The Alcott Group   Good for Your Business ~ Good for Your People
    •  PEOs Proving Their Value
    •  What's New at Alcott?
    •  Did You Know?
    •  Alcott In the News
    •  On the Regulatory Front
    •  Subscribe

Welcome to the Spring 2009 edition of the Alcott Advisor. It's been a long winter, both in terms of the weather and the economy. However, we know better weather is just around the corner and the economy is at least showing some hopeful signs.

So, while the weather is somewhat predictable, opinions vary greatly on when and how much the economy will heat up. What is fairly well agreed upon is that there has been a fundamental shift in the mindset of business owners. There is a sense that things may never be the way they were prior to this downturn and therefore the rules of the game have changed. Businesses will have to be more structured, be more careful about how they invest their hard-earned cash and therefore human capital management will become even more important.

The message here is not one of "doom and gloom" but rather one of opportunity. All of us in the consulting, advisory or outsourcing space will be presented with more opportunities because more than ever, small business owners need our help. Our challenge is to adapt to our clients' changing needs and to provide ever more creative solutions.

If you have any issues or comments, call me at 631-420-0100 extension 313
or e-mail me at

Have a great spring season!    Al Anastasi

PEOs Proving Their Value During the
Economic Downturn

  Sometimes, it takes a dark situation to see the light. The economic crisis has taken a toll on every American and across all sectors of business and industry. Many businesses have already instituted layoffs, capital expenditures are down and sales are declining, in some cases, by as much as 50%. Business closings and bankruptcies are up.

For companies, finding ways to increase productivity, contain costs and build employee morale has never been more important.

Helping businesses achieve these goals are the strong suit of Professional Employer Organizations (PEO). In good times, the PEO's services are extremely valuable. But, in bad times -- in the face of stalled growth, declining revenues, potential layoffs and salary freezes -- they are essential.

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Did You Know?

  • The PEO industry is taking an active role in the nation's healthcare reform legislation. Advocating on behalf of small business owners who use PEOs, the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) hired well-known Washington lobbyist Cheryl Gannon as Director of Federal Government Affairs to represent the PEO industry's perspective on this critical legislation. In her role, Ms. Gannon stated that "Improving healthcare access is an urgent national priority. For the small businesses that work with PEOs, clearly defining the relative roles and responsibilities of the PEO and their small business clients will be critical to sustaining important health care coverage for millions of Americans."
  • The economy's downward spiral has caused an upward climb in workplace litigation. In an effort to address their financial woes, many businesses reduce their workforces, and cut salaries and benefits in ways which do not comply with workplace legislation. To avoid potential employee lawsuits involving discrimination, wrongful discharge, wage and hour disputes, etc., companies should seek counsel before acting in any of these areas. Moreover, they should balance even lawful actions which may be perceived negatively by employees with positive reinforcements such as employee recognition awards, no cost/low cost benefits like shopping, travel and entertainment discounts, and team-building activities involving feel good community service programs.
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On the Regulatory Front

New COBRA Subsidy
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), commonly referred to as the economic stimulus package, introduced a new COBRA subsidy intended to help alleviate the high cost of maintaining employer-provided health insurance for individuals whose employment was terminated involuntarily.

ARRA now provides a COBRA subsidy covering 65% of a consumer's COBRA premium costs for a 9-month period, leaving the consumer only having to incur 35% of their health insurance costs. The first 65% of COBRA costs are initially paid by the individual's former employer, who is then reimbursed by the government. It is important to note that involuntarily terminated employees who declined COBRA back to September 1, 2008 have now been given the option by ARRA to reconsider their decision in order to take advantage of the new COBRA subsidy. The subsidy is adjusted based upon income. Joint filers with $250,000 or more and single filers with $125,000 or more of modified adjusted gross income are not eligible for the full subsidy. The subsidy is phased out completely for persons with modified adjusted gross incomes of $290,000 joint or $145,000 single. Individuals will have 60 days after receiving notice that they could apply for the COBRA subsidy to sign up for the coverage.

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What's New at Alcott?

The Alcott Group is Named a Finalist in the Buffalo Niagara Business Ethics Award Program
The Alcott Group has been named a finalist in the Buffalo Niagara Business Ethics Award Program, part of The American Business Ethics Award (ABEA), which recognizes U.S. companies who exemplify high standards of ethical behavior in their everyday business conduct and in response to specific crises or challenges. The award was established in 1994 by the Society of Financial Service Professionals and "embodies the Society's 75-year advancement of sound business ethics in insurance and financial services."

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The Alcott Group Announces Chris D. Greene as Sales Manager, Oklahoma Office
The Alcott Group has announced the appointment of Chris D. Greene as Sales Manager, Oklahoma Office (Oklahoma City, OK). Mr. Greene is responsible for new business development in the surrounding areas including Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri. In addition, his role encompasses management of a wide range of administrative and marketing functions for the office. He brings to the position extensive expertise and a strong background in the insurance and employee benefits arena, as well as a proven track record in sales, marketing and the development of new territories.

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The Alcott Group, Western New York Division Announces New Human Resources Assistant, Shannon Mann
The Alcott Group has announced the appointment of Shannon Mann as a Human Resources Assistant in the company's Western New York Division located in Buffalo, New York. Ms. Mann is serving in the company's Human Resources Department with responsibility for a wide range of administrative and support functions. Among her responsibilities are: assisting clients and employees in various HR matters; coordinating and maintaining new employee and termination documentation; processing pre-employment screens; responding to and coordinating unemployment inquiries, filings and verification requests; assisting in the development of client employee handbooks and job descriptions; and assisting in special projects.

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Alcott in the News

  • The Alcott Group was highlighted in a Newsday business section covering story titled, "Bucking The Trend - Some LI Bosses Aren't Talking Layoffs" which discussed companies that "prize their loyal and stable workforce" and for whom "layoffs are an option to try to keep off the table when scouring ways to cut costs." Alcott President Lou Basso was quoted and featured.
  • Alcott's Director of Employee Relations and Counsel Dawn Davidson Drantch, Esq. was a prominent source in the Business First article, "Amended Disabilities Act Addresses Compliance Issues," in which she shared her expertise on the recently modified Americans with Disabilities Act legislation.
  • Ms Drantch also served as a media source for Long Island Business News' article, "Attention Would-Be Whistleblowers: You're Now Protected." The article discusses the new safeguards incorporated into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designed to protect employees of companies receiving federal funds where fraud or mismanagement is reported.
  • Alcott President Lou Basso was recently featured in Newsday's People on the Move and Long Island Business News' Newsmakers column for his role as the National Association of Professional Employer Organization's Leadership Council Chair for New York State.


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