Del Taco Faces EPLI Lawsuit over Alleged Pregnancy Firing

by Jaclyn Patulo19. September 2014 08:30

pregnant woman at work

In Gresham, Oregon, a former Del Taco employee is seeking $242,000 in damages from the company for firing her after she was noticeably pregnant, according to The Oregonian. Claudia Melesio-Rojas claims in fall 2013, the restaurant managers allegedly told employees they weren’t allowed to become pregnant. Melesio-Rojas filed a pregnancy discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Whether this is a legitimate case of discrimination or an unfounded claim, Del Taco now faces a pricey lawsuit. And even small businesses can find themselves in the crosshairs of a similar type of legal mess. Keep in mind that even if a business is not found liable, it must defend itself in court. And that costs money – lots of it.

How Does Employment Practices Liability Insurance Protect Your Business?

Say you’re interviewing applicants for an open position at your IT consulting firm, and you decide to hire a qualified young professional straight out of school. Another applicant, an older man with less IT security experience, files a lawsuit against your business, citing discrimination based on age.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance can cover legal costs when such a lawsuit is brought by prospective, current, or former employees. EPLI coverage can help pay for settlements or judgments and lawyer fees, which can snowball even if you aren’t liable for the claim.

Think of EPLI as a necessary safety net for employers. It can cover a wealth of managerial mistakes, including allegations of…

  • Mismanagement of employee benefits.
  • Sexual harassment.
  • Wrongful termination.
  • Discrimination based on age, gender, religion, nationality, or race.
  • Privacy invasion.
  • Emotional or mental distress.

Of course, you should always try to do everything in your power to create a safe and fair workplace. That may mean brushing up on federal legislature governing U.S. employment practices, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.

For example, EEO laws prohibit employment discrimination based on gender, which includes pregnancy status. To learn more, check out the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s site.

3 Ways to Minimize Your Risk of Employment Practices Lawsuits

The most even-handed small-business owners may still face an employment discrimination lawsuit at some point in their careers. That’s why you should…

  1. Establish and document comprehensive employee policies and practices. Write guidelines for worker practices, and review them frequently with your team.
  2. Keep an “open door” policy. Tell your employees they can share their concerns regarding work practices without fear of reprimand. All questions and activities should be fairly investigated.
  3. Don’t cancel your EPLI coverage. Employment Practices Liability Insurance is issued on a “claims-made” basis. A claim will only be covered if the incident in question occurred while your insurance policy was active and your policy is still in force when the claim is reported.

To learn more about workplace discrimination, check out our EPLI blog series

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Are You Ready for the Freelance Revolution?

by Susan Solovic17. September 2014 08:00

a studly freelancer

In sports, talented athletes look forward to the day they become free agents. They can shop their services around to the highest bidder or look for the best "working" environment. A certain basketball player, Lebron James – maybe you've heard of him – recently did that very thing.

In many ways, freelancers are the business-world equivalent of professional athlete free agents. This is especially true today when a lot of very talented businessmen and women have lost full-time corporate employment.

Freelancers are American's fastest growing workforce. And according a survey released by Freelancers Union, almost 90 percent of freelancers say they would keep their independence even if offered a full-time job.

Maybe this speaks to the desire to maintain a healthy work-life balance. But the benefits of freelance work don’t stop there. Freelance professionals enjoy…

  • Flexibility.
  • Schedule control.
  • Being their own boss.
  • Doing what they love.

The freelancing boom can be traced back to a "perfect storm" of telecommuting meets the Great Recession. We know that recessions always give a boost to the number of small business startups, so when the last one hit – after the Internet had made telecommuting effective and efficient – everything was in place to create a bumper crop of solopreneurs. (For more, read, “Temps Are Making a Comeback. Are They Right for Your Business?”)

The question today is: are you thinking about joining this revolution? If so, here are a few tips to help you start strong:

  • Make sure you have a nest egg. This will help you get through the lean startup months. As an alternative, you can piggyback a freelance business onto your current gig, and then transition to the freelance lifestyle as it grows. Not recommended: forcing a reluctant spouse back into the workforce.
  • Track down a couple "anchor" gigs. If you’re currently working for someone, ask if they want to keep you on in a freelance position for a long-term project. This could provide a sizable chunk of the new business you need to drum up. In any case, without a few steady clients, you will end up spending far too much time hunting down jobs.
  • Leverage collaboration and networking. Sometimes, there are gigs or elements of jobs that you can’t handle yourself. Develop a network of like-minded freelancers who you can turn to in these situations. They can also do the same for you. Not only will you get additional work through networking, but you’ll also be able to offer more services to potential clients.
  • Get insured. When you're a freelancer, you only have yourself to rely on. And when clients are unhappy with your work, they could try to recoup their losses through the legal system. Be sure to carry adequate liability insurance (e.g., Errors and Omissions Insurance and General Liability Insurance) to protect yourself.

