July 20, 2018

Generating a Diverse Workforce for Your Nonprofit

What makes a workforce diverse? According to Merriam-Webster, diversity is defined as “an instance of being composed of different elements or qualities.” As a nonprofit organization, expanding diversity in the workplace can be a good way to propose fresh ideas into an otherwise stale environment, and incorporating new perspectives can help employees tackle problems from a number of different angles.

When building a diverse workplace, it’s important to implement policies that encourages employees to feel supported, protected and valued. Creating an environment where your employees can feel at ease to be themselves, regardless of their ethnicity, should be a priority when diversifying a workforce.

Adopting a new approach can be overwhelming or can even cause confusion of where to begin. Here’s a few helpful tips and resources for introducing diversity and inclusion into the workforce at your nonprofit.

  1. Provide your employees with a list of key terms around diversity—this could help spark up conversations and the asking of questions.
  2. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with each employee to find out what diversity and inclusion means to him or her personally.
  3. This Diversity Toolkit outlines a discussion of identity, power and privilege. It offers ideas on how to facilitate these conversations and how to instill a productive learning process.
  4. Consider implementing a “zero tolerance policy” to prevent any form of bullying or harassment and in the workplace.
  5. Bringing more awareness to the Americans with Disabilities Act can help to educate your staff on the importance of being mindful to those with disabilities. The Corporation for National and Community Service offers some extensive information on disability inclusion that can be very helpful.
  6. Learning from fellow nonprofits is always a perk. Consulting with other nonprofits on their approach to diversity in the workplace can be a great resource.
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July 13, 2018

Nonprofits Receive Over $3.8 Million in Cash Back Through UST’s Claims Management Services

UST is giving 532 nonprofits $3,869,249 in cash back for their ability to reduce their anticpiated unemployment claims within the year.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that help reduce costs so that they can focus more on their missions, announces that it will be dispersing $3,869,249.80 in cash back to more than 532 of their program participants. After accruing all of their claims savings, audited state returns and cash back throughout the last year, UST members will have $30.1 million filtered back into their nonprofits’ pockets.

UST aims to provide 501(c)(3) nonprofits with the latest HR training, outplacement resources and unemployment claims management tools they need to stay compliant with the state and federal laws, while also helping to reduce paperwork burdens.

One of UST’s most popular programs, UST Trust, helps reimbursing employers build a reserve—protecting their money on the front end—so they don’t experience the steep ups and downs in their cash flow due to unexpected unemployment claims. Unlike their for-profit counterparts, UST Trust participants can receive cash back through UST when their organization is able to reduce their unemployment claims and still maintain a healthy reserve balance for future claims.

“The $3.8 million we are returning to UST participants can offer their organizations the flexibility they need to execute additional mission-driven initiatives,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “Here at UST, we are pleased to be able to continue returning funds to our members and further supporting the communities in which they serve.” 

These refunds are just part of how UST serves its mission of “Providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that reduce costs and strengthen their missions.”

To learn more about the UST program for 501(c)(3) employers, visit www.ChooseUST.org. If you’re a reimbursing or tax-rated nonprofit, and looking for innovative ways to save money, fill out a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form.

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July 11, 2018

Legalities Surrounding Arbitration Clauses

Question: May we add an arbitration clause prohibiting class action lawsuits to our employment contracts?

Answer: Yes. Until recently, courts were split on the issue and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that “it is a violation of federal labor law to require employees to sign arbitration agreements that prevent them from joining together to pursue employment-related legal claims in any forum, whether in arbitration or in court.”

However, in its May 2018 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ended the split, overruled the NLRB, and held that arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings (thus banning class actions) are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and neither the FAA’s saving clause nor the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) suggest otherwise.

As a result of SCOTUS’s decision, an employer may add an arbitration clause waiving class and collective actions to its employment contracts without fear of violating federal law due to the mere presence of the clause. However, it is essential that any employment contract — with or without an arbitration clause — comply with all applicable laws. Therefore, as always, we recommend seeking counsel to properly draft your arbitration agreement and for further guidance.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

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July 05, 2018

How to Get Nonprofits Back on the Social Media Map

With Facebook implementing a new algorithm to bring it back to its original purpose—an interactive platform that allows you to share memorable life moments—nonprofits are now put in a position that requires them to work that much harder to be noticed amongst all the noise. Nonprofits have utilized Facebook as an outlet to tell and share stories to better reach their audience, however this new algorithm poses a challenge to be able to reach those individuals that would interact or benefit from their content. On the bright side, implementing appropriate strategies can help maintain and improve your content’s performance.

To get the most out of the current changes with Facebook’s algorithm and to better your chances of being seen by your audience, here are five steps that can help put your nonprofit in a good position to be visible to your social community:

1) Identify Important Content: In order to find success on any channel, you have to develop content that will do well within the parameters of that particular channel. This is where the latest algorithm can make this difficult; however prioritizing what you’re posting will make all the difference. Posting content that will connect with your audience on a more emotional level will help grow relationships with your followers.

2) Analytics are Your Friend: Don’t be afraid of Facebook’s update until you see how it effects the performance of your content. However, if you see your results slowly dropping, start comparing the results of other posts and ask yourself “why one post worked better than the other?” Be willing to question your work and make adjustments accordingly.

3) Design Shareable Content: This is no secret to anyone that the top-rated posts are those that are designed to be shared. Whether the post is a simple image or a clever video, shareable content continues to be proven the most effective type of content to share with your audience.

4) Ask Questions: To really know and understand your audience, ask them questions. Simply posting a question and encouraging them to answer below will increase the number of interactions that benefit your organization and in-turn relay positive feedback to Facebook’s algorithm.

5) Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New: Every nonprofit has a different approach when it comes to figuring out how often they should post and what the response rate will be. The update to Facebook’s algorithm has the potential to be very impactful and is likely to have an effect on your current digital strategy. If you notice a change in your performance, try something new—you never know if that one change will make all the difference.

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June 26, 2018

UST Nonprofit Members Utilized Over $1.1 Million in Cloud-Based HR Resources

UST helps 501(c)(3)s lower their unemployment costs & maintain HR compliance, providing resources to help refocus on mission objectives.

 

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with workforce solutions to help reduce costs and focus on their missions, today announced that their 2,200+ participating nonprofits saved more than $1.1 million dollars in human resource expenses within the last year through its value-added UST HR Workplace program.

 

UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR, provides nonprofit professionals with the guidance they need to streamline HR procedures, maintain best practices, and ensure compliance with state laws. By providing expert HR advice, thousands of HR templates, hundreds of training courses and an award-winning online library for all workplace concerns, UST HR Workplace gives nonprofits the knowledge they need to avoid costly risks and liability issues.

 

“Regardless of the size of a nonprofit’s HR department, UST HR Workplace provides an invaluable sense of security—helping nonprofits save both time and money,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “This on-demand HR service helps nonprofit HR professionals avoid costly litigation and stay up-to-date on evolving HR best practices and legal changes.”

 

Staying on top of the latest HR laws and educating employees on organizational policies can help mitigate volatile unemployment claims and reduce costs long-term. Last year, UST members took over 5,900 online training courses and submitted close to 1,200 HR questions. The most popular resources included Sexual Harassment Prevention for Employees training, hotline inquiries regarding compliance and compensation, the Employee Handbook Builder and downloadable HR forms and policies.

 

UST HR Workplace has been a go-to resource for UST’s participating nonprofit employers since its launch in 2014 and is a robust support system that helps to save time and money—offered at no additional cost to UST members.

 

To learn more about how nonprofits can get a free 30-day trial of UST HR Workplace, click here.

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June 22, 2018

A Nonprofit Financial Check-Up

Nonprofits play a vital role in society by indirectly boosting the economy. Just like their for-profit counterparts, they have payroll, pay mortgages and utilities and have overhead costs. Unlike for-profits, they rely primarily on grants, donors and the community for financial support – making it all the more important that they understand the financial risks they face.

Earlier this year, the findings from a study put out by SeaChange Capital  Partners, Oliver Wyman and GuideStar, “The Financial Health of the United States Nonprofit Sector:  Facts and Observations,” were released and the results signaled an urgency for improved risk management to reduce the likelihood of financial distress within the sector.  

 

Some key takeaways from this report include:

  • Overview of the size and scale of the US nonprofit sector
  • Key financial metrics segmented by size, sub-sector and geography
  • Learn how you can strengthen your nonprofits financial position
  • Ideas for reducing financial distress within your organization
  • Key financial health indicators

 

If you missed it, download your copy today and learn how you can either put a holistic risk management framework in place or enhance your current risk management practices!

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June 20, 2018

UST Uncovers $2.8 Million in Potential Unemployment Claims Savings for 135 Nonprofits

UST helps 501(c)(3)s lower their unemployment costs & maintain HR compliance, providing resources to help refocus on mission objectives.

UST, a program dedicated to helping nonprofits ensure compliance and protect assets, today announces it has identified $2,839,940 in potential unemployment liability savings for 135 eligible nonprofits.

 

For 35 years, UST has been helping 501(c)(3) organizations exercise their exclusive nonprofit tax alternative, as allowed by Federal law, to pay only for their own unemployment claims which can save them thousands annually. Because they are no longer subsidizing for-profit companies in the state tax system, and are receiving expert claims guidance, UST members can efficiently manage their unemployment claims while mitigating liability.

 

“UST has continued to identify potential unemployment claims savings for multiple nonprofits across the United States,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know that the UST program continues to provide financial relief to such hard-working nonprofits and the communities they serve.”

 

UST offers exclusive access to a variety of resources, ranging from a live HR hotline and job description builder to e-filing capabilities and claims hearing support. By utilizing their dedicated claims representatives, cloud-based HR resources, and outplacement services, these nonprofits can refocus their saved time and money on what matters most—achieving mission objectives.

 

If you’re a 501(c)(3) looking for ways to help your nonprofit save money, benchmark your unemployment costs by filling out a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form today.

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June 15, 2018

HR Question: Employer Rights Surrounding Medical Marijuana

Question: Can we maintain a zero-tolerance marijuana use policy in our workplace if medical marijuana use is legal in the state?

Answer: Yes, you can. Employers have an absolute right to maintain a drug-free workplace and do not have to allow or tolerate drug use or intoxication in the workplace. Although some states permit the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes, most state laws provide exemptions for employers to prohibit the use of marijuana in the workplace. If you maintain a drug-free workplace, then your employees may be subject to discipline and/or termination when working under the influence of marijuana (i.e., on-the-job intoxication). In states where marijuana use has been legalized for medical or recreational purposes, employers may elect to establish intoxication standards for marijuana metabolites, rather than imposing discipline for any presence of the drug. However, this standard must be applied consistently and regularly to all employees.

As of February 2016, marijuana continues to be an illegal drug under federal law (which trumps state laws), and employers are not required to permit on-the-job use of or marijuana intoxication by employees or applicants. You may discipline employees who are legally using marijuana under state law but who are in violation of your workplace policy, because under the law, employees are not protected from being fired for failing a drug test.

Alternatively, you may elect to accommodate your employee’s medical marijuana use, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to reasonably accommodate current unlawful drug use. Employees who claim disability discrimination for their medical marijuana use may attempt to file under the ADA. However, the ADA excludes current illegal drug users from protection; therefore, employers are free to conduct drug tests on employees, subject to certain limitations, to detect the presence of illegal drug use.

