Don't miss the Deadline!
Effective December 1, 2016, the new Department of Labor regulation goes into effect. It increases the salary threshold required for paying overtime to $47,476 annually or $913 per week. This salary threshold will be adjusted every three years by the DOL. For purposes of reaching this threshold, you may also include nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid to the employee to satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary threshold. There are NO changes in the factors used to qualify an employee as a professional, executive or high-level administrator under the white-collar exemption. Currently, only funeral directors in Ohio and Minnesota are recognized under this exemption. However, there is a strong argument that the "professional exemption" may also be applied to funeral directors in states that require at least three years of post-secondary education and one year of apprenticeship/internship. Pennsylvania is one of those states. For those funeral homes that have used the fluctuating workweek method to pay your employees, you should be aware that there have been lawsuits overturning that practice as not in compliance with the regulation.
Source: Kathleen K. Ryan, Esquire, Executive Director
Scheduling a Burial with the National Cemetery Administration
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has created a process, in an attempt to provide better and faster service for funeral professionals, when scheduling a burial at a national cemetery. More information on the steps that should be followed can be found at http://www.cem.va.gov/burial_benefits/.
Source: VA National Cemetery Administration
Proposed OSHA Revisions
In October, OSHA proposed eighteen revisions to its recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards. Two of the proposed revisions will impact funeral service: the removal of employee social security numbers from the Formaldehyde Standard and the Lockout/Tagout Standard, which establishes requirements for the control of hazardous energy, meaning electrical, pneumatic, mechanical, hydraulic, chemical or thermal energy. More information on the proposals can be found at https://osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=33234. OSHA is accepting comments in reference to proposed revisions up until December 5, 2016.
Source: NFDA Bulletin, October 17, 2016
Updated OSHA Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs
For the first time in 30 years, OSHA has updated the Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs, to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and safety and health issues. The guidelines are to help prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths. The updated guidelines can be downloaded at https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/docs/OSHA_SHP_Recommended_Practices.pdf.
Clarification on CORE and Gift of Life Services and Procedures
Recently PFDA reached out to both Gift of Life and CORE for clarification on the services that both organizations offer. Gift of Life and CORE do offer reimbursement fees on donation cases. Gift of Life provides reimbursement in cases where there is extraordinary work performed beyond a normal funeral. If a funeral director believes that is the case, they can forward an invoice to Gift of Life along with the funeral bill to assure Gift of Life that the family is not billed for the same work. Gift of Life reimbursement ranges from $100 to a maximum of $300. Gift of Life does not provide embalming services.
CORE provides reimbursement of $150 when a completed survey that accompanies the
donor to the funeral home is completed and turned back in to CORE. In the event that the donor has been moved to CORE for the recovery procedure, CORE provides free transportation to the chosen funeral home. It has also been CORE's practice to cover any other donation related fees that the funeral home may charge the family. For example, in the past they have covered the cost that funeral homes associate with "tissue reconstruction." CORE does provide embalming services. CORE makes the funeral director aware that this service can be provided free of charge. The funeral director has the option to utilize this complimentary service. If the funeral director is in favor of having the embalming performed, consent is given by the family and they are made aware that the embalming will be conducted at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS). CORE does not perform the actual embalming, but merely facilitates the obtaining of consent and coordinates with the mortuary school to initiate the process. Embalming is only done by the students at PIMS.
Request for U.S Army Burial Made Easier
The National Personnel Records Center is making it easier for Funeral Directors and families to request burials for veterans. If the next of kin does not have service documentation or a DD Form 214, there is new Request for Military Records for Veterans Burial/Funeral Benefits form. The form can be obtained by contacting the office that covers your local area. Local offices can be found at https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/Casualty%20Assistance%20Centers%20Locator.
Funeral Directors can also call 609-562-4453 for more information.
Funeral Directors Life and Passare Announce New Preneed Integration Feature
Funeral Directors Life and Passare, Inc. recently released the funeral industry's only automated integration between a preneed company and an at-need funeral administration system. The system will eliminate funeral home staff from having to enter preneed case data twice, and also helps staff members to easily reference preneed cases for families.
Source: FDLIC News Release October 3, 2016
A.M. Best Reaffirms Funeral Directors Life's Excellent Rating
A.M. Best Company, a full-service global credit rating agency for the insurance industry, recently reaffirmed a rating of A- (Excellent) with a "stable" outlook for Funeral Directors Life (FDLIC). A.M. Best analyzes an insurer's financial strength and ability to meet its ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations. Best's credit ratings are based on a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of a company's balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile.
Funeral Directors Life's conservative approach to asset management and consistent growth of capital and surplus over the years has placed the company in a very stable and secure financial position despite the current low investment rate environment. Since 2008, Funeral Directors Life's total assets have more than doubled, while maintaining a capital & surplus to total assets ratio between 8% to 10%.
Source: FDLIC, News Release, October 12, 2016
Federated Insurance Names Kerr its Chief Operating Officer
Fires Don't Always Start with a Lit Match
Federated Insurance has named Michael G. Kerr its Chief Operating Officer. As Chief Operating Officer, Kerr will be responsible for Field and Home Office Marketing, P&C Underwriting, Special Accounts, Life and Heath Operations, Association Risk Management Services (ARMS), Incentives, and Human Resources. He will also remain active on Federated's Operations Team.