One of the promises of the Internet was that it would liberate and empower individuals. The move toward freelance employment is one tangible measure that at least some of the Web's promise is being fulfilled.

Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. In addition to her work guiding small businesses, Susan is a NYT bestselling author, media personality, keynote speaker, and former ABC News small biz contributor. Follow her on Twitter, or visit her website, SusanSolovic.com.

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Genetic Engineering to Keep Workers’ Comp Costs Low

by Jaclyn Patulo15. September 2014 08:32

peach trees

Peach and nectarine growers may see the cost of their Workers’ Compensation Insurance dropping, as researchers are using genetic engineering to breed shorter trees, according to an LA Times article. These farmers typically pay 40 percent more for Workers’ Comp Insurance than grape growers because of ladders. Unlike the traditional 13-foot trees, the eight-foot trees will allow workers to harvest from the ground. According to sources, these “ladderless” orchards will decrease the number of accidents and improve worker safety.

That’s great news for peach and nectarine orchards, but what does it mean for your small business? In a nutshell, even seemingly small improvements to workplace safety could result in markedly lower Workers’ Comp premiums.

Putting a Number on Workplace Accidents: How Workers’ Compensation Premiums Are Determined

Maybe you’re not running a small family-owned peach orchard. Rather, you’re the owner of flower shop – so your workers don’t risk falling off ladders, right? But they face other hazards. Sharp pruning shears for trimming stems could cut a gardener’s fingers. Puddles on the floor from watering pots could cause a sales associate to slip and fall. The cashier could have a terrible allergic reaction to an exotic plant. And the list goes on.

When determining Workers’ Comp premiums, each of these risks translates into numbers. In total, the cost of your Workers’ Comp Insurance depends on…

  • The number of employees you have. Premiums are based on your gross annual payroll.
  • Experience modification and claims history. This compares your losses to the expected losses for others in your industry.
  • Employee activities and classification. Work classification codes identify risks associated with different professions.

And while you may swear up and down that you run a safe and risk-free workplace, chances are Workers’ Comp coverage isn’t optional. You can learn about your state’s requirements in our Workers’ Compensation Laws by State guide.

Save Money By Reducing Opportunities for Worker Injuries

Like the peach and nectarine farmers creating ladderless orchards, you can implement ways to lower the risk of injury for your employees. Genetic engineering may not be the answer for your small business, but technology and smart safety practices can be.

For example, say you run an IT business and your staff spends a lot of time typing away at the computer. To reduce repetitive motion injuries, you could use ergonomic office equipment, such as split keyboards and elevated desks.

If you own a hair salon, you might require stylists to keep hair shears in padded cases or holsters. You could also require that stylists organize hair appliance cords, which may prevent electrical hazards. You may even provide padded floor mats to ease back tension for stylists standing all day.

Construction professionals can don appropriate safety attire, such as hard hats and goggles.

You can also prevent worker injury by…

  • Creating and distributing safety guides. Prepare detailed safety procedures for your employees to follow while working.
  • Reviewing and practicing safe habits. Regularly train your employees in all your industry’s standard safety practices to keep the information fresh.
  • Replacing old equipment. Tools and equipment in frequent use need to be regularly checked and maintained to prevent deterioration and malfunction.

Even when you are mindful of possible hazards, accidents can still happen. And when they do, you’ll be glad you have Workers’ Comp to cover the cost of employee medical bills and replacement wages.

Need a policy? Apply online for free Workers’ Compensation Insurance quotes.

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Visual Marketing, Starring: You!

by Rieva Lesonsky12. September 2014 08:01

movie clapperboard

Do you ever join a webinar, listen to a podcast, or watch a video blog and think, “I want to do that!” Visual (and auditory) marketing tactics are increasingly popular. According to research from PewInternet.org, women significantly outnumber men in visual social media activity, which is good news if you want consumers to post and share your videos with their friends. Any business can take pictures and film short videos, but webinars, video blogs and podcasts are a different animal.

