The Daily Rundown

The Daily Rundown: Open Enrollment, Protection for Contractors, Panic Buttons for Small Biz

Welcome to the Small Business Run Down. Each day, we bring you stories that impact small business owners and their workforce.

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It’s everyone’s favorite season: Open Enrollment! Despite the focus of providing employee-sponsored benefits, many employers admit their shortcomings when it comes to communicating plan details to employees. Meanwhile, a proposed bill before Congress wants to give contractors the same status as employees when it comes to protection from discrimination. Plus, the New York City Council is getting serious about protecting SBOs and their customers. 

SBOs struggle when it comes to communicating benefit plans’ benefits

Employers and employees alike acknowledge the value of offering a workplace-sponsored 401(k) program, but when it comes to actually communicating the details of the program, research shows that there’s a breakdown. A new study indicates that companies and their workers miss out on the benefits of participating in employer-sponsored retirement because business owners don’t know how to effectively communicate the information. 

The Number: 60%. Women and younger business owners struggle more than their older, male counterparts when it comes to communicating information about benefits to employees, with 60% of women-owned businesses and 65% of young SBOs reporting difficulties in this area. 

The Quote: “This data illustrates that the industry has an opportunity to help business owners bridge this gap and make a meaningful difference in the retirement security of their employees.”

Proposed legislation aims to protect contractors from discriminating

D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced a bill before congress that would amend five current anti-discriminaataion laws to extend protection to contract workers. Although the bill currently lacks co-sponsors, it would allow independent contractors to sue employers for discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, disability and genetic heredity as well as wage theft. Norton’s inspiration? “I thought about the thousands of federal contractors as well [as Uber and Lyft drivers] and wanted to make sure contract workers have the same protections against discrimination as employees,” she said. 

The Number: 10 million. Experts estimate that there are roughly 10 million workers in the U.S. who are classified as contractors

The Quote: “New York passed the first minimum pay rate for Uber and Lyft drivers in 2018 after economists at the New School and the University of California Berkeley published a report showing that more than half of Uber drivers work full-time and about half support families with children. The report found their earnings were so low that 40 percent qualified for Medicaid and about 18 percent qualified for food stamps.”

New York City Council votes in favor of a different kind of small biz support: panic buttons

New York City Council members are showing their support for small businesses especially vulnerable to violence with proposed legislation to reimburse qualifying SBOs who install a panic button. The legislation, known as “Junior’s Law” in honor of young man who was fatally stabbed outside a bodega, has the support of 31 city council members. 

The Number: 24/7. The pilot program would initially be open to businesses with 10 or fewer employees that have 24/7 storefront access to the public. 

The Quote: “It provides for a safe environment and that’s what our small businesses are — a safe haven.”

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