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WageWatch Looks Ahead to 2013

 

The New Year began with our political leadership in Washington, DC finally reaching an agreement on a permanent tax cut for 98% of Americans.  No longer will it be known as the temporary Bush tax cuts. It was not pretty to watch, but it was instructive. It marks the first of many more compromises that will be made during the year to begin the process of reigning in deficit spending and stabilizing our Nation’s debt crisis.

What does this mean to the U.S. economy and to employment for 2013?  Essentially, it is good news. This should not be as a surprise for most of our readers, but it probably means more of what we experienced in 2012.  A slow growing economy with employers cautiously hiring for critical positions, while trying to understand how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obama Care, will impact their costs and employee insurance plans.

Most economists agree with this scenario of slow growth with the possibility of the economy picking up speed later in the year if the private sector gains confidence in the future stability of the U.S. economy.  WageWatch will have more to say about the economy and the impact it will have on this year’s wage increases for the hotel and gaming industries when we publish our Employment Forecast 2013 next week. The forecast is based on our survey of over 4,000 properties late last month.

Looking at other trends for 2013, clearly, the ACA has garnered the most headlines during the year.  As we have previously reported, if you are a small business with 51 or more full time employees, you will be fined $2,000 per employee, excluding the first 30 employees, if you do not offer insurance for employees that work an average of 30 or more hours each week. For small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, there is no penalty. Small businesses of all sizes are also not required to provide insurance for part-time employees. We are already beginning to see examples of employers cutting back on the number of fulltime employees by reducing their hours. Also, look for small businesses with more than 50 employees to reduce their workforces or change the structure of their companies.

One bit of good news is the IRS ruled this past Monday that affordability does not extend to fulltime employees’ families. Under ACA, employers will have to offer insurance that is certified affordable only to employees. To be certifiable as affordable, the premium for each employee’s plan cannot exceed 9.5 percent of their total household income. If the insurance coverage doesn’t meet the affordability law, employees will be offered tax credits to purchase insurance on their own. Business owners will then have to pay whichever is less: $3,000 per employee that receives the credit or $2,000 per employee, excluding the first 30 workers.

Finally, WageWatch welcomes our newest employee, Debra Anundson, who joined us on January 1st as our new Manager of Compensation Analytics.  Debra was with Interstate Hotels & Resorts for 22+ years, where she served in many capacities in Compensation and Benefits at the corporate office, managing all facets of their compensation, health & welfare and retirement benefits.  She created salary structures for exempt and nonexempt positions in all divisions as well as the corporate headquarters.  You can read more about Debra in the press release.

WageWatch, Inc. is the leading compensation survey provider for the lodging and gaming industries with over 6,000 properties in our database participating in its PeerMark™ Wage survey. WageWatch also conducts compensation surveys the healthcare, staffing and non-profit industries. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.

How to Avoid Antitrust Claims When Conducting Wage Surveys: Part 2

As stated in our previous post, we will now cover the proper steps to take in order to minimize risk when deciding to share wage and benefit information with a competitor. The safest course of action for human resource directors to follow is to not discuss wage and benefit information with competitors except in controlled and limited situations. The following is a summary of the steps that WageWatch recommends to minimize your risk if you intend to share data:

  • -Employers should act unilaterally about setting wages and benefits.  There should not be an agreement or understanding, written or oral, with respect to fixing, maintaining or stabilizing wages and benefits.
  • -The wage and benefit information should not be exchanged directly between employers.  This means no phone calls or round tables where information is exchanged.
  • -A third party should be utilized in order to make sure that no employer has direct access to each other’s data. Participation in a WageWatch compensation survey can be part of a defense against accusations of antitrust violations. The WageWatch Hospitality Industry Competitive Market Survey complies with all DOJ safe harbor guidelines.
  • -The information that is disseminated by the third party should be aggregated.  The ranges or averages of the wages and benefits cannot be disseminated if it can be related to a particular organization or a specific job.  This eliminates the once prevalent practice of tabulating the data for each employer in a spreadsheet format even if the name of the particular employer associated with that data was excluded.
  • -Each aggregated wage or benefit statistic disseminated should be a composite of at least five different employers.
  • -The disseminated statistics must be “historical”.  This means the older the better.  The aggregated information disseminated to participants should not reflect current or prospective wages and benefits.  Current is defined as wages or benefits that having been in effect for less than three months.

While the above is an overview of steps to be taken when considering exchanging wage and benefit information between hotels, consultation with your legal counsel is recommended before participating in any exchange of wage and benefit information with competitors.

For 13 years, WageWatch has been providing expert services across multiple industries and geographic markets with cost-effective online compensation and salary surveys. We are an innovative organization that is always on the lookout for new ways to collect compensation and salary data for surveys and wage reports, allowing us to expand continuously into new industries and markets.

Please call us today at 480-237-6130 or contact us online to learn more about our services.

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on September 5th, 2012 · Comments Off on How to Avoid Antitrust Claims When Conducting Wage Surveys: Part 2

How to Avoid Antitrust Claims When Conducting Wage Surveys: Part 1

Hotel human resource professionals frequently participate in professional associations, industry groups and other organizations formed to facilitate information sharing and networking.  Few are aware that such activity, if it involves the sharing of cost-related information such as employee wages and benefits, could give rise to violations of antitrust law or be used as evidence of such violations.

There have been a number of antitrust cases brought by plaintiffs in different industries regarding the exchange of wage and benefit information between competitive employers. Probably the two most noted cases are United States v. Utah Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (1994) and Todd v. Exxon Corp. (2001). While these cases dealt with specific industries, most attorneys practicing in the area of labor relations and antitrust look to these cases for guidance regardless of the industry.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have issued a statement setting forth an antitrust “safety zone” for health care providers who participate in written surveys.   They will not be considered to be in violation of antitrust laws if the following conditions are satisfied:

– The survey is managed by a third party;

– The information provided by survey participants is based on data more than three months old; and

– There are at least five providers reporting data upon which a disseminated statistic is based, no individual provider’s data represents more than 25% on a weighted basis of that statistic and any information disseminated is sufficiently aggregated so that it does not allow recipients to identify the compensation paid by any particular provider.

This statement gives guidance specifically to the health care industry.  To date, there is not such a case that has been brought in the hotel industry. Although, with the recent surge of labor organization activity going on across the country, our industry should continue to be cautious with regard to how wage and benefit information is shared with competitors.

In our next post, we will discuss precautions to minimize risk if you intend to share wage and benefit information with a competitor.

WageWatch surveys over 5,000 hotels, resorts and casino properties in the United States and the Caribbean. It was the first to leverage the power of the Internet to create the first of its kind, web-based wage and benefits survey tool in 2000.  WageWatch’s proprietary survey process enables human resources professionals to access the most up-to-date and accurate wage and benefits data and prepare custom reports based on their needs and requirements. For more information, please contact WageWatch at 480-237-6130 or contact us online.

 

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on August 29th, 2012 · Comments Off on How to Avoid Antitrust Claims When Conducting Wage Surveys: Part 1