For starters, these tactics involve a lot more work than you may think. To do it right, you need professional equipment and help from someone who knows what they’re doing. If you try to do it yourself without the proper know-how or tools, you could end up looking like an amateur and convey the wrong image to your audience.

Here are some tips that can help you nail these visual marketing techniques.

Webinars

“Before creating webinars or videos, consider how they will fit into your content strategy,” says Candice Stennett, marketing manager at SCORE.org. “Develop a plan that outlines the purpose of the new content, how frequently it will be produced, and what resources are available to do it effectively.”

When should you do a webinar rather than just a video? If you want people to be able to ask you questions and interact with you, a webinar is the platform for you. The Adobe Connect Blog offers some webinar stats to keep in mind:

  • 51 percent of visitors to a site will end up registering for a webinar. Make sure your registration process is simple and the event is described in detail.
  • 36 percent who register actually attend. Make sure you send out reminders to those registered and include an Outlook calendar invite.
  • 54 minutes is the average time an attendee stays tuned, but most webinars last one hour. Make sure you announce a Q&A portion will be coming at the end so people stick around. 
  • 55 percent of registrants will view the webinar recordings even after attending. Once the webinar is finished, send a recording of the webinar to attendees.

“Before you start a webinar program, consider your budget for choosing a conference provider,” says Stennett. “The platform you use is a crucial element to your webinar success. The ReadyTalk blog and On24 Resource Center have some great educational resources around building an effective webinar program. Incorporate some of their best practices to avoid common mistakes.”

Videos

If you’re not looking for interaction from your audience – for example, you want to offer a demonstration – a video will work better than a webinar. For best results, you still need professionals (e.g., videographers and editors) to help you make it appealing and polished.

Your video doesn’t have to be as long as a webinar. In fact, short videos can capture a ton of attention because they’re easier to view on a smartphone or tablet. “If you’re interested in creating videos, there are many tools you can use to get started, such as Powtoon, Screenr, and WeVideo, to name a few,” says Stennett.

Podcasts

The great thing about podcasts is that customers can download the podcast and listen on their mobile devices whenever and wherever they choose – in their cars, while exercising, on a plane, etc. You’ll need professional recording equipment and software to make a podcast, and you should comply with the iTunes formatting requirements.

A better idea (at least in the beginning) is to find a partner company that already has the equipment and technology in place. Offer them your expertise for a podcast, and then promote the podcast on your website.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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Lessons from Ferguson: Does Business Property Insurance Cover Damage from Civil Unrest?

by Jaclyn Patulo10. September 2014 07:45

closed sign

Civil unrest stirred in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. Moved to action, residents gathered to protest the tragedy. But as the protest and tensions grew, some local storefronts were collateral damage.

As the world looks on at the news coming out of Ferguson, many business owners wonder what the cost of recovery might be. Does insurance cover damages from civil disturbance? All the broken shop windows, fire damage, and stolen property?

You might be surprised to know that a Business Owner’s Policy does indeed cover these costs. Let’s explore it in more detail.

How a BOP Can Keep Your Business Afloat in Times of Uncertainty

A Business Owner’s Policy is only available to small-business owners who meet certain requirements. It bundles together Property Insurance and General Liability Insurance at an affordable price. Because a BOP protects your business property against loss or damage, it can be written to include coverage for direct physical loss caused by civil unrest, such as theft, broken windows, fire, and vandalism. (Note: some policies need to be written to explicitly include glass window insurance for broken store windows and plate glass windows.)

But what if a protest happens right in front of your business? Police may block off streets, or conditions may be unsafe near or around your workplace. And each day customers can’t walk through your doors is money lost.

It’s a good thing BOPs can also include Business Interruption Insurance, which reimburses you for lost income or extra expenses when a covered event brings your business to a halt. However, business income coverage only kicks in if…

  • There is physical damage to the property severe enough that the business must suspend its operations.
  • There is physical damage to other property that prevents customers or employees from gaining access to the business.
  • There is a curfew or other restrictions in place by civil authorities keeping people away from the area.

Even if these conditions are met, most businesses must wait several days before their Business Interruption coverage can take effect. Check out insureon’s Desirable Coverages Checklist to see what other types of coverage can improve the safety and productivity of your business.

