Sub-Contractors or Employee?

 

Why Your Risk Just Went Up

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) unveiled a new standard for determining which employees are considered employees and which are considered contractors. Over that past few months, most government regulators have been cracking down on businesses that misclassify employees as contractors. These rules may make more businesses responsible for labor law violations committed by contractors and staffing agencies in wage and hour benefits.

Previously, employers were responsible only if they had direct control over working conditions. This ruling will impact temporary staffing firms which currently employ over 3 million people. In some cases, these “contractors” may be deemed joint employees.

Most State governments are cracking down on businesses that try to skirt the employee/employer relationship by identifying certain individuals as contractors. Here is a good test:

The six factors, or questions, in the “economic realities” test include:

  1. Is the work an integral part of the employer’s business?
  2. Does the worker’s managerial skill affect the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss?
  3. How does the worker’s relative investment compare to the employer’s investment?
  4. Does the work performed require special skill and initiative?
  5. Is the relationship between the worker and the employer permanent or indefinite?
  6. What is the nature and degree of the employer’s control?
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Board Liability

Church board members have been placed in a position of trust, and they have a legal responsibility to place the church’s interests ahead of their own. This duty is known as their fiduciary responsibility. If board members use their position in the church for personal gain, they can be sued as individuals, thereby placing their home and personal assets at risk. But the same laws that protect corporate board members in the secular world can also help protect ministry board members who are acting in good faith. CMI can provide your church with insurance protection.

The protection offered to board members of incorporated organizations can apply to liability arising out of injuries, contractual obligations, and other forms of liability created by statute. Consider these as part of your bylaws.

  • Prohibit board members from obtaining any personal gain at the church’s expense
  • Bar the church from doing business with companies that will benefit board members or members of their immediate family.
  • Limit terms of board member
  • Provide training for board members
  • Board members should not have sole responsibility for financial review and authority.

Members of the church governing board are responsible for guiding the church and helping the ministry fulfill its mission. Board members are held to a higher standard of accountability than others in the congregation. By placing the interests of the church above their own, they will not only better serve the church, but can also protect themselves from legal liability, fines and other out-of-pocket loss.

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How To Stay Safe In Construction Zones

construction-worker-569126_640Auto Insurance And Safety Update

All of us have come upon road projects and have been asked to slow down or stop. Roadwork can be frustrating, but it is a necessary fact for all drivers, whether you drive for a living, commute on a regular basis, or run the occasional errand.  Traffic fines double in these zones, so drive with caution.  Remember, the workers are there to make the road better for us.  They are just doing their jobs and are not trying to frustrate us.

If you get into an accident, your personal auto insurance will most likely cover you, depending on your specific auto insurance coverage.

In the past five years, over 4,400 people have died because of auto accidents in highway work zones.  The drivers and passengers are the ones most often injured. Remember,road workers are just doing their jobs.  Be kind and follow instructions.

Auto Safety Tips

  • Pay attention to signs and workers.
  • Slow down.
  • Calm down and don’t rush. Remember, the temporary inconvenience of a construction zone will pay off with greatly improved roads soon.
  • Workers, work vehicles, or equipment may enter your lane without warning.
  • Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit.
  • Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react.
  • Avoid changing the radio station, using a mobile phone, eating, or other distractions that can remove your concentration from the road.
  • Keep a safe following distance: Rear-end collisions account for 30% of work zone accidents. Keep a safe distance between you and other cars, construction workers, and equipment to help avoid accidents.
  • You may see flashing arrow panels or “lane closed ahead” signs. Merge as soon as possible. Do not zoom right up to the lane closure, and then try to barge in. If everyone cooperates, traffic moves more efficiently.  Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane at first notice of an approaching work zone.
  • When stopped in traffic, leave a safety zone between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit.
  • Do not resume normal speed until you see roadway signs indicating it is safe to do so.

