President’s Monthly Update
How do you feel about the prospects for your business? Do things look good to you? What are you concerned about? What are you going to do about it?
Well, let me offer you a few ideas.
In the January newsletter, we shared with you that MSA had joined the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM). Again, AIM is the largest employer association in Massachusetts, and its lobbyists work in collaboration with its community of Massachusetts employers to improve the business climate and create economic opportunity by reducing the cost of health care, taxes, unemployment insurance and other business expenses; shaping state and federal business regulation; and ensuring a skilled and highly educated work force.
On the morning of the presidential inauguration in January, Rick Lord, AIM President and Chief Executive Officer, presented his annual State of Massachusetts Business address. I urge you to read his comments or watch a recording of them. I think you might find his remarks very thought provoking. If you don’t have time to read his comments, then the Boston Business Journal article is a good alternative. The points are self-explanatory.
As I am sure you are aware, or at least at this point I hope you are, Governor Baker’s proposed FY18 budget included a revival of the Fair Share Contribution. Recall the Fair Share Contribution that was part of Romney’s 2006 Healthcare Reform and was repealed in 2013 to comply with the Affordable Care Act. The FY18 budget proposal item is needed to close a projected $600 million deficit in the MassHealth insurance program created by compliance with the Affordable Care Act. But, do not be led astray by semantics. The proposal is in no way the former Fair Share Contribution. The current proposal includes a $2,000 per full- time equivalent employee fee (a/k/a tax) upon companies at which at least 80% of their FTEs do not take the company’s offer of health insurance (no credit given for employees covered through their parents, spouse, partner or otherwise) and that do not make a minimum annual contribution of $4,950 for each FTE. You are correct. This proposed assessment would cover virtually all workers in Massachusetts. If you want more information, read the AIM blog. And if want to do a quick calculation of the potential cost to your business, AIM offers a calculation worksheet.
So, on February 15, MSA invites you to an event for Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. The event will be held from 5:30 – 7:00 at The University of Massachusetts Club, One Beacon Street, 32nd Floor, Boston, MA. This event offers a tremendous opportunity to speak with the Lt. Governor about these issues and your concerns. I urge you to attend or send a delegate that can tell your story and help your business. The invitation is attached.
Our lobbyists continue to review the bills that were filed for any that may be of concern. The Legislative Committees have not yet been named. MSA will update you as considered appropriate
Some better news. Actually, very good news.
Last October, the Department of Labor and Standards (DLS) held a hearing on proposed changes to the TWRK regulations. MSA testified and expressed our ongoing concerns regarding the job order change notification provision and clarification of the definitions of the agency types and the professional exemption. John Ronan, General Counsel for DLS, asked MSA and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) to negotiate compromise language. ASA and MSA did that. The new language was accepted by DLS and went into effect in Mid-January. The revised regulations are available on the DLS website (http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/employment-agency/employment-placement-and-staffing-agencies-program/454-cmr-24-00final.pdf). In regards to the job order change notification, the revised regulations are more limited as to when a revised job order is required:
- Require new job orders where assignment changes involve new or special clothing, equipment, training, or licenses; where employees are charged additional fees (for example, for meals or transportation); where the name of the staffing agency, pay day, hourly rate of pay, or name or address of the agency’s worker’s compensation carrier is changed; and where changes to the assignment are reasonably expected to recur or continue over the length of the assignment and
- Require the staffing agency to refund an employee’s transportation costs when the employee goes to a job that differs substantially from the job order or when the employee is asked by the work site employer, during work hours, to do tasks substantially different from those in the job order and declines, choosing to stop working for the day.
These revised regulations are the successful completion of two+ years of continued and relentless advocacy on the part of our lobbyists, ASA, and several members of MSA. Thank you to all that were involved in this process.
We are thrilled that Barry Asin, President of Staffing Industry Analysts, will be presenting to MSA on April 4 in Woburn. Barry will be presenting on the disciplines of top performing staffing firms and their characteristics that are key to their growth. This session will challenge you to grow both your leadership skills and ability to stay ahead of the latest strategic trends that will shape the future of the industry. Watch for registration to open.
That’s a lot of reading but a wealth of information.
I hope to see you February 15.
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