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Drivers

15 Sep

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Is an individual doing work for me an independent contractor or employee?

September 15, 2016 | By |

Several tests can be used to determine whether an individual qualifies as an independent contractor or employee for the purposes of state and federal laws. Fundamentally, all of these tests seek to answer the question, does the company control how the work will be performed (suggesting an employer-employee relationship) or does the company deal only with the results of this work (suggesting an independent contractor relationship)?

Five of the most common tests are:

  • IRS Factor Control Test (or 20 Factor Test): used in regard to IRS withholding, Immigration
  • Economic Reality Test: used in regard to Fair Labor Standards Act, Workers’ Compensation, Discrimination
  • Relative Nature of Work Test
  • ABC Test: used in regard to Unemployment benefits
  • Common Law Test (or Right to Control Test:) used in regard to Discrimination, ERISA, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, National Labor Relations Act, Labor Management Relations Act

The test used depends upon the particular statutes or government agencies involved. Please not that these tests are only guidelines and are not applicable in every situation. Therefore, a worker may be considered an employee under one statute, but an independent contractor under another.

Misclassifying employees as independent contractors carries financial risks. In addition to penalties and fees, companies may also be charged with liabilities including back taxes and overtime. This may also open the company to lawsuits related to:

  • Denial of ERISA and other benefits
  • Denial of Workers’ Compensation
  • Denial of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Discrimination for failure to accommodate for a disability
  • Failure to include the individual in employee count which resulted in the company appearing not to be required to comply with Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, WARN Act, Affirmative Action, or other state or federal employment laws
  • Failure to retain proper tax forms for employees
  • Disputed ownership of rights to completed work

For more information and relevant forms, visit http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Independent-Contractor-Self-Employed-or-Employee. For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

15 Aug

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Does a driver need to be tested for drugs and alcohol after an accident?

August 15, 2016 | By |

drugflow

FMSCA regulations require alcohol and drug testing of drivers who are required to have a CDL.

Alcohol tests must be taken two to eight hours after the accident occurred. Drug test must be taken within 32 hours of the accident. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the driver must be available for testing, or it may be assumed that the driver has refused testing. A refusal is considered the same as a positive test.

For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

26 Nov

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Giving Back with Trucker Buddy

November 26, 2013 | By |

As we enter into the season of Christmas and Thanksgiving many of us turn our attention to finding ways to give back to show appreciation for all that we have.  If you are one of such individuals, here’s a great program that is uniquely geared to truckers.

Trucker Buddy International started in 1992.  At its core, this program aims to connect professional truck drivers to children in grades K-8 for a pen pal relationship.  Each week drivers share their travels with the class they are assigned to while in return, each student writes a letter to their driver once a month.  This allows the students an opportunity to experience life beyond the classroom while putting their reading, writing, geography, mathematics, social studies and history skills to the test.

One look at the Trucker Buddy International website (www.truckerbuddy.org) and you will see that this is a program teachers love to involve their students in and one that students and drivers both find great value in being apart of.  Are you ready to take part in this exciting program?  Visit their website today, sign up for free and be matched with an available class.

Know of another outreach program allowing truckers an opportunity to give back?  Please call our office at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  We’d love to learn about it and potentially feature it in a future President’s Blog.  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be accessible, helpful and result-oriented.

 

06 Aug

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Creating a Compliant Authorized Passenger Policy

August 6, 2013 | By |

Frequently clients inquire about the limitations and allowances of passengers inside their truck.  We at the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency recommend that non-employee passengers not be allowed in vehicles operated under your authority.  However, if a passenger program is considered an essential element in the retention of quality drivers, we recommend that you have a well planned, well documented, and consistently followed passenger policy in place as a risk management practice to reduce your exposure to claims made by non-employee passengers.  In addition a passenger policy should also comply with requirements outlined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act.

Per Section 392.60(a) of the Act, drivers must have specific authorization from the motor carrier in order to bring a passenger along in the truck.  The motor carrier should issue their authorization to transport in writing and include the following elements:

  1. The name of passenger
  2. The beginning and ending points of transport
  3. The date when the drivers authority to transport a person will expire

Written authorization is not required when a fellow employee has been assigned to ride along in a vehicle or if the driver is transporting someone who is providing aid as the result of an accident or emergency.

