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Employee Matters Bulletin
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Do You Need Insurance For Your Side Gig?
Start a side business making birthday cakes, doing tax returns or playing guitar at weddings, and you bring in extra money and pursue your passion. Your homeowner's, renters, auto and personal insurance policies might not cover your business venture, though. Learn more as you protect yourself and pursue your side gig.
What are the Risks of a Side Gig?
You may have thought of the financial risks of starting a side gig and considered how much time it would take. But there are other risks you need to consider depending on what type of business you run. Possible risks include:
You store sensitive client information on your laptop, and it's stolen.
The UPS driver delivers a business package to your front door, slips on the steps and breaks her foot.
Your dog bites a client's hand during a consultation in your home office.
Someone has an allergic reaction to the birthday cake you bake.
You're in a car accident while delivering products to a client.
A broken water pipe destroys the inventory you store in a spare closet.
A promotional picture on your website features people who did not give you permission to use their photos.
These are only a few possible scenarios of things that can go wrong when you operate a business from your home. In these circumstances, you are liable for damages, including medical payments. Without the right insurance, you could face a lawsuit or bills that put you out of business and jeopardize your home, vehicle and other assets. Business insurance provides you with a layer of protection and gives you peace of mind.
How Much Does Business Insurance Cost?
The average business policy costs between $300 and $500 per year. Your specific business, inventory and assets determine how much coverage you'll need and what the policy will cost.
What if You've Got a Sharing Gig?
Maybe you drive for Uber or have your home listed on Airbnb. Find out if your personal insurance policy covers liability if someone is injured while riding in your car or has valuable jewelry stolen while spending the night in your home. You may not have adequate liability, medical payments, comprehensive or collision coverage in your current policies.
In these cases, research a rider or endorsement. It's an add-on policy that boosts your current coverage and protects you in case something goes wrong.
While operating a side gig might be a good fit for you, make sure you and your business are insured. Spend time discussing your needs with your insurance agent, and invest in the right insurance for your side gig.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Facts to Know Before You Hire a Domestic Laborer
A domestic laborer makes your home life easier. You could also land you in hot water with the IRS or face expensive liability bills, though, if you don't follow certain laws. Whether you hire a nanny, gardener or cook, understand several facts before you hire a domestic employee.
Who's Considered a Domestic Laborer?
Domestic laborers or domestic service workers provide a service around your private home. They may live with you or live in their own homes and can work as:
Home health aides
Personal care aides
What Wages do you Have to Pay a Domestic Laborer?
Federal laws require you to pay a domestic laborer minimum wage for up to 40 hours of work per week. Overtime pay is one-and-a-half times the current minimum wage in most cases.
Is Your Domestic Laborer an Employee or an Independent Contractor?
A domestic laborer could be considered an employee or an independent contractor. You have to know the difference to ensure you remain compliant with labor laws.
Works solely for you
Follows your directions for the work day
Uses your tools and equipment
Relies on you to prepare the payroll, withhold taxes and carry liability, Worker's Comp and other insurance coverage.
Before you hire an employee, get an employer identification number at www.irs.gov. Also, check the individual's immigration documents and verify that the person is legally eligible and authorized to work in the United States. An independent contractor:
May work for multiple clients
Owns and uses his or her own tools and equipment
Bills you for the hours worked
Carries their own insurance and pays their own taxes
You need no special paperwork or permission to hire an independent contractor.
What are Your Alternatives to Hiring a Domestic Laborer?
Because employment laws are complicated and carry heavy fines for non-compliance, consider two options.
Hire a company. You pay the company, and it sends qualified workers to your home. The company also handles payroll and pays for insurance coverage and employment taxes.
Go through an agency. As a third-party, an agency vets potential individuals who can perform services for you. You may choose the individual who works in your home and pay the agency. In most cases, the agency will take care of the payroll, taxes and insurance paperwork.
