The Alcott Group   Good for Your Business ~ Good for Your People
    •  401(K) Plans: What to Know
    •  Habitat for Humanity
    •  Attracting and Retaining Employees
    •  What's New at Alcott
    •  Misclassified Contractors
    •  Subscribe
    •  SSA's No-Match Rule

Welcome to the Fall 2007 edition of The Alcott Advisor. As always, there seems to be no letup in the stream of employment-related regulations and rulings that employers need to deal with. As an example, in addition to the two compliance-related articles in this newsletter, a very new law (October 16th) went into effect requiring companies to have written commission agreements with employees who are paid wholly or in part with commissions. While we couldn't include complete details in this edition of The Alcott Advisor, employers should aggressively pursue compliance with this law. If you have questions about this, or any other issue, please call us at 1-888-4-ALCOTT and ask for our human resources department. I hope you enjoy the newsletter and feel free to send feedback to us at


The Alcott Advisor (AA) asked Alcott Senior Human Resources Representative Jeanne Anderson (JA) to share her insights regarding 401(k) plans.

AA - What advice would you give employers regarding the importance of internal communications to employees relating to their 401(k) plan?

JA – Internal communications plays an important role in promoting understanding of the Plan and its benefits, as well as encouraging participation in the Plan. Employees who hear about the Plan from their managers will know that their employer feels it is an important benefit. It’s easy for employees to get wrapped up in their day-to-day responsibilities and forget to enroll in the Plan or review their current elections to determine if any changes are warranted. This type of inertia prevents employees from saving and preparing for retirement. Internal communications can help prevent this from occurring.

AAWhat would constitute a good method of communicating information about 401(k) plans to employees?

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  Across diverse industries, a number one challenge for employers continues to be attracting and retaining employees. It is such a major concern that many companies are increasing their budgets considerably for employee recruitment, training and development. This was documented in the Mercer 2007 Total Rewards SnapShot Survey.

The Mercer survey canvassed executives from over 580 businesses across the United States and Canada. It found the following:
  • 88% of those surveyed cite attracting and retaining qualified employees as their most pressing challenge
  • 76% note that engaging their employees was also a critical challenge
  • 74% were concerned with how to keep their employees rewards and incentive budgets at an affordable and manageable level
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  In early-September, New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer announced the formation of a Joint Enforcement Task Force to address the matter of employee misclassification. Employee misclassification is defined as those cases wherein an employer improperly classifies an employee as an independent contractor or pays a worker off the books. It is the governor’s contention that this “misclassification” deprives employees of the legal protections to which they are entitled, including unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, Social Security benefits, tax withholding and minimum wage. Furthermore, he noted that these companies are competing at an advantage over businesses which properly classify employees and assume the financial responsibility of doing so.

Through the new Joint Enforcement Task Force, which will be led by the Labor Department, there will be a sharing of pertinent information, a coordination of investigations and enforcement actions, and education of the business community and general public. Governor Spitzer has asked the Task Force to provide a report on its actions and recommendations regarding changes in legislation or regulations on February 1st of each year.

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  There is a lot of confusion regarding how employers need to respond to the new regulations promulgated by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The “Safe-Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter” was designed to support the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) heightened stance on immigration control and enforcement. Previously, employers were advised never to treat “no-match” letters as an I-9 issue. Under the new regulations, they will be required to do so.

Dawn Davidson Drantch, Esq., Director of Employee Relations and Internal Counsel for The Alcott Group noted that the new regulation only matters if a business receives a “no-match” letter from the SSA and it does not require employers to “match” I-9s to social security numbers any more than the current state of the law requires it, unless the employer actually receives the “no-match” letter.

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The Alcott Group Shelters Habitat for Humanity Buffalo from HR Challenges

The Alcott Group has been selected by Habitat for Humanity Buffalo (HFH/Buffalo) to provide comprehensive Human Resources (HR) outsourcing services to its staff. According HFH/Buffalo President Ronald Talboys the tip to consider a PEO relationship came from a Business First of Buffalo news article in which United Way of Buffalo & Erie County’s Director Joe Roccisano stated that the relationship provided help in addressing rising health insurance costs.

“After I read the article which mentioned The Alcott Group, I decided to make a phone call,” stated Mr. Talboys. “My meeting with Alcott proved very productive and we entered into a relationship on July 1, 2007. As a result, we are beginning to achieve a reduction of our costs, while reducing potential liabilities associated with payroll, taxes and regulatory compliance.”

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The Alcott Group Takes First Place . . A Second Time in the Long Island Volleyball Association's Tournament
Proving to be the one to beat, The Alcott Group (Farmingdale and Buffalo, NY), one of New York State's most prominent Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) providing Human Resources outsourcing services, added another "First Place" victory to their achievements on the volleyball court. Just last month, the company announced that its six-member co-ed team had taken "First Place" honors in its 6:45 PM slot within the Long Island Volleyball Association's (LIVA) scheduled competition. Now, they are becoming the Yankees of the LIVA league with another First Place win on top of the last one and several other past top honors.

The winning Alcott team members included Alcott's Risk Manager Bob Byrnes (Captain), Senior Human Resources Representative Jeanne Anderson, Applications Development Manager Bill Mahoney, Office Assistant Doug Williams, former Alcott employee Paula Morabito and Jim Fagan, a friend of Bob Byrnes. Also on the team was the Alcott IT Director Tony Fantaci who is not pictured.

LIVA's mission is to promote the sport of volleyball by offering the best beach volleyball and indoor leagues, as well as tournaments and charity events throughout Long Island. For additional information, visit:


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Volleyball Tournament Champs!
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