AccessPoint can help reduce HR liability exposures

TRAVERSE CITY – Running a small business is a really big job. It requires more than a good business idea and the courage to pursue it; it also requires compliance with myriad laws and regulations and proper human resources management.

According to government sources, most small businesses are operating without an adequately trained human resources staff, and many of those, without anyone at all.

The Small Business Association estimates that business owners spend up to 25% of their time handling employee-related paperwork alone.

And according to AccessPoint, a professional employer organization (PEO), on average, the small-business entrepreneur is interrupted during their daily tasks once every nine minutes to attend to matters related to personnel.

AccessPoint has three locations in Michigan: Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Southfield. AccessPoint is essentially an outsourced human resources department that specializes in helping small to medium sized companies in multiple areas of human resources, including payroll, employee relations, unemployment administration, benefits and safety.

AccessPoint started serving clients in the Traverse City area in February of 2003 from the office in Grand Rapids. In October of 2003, an office in Traverse City was established to provide on-site services to client companies in the area.

A professional employer organization such as AccessPoint works in a multifaceted way. The PEO, a worksite employee, and a client company have a relationship in which both the PEO and client company have an employment relationship with the worker. The PEO and client company contractually allocate some and share other traditional employer responsibilities and liabilities. The PEO assumes responsibility and liability for the “business of employment” such as risk management, personnel management, human resource compliance, and payroll and employee tax compliance. The client company manages product development and production, marketing, sales, and service. The PEO assumes and establishes an employment relationship with the worksite employee and provides a complete human resource and employee benefit package.

Greg Packer, Chief Executive Officer of AccessPoint, sees a number of major benefits of using a professional employer organization like AccessPoint.

“I think there are several major benefits provided and they fall into three categories. The first would be benefits for the worksite employees, the second would be benefits for the client company management, and finally the benefits to the shareholders/owners of the client company.”

Packer points out that the employees of a business using the services of a PEO will have better access to benefits. Even if the ownership of the employee’s client location chooses not to offer some benefits, many are still available for employees to purchase via payroll deduction.

AccessPoint provides a service person that is dedicated to supporting employees with answers to questions on the 401K, benefits, as well as compliance issues such as COBRA & FMLA. As an added bonus, AccessPoint codifies all of the work-related rules into a concise handbook so that employees are clear on job responsibilities and company expectations.

For the company’s management personnel, AccessPoint can provide a support staff giving management access to human resources related expertise for hiring, firing, training, safety, and other compliance related concerns.

Packer adds, “We bring new concepts and solutions to the table to help reduce employment-related liability exposures. These managers are not typically comfortable consulting their labor lawyer on day to day matters; it also would get very expensive. But since we are available as an employment partner, they do consult with us and often we are able to provide preventative medicine style suggestions. Finally, we provide a powerful Internet-based human resources and payroll information system that lets these managers access information about their workforce when they need it. It also allows them to track and analyze the details to a much greater degree.”

Of course, company shareholders and owners are viewed as the key client. Packer describes AccessPoint’s responsibility to owners is to manage the risks associated with the employment process. For example, Packer says if a lawsuit is filed against the company and is won, the shareholders’ value is impacted, or if business is bogged down because management is distracted by human resources related issues that have no profit potential associated with them, then the shareholders lose value.

“So, we help increase shareholder value by taking care of the distractions so that the management team can grow the business and the profits of the business.”

One of AccessPoint’s success stories involves a client that wanted to offer their services to several large companies and the federal government. To do so they needed a documented ongoing formal safety training program. “The client had neither the expertise nor the time to develop such a program. By contracting with AccessPoint, the client was able to satisfy the criteria and has expanded his business by 40 percent as a result. In addition the client has significantly reduced work loss due to injury which has helped keep productivity and performance at an all time high.”

Of course, one of the biggest services AccessPoint can offer the client is peace of mind. Packer says that clients like knowing that their compliance related issues are taken care of from payroll to MIOSHA regulations.

“There are so many compliance-related obligations that many businesses don’t even try to keep up. As they continue to have success the risks and obligations continue to increase. We manage these risks and provide guidance and the ability to sleep at night.” BN