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HCM, ASO, and FMLA: Understanding Payroll Acronyms 

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    If you’ve started a business, you may have heard folks throw around payroll acronyms like HCM, FICA, and ERC. That’s because no matter what group you interact with, you will find that they have their own original lingo. Whether it’s a sports fanbase (Grit N Grind!) to a friend group from high school, it can be easy to get lost in their nomenclature and find yourself lost in the conversation with no clue what anyone is talking about.  

    When I first started in this business, I felt like I had been dropped in another country with those around me speaking in a completely different language. It was English but I didn’t have a clue what my new colleagues were talking about. “Are they an EA?” “How many EE’s have come from using their ATS?” I was completely lost! And I learned to become comfortable asking the question, “What does that mean” or “What does that abbreviation stand for?”  

    You don’t know what you don’t know, and, as a business owner, we don’t expect that you are fluent when it comes to payroll language. So, I’d like to give you the cliff notes version and provide you with a quick and easy guide to the most used acronyms that I hear every day working in the payroll industry. 

    Payroll acronyms you should know 

    EE- Employee  

    EA– Enrolled Agent  

    DBA- Doing Business As  

    PEO- Professional Employer Organization 

    PEPM- Per Employee/ Per Month  

    EIN– Employer Identification Number 

    HRIS– Human Resource Information Systems 

    HCM = Human Capital Management System  

    This is a big one, so we decided to highlight it a little more. Human capital management is a set of practices related to people (human) resource management. These practices are focused on the organizational need to provide specific competencies and are implemented in three categories: workforce acquisition (pre-employment), workforce management and optimization (employment), and workforce separation (post- employment). 

    ASO– Administrative Services Organization 

    An organization that provides outsourced solutions to meet the administrative needs of a client, with the client retaining all employment related risks and liabilities. 

    PEO– Professional Employer Organization 

    ATS– Applicant Tracking System  

    Software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment and hiring needs; it acts like a database for job applicants. 

    E- verify 

    A web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. 

    Exempt Employee 

    An employee who is exempt from receiving premium overtime pay. 

    PAYGO– Pay as you go workers’ comp 

    A way of reporting payroll figures to the employers’ worker comp insurance provider that eliminates the need for year-end policy adjustments. Employers only pay based on their actual payroll data and not on an estimated amount.  

    ERC– Employee Retention Tax Credit  

    A refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes up to 70% of the qualified wages paid to employees in the late 2020 and almost all of 2021. 

    All things Benefits and Compliance  

    BA– Benefits Administration 

    The process of creating, managing, and updating an organization’s employee benefits program including health insurance, retirement accounts, vacations, PTO, and parental leave. 

    FICA– Federal Insurance Contributions Act 

    The taxes that largely fund Social Security retirement, disability, survivors, spousal, and children’s benefits. The total due every pay period is 15.3% of an individual’s wage- half of which is paid by the employee and the other half by the employer. 

    FUTA– Federal Unemployment Tax Act 

    Legislation that allows the government to tax businesses with employees for the purpose of collecting revenue that is then allocated to state unemployment agencies and paid to unemployed workers who are eligible to claim unemployment benefits.  

    COBRA– Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act 

    Gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.  

    FMLA– Family and Medical Leave act 

    FLSA- Fair Labor Standards Act 

    Conclusion 

    While this doesn’t hit every term and acronym in the payroll and benefits industry, it is a great start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your support specialist so they can help educate you, because remember, you don’t know what you don’t know!  In the end, you’ll become an expert and sound like you are speaking another language. Although it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as sweet as French or Spanish, it’s a necessary language when building your business. 

    If you are not sure what benefits you need to be offering and want to see if you are in compliance, check out this article where our director of People Services, Greg Henderson, touches on Federal,Local, and State Employment Laws per EE’s(see you are already learning!) Got the lingo and ready to take the next step? So are we.

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    Mark Gresham

    Mark Gresham