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Everything You Need To Know About Professional Employer Organisation Services

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What Is PEO?

A Professional employer organization (PEO) provides comprehensive HR solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Employment, payroll, tax administration, benefits, regulatory compliance assistance are some of the many services a PEO provides to its Customers across the country.

Why Would A Business Use A PEO?

Business owners want to focus their time and energy on the “business of their business” and not on the “business of employment.” As businesses grow, most owners do not have the necessary human resource training; payroll and accounting skills, the knowledge of regulatory compliance, or the backgrounds in risk management, insurance and employee benefit programs to meet the demands of being an employer.

By providing employment outsourcing, payroll, benefits, compliance assistance, the PEO allows its Customers to improve productivity and profitability by focusing on their core mission and to grow.

How Does A PEO Arrangement Work?

The PEO will co-employ the client’s worksite employees. In the arrangement among a PEO, a worksite employee and a client company, there exists a co-employment relationship in which both the PEO and client company have an employment relationship with the worker. The PEO and client company share and allocate responsibilities and liabilities. The PEO assumes much of the responsibility for the business of employment, such as risk management, human resource management, and payroll and employee tax compliance. The client company retains responsibility for and manages product development and production, business operations, marketing, sales, and service. The PEO and the client will share certain responsibilities for employment law compliance. As a co-employer, the PEO will often provide a complete human resource and benefit package for worksite employees.

Do The Business Owners Lose Control Of Their Businesses?

No. The client retains ownership of the company and control over its operations. As co-employers, the PEO and client will contractually share or allocate employer responsibilities and liabilities. The PEO will generally only assume responsibilities and liabilities associated with a “general” employer for purposes of administration, payroll, taxes and benefits. The client will continue to have responsibility for worksite safety and compliance. The PEO will be responsible for payroll and employment taxes, will maintain employee records and reserves a right to hire and fire. Because the PEO also may be responsible for workers’ compensation, many PEOs also focus on and improve safety and compliance. In general terms, the PEO will focus on employment-related issues and the client will be responsible for the actual business operations.

What is the difference between employee leasing and a PEO arrangement?

A PEO or co-employment arrangement involves all or a significant number of the client’s existing worksite employees in a long-term, non-project related, employment relationship. The PEO brings services to the client, including the management of human resources, employee benefits, payroll and workers’ compensation. The PEO assumes employer responsibility for employment tax, benefit plans and other human resource purposes. If a PEO relationship is terminated, the co-employees will cease to work for the PEO but will continue as employees of the client.

By comparison, a leasing or staffing service supplies new workers on a temporary or project-specific basis. These leased employees return to the staffing service for reassignment after completion of their work with the client company. Some would define employee leasing as a supplemental, temporary employment arrangement where one or more workers are assigned to a customer for a fixed period of time, often for a specific project. This concept creates little long-term equity or investment between the worker and customer.

What is the difference between temporary staffing services and a PEO?

Like a leasing situation, a temporary staffing service recruits employees and assigns them to clients to support or supplement the client’s workforce in special work situations, such as employee absences, temporary skill shortages or seasonal workloads. These workers are traditionally only a small portion of the client’s workforce. A PEO contractually assumes and manages employer responsibilities for all or a majority of a client’s workforce.

How do PEOs help their clients control costs and grow their bottom line?

A PEO’s economy of scale enables each client company to lower employment costs and increase the business’s bottom line. The client can maintain a simple in-house HR infrastructure or none at all by relying on the PEO. The client also can reduce hiring overhead. The professionals at the PEO can provide critical assistance with employer compliance, which helps protect the client against liability. In many cases, the client can pay a small up-front cost for a significant technology and service infrastructure or platform provided by the PEO. In addition, the PEO provides time savings by handling routine and redundant tasks for its clients. This enables the business owner to focus on the company’s core competency and grow its bottom line.

Why is it important a PEO have audited financial statements?

The international PEO industry best professional performance practices recommend audited financial statements in order to enhance internal controls and accuracy of financial information. While independent audits cannot prevent fraud or financial failure, they provide management with an independent review of and opinion that the financial statements of the entity are accurate, complete and fairly presented according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

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