United Southern Bank has a long history of community involvement and giving – it goes back to our roots in Umatilla where we were chartered in 1937.
Today, our officers and staff are involved in civic and charitable organizations all over Lake County. Each of us picks our passion and gets involved in chambers of commerce, service organizations or support charitable groups. Our monetary donations and sponsorships help support these groups as well as school and athletic programs and because we live here, we are committed to each of our cities and towns.
Judge’s Ruling Delays New Overtime Rule
For the past several months small business owners and human resource managers have been working to determine how they would comply with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) White Collar Overtime Exemption rule. However, the December 1, 2016 deadline to comply was put on hold by a nationwide injunction from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
While the DOL believed that the new salary threshold would provide “a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans”, business owners and lots of employees affected didn’t see it that way.
The Fair Labor Standards Act provides employers with guidelines on which employees are exempt from being paid overtime. Overtime is considered any more than 40 hours in one week and must be paid at a rate of 1.5 times the hourly rate.
The rules that determine who is salaried and exempt from receiving overtime pay are three-fold and include a salary test of $23,660 annually, a salary basis test of $455 per week and a duties test.
The most difficult with which to comply - the duties test - provides nebulous determinations for non-manual work performed by executive, administrative and professional employees and states that these employees must have the ability to exercise independent judgement and discretion when making decisions. To be salaried and exempt from overtime pay, an employee must meet all three rules.
The new rule that was supposed to begin on December 1 doubled the salary tests to $47,476 annually and $913 per week and left the duties test unchanged with salary levels automatically increasing in three years.
The DOL anticipated that employers would spend an additional $592.7 million to comply. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) believed that the new regulation would hurt employees and employers, stating that employers would lose control of compensation budgets and that the DOL never considered that funding the additional overtime pay might not be possible for everyone including non-profits and government agencies that would have to cut critical services.
While the DOL alleged that the new rule provided more protection for employees, not every employee felt the love. Employees who had worked hard to achieve professional salaried status saw the move back to hourly as a demotion. Cherished work flexibility would be lost under the new guidelines as many workers check email and their phones after office hours, work longer hours during critical projects, and travel for work.
Among the moves that employers have made to comply and maintain some semblance of their budgets are raising salaries to meet the requirement if the current level was close; returning employees to hourly; limiting overtime for everyone; cutting base pay to balance the overtime pay rate; and hiring hourly employees for special projects that previous salaried employees were willing to spend extra time on for job satisfaction and work experience.
There are employees in some sectors like retail and restaurant that probably could benefit from more protection in overtime practices and SHRM believes that the salary threshold was due for an increase, but doubling in one year was a hard pill to swallow.
The case was started as two separate lawsuits, one brought by 21 states (Florida did not join in) and the other by a coalition of business groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It was ultimately won on the merits that the DOL overreached and contravened the intent of Congress with the significant increase in the salary test level that in effect created a salary-only test.
So, what happens now? If business owners hadn’t made any changes to comply, they can keep the status quo. If they did, SHRM feels that flip-flopping pay practices may damage morale even more and waiting to see what happens with the suit is the best course. Of course, employers should evaluate each situation.
According to Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor and Reed, P.A. Attorneys at Law, the DOL has the right to appeal the district court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That appellate court is viewed as conservative and it is possible that under the new White House administration, the DOL will take actions to repeal or change the rule.
Employers should stay tuned on what will happen and remember that they still have to comply with the current three-fold rule.
Sources: dol.gov; lowndes-law.com; shrm.com; fortune.com; foxbusiness.com
7 Tips to Avoid Online Fraud
Every year, millions of consumers fall victim to cybercrime. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2014, consumers lost more than $800 million from scams initiated through the web. United Southern Bank offers these seven tips to help consumers protect themselves from online fraud.
“The Internet has become one of the most popular tools used to commit fraud and criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated with their hacking techniques,” said Lynne Winker, VP & Marketing Officer. “As a result, it’s extremely important for consumers to secure their wireless networks and filter the amount of personal information they choose to divulge online.”
United Southern Bank recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
- Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
7 Ways to Prepare for Hurricane Season
With hurricane season fast approaching, United Southern Bank is encouraging customers to adequately prepare for the season by assessing their home’s risk and developing emergency plans to protect against a potential storm.
“Hurricane preparation can greatly reduce the aftershock of natural disasters,” said Lynne Winker, VP & Marketing Office. United Southern Bank has taken preventive measures to ensure that we are prepared and that our customers’ funds remain protected and accessible during hazardous weather conditions.”
United Southern Bank has developed effective disaster recovery procedures to enhance the safety of our customers and operation during weather emergencies, including be prepared for off-site data processing, preparing emergency branch operations kits, testing our emergency communications system.
To make sure your house is equally protected, we offer the following tips:
- Know your risk. FEMA’s map service center will show you the flood risk for your community, which helps determine the type of flood insurance coverage you will need. Flood insurance should be a necessity, as standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding and may have different deductibles for storm damage.
- Talk to your insurance agent or broker. A good flood insurance policy can be a financial lifesaver following a damaging event such as a hurricane – but even good policies may have restrictions. Talk to your agent so you understand what your policy does and does not cover.
- Assemble an emergency kit. The emergency kit should include first aid supplies, a flashlight, extra batteries, at least three days of non-perishable foods and water, towels and a supply of any necessary medications. Stay informed of the storm’s path and progress by monitoring Wireless Emergency Alerts via text message and having a battery-powered radio or TV available.
- Develop a family communications plan. Know how you will contact one another; how you will get back together, if separated; and what you will do in different situations. Having a plan can eliminate some of the stress and confusion.
- Establish an evacuation route. Prior to a storm, contact your local American Red Cross to locate the shelter nearest you or download their Shelter Finder App. Identify the safest route to get there. Be sure to check if your local emergency shelter allows animals and family pets.
- Secure your home. Outdoor furniture and other objects can pose a potential hazard. Turn off propane tanks and other utilities if instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
- Protect financial documents. In the event of a disaster, you will need identification and financial documents to begin the recovery process. Safeguard important documents in a bank safety deposit box, computer storage devices (USB drive, CD/DVD), and/or waterproof storage containers, including:
- Personal identification (driver’s licenses, birth certificates, military IDs, passports, etc.)
- Financial account information (checking, savings, retirement and investment accounts, credit/debit cards).
- Insurance policies on all personal property, including appraisals and lists and photos of valuable items.
- Ownership or leasing documentation for homes and vehicles (deeds, titles, registrations, rental agreements, etc.)
- All health and medical insurance documentation.
The FEMA website, Ready.gov, also offers tips on preparing for an emergency, including: a free app that is available for download through your smart phone and an emergency financial first aid kit to help keep your finances well-organized during a potential storm. For more resources, visit the FEMA site: http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.
USB Personal Mobile and Online Banking
Track your money with mobile and online banking.
Receive a text message when your direct deposit is made
Get a text message alert when a check clears or debit card payment is made
Business Customers should contact a CSR at any branch for enrollment forms.
USB ATM Network
Get surcharge-free access to your money – no matter where you are! Use any USB ATM free. USB customers can use the Presto ATMs at Publix Grocery Stores. There are over 55,000 AllPoint ATM’s in the US and some foreign countries USB customers can use surcharge-free. Download their app to your smartphone to locate them.