The Department of Transportation’s interpretation of the Rule provides that the written authorization does not have to be in the truck, but simply on file at the motor carrier’s office.  However, it would be a best practice to require that a copy accompany the driver.

Would you like assistance developing an Authorized Passenger Policy?  Call us now at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be accessible, helpful and result oriented.

06 Jul

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EEOC Issues Guidelines Pertaining to Criminal Checks

July 6, 2013 | By |

Are you one of the many employers (some studies say up to 92%) who use criminal background checks as a part of the hiring process?  If so, you may wish to re-evaluate this process and proceed with great caution.  Many employers rely upon these checks to keep their clients, employees, resources and the general public safe.  However, recently adapted new guidelines, published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in April 2012, make clear that companies should be particularly careful when referencing criminal backgrounds during the hiring process.

While the EEOC does not include ex-offenders as a protected class under Title VII, they do include race and ethnicity.  And there is concern that because segments of these protected classes (specifically black and Hispanic males) have higher incarceration rates, it may follow that these individuals would experience disparate treatment or disparate impact as a result of reliance upon criminal background checks in the hiring process.

The new guidelines, found at www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm outline those practices which would be deemed “suspicious” under Title VII and the process of investigating claims of discrimination.

Some highlights of the guidelines include:

  • Discouragement of using arrest records to exclude potential candidates, as there is a very big difference between being arrested for a crime and actually being convicted of having committed one.
  • Discouragement of employers from asking about convictions on employment applications and instead, only inquiring into conviction for crimes that might be related to the position they would be hiring for (i.e. felony embezzlement.)
  • Clarification that State laws will not supersede the EEOC’s guidelines and that compliance with State laws is not an acceptable defense to an EEOC charge, unless those State laws comply the EEOC’s guidelines, as well.

Important to note is that, if done with a sound policy that was developed in accordance with the law, conviction information can be referenced during the hiring process.  However, if your company intends to proceed in this manner, we highly encourage you to first develop a company policy after consulting with an attorney who specializes in employment law.  If you would like to be directed to an attorney, please contact our office at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be accessible helpful and result oriented.

06 Jun

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Michigan Now Using 20-Factor Test to Identify Independent Contactors

June 6, 2013 | By |

Motor Carriers, and other companies, operating in Michigan please take note:  Effective January 2013 Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation Agency Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs began using the IRS’s “20-Factor Test” to determine if an individual is an independent contactor or an employee of an organization.

Employers must comply with state and federal employment and tax laws, including withholding certain taxes, contributing toward unemployment and providing workers compensation insurance for employees; requirements which would not apply to independent contractor’s whose services are being hired by the motor carrier.

It is vital that organizations who utilize the services of independent contractor’s familiarize themselves with the “20-Factor Test” and review any concerns with their attorney, accountant and insurance agent to ensure compliance.  States are and will continue to ramp up their efforts to identify those companies who are misclassifying workers, as they now have a greater financial incentive to do so.  When 2014 Fiscal Year budget was passed not only did it include continued funding to help states locate misclassified workers, but additional funds were made available to provide “high performance bonuses” for those states most successful at identifying and prosecuting employers who are misclassifying their employees.

A complete list and description of the “20-Factor Test” can be found here.  The 20 topics discussed include:

1.) Instructions

2.) Training

3.) Integration

4.) Services Rendered Personally

5.) Hiring, Supervising and Paying Assistants

6.) Continuing Relationship

7.) Set Hours of Work

8.) Full Time Required

9.) Doing Work on Employer’s Premises

10.) Order or Sequence Set

11.) Oral or Written Reports

12.) Payment by Hour, Week, Month

13.) Payment of Business and/or Traveling Expenses

14.) Furnishing of Tools and Materials

15.) Significant Investment

16.) Realization of Profit or Loss

17.) Working for More Than One Firm at a Time

18.) Making Service Available to General Public

19.) Right to Discharge

20.) Right to Terminate

Do you have questions concerning the classification of your employees or the handling of independent contractors?  Call us today at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be helpful, accessible and result oriented.