 

 

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Subject: Take Steps Today to Avoid Slip-and-Fall Accidents This Winter

As winter continues, the chance of people being injured at your ministry after slipping on snow or ice increases. During last year’s harsh winter, slips and falls on ice and snow accounted for nearly one-third of all workers’ compensation claims in the Midwest that caused people to lose time from work, according to a recent report. Reduce your ministry’s risk by taking a few steps to lessen the chance of injury.

Start this month by doing a walk-through of your facility and grounds. Look for any potential trip hazards both indoors and out and determine how to mitigate them. This could include:

  • Installing brighter lighting.
  • Inspecting walkways more frequently during winter months.
  • Drying wet hallways and entryways to avoid slippery floors.
  • Taking a close look at stairway and handrail conditions, making repairs if necessary.

With a little awareness and planning, your ministry can prevent many of the slip-and-fall accidents that happen each year on  ministry properties.

Looking for more information to get started? Check out this issue of The Deacon’s Bench safety newsletter from Brotherhood Mutual. It’s full of hints to help you prevent slips, trips, and falls in your ministry, pluswhat to do if someone falls.

Brotherhood Mutual also offers these online resources to help you prevent and deal with slips, trips, and falls:

For more helpful safety articles, check out the Resources section on Brotherhood Mutual’s website,www.BrotherhoodMutual.com.

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Are You a Distracted Driver?

Have you ever driven drowsy? Texted while behind the wheel? Or reined in rowdy behavior from the driver’s seat, so you didn’t have to stop the church van?

If so, you’re not alone. At any given time, thousands of drivers battle distractions that threaten to take their minds off the road. Crashes involving distracted drivers kill more than 3,000 people a year in America and injure more than 300,000.

Your ministry can help prevent crashes on church trips by educating drivers about traffic safety issues and enacting policies that promote distraction-free driving.

Issue 1: Drowsiness
Ministry drivers may be asked to drive long distances on little sleep. This is often the case with youth group outings, which might require an all-night drive to reach a destination. Many accidents involving ministry vehicles each year are caused by drowsy drivers.

The policy: Always have at least one backup driver for each vehicle.

Issue 2: Cellphone Use
Using a cellphone while driving is one of the most common distractions drivers face. It’s especially dangerous because it can divert someone’s attention visually, manually, and cognitively, increasing their chances of being involved in an accident.

The policy: Require drivers to turn off or silence their cellphones while driving ministry-owned vehicles. Also, use decals or stickers to post safety warnings in your ministry vehicle

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How Can Your Church Limit Lawsuits?

Your church not only creates income for you, it may provide employment for other people.  Small and medium churches are subject to the same risks as major corporations. You buy church insurance to help protect your church for claims and litigation that may come from a variety of sources.

Remember, your business insurance can be designed to protect you from unforeseen accidents and lawsuits because of your business operations.  The government, customers, employees, and other third parties can sue your business.  Here are a few tips from business attorneys that might help reduce the chance that your business is involved in litigation.

Review all leases and contracts to make sure that you have addressed all your legal obligations, including insurance requirements.  We recommend the use of an attorney, and call our office so we can determine what is required of you for your business insurance.

Make sure you have a comprehensive employee handbook that outlines your policies and procedures. This should include a sexual harassment policy.

Provide training for all employees annually on your policies and procedures.  Effective training enables your organization to comply with all legal requirements, thereby avoiding costly lawsuits, audits, and fines.

Make sure your business complies with all OHSA laws and rules. Many OSHA standards explicitly require the employer to train employees in the safety and health aspects of their jobs.  Other OSHA standards make it the employer’s responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are “certified,” “competent,” or “qualified.

Address employee complaints. Employers need to have a well-publicized, specific procedure for employees to express their complaints without fear of retaliation.

Insist on thorough and complete documentation of supervisory decisions involving all personnel matters.

We understand that even if you do everything correct, you still might be sued, but that is another reason to have a well-designed business insurance program.

 

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Your Church At Risk

Here are nine areas to consider when developing a risk management plan for your church. CMI can help you identify and manage your risks through insurance and safety services.

