The Alcott Group   Good for Your Business ~ Good for Your People
    •  HR Outsourcing in the Downturn
    •  Alcott's Latest Technology
    •  Risks of Misclassifying Employees
    •  Alcott in the News
    •  New Benefits for Military Families
    •  Subscribe

Welcome to the Spring 2008 edition of The Alcott Advisor. Spring represents an awakening -- an uplifting time when everything seems brighter and more alive. But for many, this Spring brings with it a worsening business climate. The challenge for business owners is to be able to adjust their strategy to deal with the different pressures they are facing. If they are successful, they will be stronger and, ultimately, better able to capitalize when the economy once again begins to prosper.

As always, taking proper care of the "people" side of your business yields positive results. Our first article discusses how outsourcing can help you accomplish this -- even in a tough business climate. Also, I hope the articles in this issue on changes to the FMLA law and the importance of understanding what constitutes independent contractor status are helpful.

If you have an HR-related question that you would like Alcott to respond to, please call me at 631-420-0100 or send it to me at and I will route it to the appropriate staff member. Also, if you have any suggestions for future topics or any comments related to current content, please send them to me as well.

All the best,  Al Anastasi

HR Outsourcing: Helping Businesses Weather
the Economic Downturn

  HR Outsourcing has proven to be an effective management strategy in good times as well as bad. However, in a tough business climate HR outsourcing really shows its mettle. And, it’s not just about cost savings either. In bad times you need to have an “all hands on deck” approach to operating your business. Core processes take priority and all available resources need to be channeled toward achieving your goals. HR outsourcing can free up valuable resources and time, while also providing peace-of-mind for both the business owner(s) and employees.

Face it, HR tasks are a major distraction in your business. They require time, thought, research, and lots of paperwork. And, you can’t just push them aside or hand them off to someone else. In most small businesses, the majority of HR tasks are handled by the owner, someone in senior management and/or by the finance department. Not only aren’t these individuals trained for the job, but they don’t have the time to devote to staying up to date with all of the changing regulations and HR best practices. Even an HR director in a firm with say 75 or more employees has too much unproductive work to effectively do their real job, which is developing and guiding HR strategy, employee development, recruiting and so on. They are mired in the transactional details of payroll, benefits and compliance.

Click here to read more

There Are Many Risks to Misclassifying
Employees as Independent Contractors

  Despite the many briefs on what constitutes an independent contractor, many businesses still aren’t getting it right and are incurring great risk by misclassifying employees. In an effort to correct the growing problem, the IRS actually created a new form in 2007. Form 8919 was to be used by individuals whose employers misclassified them as independent contractors. A complete understanding of what constitutes independent contractor status is something every business owner should have.

Basically, federal and state authorities use certain tests to determine independent contractor status. They primarily center on the employer’s right to control the individual in the performance of the job(s) for which he/she is retained. While there are no rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to determine independent contractor status, because this law applies only to employees, there are certain criteria which do factor in making the determination. The federal and New York state departments of labor each utilize several distinct factors to determine independent contractor status while the IRS has formalized its criteria under its “20 Factor Test.”

Click here to read more

There Are New Benefits for Working
Military Families

  The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been expanded for the first time since it was passed 15 years ago. Under the expanded FMLA, unpaid leave has been extended for up to six months for the families of wounded military personnel. Additionally, military family members will be able to take leave for “any qualifying exigency” relating to a family member’s call up to active duty or deployment.

According to Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, “The measure can make a real difference for military families that have made great sacrifices and are under enormous stress. It is urgently needed and long overdue.” President Bush signed the bill into law on January 28, 2008.

Click here to read more

Alcott’s HR Outsourcing Service Features the Latest Technology

  Like many other business processes, Human Resources (HR) outsourcing is enhanced by the integration of sophisticated technology. At The Alcott Group, many of its value-added employee services have been improved with the addition of new technologies. Here’s a round-up on some of these programs:
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are now utilizing the latest e-Flex Debit Card to pay for out-of-pocket expenses at the time of service. Alcott is working with an award-winning third-party provider to load employee elected dollars onto their debit cards to manage expenses and claims. Alcott’s FSAs, which allow employees to pay for certain medical and dependent care needs using pre-tax dollars, are now even easier to use. Employees are benefitting from having 24/7 Internet access to their FSA accounts and claim information, as well as their reimbursement claims processed within 48 hours of receipt. Additionally, by using the e-Flex Debit Card technology, they can present their debit card at the time of service and, if their provider is a participant in the program, their out-of-pocket expenses will be deducted from their account.
Click here to read more

Alcott in the News

  • Alcott's Western Division President Michael LaMancuso recently reminisced about his college days at the University of Buffalo in a Buffalo Business First article titled, "Anticipation high for UB's vision for the future," December 7, 2007.
  • Alcott President Louis Basso recently provided his expertise in a Long Island Business News Human Resources Focus titled, "Employment shortage forces HR pros to pump up recruiting," December 21-27, 2007.
  • An article titled, "HR Outsourcing: An Effective Risk Management Tool for Property Managers" co-authored by Alcott President Louis Basso and Executive Vice President Barry Shorten recently appeared in the New York Real Estate Journal, January 1-7, 2008.
  • Alcott Executive Vice President Barry Shorten's article, "HR Outsourcing Yields Gains in Productivity and Employee Morale," appeared in the January 2008 edition of the Hauppauge Reporter.
  • Alcott's Director of Employee Relations and Counsel for Alcott, Dawn Davidson Drantch was a primary media source for the Long Island Business News' article, "Turning Co-Worker Confrontation Into Collaboration," February 1, 2008.


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