Refer to your state’s laws on employer rights and medical marijuana law. Additionally, you may want to update your policies to ensure you are clear about whether you will accommodate marijuana use in the workplace and the subsequent action should an employee be found using marijuana.

Finally, keep in mind that this issue can be complicated. When in doubt, seek legal counsel to ensure compliance.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

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June 13, 2018

Understanding Nonprofit Tax Cuts for Transportation Benefits

Transportation benefits can be a great employer-incentive to offer employees. Whether it be for public transit or public parking—these benefits can be paid to a 3rd party transit or parking company or directly to employees. However, due to the latest federal legislation known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employers may no longer deduct transportation fringe benefits as their own deductible business expenses. When it comes to nonprofit employers that provide this benefit, they are required to report and pay the tax on the value provided as taxable “unrelated business income.”

So what specific impact does this act have on nonprofit employers? This Act requires an unrelated business income tax “UBIT” on nonprofit organizations for providing transportation fringe benefits. If a nonprofit employer uses some of its revenues to pay for employees’ transportation benefits, then such revenues will be taxed to the employer. In addition, these nonprofit revenues would not otherwise be taxable, given the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status. This change is meant to level out the employer tax—providing more of a unity between taxable and non-taxable employers in terms of taxable income to the employer. 

A UBIT is the income a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization can generate from a trade or business that is commonly carried on by the organization and is not related to the organization’s exempt purposes.  Prior to the Act, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization’s unrelated business income was subject to a tax rate determined under a marginal rate structure in which the lowest tax rate was 15% and the highest tax rate was 35%. This Act removes this marginal rate structure and offers a flat rate of 21% on unrelated business income. With that being said, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization’s expenses related to the provision of qualified transportation benefits will now be subject to the flat UBIT rate of 21%.  

For the nonprofit sector, treating transportation fringe benefits as unrelated business income will likely result in new reporting and potential tax liability implications.  Also, the IRS has not provided any specific instructions on the estimated payment requirements for taxes associated with transportation fringes. Until additional information is given, it would be in the organizations best interest to follow current standard procedures for tax payments that are associated with Form 990-T.

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June 08, 2018

Keeping Your Talent Invested

Stellar recruiting and retention strategies are key to a nonprofit’s growth, but sometimes those solutions do not align with budgets. With the increasing rate at which talent moves through the nonprofit sector, it’s more important now than ever to reinvent the wheel when it comes to investing in employees.  

There are more and more people seeking to serve a higher purpose and one of the ways they see to accomplish that is to grab an opportunity to craft a mission-driven career.  If the nonprofit sector can’t demonstrate that they offer viable career opportunities within a strong organizational culture, they will miss the chance to cultivate future talent. The biggest talent acquisition challenge nonprofits face is limited budgeting but it’s important to remember that at the end of the day it’s the people that fuel the nonprofit sector – not just the donors and the volunteers but most importantly, the people who work for you.

Gaining a better understanding of how the leaders in your organization think about the development of talent, will allow you to start aligning those ideas with the overall goals of the business. Focus on your assets and what opportunities as a whole your organization has in its sights and commit to those aspirations by investing in the people. Creating an effective workplace isn’t just about compensation. Employees consistently rank company culture, leadership, career growth and work-life balance right up there with pay. The act of investing in talent sends a clear message that the company values its people by increasing morale, performance and retention.

You can make gradual improvements and see major results. Here are some things to consider:

  • Allow a greater amount of decision making with managers
  • More delegation with greater opportunities to learn
  • Continuous feedback and positive encouragement
  • Keep your team appraised of company progress and set backs
  • Wellness programs

It doesn’t hurt to also consider how much philanthropic capital is routed to talent efforts? Review where your donors dollars are going and make a case to shift some of those funds if there is currently no talent investment already set up. Grantmaking needs to intentionally invest in talent to keep top talent engaged and start Initiating conversations regarding the value of employee retention.

People are the most important asset—driving impact, performance and sustainability in the sector. No matter your nonprofit’s budget, you can have a strong organizational culture even in this time of uncertainty and budgetary struggle. And in fact, if you hope to advance your mission, you must make these types of changes. Take the time to invest in your teams and systems to stay ahead of the talent curve.

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June 06, 2018

U.S. Employment Shows Promise with Decrease in Unemployment

U.S. employers added 223,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in May, compared with an average monthly gain of 191,000 over the prior 12 months. With the unemployment rate down to 3.8 percent—an eighteen year record low—the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employment has continued to trend upward in multiple industries, including retail trade, health care and construction.

May marked the 92nd straight month of job growth in the U.S., with the number of unemployed persons declining to 6.1 million. Since the beginning of the year, unemployment rate has gone down by 0.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 772,000. 

The U.S. economy added 31,000 jobs in retail trade, with an increase occurring in general merchandise stores, building materials and garden supplies. Employment in health care increased by 29,000 and construction rose by 25,000 with a continual growth of 286,000 positions over the past 12 months. Both professional and technical services have shown a gain of 23,000 jobs and has increased by 206,000 over the year. Manufacturing employment has continued to grow during the month of May with 18,000 jobs—durable goods required due to an addition of 6,000 jobs in machinery. Employment in other major industries, such as wholesale trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality and government, showed little to no change over the course of the month.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.92. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.7 percent and the average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $22.59 in May.

With job openings being at a two-decade high, this is good news for the many young people who have recently graduated. However, there are still many working-age people on the sidelines of the job market. Though more people have joined the workforce in the first quarter of 2018 than in the first quarter of 2017, the share of prime-age workers who are employed still hasn't returned to where it was prior to the recession.

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June 01, 2018

We Need a Little More Communication Please

Effective communication in the workplace is an integral element to business success. It isn’t just about managing conflict, although an important benefit, good communication creates an environment that allows employees to be productive and highly effective.