A domestic laborer assists you in your home, but you need to understand the laws and guidelines before you hire someone. Talk with your insurance agent, too, to ensure you have adequate coverage for your domestic helper.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
What You Can do About a Wrongful Termination
As an employee, you work at will. That means you are free to leave your job whenever you want. You also can be fired without notice or cause. Despite this truth, you can't be fired for an illegal reason. Know your employee rights in case you face a wrongful termination.
Read Your Employment Contract
Both you and your employer must honor the employment contract, including any part that suggests you are not an "at-will" employee. For instance, your contract might state that you can be fired if you do not achieve certain sales quotas or other benchmarks. Get fired for any other reason, and you may have grounds to file a wrongful termination suit.
Illegal Reasons for Terminating an Employee
Your employer cannot fire you for these reasons.
Whistle blowing - In certain cases, you can violate your employment contract and be protected from termination. Examples of whistle blowing include informing an employer about sexual harassment, seeking to form a labor union, informing a federal agency of violations by your employer or participating in an official investigation of your employer's practices.
Discrimination - You cannot be fired because of your race, age, national origin, ethnic background, gender, disability, pregnancy or religion.
Violation of employee protection laws - Your employer cannot legally fire you if the termination violates OSHA guidelines or the National Labor Relations Act. Also, you are protected from termination if you sit on a jury, take medical leave, serve in the military or take time off work to vote.
If you believe you're fired for one of these reasons, take action.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) needs written documentation of a wrongful termination. Write down as many details as possible that support your case, including dates, times, locations and people involved. You should also keep written performance reviews and any disciplinary notices you receive.
File an Official Complaint
Your next step is to file an official complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Follow the time limit guidelines or your case will automatically be dismissed. If your case is merited, you can file an EEOC Charge of Discrimination form. The EEOC will then interview your former employer and attempt to settle the complaint.
Hire a Lawyer
While the EEOC handles most wrongful termination claims, investigations can take up to three years. You may decide to hire a law professional who will evaluate your wrongful termination claim, assist you in assembling proof of your case, file necessary paperwork and negotiate with your former employer.
Wrongful terminations are illegal. Understand your rights as an employee and the steps you should take if you believe you're the victim of a wrongful termination.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
7 Ways to be a Team Player at Work
Most employers appreciate team players who put the goals and interests of the company and their coworkers before their own agenda. As a team player, you'll also enjoy your job and coworkers more as you learn to play nice. Here are seven ways to become a team player at your job.
Group projects typically rely on everyone doing their assigned tasks. If you procrastinate, the entire team must wait for you, and the company could suffer. Make every effort to meet deadlines as you show that you're dependable, reliable and trustworthy.
It's a good idea to avoid discussing personal political views as you build camaraderie at work, but look out for office politics, too. Don't get sucked into gossip sessions, avoid attempts to sabotage others and stay out of power struggles. By being neutral, you see all sides, make smarter decisions and maintain your ability to work well with everyone.
In the past, company culture viewed team players as the employees who did their jobs without asking questions. Today, many employers prefer employees who are willing to step up and be candid. That means you can offer constructive criticism and make helpful suggestions that support the organization as a whole.
Everyone loves a coworker who's active and gets things done. Being active doesn't mean you do all the work, but you are willing to pitch in when you see a need, step up and help as necessary and take a leadership role.
The workplace as a whole is becoming increasingly diversified and globalized. You'll stand out as a team player if you can accept and handle change. Consider how you collaborate with team members from another location or learn new technology. If you embrace change and accept it, you'll become known as a team player.
Check Your Attitude
The way you think about your coworkers affects how you treat them and your status as a team player. Instead of approaching coworkers with mistrust, negativity or pessimism, assume from the start that your teammates are capable, engaged and dependable.
Appreciate Unique Work Styles
Everyone works differently. Instead of demanding that your coworkers act like you, study your coworkers' unique work styles. You can then accept what each person brings to the table, appreciate different contributions and create a well-rounded team that works well together and gets things done.
Being a team player goes a long way toward creating a productive and pleasant work environment. What can you change to ensure you're being a team player?
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
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