words

So you’re pretty proud of your hip office and energized employees? Put them in front of a camera! Videos that highlight your office, people and culture are fantastic ways for new hires to feel welcomed and inspired. Videos also give employees an inside look at the office layout and an understanding of how people interact with each other. Not sure a video will work? Think again. Since one-third of online activity is spent watching videos, it’s actually the perfect way to pre-board a YouTube-loving workforce.

4. A little swag

Everyone loves a good swag bag. If your company is big enough to send a few company-branded products, do it. You’ll be amazed at how far a logo-laden mug or package of pens will go to make new hires feel like a part of the team. Don’t have branded items? A hand-written note from their future manager on company letterhead also will help new hires feel part of something bigger. Go one step further and include a restaurant gift card and a note to take a moment to celebrate their new position with family, your treat.

5. Surveys and Training through LMS

Employees also want a clear picture of expectations and an understanding of how to carry out responsibilities. Training is important to today’s workforce, and no matter the hire’s age, he or she wants to feel informed and prepared.

With an online self-service portal, new hires can begin on-demand training through a learning management system as part of pre-boarding. Courses could include company welcome and meet-the-team videos, the employee handbook and further information about their specific roles. Training done before day one helps new hires acclimate to their jobs quicker and feel accomplished early.

All the time and effort put into your Informative emails, social media efforts, welcome videos, branded coffee mugs, and that first day of on-boarding adds up in both expenses and employee time. Be sure to measure your company’s efforts by surveying new hires 30 days after their start date with a survey tool. By consistently asking “How did we do?” you’ll soon be able to evaluate and improve on your pre- and day of on-boarding process.

Different companies quantify employee experience differently; however, every company can benefit from new employees who feel welcomed and ready to get down to business. And there’s no time like now, to start elevating your employees’ experiences.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, Featured, HR Management, Learning Management, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, What Employees Want

Chad Raymond

by Chad Raymond


Author Bio: With over 19 years of experience in employee engagement, benefits administration and government compliance, Chad has unparalleled knowledge in the fields of leadership and human resources. Chad has worked in several different capacities with Paycom including leading our product development team and HCM initiatives as well as the former director of Paycom’s service department. Chad’s vision and execution helped empower executives and their teams to reach their full potential, ultimately leading to his role as Paycom’s vice president of HR.

LMS Content

LMS 101: 4 Tips for Your Own E-Learning

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Learning Management Systems 101 is a weekly blog series exploring how employers can rethink traditional employee training and move toward e-learning solutions, which are faster, easier to access, and more cost effective. “4 Tips for Creating Your Own E-Learning” is the sixth post of the series.

LMS 101: 4 Tips for Your Own E-Learning

Today’s workforce is increasingly comprised of people who are paid to think and learn. In order to provide the best new content for your employees, your online learning course needs to be a carefully crafted mix of relevancy and entertainment to ensure employees retain the information. Here are four tips to generating online learning content that can help today’s learners.

On-Demand Webinar: Higher Education, Engaging Employees Through E-Learning

1. The Reason(s) Why

As you build new learning content, ask yourself:

  • What is RED today that needs to be GREEN tomorrow?
    • What report margins am I looking at, and which elements need to increase or decrease?
  • What are the c-suite level stress points, and how can this training course impact those business needs?
  • Who is my audience? All employees or just a select department, possibly a management level or maybe this course is just for clients?
  • What is the deadline for employee implementation of this new knowledge?

These questions are relevant to every business, no matter your industry, and by identifying the reasons why you want to build a new e-learning course, you now have your purpose.

2. The Call to Action

At this point, you know the purpose of the course, so how are you going to grab your audience’s attention? Will this course increase chances of promotion, or maybe provide the audience with tools to close more sales? What is your call to action (CTA), meaning, what is the stimulus to achieve this aim, what is the reason to sit through an online training class?

Factual research is particularly important when crafting your CTA, whether you’re administering training that deals with government regulations, industry guidelines, selling tactics or customer service improvements. Be sure to revisit company policies and procedures – such as those pertaining to employee benefits – to ensure learners receive the most current and relevant information as they set aside this time to learn.

3. Design the Training Experience

The ability to learn fast is a dynamic competitive advantage in business; and a good learning management system (LMS should allow you publish online training materials incorporating different tools, which all need to answer the learner’s unspoken question, “How fast can I see success?

  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Text
  • PDFs
  • PowerPoint presentations

The current generation entering the workforce, the millennials, are tech-dependent and expect to learn on the job, with modern tech, and quickly. Use their expectations to your businesses advantage. By utilizing a mix of media you can increase information retention and engagement, and will help your audience, no matter the generation, to learn fast. So, choose the mediums that best allow you to convey your message, and the motivation behind the learning opportunity.

4. Measure the Outcome

Producing effective e-learning content is meaningless if you can’t report it. If you can’t automatically survey to learn the effectiveness of your new 20-minute course, then what did you really do? A sound LMS should provide metrics by region, manager, percentages and a centralization point to access data that leads to productive reporting of the learning process.

With these online learning tips, you can design meaningful and helpful content to enable your employees to reach their career objectives and your business goals. And, if implemented effectively, e-learning can lead to a happier and more engaged workforce.

To learn more about the evolution of corporate learningemployee training, why tech is crucial to onboarding, how to boost employee engagement and the latest teaching trend in the workplace, be sure to check out our entire LMS 101 series.

 

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Posted in Blog, Featured, HR Management, Learning Management, What Employees Want

Jessica Melo

by Jessica Melo


Author Bio: Melo serves as the Director of Sales Training, she is a graduate of Rutgers University and holds a Managerial Economics professional certificate from Dartmouth University. Passionate about education and business, she oversees new hire & intern development, leadership training and continuous education. Her specialties in corporate education are in designing effective learning strategies including governance, alignment and measurement. Outside of work, Jessica is a strong supporter of wildlife and anti- animal cruelty organizations.

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