Understanding the Fine Details of Your BOP

A Business Owner’s Policy can include many different types of coverage to protect your business, but it’s important to understand what’s included and what’s not. Policies differ depending on the size of your business, location, property, and industry.

For example, your BOP may give you the option of two kinds of Property Insurance:

  • A named-perils policy. This only covers losses resulting from specific events named in the policy.
  • An all-risk policy. This covers all events except those specifically named in the policy.

It’s difficult to predict risks your small business might face. To help you get prepared, contact an insureon agent for advice on your coverage needs. 

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Susan Solovic’s Small Business Tip Featuring Barbara Weltman

by Susan Solovic8. September 2014 08:21

Susan Solovic, THE Small Business Expert, is an entrepreneur, attorney, keynote speaker, media personality, best-selling author, and former ABC News small biz contributor. She uses her expertise to help others run successful businesses.

Check out this video where Susan talks to tax attorney Barbara Weltman about what freelancers need to know about their self-employment taxes and home-office deductions. Full transcript below.

Insureon – Freelance with Barbara Weltman

Susan Solovic: Hi everyone, and welcome! I'm Susan Solovic, THE Small Business Expert.

Thanks for joining for today's Small Business Tip, and we're going to be concentrating mostly on those of you who are joining the freelancers’ revolution in this country. And many of you are working out of your home, so I reached out to one of my friends – and absolutely probably one of the best experts when it comes to taxes and legal issues for small businesses – and that’s Barbara Weltman. She is a tax and business attorney. She shares great advice and information to help you get ahead in your business, but also most importantly, to really protect your business. And I really encourage you to check out her website: it's just www.BarbaraWeltman.com.

One of the things that she has that I absolutely love is her “Idea of the Day,” which lands in your inbox with just a tidbit of important information to help you with your business. And she just told me she has a new book out. It’s J.K. Lasser’s Guide to Self-Employment. It’s all that information that you need about taxes to help you when you are now a Schedule C worker.

And Barbara, welcome. Thanks for joining me.

Barbara Weltman: Oh, it's my pleasure.

Susan: I'm just going to start off because I imagine a lot of people who are listening to us now don't even know what a Schedule C worker is. So when you're filing a Schedule C, what does that mean, Barbara?

Barbara: That means that you report your business activities – that is, the income that you earn and your expenses – on a Schedule C that’s part of your 1040 annual tax return.

Susan: Okay, so let's talk about taxes because, as I mentioned in the intro, there are so many people who are joining the freelancer revolution. They can't find jobs or simply it’s something they've always wanted to do. They get paid, and then, they just put that money in the bank. But there's a lot more they should consider when it comes to taxes because no one's withholding taxes for them. What should they do?

Barbara: Well, that’s a big challenge for people, especially people who used to be W-2 employees with mandatory and regular withholding. Versus now, they are what might be considered 1099 workers because the businesses that they provide services for will issue a form 1099 information return to them, as well as to the IRS. And it’s their responsibility to report their income and pay their taxes. And this is more than just filing a Schedule C. It also includes the responsibility of paying those taxes quarterly through estimated taxes because there is no withholding. And those estimated taxes include not only the tax on your profits – the income tax on your profits – but also your Social Security and Medicare taxes called self-employment tax. Which is really twice the FICA amount. Because, in effect, you pay the employer and employee share even though you're not an employer or an employee.

Susan: That's a good point and that surprises a lot of people. Barbara, if you're just starting out now, let’s say you’ve left your job and you’re starting freelancing just this year in 2014, how would you know though – how much to pay in those quarterly estimated taxes?

Barbara: Well, that’s a big challenge because you don't know what's going to happen in the future. You can always make adjustments, and there are certain safe harbors where you can rely on what you paid in the previous year to avoid any penalties. But the challenge is to make sure that you pay some taxes all along so that you don’t have this giant payment at the end – even if it's not going to be penalized because you have to come up with that cash to pay the tax.

So, what I advise is that you put a certain percentage aside, whatever you decide – whether it's 10 percent or 20 percent – of all the earnings that come through and put that aside so you'll have cash on hand when it's time to pay estimated taxes. And then as I said, you have to figure what those taxes should be. It may be wise to work with a CPA or some other tax advisor to help you get a handle on what you should be paying.

Susan: Great advice. Another question for you with freelancers out there, they're getting work coming in. I have a lot of people say to me, “Oh, I know Joe or Sally. I worked with them when I was in the corporate world. We're going to do this deal together. They agreed to pay me. You know, all is good. I don't need to put anything in writing.”