  • Accident Prevention: Are your sidewalks well lighted, dry, and covered with non-slip material? Are walkways and doors kept free of obstructions? Are parking lots safe? Is playground equipment maintained?
  • Childcare: Do you use a paging or other system to ensure children return only to authorized parents? Do you do a background check on all of your workers and volunteers?
  • Fire Protection: Does your church have a fire alarm system and fire extinguishers readily available? Are your fire sprinklers maintained?
  • Transportation Dangers: Does your church own vehicles that are well maintained? Do you use volunteer drivers? Do they have adequate insurance? Are they trained to drive large vans or buses?
  • Counseling: Does your church (or the individual counselors) carry professional liability insurance? Do you have a policy that covers counseling activities?
  • Finances/Payroll: Are dual signatures required for all checks above small amounts? Are all church credit cards properly maintained and regularly checked? Are at least two people present when offerings are counted? Does your church file the appropriate tax forms for all employees, including W-2s and 1099s?
  • Volunteer Selection and Training: Does your church thoroughly screen volunteers who will be driving church vehicles or working with children? Do you supervise volunteers and train them in their responsibilities?
  • Security: Does your church have an electronic security system in place? Do you have a strictly enforced key monitoring system? Do you have adequate lighting around your doors, parking lots, and at the rear of your buildings?
  • Church Employees: Do you have up-to-date hiring policies? Do you provide ongoing training? Do you have a sexual harassment policy?

Disaster Hits Management

There are a number of devastating events that, should they occur, would create serious problems for your ministry.  These events can include floods, tornados, or other natural disasters. It is never too late to get prepared, and the first step is to build a disaster kit for you and your ministry.

We also recommend that everyone review their church insurance program, specifically your church insurance, to make sure that you have the right coverage in the event of a disaster.

A basic emergency kit should include the following:

  • Three day supply of food and water
  • Medications
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Flashlight
  • Battery
  • Basic tools
  • Solar power source for smart phone
  • Dust masks for every family member
  • First aid kit

Other items to consider

  • Create a personal backpack for each staff member
  • Have a pre-determined meeting place if separated from others
  • Would you need to build a shelter? Having plastic sheeting might help

Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, a week, or longer. Your supply kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

The America Red Cross offers more help,Here

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Are You Prepared If A Disaster Hits Your Church?

There are a number of devastating events that, should they occur, would create serious problems for your ministry.  These events can include floods, earthquakes, or other natural disasters. It is never too late to get prepared, and the first step is to build a disaster kit for you and your family.

We also recommend that everyone review their church insurance program, s to make sure that you have the right coverage in the event of a disaster.

A basic emergency kit should include the following:

  • Three day supply of food and water
  • Medications
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Flashlight
  • Battery
  • Basic tools
  • Solar power source for smart phone
  • Dust masks for every family member
  • First aid kit

Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, a week, or longer. Your supply kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

The America Red Cross offers more help,Here

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Review The Details

Contracts are signed in business every day.  Contracts can include property lease agreements, equipment lease agreements, service agreements, and employment contracts.  It is an important part of your business insurance and risk management program to review all contracts prior to signing.  We always recommend that you have an attorney review contracts to make sure that they comply with all state regulations.

Contract Hot Spots

  1. Hold harmless — A hold harmless agreement requires you to hold another party harmless for your actions. While this may be appropriate in some situations, we recommend you review this against your business insurance.  Your business insurance may have coverage limitations depending on the hold harmless language.  If you must indemnify the other party, limit the indemnification as much as possible. Negotiate the same indemnification for yourself.  An attorney can also help you understand unintended consequences that might arise from using, or agreeing to, a particular clause.
  2. Disputes provisions are often part of all contracts. Make sure that the provisions state that any dispute will be managed and settled in your state of operation.
  3. Confidentiality agreement. Many times you may be providing confidential information about your business or customers.  Consider including a provision requiring them to keep the information confidential and to secure the information in a manner consistent with applicable federal and state laws.
  4. Commercial or business insurance requirements should be included in every contract. If there is going to be any on-site work completed, make sure the agreement includes workers’ compensation insurance as well.

 

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