Five Critical Questions to Determine Your HR and Payroll Compliance Readiness in 2018

Are you prepared for the next wave of tax, healthcare and regulatory changes affecting payroll and HR?

Managing compliance can be complex and tricky for any business today. It can be overwhelming trying to stay current on proposed guideline changes, updates to existing regulations, and rollouts of new legislation. Despite the complexity, a recent survey of 812 HR and payroll managers found that many respondents believe they’re prepared and will be able to implement future regulatory changes with ease.

Based on their responses, we’ve compiled five short but critical questions to ask yourself to determine your organization’s compliance readiness.

Fill out the form below for an instant download of our Compliance Readiness Checklist.

PayNorthwest and Pacific Continental Bank Partner to Provide Local SMBs with Best-in-Class Banking and Payroll Services

Provider of cloud-based payroll and human capital management solutions joins forces with local bank to deliver secure paycheck services to small- to medium-sized Pacific Northwest businesses

Seattle, Wash., October 3, 2016 – PayNorthwest LLC, a provider of cloud-based payroll and human capital management solutions (HCM), announced today that it has partnered with Eugene-Ore.-based Pacific Continental Bank to provide Pacific Northwest small- to medium-sized businesses with best-in-class banking and payroll services. As part of its payroll service offering, PayNorthwest provides clients protection against common check fraud, as well as escheatment and reconciliation relief for traditional paper pay checks. By banking this piece of their business with Pacific Continental Bank, PayNorthwest gains a partner with best-in-class, responsive treasury services. This new banking relationship extends and deepens Pacific Continental Bank and PayNorthwest’s already existing relationship designed to introduce bank business clients to PayNorthwest’s reliable and market-leading payroll services and HCM technology.

“PayNorthwest has been a long-standing partner of ours for many years. This new banking relationship with PayNorthwest comes on the heels of our recent acquisition of Foundation Bank that strengthens our presence in the Puget Sound market,” explains Nick Anderson, senior vice president and relationship banking manager at Pacific Continental Bank. “This agreement builds on our vision to secure a better future for local businesses and on PayNorthwest’s vision to be the trusted payroll and HCM partner for businesses throughout the Northwest.”

“We have a lot in common with Pacific Continental Bank – a vision for a vibrant, healthy, and supported business climate in the Pacific Northwest, customers with a similar profile, and a mutual commitment to providing best-in-class services to our local and regional businesses and not-for-profits,” adds Michael Anderson, president, founder, and CEO of PayNorthwest. “This agreement enables PayNorthwest to better serve its clients by reducing risks related to check fraud and adds additional assurance that payroll funds end up only in the hands of the people they are intended for – our clients’ hard-working employees.”

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About PayNorthwest LLC

Founded in 2008, PayNorthwest LLC is a payroll and human capital management software and services firm headquartered in Seattle, Wash. It helps small to mid-sized businesses in a variety of industries as well as non-profits across the United States more effectively manage their workforce and streamline their business with single-source, cloud-based human resource information system (HRIS), time and attendance, and payroll solutions. In 2016, PayNorthwest ranked #1627 in Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. and one of Puget Sound Business Journal ‘s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies in Washington state. For more information, please visit us online at, read our blog, or connect with us via LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube.

About Pacific Continental Bank

Pacific Continental Bank, the operating subsidiary of Pacific Continental Corporation, delivers highly personalized services through 15 banking offices in Oregon and Washington. The bank also operates loan production offices in Tacoma, Wash. and Denver, Colo. With $2.4 billion in total assets, Pacific Continental has established one of the most unique and attractive metropolitan branch networks in the Pacific Northwest with offices in three of the region’s largest markets, including Seattle, Portland, and Eugene. Pacific Continental targets the banking needs of community based businesses, healthcare professionals, professional service providers, and nonprofit organizations. Since its inception in 1972, Pacific Continental Bank has been honored with numerous awards and recognitions from highly regarded third-party organizations, including The Seattle Times, The Portland Business Journal, Seattle Business magazine, and Oregon Business magazine. Pacific Continental Corporation’s shares are listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “PCBK” and are a component of the Russell 2000 Index. For more information, please visit us online at

PayNorthwest Ranks #1627 in 2016 Inc. 5000

PNW Inc. 5000PayNorthwest is proud to announce that it ranks #1627 in the 2016 Inc. 5000, an elite list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.

The company’s revenue increased by 231% from 2012 to 2015 when it reached $3.4 million.