What would you say to that person?

Barbara: Oh well, you don’t want to find out at the end that there's a problem. You’d better address the issues upfront. And one of the things you can do, especially as a freelancer is, it's really advisable to structure your payments for the work that you do so that you get something all along – so that you're not left with a big bill at the end that you have to collect.

So, for example, if you're doing a project for a company, make sure that you get paid a portion on signing an agreement, a portion when a quarter of the work has been finished, or a certain milestone in the project has been completed. Again, this will prevent any problems later on about collection, and also you’ll have a regular stream of income coming in.

Susan: One of the things that I have seen personally is sometimes if you get a project with a major company, they want to know that you have a certain level of insurance policy to cover you if there are any mistakes or things made along the way. Can you explain that to me and why that's important for a freelancer?

Barbara: Sure. You may be required to have what's called an E&O policy, an Errors and Omissions policy. And you can talk to a commercial insurance broker, who can help you get the kind of coverage that you need. But basically, this kind of policy covers you for the agreements that you make so that if you make a mistake or you fail to do something that you should have done, the insurance will protect the company that you're doing the work for because there will be money on hand. And also, it’s a really great idea because many freelancers work as self-employed individuals. They don't incorporate; they have no personal liability protection. Having this insurance will make sure that the insurance pays if you goof rather than being sued and having your personal assets at risk.

Susan: Right. What is the old saying? An ounce of protection beats a pound of cure, or something like that, right?

Barbara: I think you nailed it.

Susan: Yeah, good. Okay, one more quick question. I get asked this a lot. So lots of freelancers are working out of their homes, should they take the home-based tax deduction, or is that a red flag?

Barbara: Great question, because I get asked that all the time. And the fact is that right now, 52 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are home-based. That’s a statistic that came from the Small Business Administration. And the IRS, just this previous year, instituted a simplified home office deduction option instead writing off your actual cost. Which I think kind of acknowledges the fact that so many people are working from home legitimately.

My advice to people is: make sure that you look at the requirements for eligibility to take the home office deduction. In other words, that the home office is your principal place of business and you don't have an office some other place that would prevent you from taking the write-off. And keep good books and records about any expenses if you're writing off your actual costs. In other words, if you're entitled to the deduction: take it, because even if the IRS should question your deduction, you will be protected. You will probably come out victorious. But more than that, I think that the IRS has backed off considerably on challenging home office deductions.

Susan: That's very good. We love to hear the IRS is backing off. So Barbara, thank you so much. You have so much information to share, so I encourage everyone, please, go to Barbara’s website. Once again, that’s www.BarbaraWeltman.com.

She has that “Idea of the Day” that I mentioned to you. She also has a great newsletter you should sign up for as well. And look for her new book, J.K. Lasser’s Guide to Self-Employment. She'll have lots more detail about this subject we've been talking about today, about protecting your freelance and/or home-based business.

Barbara, once again, thanks for being here.

Barbara: My pleasure.

Susan: And thanks for joining me, THE Small Business Expert, for today’s Small Business Tip. We'll see you next time.

Today’s Small Business Tip has been brought to you by insureon, America’s choice for small business insurance. Be sure to check us out on the web at insureon.com.

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Flexible Workplaces: A Small Business Dream (and Nightmare)

by Jaclyn Patulo5. September 2014 08:20

work with a view

Nearly 80 percent of workers want flexibility, according to a report by Georgetown University Law Center. And as a small-business owner, you’re uniquely positioned to give it to them. Why? Because you don’t have to adhere to the rigid structural restrictions that govern big corporations. That means that even if you don’t have the money to compete on salary with corporate employers, you could still win star employees by offering a flexible schedule.

Of course, flexible workplaces aren’t all good news for small businesses. Handing employees control of their schedules can easily become a managerial nightmare if you don’t know what to expect.