The desire for human connections at work isn’t a new concept and long gone are the days when employees came into work and sat in front of a computer for an eight-hour stretch with little to no communication at all. Nowadays, more than ever, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day business that we forget to make time to connect with those around us. When employees come together for the pure enjoyment of one another’s company, they experience an increase in morale and commitment to each other as well as the company itself – keeping them engaged and positive.

Many of the conversations we have at work are naturally focused on the business – impending projects, upcoming events or deadlines and of course, those funding concerns as opposed to interpersonal conversations. However, if you want engaged employees who are committed to your nonprofits mission, we must pick our heads up out of our own busyness and acknowledge those around us. The desire to want to be noticed, valued and appreciated are all fundamental human needs, so just by facilitating more and better conversations through simple human interactions such as talking more, asking more and even thanking more, can help to strengthen your teams morale and loyalty.

Employees look forward to coming to work when they feel like they have something in common with their fellow co-workers or even better – have a valued friend at work. And while there are typically five generations in the workplace today – cross-generational connections can sometimes take time and effort. Ensuring there is time for relationship bonding through open communication can help your organization in unexpected ways. It also doesn’t hurt when they know they can talk to their boss about problems and feel heard.

Communication is about more than just talking, it’s about connecting with people -one of the most powerful benefits in the workplace. Effective workplace communication helps employees form highly efficient teams so start building strong relationships by reaching out and taking the time to connect in meaningful ways.

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May 31, 2018

70 Nonprofits Choose UST as Their Primary Nonprofit Workforce Solution

UST helps 501(c)(3)s lower their unemployment costs & maintain HR compliance, providing resources to help refocus on mission objectives.

 

Santa Barbara, CA (May 31, 2018) – UST, a program dedicated to helping nonprofits ensure compliance and protect assets, today announces that 70 nonprofit organizations from across the U.S. decided to join more than 2,200 of their nonprofit peers and enroll in UST’s cost-saving program.

For 35 years, UST has been helping 501(c)(3)s manage their unemployment claims in a safe, efficient manner. Whether a nonprofit is tax-rated or reimbursing, UST is here to help nonprofits manage their cash flow and streamline their day-to-day operations.  Just last year, UST found $2,839,940 in potential unemployment cost savings for eligible nonprofits.

UST’s newly added members now have exclusive access to a variety of resources, ranging from a live HR hotline and job description builder to e-filing capabilities and claims hearing support. By utilizing their dedicated claims representatives, cloud-based HR resources, and outplacement services, these nonprofits can refocus their saved time and money on what matters most—achieving mission objectives.

“With more than 2,200 organizations now participating in the Trust—and growing—I have no doubt that we can continue to provide our incoming members with the tools and education they need to further advance their missions,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST.

If you’re a 501(c)(3) looking for ways to help your nonprofit save money, benchmark your unemployment costs by filling out a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form today.

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May 18, 2018

Is Your Board Equipped to Handle Your Budget?

Being on a nonprofit board can require you to wear many different hats and one of the most important aspects of being on a board is learning the budget approval process. Some board members come equipped with a business background—comfortable dealing with budgets and numbers. On the other hand, some may not have the same appreciation or knowledge base when it comes to understanding the financials.

Since each nonprofit organization has a different approach when it comes to handling their budget, there can be some confusion or differences of opinion amongst board members. Educating your board on the proper key terms, types of budgets and the different approaches, is key to ensuring the best decisions are being made on behalf of the organization.   

Here are a few key terms to understand when learning the basics of a budget and some specific terms used when discussing nonprofit budgets:

  1. Cash basis: A method of recording transactions for both revenue and expenses only when the corresponding cash is received or payments are made.
  2. Accural basis: Under the accrual basis of accounting, revenues are reported on the income statement when they are earned. 
  3. Income-based budget: This budget requires a consistent income based around a particular period.
  4. Zero-based budget: A method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period.
  5. Capital expenditures: Money that is spent by a business or organization on acquiring or maintaining fixed assets (i.e. land, buildings and equipment).
  6. Depreciation: A reduction in the value of an asset overtime—due to wear and tear.
  7. Fixed costs: A range of different types of business costs, such as rent, that are constant.
  8. Variable costs: A cost that can vary in relation to changes in the volume of activity.

These terms will help your board increase its financial literacy by reducing the mystery of nonprofit budgets, financial reports and auditing. Since a budget plays such a vital role in a nonprofit’s ongoing financial viability, it’s important your board members can fully understand and approve such budgets.

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May 16, 2018

HR Question: Employer Requirements Surrounding OSHA Regulations

Question: Which employers are required to maintain records of illnesses and injuries under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) recordkeeping and reporting regulations?

Answer: Employers that had more than ten employees at any time during the last calendar year are generally required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log. OSHA provides a partial exemption from the recordkeeping requirements for employers who had ten or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year and employers in certain low-hazard industries.

To determine if your company is required to prepare and maintain OSHA records, you will need to find your industry’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code number using one of these methods:

Once you have identified your industry’s NAICS code, you can use the Partially Exempt Industries Table to determine if your industry is exempt from the recordkeeping rule.

Important: States with OSHA-approved plans may require employers to keep records for the state, even if employers are within an industry that is exempted from doing so under OSHA regulations.

Unless your facility is municipal, state, or federally-owned, it is subject to OSHA regulations as long as it has employees. Having non-profit status or a small number of employees does not exempt a business from OSHA compliance

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

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May 11, 2018

Four Benefits of Human Resources Calling the Shots

One of the many benefits that come with having a designated person or team to handle all Human Resources related issues, is that it allows the organization to operate at its full potential—especially nonprofits. Due to the inherent nature and structure of nonprofits, they can run into challenges when it comes to certain HR tasks and if not handled correctly, the fulfillment of their mission might be hindered.

