OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard

This morning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) filed a hotly-anticipated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) related to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and face coverings in the workplace. This follows an announcement by President Biden on September 9, 2021, directing OSHA to develop a rule to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Details are posted on the OSHA website, but here are some of the key highlights:

  • ETS is effective immediately, as of 11/5/2021.
  • Employers must comply with all requirements, except testing, within 30 days. Testing compliance within 60 days.
  • ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees. In Minnesota, along with other states with an OSHA approved State Plan, the ETS applies to public sector workers employed by state and local governments, including educators and school staff.
  • Employers must determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain proof of vaccination status, and maintain records.
  • Require employees to notify the employer of a positive COVID test or diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must be tested at least weekly if the employee is in the workplace at least one day a week.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering when indoors or in a vehicle with another person for work purposes.
  • ETS does not require employers to pay for testing or face coverings. Employers may assume costs if they so choose.
  • ETS does not apply to 100% remote employees or employees who work exclusively outdoors.
  • Requires employers to provide up to four hours of paid time to receive each vaccination dose, and reasonable time and paid sick leave to recover from side effects experiencing following each dose.

Greater Mankato Growth staff is continuing to monitor this announcement. We will provide additional details and resources as they become available.

Podcast: Heartless Hackers Demanding GIft cards

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the importance of cybersecurity has quickly become a quintessential part of today’s business strategy. More than 50% of businesses have been the victim of a cyberattack, and as many as 60% of those hacked businesses end up going out of business.

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The Five Stages of Cybersecurity Prevention 

Cyberattacks can cost organizations millions of dollars and 2021 has seen the highest average data breach cost in the last 17 years. While it’s almost inevitable that you’ll someday deal with a cyberattack on some level, organizations who formed incident response teams and tested their incident response plans were able to reduce the cost of a breach by almost 40%.

With the broad nature of cybersecurity and a lot of ground to cover, many companies don’t even know where to begin. Luckily, a comprehensive, in-depth cybersecurity action plan can be broken down into five stages: Foundational Security, Policies and Awareness, Key Processes, Incident Preparedness and Security Monitoring. While each has their own unique benefits, a true culture of security relies on each stage working together for peak efficiency and protection.

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Email, Phone, or Text – Which Is Best for Communicating with Customers?

Customer Texting is in Demand

According to one study, 63% of respondents said they would switch to a company that offered text messaging to communicate. That’s not surprising when 92% say they expect to wait on hold five minutes or more before speaking to a human being.

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MN Main Street Grants Program: Applications Begin September 20

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has announced that the Minnesota Main Street COVID Relief Grants Program applications will be accepted as of Monday, September 20, 2021. This program, approved by the Minnesota State Legislature and signed by Governor Tim Walz on June 30, will offer $64,200,000 in grants for Minnesotan-owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Employee Retention Credit: 7k Quarterly Wage Subsidy per Employee for 2021

The COVID recession isn’t over for everyone. For businesses still struggling to return to 2019 revenue levels, the tax law has a lifeline: a refundable tax credit of up to $7,000 per-employee, per-quarter.

It’s easy to see how $7,000 per quarter, per employee, can add up. For a qualifying company with 50 employees, for example, it could mean as much as $1,400,000 in benefits for 2021.

The Employer Retention Credit was first enacted early in 2020 as a tax credit of up to $5,000 per employee for 2020. It applies to taxpayers who have either:

  1. Had a full or partial suspension of business due to a government order, or
  2. Had a significant decline in gross receipts.
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2021 (Special) Legislative Session Recap

Minnesota’s 92nd legislative session ended their 2021 regular session on May 17th without a budget. The Governor and Legislative leaders instead released a budget framework with a target of $52 billion for the next biennium. Lawmakers worked for four weeks on final details largely outside of the public eye until they convened a special session on June 14th. All spending bills were passed and signed into law by June 31st.

The need for a special session was largely due to a late infusion of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Roughly $8.5 billion was allocated in the bill to the State of Minnesota for various programs.

Budget

A final budget of $52 billion was signed into law on June 31, 2021. This biennial budget is an increase of approximately $1.3 billion over the previous budget – much of that one-time funding from ARPA. Included in the bill are direct tax cuts of $644 million to people who lost jobs and employers who kept people working during the pandemic.

Paycheck Protection Program

The final tax bill included full conformity to federal tax law with regards to the Paycheck Protection Program at a cost of roughly $375 million in fiscal year 2022. Businesses and organizations that received PPP loans will not be subject to either federal or state income tax on the amount of the loan received.

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Recovering from Financial Data Loss: What to Know About Forensic Data Reconstruction

When financial data has been lost or destroyed, it’s imperative that organizations have their data reconstructed quickly and efficiently in order to move forward. Forensic data reconstruction allows organizations to recreate their accounting systems.

Here’s what you need to know about financial data loss and how forensic data reconstruction can help.

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How To Attract and Retain Employees

Are you struggling to hire quality employees? Has the shortage of employees struck you hard? This is not going to be alleviated anytime soon. COVID-19 accelerated numerous retirements, spurred entrepreneurship, or pursuit of other opportunities while people were furloughed, and with the challenges of finding daycare, many two income homes have found a way to survive on one income, while a stay-at-home parent develops a side hustle replacing a job. And we won’t even get started on the extra unemployment income (but do you really want those employees back anyway?).

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Why Security Matters to Your Employee Benefit Plans

Employee benefit plans are a common perk for many organizations. They are often seen as a necessary employee benefit, but they also come with a strong need for compliance. Specifically, ERISA-covered group health plans and retirement plans can be subject to HIPAA privacy and security laws, assurance and audit requirements and more.

Cybersecurity is often not a focus for many organizations’ employee benefit plans. After all, what would a cybercriminal want with an employee benefit plan?

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