Flexible Work Arrangements: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

While workplace flexibility has many advantages, such as high employee retention and increased job satisfaction, it comes with its own set of problems for small-business owners. For example, you may have to combat…

  • Decreased productivity. Flex time or compressed workweeks may mean less work overall is getting done. You’ll need to keep your employees on track with clear goals and deadlines.
  • Lapses in communication. If you don’t schedule regular check-ins with your employees, work may be done incorrectly. Errors and Omissions Insurance can protect you when an employee’s mistake causes a client to suffer financial losses and seek compensation from your business.
  • A lack of control. Without all your employees in one place, you may not know how they’re representing your business. For example, say your social media manager works remotely from home. She posts something online that’s libelous against a competitor. Now you’re facing a potential lawsuit, and you’ll have to draw on your General Liability Insurance to cover lawyer fees and damages.
  • Technology failures. With satellite employees, you’re probably relying on smartphones, computers, and other mobile devices to stay connected. Any information shared online – even over secure networks – is at risk for data breaches. You many consider carrying Cyber Liability Insurance to help protect your small business from potential breaches. (To learn more about how your small business could be at risk, read the post, “‘No Business Too Small’ to Be Hacked, Says Security Expert.”)

Additionally, you need to decide which of your remote workers are contractors and which are employees. A worker is usually an independent contractor if they work independently, are paid on a per-project basis, use their own tools, and don’t receive benefits.

Most state laws require you to have Workers’ Compensation for workers classified as employees. However, the laws vary from state to state and may depend on your industry or number of employees. You can learn about your state’s requirements in our state-by-state Workers’ Comp guide.

Living the Dream: The Rewards of Workplace Flexibility

Though workplace flexibility may have potential problems, it’s an attractive incentive for jobseekers and can help retain current employees. According to research from the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, employers offering workplace flexibility can reap benefits such as…

  • Increased cost savings and profits.
  • Improved performance and productivity.
  • Increased retention and reduced turnover.
  • Increased job satisfaction.

All these factors can contribute to higher employee morale and a more productive workforce – a dream come true for your small business, so long as you make strides to reduce potential pitfalls. To shore up your safety measures, submit an online insurance application for free quotes today.

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Essential Insurance Policies for Employers

by J Easto3. September 2014 08:12

employer and employees around a conference table

Hiring your first employee is exciting. It means your business is growing and you need the additional help to keep up with the demand. But expanding your business comes with some uncertainties, too. For example, you may wonder what new liabilities you have and which insurance policies can address those risks.

Sounds familiar? If so, here’s your crash course in your new responsibilities from an insurance standpoint.

Small Business Insurance 101: What Coverage Do I Need?

Before we go over which insurance policies employers need, let's look at the three coverages almost every business requires:

  • General Liability Insurance. This steps in when a third party (non-employee) is injured on your property, suffers property damage at the hands of your business, or accuses your business of causing reputational damage.
  • Commercial Property Insurance. You need this to cover your buildings, equipment, and other business items.
  • Errors and Omissions Insurance (Professional Liability Insurance). When a client alleges your services caused them financial losses, you need this coverage to pay for legal expenses.

These are just the basics. Once you hire employees, you need employer-specific insurance coverage.

What Employer's Insurance Do I Need?

Once you bring new employees onboard, your liabilities change dramatically. Suddenly, you're responsible if employees get injured on the job because it’s your duty to create a fair and safe work environment. You must also follow the guidelines enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment. Plus, your business becomes responsible for any actions and mistakes employees make.

Being an employer is no easy task. To cover these additional liabilities, you can get two types of employer's insurance:

Workers' Compensation Insurance for Employers

Workman’s Comp coverage is legally required for most employers. You can figure out your requirements by looking up your state in our small business guide to state Workers' Comp laws. Or, if you’d rather have someone else do the heavy lifting, you can team up with one of our expert insurance agents who will makes sure your coverage complies with state regulations.

When your employees are injured at work, Workers' Comp can help pay for…

  • Employee medical expenses.
  • Replacement wage benefits.
  • Disability / funeral expenses.
  • Your legal expenses (if an employee sues your business over the injury).

The law holds you responsible for employee injuries and accidents at work. If someone gets hurt, you're legally obligated to pay their medical expenses. But when you have Workers' Comp Insurance, the insurance covers these costs so you don’t pay out of pocket.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance for Small Businesses

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) pays for lawsuits when an employee sues your business for…

  • Improper termination.
  • Harassment.
  • Unpaid benefits or overtime.
  • Discrimination.

Employee-employer lawsuits are among of the most expensive lawsuits a business can face. If an employee alleges you fired them unjustly, you could wind up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages – enough to strap most small businesses. An EPLI policy covers your lawyer fees, court costs, and damages you owe an employee.

Do Small Businesses Need to Offer Health Insurance to Their Employees?