Nonprofit organizations primary focus is on the communities they serve and the causes they support. When you have an HR professional on your team, it eliminates the burden of you having to worry about whether or not your nonprofit is covered regarding the logistics of legal issues, management of compliance, etc., allowing you to focus on what matters most—your mission.

Along with managing the day-to-day legal and compliance issues that may arise, HR provides many additional benefits as well. Here are four ways HR can enhance talent management, employee retention and a work-life balance.

  1. Finding the Right Employee: Hiring the right employee enhances your work culture, encourages high employee morale, positive thinking, future planning, and accomplishing professional goals. It also ensures that you are making the most of the time and energy being invested in a new employee and making sure, they are a good fit for the work culture.
  2. Onboarding is a Must: Starting a new job is exciting, however, the unknown can be quite nerve racking. An onboarding process offers a more hands on approach then just handing a new employee an employee handbook and sending them on their way. This should be a time when an employee can ask one off questions and an HR professional can offer more information.
  3. Creating a Career Plan: Offering your employees an opportunity to plan a strategy for how they want to move forward in their professional life is a great way to learn more about your staff. It’s a way to show your employees that you care and you want to see them succeed. The more you invest in your employees, the more likely they will do good work for your organization.
  4. Employee Performance Reviews: While performance review methods and approaches can vary from organization to organization, universal principles about how to talk with an employee about his or her performance exist. It is important that the employee knows exactly what’s to be expected of his or her performance. These periodic discussions about performance need to focus on the significant portions of the employee’s job.
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May 08, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Nonprofit Recruitment and Retention Best Practices

With the national unemployment rate steadily declining, and a substantial increase in expectations for competitive benefits and salaries, nonprofits are definitely feeling the squeeze—especially when competing against for-profit organizations for key staff members.

How can we overcome these challenges when funding support is steady at best, and often decreasing?

 

This webinar will teach you how to:

  • Attract stronger candidates and enhance their loyalty to your nonprofit
  • Establish a path to compensation growth for valued front-line staff members
  • Gain board support for increased compensation and investment in employee development

​​​​​Join Kathy Keeley, Executive Vice President, Programs and Senior Consultant at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, to develop a framework for effective recruitment and retention strategies in the current workforce environment.

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

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May 03, 2018

UST Launches New Website to Unveil New Branding & Nonprofit Programs

In an Effort to Provide More Robust and Readily Accessible HR and Unemployment Resources to the Nonprofit Sector, UST Launches a New Website that Acts as a One-Stop-Shop for Workforce Solutions.

Santa Barbara, CA (May 4, 2018) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), a program dedicated to helping nonprofits ensure compliance and protect assets, today announces the launch of their NEW website: www.chooseust.org.

For 35 years, UST has helped nonprofit employers to better manage their unemployment funding, maintain HR compliance and maximize employee bandwidth. WIth UST's recent revamp of the UST Support program, as well as the latest addition of UST's new insurance program, UST Secure, UST decided to give their webiste a fresh look and feel to mimic their evolving nonprofit services.

“We hope this enhanced website can serve as a one-stop-shop for nonprofit organizations nationwide—helping them to streamline day-to-day operations and stay on top of the latest best practices,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST.

This new website will provide nonprofits the ability to readily navigate the many UST resources and tools that can help them reduce overhead costs, manage their claims and access HR & outplacement tools.

To determine which UST programs will best suit your needs, please submit a free Cost Analysis form today. (Use Priority Code "2018PR-LAUNCH" to expedite your request).

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April 30, 2018

Meet UST(s) Mondays - Jenny

Having recently joined UST as a Customer Service Representative, Jenny is excited to now be working with nonprofit organizations. As for volunteer work, she’s a sucker for animals and spends as much time as possible supporting the cause during her downtime.

Outside of work, Jenny enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and her fur baby, Diego. They often venture out on hikes at the beach or in the hills and she and her boyfriend fancy exploring new restaurants and breweries when time allows. Jenny’s a huge baseball fan, the San Francisco Giants are her team of choice and she loves the fun rivalry sparred in a city of Dodger fans that just happen to include her boyfriend – that can make for some interesting dinner conversation. She also enjoys cooking and hitting the farmers market. She even worked as a baker/chef in a delicatessen for some time.

She’s a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie and her enthusiasm for adventure has led her on some pretty impressive journeys. Just to name a few, she’s gone skydiving in Australia from 16,000 feet, repelled down mountains, did a 90-mile cattle drive on horseback mustering 200 head of cattle in Australia for two weeks straight, and rode Horseback through the Loire Valley in France that led to her and her family being in an Absolut Vodka ad – we have a celebrity in house. Not surprisingly, she has an extensive list of places she’d like to visit that include Greece, New Zealand and Italy. She’s already been to Australia three times and actually hopes to one day live there.

Jenny seems like an extremely busy person but she finds her Zen on the beach listening to the waves while reflecting on the things going on in her life. Something we should all get in the habit of doing.

Are you an adventurous soul?  Share your stories with Jenny @USTTrust with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays!

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April 27, 2018

Creating a Cash Flow Business Model for Your Nonprofit

Using a business model has grown to become an essential tool when making any business or financial decisions within the nonprofit sector. When incorporating a new business model, a few key components should be discussed to ensure the business model will not only provide financial stability but also further the growth of operations within your organization. Along with understanding the financial side of a new business model, it is important to factor in the daily tasks that occur in a business, including cash flow—money being transferred in and out of an organization. 

Cash flow can be simply defined as a movement of money within the organization’s accounts. It is where the numbers and financial reports show how the money has moved and how it’s been accounted for. When managing cash flow, the question you will be asked repeatedly is “When?” —when do you pay your staff, when will you be receiving a grant payment or  when is a particular bill due. And while all nonprofit business models are different in one way or another, they all rely on the “when” with the movement of money. 

