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What is a PEO?

Are you bogged down by employee paperwork?

Is your payroll a pain in the neck?

Or maybe, attracting and retaining good employees is a constant struggle because your benefits aren’t up to par.

Whatever the cause may be, HR challenges can be a real hindrance to your business’ growth. It’s easy to overlook key revenue-generating opportunities when you’re distracted by your HR to-dos.

The good news: There’s help out there – it’s called a professional employer organization (PEO).

These organizations can work with your company to provide comprehensive and affordable payroll, benefits and human resource services through a business-to-business relationship called “co-employment.”

What is co-employment?


As a business leader, you may cringe a little when you hear the term co-employment. But it’s really not as intrusive as it may sound.

Through the co-employment relationship, a PEO takes on many of your employee-related employer responsibilities, while you continue to manage and run your business. Here’s what that actually means for your business:

Your role

Your company remains the primary employer. You’ll still maintain control over managing your employees’ daily to-dos and core job functions as well as maintaining your organizational structure.

The PEO’s role


As the co-employer, the PEO takes on certain, specific employer obligations, as set forth in your service agreement. This allows the PEO to handle functions such as payroll, benefits, tax remittance and related government filings. Because it acts as an employer for those purposes, the PEO can assume a greater amount of responsibility than, for example, a payroll company.

One-stop shop


Typically, a PEO can manage all the HR jobs that you would have to outsource to multiple service providers – like payroll processing, benefit plan management and administration, recruiting and training, and more. This way you can spend less time managing various vendor relationships.

The PEO becomes your one-stop shop for:

  • Employee benefits
Typically, with PEO-sponsored benefit plans, your employees will have access to a wider variety of benefits than your company could obtain on its own. This includes medical, dental and vision coverage, a health care flexible spending account, a retirement plan, life insurance and personal accident insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, adoption assistance, commuter benefits and educational assistance. In addition, your PEO can provide guidance on compliance related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help you avoid costly penalties. 

  • Payroll processing
The PEO becomes your payroll service provider, managing the regular compensation of your employees, along with payroll record maintenance and management, payroll compliance, online paystubs and W-2s, payroll management reports, garnishment and deduction administration and PTO accruals. 

  • HR administration
Supporting your internal HR team, a PEO helps you manage your liabilities as an employer, providing employee handbooks, new hire onboarding, termination assistance, leave of absence request management, employee relations support, substance abuse prevention services, liability management training, employment verification, and more.

  • Workers’ compensation coverage and administration, including claim resolution
Joining a PEO provides you with workers’ compensation insurance coverage. The PEO also manages and resolves your claims in the event of an on-site injury. To prevent injuries before they even happen, PEOs offer workplace safety reviews. Its safety specialists can work with your company to design safety and return-to-work programs.

  • Performance management support
A PEO can help you design and conduct employee performance appraisals on a regular basis. In addition, to support ongoing performance improvement, PEOs often provide you with compensation resources and tools, supervisor coaching, assistance with job descriptions, reward and recognition program design, base pay structures, self-help tools and worksheets for variable and sales compensation structures and company climate surveys.

  • Training and development
Many PEOs can offer you training and leadership development services for your employees, such as an online learning management system containing interactive courses and digital books. A PEO’s training services may also include live or virtual training seminars.

  • Recruiting support
A PEO can help you design the ideal recruitment process that fits your unique business. It may also work with you to develop job descriptions, conduct wage and salary surveys, and improve your hiring managers’ interview and candidate selection skills.

  • Strategic HR support and planning
A PEO can help you develop a strategic HR plan that allows you to make HR management decisions now that will support the future direction and growth of your organization.

Reduce your employer liability


What’s more – through this co-employment relationship with a PEO – your company can effectively and efficiently mitigate a substantial portion of the risk and responsibility associated with having employees, including risks associated with things like:

  • Correctly reporting, collecting and depositing taxes with state and federal authorities
  • I-9 requirements
  • EEO reporting and claim resolution
  • Management of certain employee-related claims and provision of Employee Practice Liability Insurance (EPLI)

At-the-ready compliance assistance


Most PEOs employ specialists who are responsible for monitoring many employer-related state and federal laws. Armed with this knowledge, they can help you stay abreast of constantly shifting laws, regulations and reporting requirements that impact your ability to successfully run your business. These include things like properly following federal and state leave laws, assisting your company in its compliance with the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) overtime requirements and employee handbook development.

A PEO does NOT
 

  • Control your business
PEOs provide access to seasoned HR professionals whose guidance and advice you can solicit when you need assistance. They help manage your company’s employee-related administration and risks, but you maintain control of business and operational decisions.

  • Replace your internal HR staff
PEOs align with your company’s existing HR department or staff to provide complimentary expertise, such as support in administering workplace policies and making shifts in company culture. A good PEO will employ seasoned HR staff who are certified HR professionals who have experience with various industries. And as a PEO client, their expertise is at your disposal. This can prove invaluable when you’re faced with complicated HR situations or workplace improvement initiatives, such as increasing employee engagement, addressing conflict effectively or developing compensation programs that connect to business goals.

  • Cause disruption to your workplace
There is minimal, if any, disruption to employees when you work with a PEO. They will see the PEO’s name on their paycheck and other documents, but will likely appreciate the greater depth and breadth of benefits offered as a result. In addition, some PEOs offer online self-service options that allow employees to access and manage their personal, benefits and paycheck information whenever they want.



Michael Timmes

Senior Human Resource Specialist
Michael Timmes has been in the HR field for more than 20 years. Introduced to HR early in his career in the hospitality industry, he decided to return to school at Rutgers University, earning a master’s in Human Resource Management. Michael also holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation and a Certified Professional Coaching designation from iPEC, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. In addition to working in hospitality, Michael’s professional journey includes experiences in manufacturing, IT and financial services. Michael is currently a senior human resource specialist at Insperity.
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