Answering this question is difficult because it depends on the size of your small business. Most small businesses won't need to offer health insurance to employees. However, the Affordable Care Act requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer coverage or pay a fee for not doing so.

Insureon doesn't sell health insurance. However, you can visit the federal government's SHOP Marketplace to find health insurance for your small business.

Free Quotes on Employer’s Insurance

Whether you've hired your first employee or are still working as an independent contractor, insureon offers free quotes for all small business insurance policies. Simply submit an online insurance application to get your quotes sent right to your inbox.

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Insureon’s Small Business, Big Impact Scholarship Now Open for Submissions!

by Brenna Lemieux2. September 2014 08:50

woman at a university

Around the country, pools are closing, schools are opening, and the days are getting shorter. And while the end of summer may feel like a letdown, there are plenty of things to look forward to in the months ahead. For example, as of yesterday, insureon’s Small Business, Big Impact scholarship is once again open for submissions.

That’s right: any undergraduate student who will be enrolled fulltime for the spring 2015 semester can enter to win a $2,500 scholarship to help pay college expenses. We launched the scholarship last semester and are excited to restart it.

How Do You Win an insureon Small Business, Big Impact Scholarship?

Every semester, two students win $2,500 scholarships from insureon through the Small Business, Big Impact program. Here’s how you can be eligible:

  • Write a 500- to 1,000-word essay about how a small business has impacted your life.
  • Visit our scholarship application page, and fill out the application form.
  • Upload your essay in the box provided.

We accept entries until November 3, 2014. After that, we’ll send the essays to our panel of judges to pick two winners. We’ll announce the winners by December 5, 2014, and the two lucky students will receive their scholarship money in time for spring semester.

Tips for Submitting Your Scholarship Application

Before submitting your application, make sure you meet all eligibility requirements (they’re listed at the “official rules” link on the scholarship page). And remember: this is an essay contest, so spend some time reading over your work before you hit “submit.”

We’re looking for thoughtful accounts of how a small business impacted your life, so your insight and reflection on your experience is as important as the experience itself.

Past Winners of the insureon Small Business, Big Impact Scholarship

Interested in seeing who won the first round of the scholarship contest last semester? Check out our scholarship winners page to read about the winners’ experience with small businesses.

We look forward to reading this semester’s essays and helping two more students with small-business experience pursue their higher education dreams. Happy submitting!

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Best Practices for Reviewing Employees

by Rieva Lesonsky29. August 2014 08:29

an employer reviewing an employee

If you’ve never done an employee review before, the idea of telling someone how they are doing might keep you up at nights – even if you have only good things to report.

But if you’ve kept the lines of communication open throughout the year, nothing you say should come as a surprise. And if you use the review correctly, it can be a valuable tool that facilitates an honest conversation about the employee’s future, improves job performance, and motivates employees.

Ready to conduct your employee reviews with confidence? Try these tips on for size:

  • Do your homework. Hopefully, you’ve created an employee handbook that outlines employee expectations and describes your company culture. Refer to the handbook if it’s relevant (more likely in a negative review). Make sure to tell the employee where they’ve excelled and what can be improved. Try to create a review form that has measurable standards so the employee can see what they need to work on. Tip: Have each employee fill out a self-evaluation so you can see how they think they’re doing.
  • Be specific. Leave general feelings about performance and ability out of the review. Stick to the specifics. Don’t say, “You seem like you don’t care.” Instead, say, “I’d like to see you take initiative and offer your own ideas about how to improve the process.” Tip: Make sure you document all the specific tasks or behaviors that need improving in case you have to fire the person down the road. For more advice, read the post, “Small-Business Owners: What Happens When You Hire the Wrong Person?
  • Be honest about positives and negatives. You aren’t helping anyone if you gloss over the bad parts and only focus on the good stuff. At the same time, you don’t want the person to walk out of the review feeling picked on and uninspired. Tip: Go over the review with a spouse or friend before you deliver it. They can help you determine whether the review is too harsh or too nice.
  • Encourage feedback. Don’t do all the talking. Emphasize that the review should be a conversation. (However, if you don’t want the person to talk until the end of the review, say so at the beginning.) Ask the employee if they need clarification on any points you made or actions you requested. Tip: If the employee is too shy to talk, ask specific questions about each of the review points to get the conversation going.
  • Focus on the future. Make sure the employee knows what you expect to happen by the next review, and ask them to share ideas on how to improve. Tip: Set one or two goals that you would like to be met by the next review.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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