When creating a nonprofit business model, there are two main components to factor in—what kinds of programs and services does your nonprofit offer to the community and most importantly, how are they funded. Each of these components require the understanding of organizational cash flow in order to have effective financial planning. To further understand what kinds of programs and services a particular organization offers, you would look at where and how money is being spent.

When looking at how an organization is funded, this can provide a better understanding of what’s to come in terms of cash coming into the business. If by chance the cash flow doesn’t quite match up with the services offered, this could be further explained by how the organization receives its funding. Each type of income varies based on certain implications and challenges for cash flow, so if a business model is built primarily around one type of funding, this will have to be factored into the structure of the business model.

Creating a smart and strategic business model requires you to be informed and collaborative in cash flow management. This will ensure that your nonprofit’s long-term strategy isn’t hindered by obstacles that could have been avoided. 

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April 25, 2018

Are Your Health and Wellness Programs Making the Cut?

It’s no secret that people are more health conscious today than ever before. And over the last few years, business owners have gotten on board with a massive influx of corporate wellness programs being offered in the workplace. We’re talking everything from stability balls and standing desks to weight loss programs and opportunities to work from home.

It seems now, that employers are constantly looking for new ways to kick their corporate wellness programs up a notch. And the trends are getting more and more creative with companies expanding the definition of wellness through offerings that are much broader - improving the overall quality of their employees’ lives.

Some things are as easy as implementing standing desks as the standard – the kind you can move up or down so employees aren’t forced to do one activity or the other all day. While the debate continues over the health benefits, no one can argue that having the option to change your form throughout the day helps with muscle stiffness, brain fog and calorie expenditure.

Opportunities to work from home have rapidly become a hot trend but some organizations are still reluctant to let go of that much visibility. For many, it works like a well-oiled machine but for others, it ends up being one issue after another. You really have to take the time to evaluate your staff to see whether or not, they can handle that much responsibility – it’s definitely not for everyone but certainly worth doing the research.

At the top of the corporate wellness trends right now is “wellness technology”. Some companies are looking for ways to put all of that valuable information gathered by all those fitness gadgets to work. By working to keep corporate wellness offerings fresh, some employers are using Chatbots to help keep employees on track with their fitness goals.

Then there are those forward thinking companies who are looking to bring on the latest and greatest wellness programs for their employees. For example, one organization has an in-house masseuse available to their employees while another has a built-in office sauna. Others are subsidizing DNA kits, creating nap rooms, implementing vending machines with healthy snack options or offering an on-site Happy Hour at the end of the day.

It goes without saying that the possibilities are endless. Since workplace stress has become the biggest epidemic to hit corporate America in recent years—it is worth addressing internally through some form of wellness program that will help employees regain focus and energy. When employees don’t know how to manage their stress, not only is their work affected but so are the people around them. And the benefits of making your employees’ well-being a priority are endless – it can help with retention, reduce absenteeism and workers’ compensation claims, increase productivity as well as save your organization thousands in the long run.

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April 20, 2018

Turn the Negativity Around

Some people just exude negativity. They gripe about anything and everything. Rarely do they take responsibility and more times than not, they see themselves as the victim. Through some combination of nature and nurture, negativity is their default response but that negative energy can be detrimental in the workplace.

If you manage people, you will likely encounter a situation in which you will have to manage a negative employee. Some managers have the innate ability to handle difficult situations but your team may lack the skill and confidence required to communicate effectively with someone who is negative and can be easily defensive which can cause conflict.

While communicating with these individuals about their behavior can be uncomfortable, doing so can help to eliminate the impact on other workers and this should be priority number one. It’s imperative to address the issue sooner than later to also avoid the spread of one person’s negative attitude to the rest of the group — ultimately affecting effectiveness and productivity. The last thing you want is to have team moral take a hit.  

Using specific examples of behavior will help the employee better understand where you are coming from and enable them to make some specific changes. You don’t want to lecture your employee but you do want to make sure you provide enough context to ensure they understand what your concerns are and what expectations you have going forward.  Also, encourage them to speak up as issues arise so things don’t escalate in the future. Taking an interest in their well-being by checking in periodically can also strengthen their sense of purpose and belonging. If you simply criticize their approach and don’t acknowledge their concerns, they will end up feeling like their feedback was unwelcomed and ultimately trigger frustration and more negativity.

Don’t take anything said personally and avoid becoming defensive. Keep in mind that most people don’t like constructive feedback even when given with the best intent. Anything can trigger a defensive response so practice what you will say and how – it could save you a lot of headache. A little compassion goes along way – it shows the employee you are interested and concerned about them as a person. There may be some things you can’t help with that perhaps have nothing to do with work but you can listen and sometimes that is all one needs.

Nothing is more challenging than trying to get negative people to respond more positively. However, dealing with issues when they arise and being clear on what those issues are while following through with a plan that addresses them can go a long way. It’s important to acknowledge the value of their perspective and involvement when they communicate effectively.

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April 10, 2018

HR Question: Workplace Assaults and Workers' Compensation

Question: While working, an employee assaulted his coworker in our California workplace. May the injured employee pursue a workers’ compensation claim?

Answer: Yes. An employee who is assaulted at work by a coworker may elect to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, he or she may also file an internal complaint, report the assault to the police, or pursue a civil lawsuit. Whether the workers’ compensation claim (or any other claim) will be successful depends upon the facts. For example, was the injured employee the initial physical aggressor? According to California Law, at Cal. Labor Code § 3600(a)(7), employers are not liable under the state’s workers’ compensation law for an injury that arises out of an altercation in which the injured employee is the initial physical aggressor.

