If your company is looking for a PEO, be very careful, do your homework, shop around and make sure you ask the salesperson the right questions. Also, be sure to check the company’s record of lawsuits. The number 2 PEO in the business has had many lawsuits and class action suits against it, and just settled a 32 million dollar lawsuit in March 2010.
After using the number 2 rated payroll company for 15 years, we switched to their PEO and that mistake ended up costing our company a great deal of money. When our health care renewal rate went up 26%, the payroll company told us that by going with their PEO platform we could save $42, 000 in health insurance costs. This company, which was voted most ethical, cost our company dearly because of many hidden cost were never disclosed to us.
Under a PEO, the owners of the company and their employees become employees of the PEO. Therefore the company cannot carry an independent Worker’s Comp policy since the company is no longer the employer. Of course they told us that they have better pricing as a larger company. What was not disclosed was the fact that owners of a company can either waive their Worker’s Comp or cap it at $67, 000, saving the company money. When our company realized that under the PEO we were not eligible for the cap, our salesman lied to us and said, “many of his clients hold their own policies.” We were subsequently told by our insurance underwriter that under no circumstances could we hold a Work Comp policy under a PEO. When we confronted the PEO with this fact, they were ready to switch us to another platform, not a PEO, in order for us to hold our own policy. When they first presented the PEO package to us they never asked us how many partners were in our company. Their stupidity cost us a great deal of money. When I spoke to the Worker’s Comp person in their NYS office, I was told, “wow you know a lot about Worker’s Comp. How come this PEO didn’t advise you of this when they were enrolling you?” I can just imagine how many other companies are losing money under the PEOs Worker’s Comp policies.
Our $42, 000 health care savings was based on what they said was the advantage of a larger company’s better pricing on health care. At the time we were faced with a 26% increase using our own broker. We actually could have found a better policy with our own broker, and when the PEO’s health insurance policy was up for renewal in Dec 2010, it was a 90% increase! Since the PEO was out of New York State, the State of CT had no control over such an obscene increase in premiums. I subsequently found out that the State of CT can control health care rate increases for small companies
Start up fees and monthly administrative cost were at least 15% higher than what we paid using only their payroll services. Although they claim that they provide HR support, let me say that you would be better off hiring a HR employee rather than paying the PEO.
Our biggest loss occurred with employer payroll taxes, CT and Federal unemployment taxes. By starting our company in the middle of the year, we were now new employees of the PEO and our tax base started at zero. They never asked how many employees earned over $106, 800, where social security taxes are capped. Our employees were told they would get their individual overpayment in SS taxes back, but failed to tell the partners that they were still responsible for the employer tax. Tens of thousands of dollars were lost here. The sales person never fully disclosed these overpayments to us. We cannot get refunded for the overpayment in Federal unemployment taxes but only when I found out from my accountant that I can file for reimbursement for the CT SUI did I confront the PEO. They told me they would walk me through the process of filing. I told them that since I pay over a thousand dollars on administrative fees, they should do it for us!
The salesman for the PEO was either ignorant of all of these facts or needed to meet his quota of new clients. We were naïve about asking the right questions, but the PEO never disclosed all of the potential hidden losses that could possibly occur by using this platform.
We lost as much money as they said we would save in health insurance premiums, in employer payroll taxes, Worker’s Comp, set-up fees and administrative cost. In the long run it would have been more cost effective for us to stay with what we had rather than switching to the PEO. However, when offered a $42, 000 savings in health premiums, we jumped on the PEO bandwagon. That was a grave mistake. Be very careful if you are considering a PEO and do your research, and have all costs and potential savings spelled out in writing. Otherwise a switch could cost your company much more money that will be saved. The moral of this story…caveat emptor!