“This is our first year being featured on the prestigious Inc. 5000 ranking and we are very honored to be a part of it,” explains Mike J. Anderson, President & CEO of PayNorthwest. “We have been on an amazing growth trajectory since 2012 and we’d like to thank our loyal customers for trusting PayNorthwest with their human capital management needs, our employees for their dedication, and our business partners for their support.”

Click here for the full 2016 Inc. 5000 rankings.

New White Paper: The ROI of Automating Your Human Capital Management

PNW WPHuman Capital Management (HCM) is the set of processes related to your organization’s payroll, human resources (HR), time and attendance, scheduling, and other personnel administrative needs. Through automating HCM functions, businesses can see significant savings in the form of time, money, litigation exposure, and overall aggravation.

We invite you to click here to download our new ROI white paper to discover the specific areas where savings can be found, including:

  • Payroll processing
  • Payroll inflation
  • Employee absenteeism
  • Unnecessary overtime
  • FMLA and leave time
  • Wage and hour compliance exposure
  • Employee self-service
  • HR productivity
  • Employee engagement and satisfaction

To learn more about how cloud-based human capital management technology can benefit your business, don’t hesitate to contact one of our PayNorthwest specialist toll-free at +1.866.729.6920.

Have Salaried Employees and Don’t Need Workforce Management Tools? Think Again!

From our partners at Kronos

Ensuring the efficiency of your business means that you understand how to optimize your entire workforce, whether hourly or salaried. Here are three tips on how to leverage workforce management to drive an enhanced organizational effectiveness strategy for your organization:

Minimize Labor Compliance Risk

The management of FLSA, FMLA, and ACA regulatory guidelines applies to the entire workforce. Creating and sustaining a culture of compliance, accountability, and record keeping is vital for all organizations, big or small.

Companies need tools that provide average hours worked for full-time, part-time, hourly, and salaried workers, providing a holistic view of hours worked for all employees.

Workforce management toolsManage Accrual Liability Costs

Today, most organizations track hourly employees’ benefit data such as vacation time and sick time. Yet they are much less disciplined when tracking their salaried workforce. Organizations should also look to maintain accurate salaried time-off data.

Workforce management solutions provide an ideal way to manage time-off requests and separation policies, including accrual payoffs. Providing accurate information for liability and financial reporting curbs unnecessary costs.

Manage Labor Costs

With a globally dispersed workforce, organizations must optimize their workforce management strategy to balance labor costs, productivity, and compliance risk. Labor represents your largest expense, so it needs to be carefully planned for and managed. Configurable pay rules, including overtime and schedules as well as accruals and attendance insight, give you the flexibility you need to manage both your hourly and salaried staff.

The right workforce management solution can give your organization the tools it needs to allocate skilled resources to meet short-term and long-term strategies.

Workforce management solutions can help organizations control labor costs, minimize compliance risks, and maximize productivity of their entire workforce, both salaried and hourly. Questions? Please contact a PayNorthwest specialist toll-free at +1.866.729.6920.

Are You Ready for the New DOL Overtime Regulations? Here’s a Handy Checklist!

DOL overtime ruleFrom our partners at Kronos

On May 18th, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its final rule updating overtime regulations for U.S. businesses. Effective as of December 1st, 2016, the new rule is expected to extend overtime pay protections to more than four million Americans not currently eligible under federal law.

Now is the time for your organization to start getting ready to comply with the new regulations!

Click here to download our comprehensive readiness checklist. 

Upcoming FLSA Overtime Changes: Four Steps for Employers to Prepare

Courtesy of HR Support Center

2016 FLSA changes

In the coming weeks, the Department of Labor is expected to publish new overtime rules that could impact five million U.S workers. These updates would dramatically raise the minimum salary requirement for affected employees to qualify as exempt or not subject to overtime pay. It is yet unclear when the final rules will exactly be announced, but the good news is that employers can take important steps now to get ready for that change.

What is the proposed change?

The proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) would more than double the salary threshold of millions of white collar workers from $455 a week to $970 a week in order to qualify for exempt status per the rules of the FLSA. It is possible the amount may be different when the final rules are announced sometime this spring.

What does that change mean for employers?

Millions of employees will either need to be reclassified as non-exempt or have their salaries raised to the new threshold level. Employers who fail to do so may face claims for back pay, interest, and other penalties. Under the proposal, the exempt salary threshold would increase automatically each year.

What is the timeline?

Although the timeline for the upcoming FLSA overtime changes is still uncertain, it could be anticipated to look something like this:

2016 FLSA change timeline

What can employers do to get ready for these changes?

