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P.O. Box 1750, Cockysville, MD, 21030
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Business Protection Bulletin
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Adult Day Care: Prioritize Maintenance And Watch Everything Else Fall Into Place
Maintenance is just about your most important expense in the adult day care business. Making sure that you can hire the best possible staff comes first, of course, but maintenance is a close second. Put simply: Nobody wants to put their parents, grandparents, aunt or uncle in a care center that looks a little shabby. Putting a few extra dollars into your maintenance budget can make a tremendous difference.
Providing the best possible care and ensuring that your guests are happy starts with your maintenance budget. Keeping your facility in good shape and well supplied has to be taken care of before your staff can do their job. Adult Day Care Property Insurance is a requisite for covering big repairs, keeping you safe in the event of liability and so on, but the best way to protect your business, to make sure that you keep your rates low, is with a clean, safe, well-kept environment.
This is the foundation for everything else. If someone presses charges against you for any reason at all, a poorly maintained facility is not going to do you any favors. Your guests are less likely to suffer any sort of injuries or illnesses in the first place if you make sure that your facility is in great condition. It is of the utmost importance to keep your facility well-maintained, and to make sure that it looks that way.
Of course, working pipes take precedence over new wallpaper, but peeling, faded wallpaper is going to cost you some customers. Think of cosmetic maintenance as part of your marketing budget. If word gets around that your place looks lousy, well, that's a little depressing. Families looking for an adult day care center are going through a difficult time. You can score five stars out of five on everything else, but if your facility has a depressing atmosphere, word is going to get around, and people aren't even going to bother coming by for a tour.
In the long term, proper maintenance means fewer serious damages. Replace a leaky pipe now and you don't have to replace a moldy ceiling a few months from now. So taking good care of your place means lower insurance premiums and a slimmer chance of your insurer having to cover a liability claim for you. In the immediate term, better care for your facility just means happier customers, healthier guests, and just plain better business overall.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Layoffs and Your Insurance Risks
One of the most difficult aspects of running a business is the hiring and firing of employees. In particular, firing or terminating an employee can be a complex issue regardless of the circumstances involved. Proper handling is necessary in order to prevent the employee from harboring hard feelings against the company. Furthermore, in this situation the employee may develop a plan to find employment elsewhere. It is imperative for the business to handle the termination delicately to prevent the worst from happening, namely a lawsuit filed against the company by the ex-employee. Even for businesses that use “at-will” employment, this risk is not fully alleviated. “At-will” employees are just as dangerous as contracted employees.
When either the employee or the company can terminate employment at any time and for any reason, unless that reason is illegal, the phrase “termination-at-will” is used to describe this situation. This clause is important protection against the potential lawsuit of the employee. That does not mean that employers can let their guard down, however.
In the jurisdictions where termination-at-will applies, employers need to tread very carefully to avoid putting the employee’s at-will status in danger. An example application of this principle would be if the employer gave the employee verbal assurances that their job was secured. If the employee is later fired, this could be grounds for a lawsuit, since the verbal assurances directly contradicted their at-will status.
If performance issues are at the forefront, the employer cannot simply fire the employee. First, they must schedule a comprehensive evaluation meeting with the employee and go over exactly where the employee is failing to meet their standards and what can be done about it. The two key components of this meeting must be a set of goals that the employee considers attainable and a reasonable time frame in which to achieve those goals. Crucial to the success of this meeting is the understanding that the employee will be terminated if they cannot meet these goals within the time frame.
It cannot be emphasized enough that this is the key protection the company has against a lawsuit. To finalize this protection, an action plan that documents the goals and the time frame must be created and signed by both the employee and the employer. Until the goals are met or until it becomes clear that the employee cannot or will not meet them, the employer must monitor the employee’s progress. Satisfying these constraints provides firm legal ground for the termination of an employee, since that termination can be shown to be fair and the last resort.
Aside from job performances, the other two issues affecting termination lawsuits are termination based on misconduct and termination based on layoffs. If misconduct is at the forefront, the employer needs to marshal evidence that they did, in fact, conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation of the employee’s conduct. This investigation must be of a fact-finding nature that determines whether the employee violated any behavioral conduct standards. The employer must avoid trying to find out if the employee violated the law; only possible violations of company policy are the purpose.
When an employee is laid off, the layoff procedure must comply with the stipulations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act or WARN Act or the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act or OWBPA. Companies with 100 or more employees are subject to the constraints of the WARN Act. There is a time limit associated with the WARN Act: they do not cover employees who have worked less than six months at the company, or employees that work fewer than twenty hours per week.