Regardless, after an injury occurred in the workplace, California employers must:

  • Provide a workers' compensation claim form to the claimant within one working day after a work-related injury or illness is reported.
  • Return a completed copy of the claim form to the claimant within one working day of receipt.
  • Forward the claim form, along with the employer's report of occupational injury or illness, to the claims administrator within one working day of receipt.
  • Within one day of receiving the claim, authorize up to $10,000 in appropriate medical treatment.
  • Provide transitional work (light duty) whenever appropriate.
  • Give notice of workers’ compensation eligibility within one working day of the crime (assault) that happened at work.

It is not for the employer to determine whether the injury will be covered under its workers’ compensation insurance. Rather, the claims administrator will determine whether the injury is covered.

Another issue worth mentioning is that California employers are required to abide by a duty of care in the workplace. According to Cal. Labor Code § 6401, “[e]very employer shall furnish and use safety devices and safeguards, and shall adopt and use practices, means, methods, operations, and processes which are reasonably adequate to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful. Every employer shall do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.” Violations of this duty incur significant monetary damages.

Read more about workers’ compensation and the process on the State of California, Department of Industrial Relations’ website. Read more about workplace assaults and Cal/OSHA Guidelines for Workplace Security.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

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April 06, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Getting the Most out of Exit Interviews

Exit interviews can be an extremely effective tool when done properly. By gathering meaningful information from a departing employee about their experiences with your organization, you can make improvements that could increase retention.  

 

Presented by Glassdoor and hosted by Christopher Lee, this on-demand webinar highlights the proper execution of exit interviews and their impact on the business. Christopher is the HR Manager for Epsilon with more than 10 years of experience helping businesses to meet their goals through employee relations, performance management and organizational development.

 

You’ll learn why the exit interview is so important, not only for the organization but also for the exiting employee, current personnel and future staff.

Watch the webinar recording today!    

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

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March 30, 2018

HR Question: Electronic Summary Plan Descriptions

Question: Can we provide summary plan descriptions (SPDs) electronically?

Answer: Yes. However, just sending them is not enough to meet ERISA requirements; you must ensure the intended recipients are actually getting them.

Specifically, ERISA requires SPDs to be furnished using “measures reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt of the material” via “methods likely to result in full distribution.” Electronic delivery is one way to meet this requirement.

Any electronically delivered documents must be “prepared and furnished in a manner consistent with applicable style, format, and content requirements.” Therefore, it is a good idea to test the electronic document and make sure formatting and style are correct.

Unlike first class mail or hand-delivery options, electronic delivery does not work the same for all recipients. Instead compliance differs depending on whether the recipients:

  • Can access the SPD through the employer’s electronic information system (such as email or intranet) located where they are reasonably expected to perform duties: Members in this group must use the employer’s computer system as an integral part of those duties. This covers employees working from home or who are traveling as well.
  • Cannot access the SPD through employer’s electronic information system in their workspace (access to a kiosk in a workplace common area is not sufficient). This may include employees as well as non-employees such as COBRA participants, retirees, terminated participants with vested benefits, beneficiaries, and alternate payees: Members of this group must “affirmatively consent” to receive the documents electronically, provide an electronic address, and “reasonably demonstrate” their ability to access documents in electronic form.

Both groups of recipients must be notified of their rights to receive paper copies of the documents (at no charge), and reasonable and appropriate steps must be taken to safeguard confidentiality of personal information related to accounts and benefits. A best practice is for employers to ensure return-receipt or notice of undelivered mail features are enabled. Employers may conduct periodic reviews or surveys to confirm receipt as well.

Just emailing the documents or posting them on the company’s intranet or benefit administration portal is not enough. Each time an electronic document is furnished, a notice (electronic or paper) must be provided to each recipient describing the significance of the document.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

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March 28, 2018

Recruiting Trends in 2018

There are some hot trends in recruiting this year that HR professionals should be aware of as they will impact how you hire in the years to come. LinkedIn recently released its Global Recruiting Trends Report 2018 which details survey results of more than 9,000 recruiters and hiring managers from 39 countries – identifying diversity, new interview techniques, data analytics and artificial intelligence as being the most impactful trends.

Companies across the country have found incredible ways to bring diversity into the workplace by using such things as inclusive language to target diverse groups, showcasing diversity in recruitment marketing and utilizing staff member’s stories and experiences in the recruiting and hiring process.

Employers need to take a hard look the organizational culture and if necessary, work on building an inclusive one. Ensuring that employees feel accepted, included and engaged because even the most diverse companies lose employees due to the lack of diversity, inclusion and belonging. LinkedIn found that more than half of the companies surveyed already embrace recruiting for diversity – tackling head-on. They also found that the top reasons for focusing on diversity were to improve company culture and performance and to better represent customers.

Gender continues to be the main topic in diversity but age and disabled workers or veterans, are also high on the list of diverse candidate opportunities. “When different perspectives are recognized and supported, advocated, and most importantly, expected, I think it creates a more inclusive environment,” said Steve Pemberton, Former Chief Diversity Officer at Walgreens. “When you are recognized for bringing a different perspective, it leads to higher degrees of engagement.”

While the traditional interview is still wildly popular and the industry standard, it fails to provide a true assessment of the job candidate – under cutting the impact of more useful information and all too often resulting in a decision based only on a person’s looks and personality.

Forward-looking companies are exploring other means of qualifying candidates that include soft skills assessments (measuring traits like teamwork), job auditions (offering an opportunity to perform real on the job tasks), meeting in casual settings (providing an entirely different view of the candidate), virtual reality assessments (immersing candidates in simulated 3-D environments to test skills) and video interviews (allowing the ability to view a larger pool of candidates in less time). And other companies are taking an entirely different approach and hiring based on potential, not experience.