06 May

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Jason’s Law

May 6, 2013 | By |

Jason’s Law

 

Recently out on the road I passed a truck with a sign posted on his truck that read, “I support Jason’s Law.”  Working so close to the trucking industry, I was a little embarrassed that I was not familiar with this law.  A quick Google search informed me that “Jason’s Law” is and initiative to provide increased safety for our hard working truck drivers while out on the road.  The bill was passed by the Senate on March 13, 2012 by a 74 to 22 vote.

For anyone unfamiliar, here is a run down of how the bill got its start and where it hopes to go:

1.)    It was created to honor Jason Riverburg, who was tragically robbed and murdered in March 2009 while staging for a delivery he was running early for.  Corporate policy made it impossible for him to park and wait to unload at the delivering location, so instead he stopped at an abandoned gas station twelve miles away; one he had heard another driver recently use.

2.)    The law aims to provide increased protection and safety for drivers who must stop in order to comply with JIT requirements or hours of service laws by requiring companies to allow drivers to stage inside safe facilities for up to twelve (12) hours before or after pickup/delivery.

3.)    The law proposes to create off highway “bullpens”, granting drivers a safe location to stage in the event a company is unable to comply with the requirement to allow on-sight staging.

4.)    Additionally, the law hopes to increase the availability and security of public rest stops.

5.)    After the law passed in March 2012, the Department of Transportation is now in the process of surveying the currently available parking facilities within each State to see if they are adequate for accommodating driver need.

6.)    This law is supported by the following organizations:

  1. American Trucking Association (ATA)
  2. Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA)
  3. National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO)
  4. American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)
  5. Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)

To learn more about Jason’s Law visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jasons-Law-HB-2156-SAFE-PARKING-FOR-TRUCKERS/192353475073, follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JasonsLaw or their website at http://jhlrivenburg.com/cgi/wp/.

19 Dec

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Legalization of Medical Marijuana Does Not Impact DOT Regulations

December 19, 2012 | By |

In light of recent state laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana, it is important to note the Department of Transportation Office of Drug and Alcohol Compliance Notice originally written by Jim Swart and published October 22, 2009 remains appropriate today.  This notice explains that while the Department of Justice has made a specific set of recommendations to Federal prosecutors for pursuing criminal cases with respect to medical marijuana, those recommendations do not effect or modify the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program.  Despite legalization in some states for medicinal purposes, marijuana continues to be listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Per the original notice: “The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40, at 40.151(e) – does not authorize ‘medical marijuana’ under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.”

They further outline that Section 40.151 states:

“40.151 What are MROs prohibited from doing as part of the verification process?  As an MRO, you are prohibited from doing the following as part of the verification process:

(e) You must not verify a test negative based on information that a physician recommended that the employee use a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (e.g. under a state law that purports to authorize such recommendation, such as the ‘medical marijuana’ laws that some states have adopted.)”

Compliance with these laws is vital to ensure the safety of your employees and the general public.  If you or your drivers have questions regarding pre-employment screening or drug testing, we encourage you to contact an account executive today.  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard at being accessible, helpful and result oriented.

06 Dec

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Educating Family and Friends in Post Accident Procedures

December 6, 2012 | By |

Recently one of our local news stations posted a breaking news story to their website warning that a crash between a tractor-trailer and car had shut down a major highway.  The details were tragic.  The car’s passenger had passed away and nearly everyone else involved in the accident suffered injuries.  While the facts were not yet clear, there was no indication that the semi driver was at fault.

Near the bottom of the page a “comments” section appeared and one comment in particular caught my attention.  It had apparently been made by a child of the truck driver involved in the accident and read something to the effect of, “My father was the driver of the semi involved in this accident.  He feels terrible that he caused someone’s death and hopes the family will forgive him.”

I have no doubt that comment was left by the driver’s son or daughter with the very best of intentions in a moment of shock.  But, I couldn’t help but wonder whether its existence might inadvertently incriminate their father.  Would these two lines impact the handling of the claim?

I called a few claims adjustors to discuss this specific example and get their opinions.  During our conversations I learned that the harmful impact of comments made by third parties not directly involved in an incident may be limited, but still exists. While the statements themselves may not be admissible as evidence, there is anecdotal support to suggest that once permanently etched on the wall of the virtual world, comments such as these could land themselves in the hands of a judge or jury member, ultimately influencing his or her opinion of the driver.