There are four steps that every employer should follow to prepare for the upcoming FLSA changes, as follows:

  • Identify which employees may be affected
  • Determine the hours worked by affected employees
  • Consider appropriate compensation strategies
  • Look at the big picture and refine company policies as needed

The proposed FLSA changes are leaving employers with a lot to consider. While talking with your employees about possible compensation changes may be a bit uncomfortable, it’s best to start those conversations now in order to get ahead of any overtime decisions before they are announced.

For more details on these four steps as well as some helpful tips and examples, click here to download a copy of our white paper or contact a PayNorthwest specialist toll-free at +1.866.729.6920.

Local Labor Laws: The Newest Challenge for Employers?

We are starting to see a new wave of laws and regulations asserting employee rights and extending benefits. The Affordable Care Act is the most obvious example of this at the federal level, as well as stepped up enforcement of the long standing Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, an important new trend with a twist is starting to emerge. Municipalities are now getting into the act and creating their own local labor laws as well as a whole new layer of complexity for employers to navigate -and the trend is only just getting started.

Back in 2012 the City of Seattle enacted it’s own Sick Leave Ordinance: (Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance)

Why Would I Want a Cloud Payroll Solution?

We get asked this a lot. Here are 4 reasons why, if you are responsible for your organization’s payroll, you should want a true cloud payroll solution:

1. Regulatory change. Payroll regulations change often and you need to know that your payroll engine is up-to-date. A cloud payroll solution manages the updates for you and eliminates the need for you to worry about “how often” and “when”. Between frequent state and local tax jurisdiction changes, Affordable Care Act changes and other regulatory updates, you need your application to be up-to-date at all times.

2. Geo-flexibility. Ok, I just made that term up, but this relates to you and your freedom. One of the defining drawbacks to being responsible for payroll in your organization is the need to be there, without fail, when it is time to pay your people. With “on prem” solutions, that means being where your local servers are – at work. With a cloud solution, your range of available locations from which to process or monitor payroll is dramatically expanded. You don’t need to fear snowstorms, or a vacation for that matter, if all you need is an internet connection.

3. Mobile or dispersed workforce. Your workforce is demanding greater access to their own individual payroll information. And maybe you are demanding more from them – requesting time off, confirming address changes, getting their own darn copy of their last three pay stubs. To efficiently and easily connect your employees to payroll, you need a cloud solution. No other way effectively manages the variety of locations, settings and operating systems that your workforce is found in.

4. Device independence. Decoupling your payroll system from your particular IT environment gives you freedom. It also makes you less dependent on decisions made by others in your organization that inadvertently impact you. Maybe your company has decided to upgrade all PCs to the latest version of Windows. Or maybe it has decided to open up to multiple device OS’s. Or maybe new server environment is being contemplated. These may be very solid decisions from an organizational stand point but present enormous difficulty and risk to your department. Free your self and your employee’s pay from internal changes to your technical environment.

Compliance, freedom, efficiency, independence and control – these words may not immediately come to mind when thinking about cloud solutions, but in reality are at the heart of why moving your payroll to the cloud is such a compelling idea.


Beware the Exempt W-4

While it is not necessary for your employees to fill out a W-4 every year, this seems to be the time of year when people think about it. And this time of year we often get the question of whether an employee can file EXEMPT for federal withholding.

First, to review, IRS form W-4 is the form every employee needs to fill out and provide to their employer so that the employer can withhold the proper amount of federal income tax withholding from the employees paycheck. The form provides a worksheet that helps the employee figure out the proper number of allowances. The more the number of allowances, the less income tax the employee is likely to owe and therefore the less is withheld.

So, to answer the obvious question of whether an employee can simply mark the highest number of allowances available, or simply claim to be exempt from withholding, the answer is no. Withholding is not really optional. However, there are circumstances that allow an employee to claim EXEMPT on their W-4. And if they do so, they do have to fill out a W-4 each year to make this claim.


In general an employee can claim ‘exempt’ on their W-4 if they had no income tax liability in the previous year (and thus paid no federal income tax or received or had a right to receive a refund of all income taxes paid) and the employee does not expect to have a tax liability this year, or expects to receive a full refund of all taxes this year. To validate that estimate, the IRS looks at a few things such as whether the employee can be claimed on someone else’s return, the level of earned income in the upcoming year and the level of expected unearned income.

Be wary of employees who submit W-4s to you indicating they are exempt. This may be a simple and misguided desire to postpone paying taxes and could lead the employee into trouble down the road and could bring unwanted attention to the employer from the IRS. Be sure to have access to a correctly filled out W-4 from every employee and make sure that your employee’s understand the importance of accurately assessing the number of allowances they qualify for so that they have enough, but not too much, income tax withheld from their paychecks.