If the worker is laid off due to age-related concerns, the employer must seek an agreement from the employee that the employee will not sue for age discrimination. Under the OWBPA, there are stringent constraints for age discrimination claim waivers. Previous court cases have handed down rulings that these stipulations are unqualified and meant to be applied exactly as written.
Contact our office today for information about the Business insurance products that can help to protect your company against employment-related risks.
This article should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with the issues and laws of your state before taking any action.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Covering Your Non-Profit and Volunteer Workers
The challenge in running a non-profit is that it still takes money and resources. Just because you're not interested in getting rich off of this idea doesn't mean that money is not an issue. If a worker suffers an injury on the job, their compensation has to come from somewhere.
Something that may come as a surprise to many: Volunteers are not typically covered by worker's compensation policies. In more states than not, worker's compensation only covers, well, workers. If you are paying actual employees at food banks workers’ compensation insurance will cover their injuries. Likewise Meals on Wheels insurance policy will cover the organization's workers. If you're working with unpaid volunteers this is not the case.
Your volunteers may wind up covered by a general liability claim, but this is not always the case. If you want to make sure that your people are covered no matter what, then you're probably going to have to bring them in as paid employees, or at the very least, under an internship program that includes medical and worker's compensation benefits and so on.
A problem with relying exclusively on volunteers for your workforce is that you don't really get to pick your staff from the best and brightest. Many who volunteer will bring their A-game, they will take the task just as seriously as they would take their dayjob. This isn't always the case, unfortunately, and without any payment or compensation or even the safety net of worker's compensation to draw talent, you wind up taking what you can get.
Non-profit doesn't mean nobody gets paid. Non-profits are usually devoted to a humanitarian cause and their primary concern is not making anybody rich, but making a difference, but that doesn't mean that everyone involved is simply donating time and resources without compensation. Typically you're going to have benefactors and other income streams that will allow you to hire qualified people for your food bank, and provide them with the appropriate coverage they need in order to provide them, and you, with peace of mind.
To put it bluntly: a volunteer force is a great idea in concept. In reality, you're asking some of the kindest, most generous people in the world to foot the bill themselves if they get hurt on the job. That's a recipe for, if not a lawsuit, at least a guilty conscience. The most effective way to make a difference in the long term is to get some money behind your cause and treat your workers like you would paid employees at any other business.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Why Do You Need Business Insurance?
Most business owners would agree that it’s important to maintain insurance to protect business assets. When they think about insurance, business owners generally consider protection against hazards such as fire, flood or theft at their company sites. This is obviously an important protection to have. However, there are other types of hazards that may not be quite as high on the list, but protection could be every bit as important to offset significant financial losses. Here are five examples that underscore the need for comprehensive business insurance protection:
Company vehicle contents
If you operate a business with employees on the road making service calls to customers, chances are there is valuable equipment contained in the company vehicles. But a typical auto insurance policy would probably not cover the contents of a company vehicle if that valuable equipment is lost or stolen.
Tenant property improvement insurance
Do you rent space to conduct your business? Have you built out the interior of your space or made improvements to accommodate your business needs? If so, you probably made a considerable investment in the improvements. But many property insurance policies don’t include the value of the improvements made by a tenant to the existing structure. If you’ve invested in improvements, it’s worth taking a look at securing coverage to protect it.
Home-based business equipment
More and more people are working at home at least part of the time, even if they maintain an office or site elsewhere. Most don’t have insurance on the business equipment they keep at home; many assume their homeowner’s insurance would cover it. However, homeowner’s insurance generally does not cover business equipment. If you have expensive business equipment at home, you may want to consider purchasing additional protection.
Business interruption insurance
Remember the series of hurricanes that hit Florida? The wild fires that damaged cities and towns in California? The flooding that disrupted life in the Midwest? In addition to the effect that disasters have on individuals, they can bring businesses to a standstill for weeks or even months. Business interruption insurance can provide a way to get back on your feet.
Key person insurance
In many companies, the knowledge and skills of a single person or a top few are absolutely essential to the enterprise’s success. Key person insurance can help a company recover if an essential employee dies or becomes disabled for a lengthy time. The coverage can provide needed funds that allow the company to continue operating during a search for a successor or until the key employee returns.
As you can see, there are many hazards businesses face that aren’t covered under a typical insurance policy. However, you can get extra protection with the types of coverage outlined here. Since you invest so much time, money and effort into your business, it pays to make sure you have the protection you need. Call us for a consultation today!
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
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