While we may be unable to control the behaviors of others, perhaps we can influence them.  As a company owner and professional driver, it is important that you are proactive in training your staff, family and friends on proper post accident procedures.  Before your drivers find themselves involved in a crash, coach them on the “dos and don’ts” after a crash.  Remind them that neither they, nor their family or friends, should discuss the situation online in any capacity.  Reminders can be provided to employees in many ways, such as through an employee handbook, a paycheck stuffer, email or during a safety meeting, all of which we would be glad to help you to develop.  If you would like assistance, please contact our office at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  All of us at the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency work hard to be accessible, helpful and result oriented.

15 Feb

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Safety Belts – More Than Just a Policy

February 15, 2012 | By |

In the transportation industry we regularly see the inclusion of a Safety Belt policy as part of the standard safety manual.  It goes without saying that we should be wearing our safety belts given the daily exposure to catastrophic accidents that can result in severe bodily injury and even death, right?  Well, the truth is that many drivers, despite signed pledges and policies, still do not routinely wear their safety belts.  This month I wanted to dispel some common misconceptions regarding seat belt usage in order to address why seatbelts are so incredibly important to the health and safety of professional drivers and provide some tips to make certain your seat belt is fitted correctly.

 

First let’s take a look at some common misconceptions regarding seat belt usage.  Following are nine commonly held “myths” as published U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

1.)    Safety belts are uncomfortable and restrict movement:  When properly adjusted drivers should feel neither uncomfortable nor restricted in movement. 

2.)    Wearing a safety belt is a personal decision that doesn’t affect anyone else:  This is simply not true.  Your decision not to wear your seatbelt can impact your family, friends, employer and co-workers.  It can also impact other motorists as being properly restrained in the event of a crash can allow you better control of your vehicle.

3.)    Safety belts prevent your escape from a burning or submerged vehicle: Hard to escape a burning or submerged vehicle if you’ve been knocked unconscious from hitting your head.  Also, did you know that less than two percent of crashes involves fire or submersion? 

4.)    It’s better to be thrown clear of the wreckage in the event of a crash: The fact is, you are four times more likely to die if you are thrown from your vehicle during an accident. 

5.)    It takes too much time to fasten your seat belt twenty times a day:  With a total time investment of one minute per day (roughly three seconds per buckle), the cost is nothing compared to the potential life saving benefit.

6.)    Good truck drivers don’t need to wear safety belts:  Good truck drivers might be able to avoid causing accidents, but you cannot control the drivers on the road around you.  And being a good driver alone won’t prevent you from head or spinal cord injuries in the event of an accident.

7.)    Your truck will protect you.  You don’t need a seat belt:  According to the FMCSA, in 2006, 805 drivers and occupants of large trucks died in truck crashes and 393 were not wearing safety belts.  Of the 217 drivers and occupants who were killed and ejected from their vehicles, 81% were not wearing safety belts.

8.)    Safety belts aren’t necessary for low-speed driving:  In a frontal collision where the driver was driving 30 mph, an unbelted person will continue to move forward and hit the windshield at 30 mph.  Translation?  This is the same velocity a person falling a three story building would experience when hitting the ground.

9.)    A lap belt offers sufficient protection:  The lap and shoulder belt have been designed to work together to keep a driver properly restrained and in control of his rig in the event of a crash.

 

With these misconceptions clarified, let’s take a look at a few tips to help make certain your seat belt is properly fitted:

1.)    The shoulder strap should be across the center of the chest and center of the shoulder, not under the arm or behind the back

2.)    The correct position of the lap belt is 2 – 4” below the waist and against the thighs.

3.)    The buckle shouldn’t be positioned in the stomach or abdominal area.

4.)    The shoulder belt should not be too tight or rub against the neck nor should it be too loose or loosen during travel.

 

Do you have questions regarding safety belt usage or fit, or would you like assistance designing a safety belt policy for your company’s safety handbook?  Call our offices today at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  All of us at the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency work hard at being accessible, helpful and result oriented.