Collecting data is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s ever changing workplace. It can help organizations increase retention, evaluate skills gaps, build better offers and so much more. It provides the opportunity to better understand the reasons behind the questions we couldn’t before evaluate – filling in many recruiting gaps. Putting quality data to work for you can give your organization an edge above the rest.

Artificial Intelligence is a machine that is able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. They can understand verbal commands, distinguish pictures, drive cars and play video games better than we do. These software programs can move job candidates through the hiring process in far less time than it would take us to and removes human bias in the process. It not only saves time and money but also delivers the best candidate matches. Actual people are still needed to persuade and negotiate but the more you use technology, the more time you have to focus on building relationships.

Allow the data and AI to work for you while you spend more time investing in the personal functions of your job. If you don’t embrace change now, it’ll run you down and leave you behind in the years to come.

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March 23, 2018

How Employee Recognition increases Retention

Most nonprofit leaders recognize that employee retention can be a challenge and with limited resources, can lead to a lack of employee recognition. Nonprofit employees tend to have a passion for their organization’s mission—a sense of pride in their work and view their current employment as a career, not just as a job. So how do nonprofit organizations go about best supporting their employee’s goals and achievements?

Celebrating an employee’s career achievements by offering service awards is an effective strategy on multiple levels. Here are a few ways your organization can continue acknowledging your employees on a consistent basis:

1. Acknowledging reliability: While it can seem like a huge undertaking to implement a career achievement program, organizations that offer such programs are able to keep employees an average of two years longer than organizations that don’t. If the program proves to be effective, employees plan to stay at their current employer for an additional two years on top of that.

2. Reward accomplished career goals: According TLNT’s research, “81% of employees feel career celebrations help them feel appreciated for their work and found that 19% more employees strongly felt their current company cared about employees. Also, 18% more employees strongly felt they fit in and belonged at their current company if the company offered service awards.”

3. Encourage employee & culture connection: Recognizing an employee’s career milestone can offer an opportunity to connect back to the foundation of the organization. This can help employees feel that they are making an impact and doing their part to benefit the organization as a whole.

The benefits of a career achievement program will not only bring focus to your employees and their accomplishments, it will increase the overall morale of the organization and make your nonprofit a desired place to work at for future employees.

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March 22, 2018

Department of Labor Opinion Letters

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) had issued guidance based on inquiries from businesses about wage and hour issues that arise in the workplace through the distribution of opinion letters for five decades. In 2010, the Obama Wage and Hour Division decided to cease issuance of these letters and alternatively, decided to publish “Administrator Interpretations” of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) topics in its place.

Last year, the Trump administration announced that it would resume issuing opinion letters and began following through on its promise earlier this year when the DOL reissued 17 opinion letters previously withdrawn by the Obama Administration. Those letters addressed a wide range of topics from discretionary bonuses and calculation of salary deductions to administrative exemption qualifications.

Opinion letters are meant to guide employers and employees with respect to both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) laws by providing a better understanding of what is entailed. As noted on the DOL website regarding Rulings and Interpretations, “As part of the administration of the FLSA and the FMLA, interested parties may seek and officials of the Wage and Hour Division may provide official written explanations of what the FLSA or the FMLA requires in fact-specific situations.”

If you have a question about wage and hour laws that you can’t find answers to, requesting an opinion letter might be the way to go. It is important to remember that opinion letters are not binding but are rather informal guidance provided by the Department of Labor. A positive response can help an employer defend a policy in court while a negative response can get an employer to quickly change bad policies.

While the DOL can’t answer all employer inquiries, any clarity they can provide to employers in areas that are frequently unclear or confusing can be helpful—the hope is that the DOL continues to distribute these letters going forward.

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March 16, 2018

U.S. Economy Shows Promise with Employment Growth

Employers added 313,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent making the number of people unemployed the same at 6.7 million.

In February, the number of long-term unemployed was essentially unchanged at 1.4 million which  accounts for 20.7 percent of people that are currently unemployed. Overall, the number of long-term unemployed has been down by 369,000 for 2018. With the civilian labor force rising to 806,000, the labor force participation rate also increased by 0.3 percentage point to 60.4 percent in February.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons—referred to as involuntary part-time workers was changed slightly at 5.2 million. Also, these individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were only working part time due to their hours being cut or not being able to find jobs that offer full-time employment. In addition, the 1.6 million people that were marginally attached to the labor force only changed slightly compared to the year prior. With these individuals not being part of the labor force, they had either been available for work or looking for employment for the past 12 months.

The U.S. economy added over 50,000 jobs in construction, retail trade, professional and business services while Manufacturing increased by 31,000 jobs. Major industries like, wholesale trade, leisure and hospitality, and government showed little change over the course of the month. In February, average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents to $26.75, following a 7-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 68 cents/2.6 percent. The average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $22.40 in February.

This month’s job report highlights a winning combination of a large increase in job creation and a growing workforce revealing strength in our economy. In addition, the modest wage growth defused concerns that competition for workers was driving up salaries and igniting inflation.

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March 13, 2018

[On-Demand Webinar] ACA Fines Are Here: What You Need to Know Now

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun its efforts to collect on Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalties by issuing Letter 226J to non-compliant businesses. There’s a chance you may have already received one of these letters.

With only 30 days to dispute the letter, having an action plan in place and ready to go is critical in order to protect your organization from costly penalties that could soar into millions of dollars.

Presented by Equifax, the market leader in ACA management, this on-demand webinar reveals best practices for responding to Letter 226J as well as when and how to submit a dispute. You’ll also gain a better understanding of why you received Letter 226J and how the IRS assessment was calculated.

Ensure your nonprofit is equipped with a plan should IRS Letter 226J arrive in your mailbox and watch the on-demand recording today!

This webinar series is part of UST’s efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. For more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly e-News today!

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