Payroll in the Age of the Affordable Care Act

By David Hogan Executive Director of Major Accounts, Heartland Payment Systems | December 08, 2013

Co-authored by Tony Ventre, Product Marketing Director, Hospitality Solutions, Heartland Payment Systems

If it seems that new payroll regulations are being instituted almost on a yearly basis, you are right. However, no regulation has had a more significant impact on an already complex system than the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA, signed into law in 2010, changed the healthcare system as Americans know it. However, the law is also affecting payroll processing and pushing hoteliers and other industries toward an absolute need to outsource their functions to an expert payroll provider. By entrusting your payroll to an expert, hoteliers can be sure they will maintain employee satisfaction and expectations, receive efficient and accurate processing, and most importantly, completely comply with current and future regulations.

Why Outsource?

Entrusting the payroll process to an outside payroll provider has many benefits for a business, especially in the hotel industry. It is simply not feasible for a small, independent or even a multi-unit hotelier to handle the numerous human resources functions all on their own. For example, the complexities involved in handling multiple locations, part-time and full-time workers, some who may be on work visas or in different states make outsourcing payroll the only viable option for some hoteliers — even without the added regulations brought on by the ACA. With a centralized payroll provider, managing different tax codes and tax compliance issues are simplified. More importantly, the payroll professionals must stay proficient in all federal, state and local tax compliance changes.

As the ACA is probably the biggest payroll regulation for businesses preparing for 2014, the link between overall human resources functions and payroll is critical. While some provisions of the law are set, others are still somewhat in flux as the United States Congress seeks to enact some changes. Hoteliers are simply not equipped to have a full understanding of this uncertain and overly complex environment and will need to entrust the services of an outsourced payroll provider.

Employer Responsibilities

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.