Source: Federated Insurance, News Release, October 17, 2016
Fires that hit businesses come in all sizes. They can occur anytime, anywhere, and
from a variety of causes. They don't discriminate. Spontaneous combustion, heating systems, electrical systems, smoking, poor housekeeping, the storage of flammables, and mechanical equipment failure continue to be the most frequent fire causes across all industries, and are often the result of missed opportunities to recognize and remove the hazard.
Federated now provides industry- and business-specific fire risk evaluation
checklists that are intended to help employees, supervisors, or managers recognize and fix fire hazards. Employee training and outfitting your premises with proper fire prevention safeguards, procedures, and equipment will add to your ability to prevent a fire from taking control of your company.
Source: Federated Insurance, October 18, 2016
Senate Bill 874
Over the course of the 2015-2016 legislative session, PFDA members, staff and professional lobbyists fought for the passage of this pro-consumer bill. SB 874 dealt with cemetery sales. The three critical components of the bill were to (1) protect consumers by prohibiting the practice of "constructive delivery" to ensure they get what they paid for, (2) protect consumers by requiring price disclosures for pre-need merchandise and services, and (3) protect consumers by requiring funds be put in trust each month instead of after "final payment." We were successful in getting it passed in the Senate and out of the House Consumer Affairs Committee with major opposition. Unfortunately, due to a barrage of amendments from those opposing the bill, SB 874 wound up being one of many pieces of proposed legislation that never made it to the PA House floor for a vote before the close of the 2015-2016 legislative session.
To all PFDA members that contributed time, treasure and talent in support of SB 874 – THANK YOU! If it were not for your support the legislation would not have made it as far as it did. So, now what? PFDA is in the process of reviewing the possibilities of reintroduction in the next legislative session. We will keep you informed of the progress.
Trial Date Set for Former Owner of Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens
James Delaney, former owner of Oak Lawn Gardens in Adams County, is accused of stealing close to $1.5 million dollars from people that had pre-paid for funeral merchandise they never received. The trial date for Delaney is set for December 5, 2016.
Cemetery Owners Sentenced
Theodore Martin and Arminda Martin of Ohio, have been sentenced to one year and one day in prison and also have been ordered to repay the IRS over $300,000. The Martins, who operated Suburban Memorial Gardens in Conewago Township and two cemeteries in Ohio, failed to report $786,533 in income for the two cemeteries in Ohio. They were charged with theft by deception and receiving stolen property for never installing memorial plaques and grave markers at the York County cemetery that had been paid for.
PFDA's Donation to Highmark Caring Place
With the addition of $12,120 in proceeds from its Annual Benefit Golf Classic held during the Annual Convention in June 2016, and Highmark Blue Shield's match of dollar-for-dollar, PFDA has raised a total of $305,641 for The Highmark Caring Place since its inception in 2004. PFDA President Debra Ashton-Chase presented this year's donation to Caring Place's Fasy Greevy on October 20, 2016 at the PFDA Board of Governors meeting. Once again, we want to thank everyone for their support of this year's golf classic.
Three PFDA Member Funeral Homes were honored with the 2016 NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Awards: Funeral Homes. These funeral homes were honored for excellence in service to families and communities. The following were the recipients: E. Blake Collins Funeral Homes, Wilkes Barre, Jennings-Calvey Funeral and Cremation Services Inc., Clarks Summit and Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home, Inc., East Pittsburgh. Congratulations to our members!
PFDA Office Closed
The PFDA office will be closed at noon on November 23 and December 16, 23, and
30. The office will be closed on November 24 and 25 and December 26. Happy Holidays Everyone.
PFDA Welcomes New Members
Join PFDA in welcoming our newest members: Howard Peterson - Peterson Funeral
Home - Brookville, Matthew X. Merlin, Matthew X. Merlin Funeral Home, Inc., Derry and Matthew R. Decort, Matthew R. Decort Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Portage.
New Classified Ad Page on the PFDA Website
The PFDA website will now have a stand-alone page for classified ads. Members and non-members are permitted to advertise any funeral related products they are looking to sell on this page. The cost to advertise on the page is $55.00 per month, which will also include a listing in the monthly newsletter. It's an additional $5.00 to have a file# attached to your ad. All ad information needs to be sent to Donna in the PFDA office via email to email@example.com or fax at 717-545-7360, by the 15th of the month to appear in the following month's newsletter and on the website.
PFDA Dues Update
The Annual PFDA Membership dues have been mailed. You can pay your dues by going to www.pfda.org or by mailing a check or credit card to the PFDA office. If you have any questions, please contact Sue at 800-692-6068 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PFDA Annual Convention
The 2017 Annual Convention and Expo will be held April 23-26, 2017 at Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in Pocono Manor, PA. Attendees can reserve overnight rooms by calling 855-356-9208 and asking for the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association block or going online to https://book.kalahariresorts.com/poconos/groups.asp and using the group booking ID 416.
Keith John Adams, 64, of Perryopolis, died on October 12, 2016. He was a Licensed Funeral Director and the former owner of Blair-Lowther Funeral Home Perryopolis.
Richard Dunlap Lownes, Sr., 86, of The Peter Becker Community, Harleysville, died on October 24, 2016. Richard was the previous owner of Lownes Family Funeral Home in Lafayette Hill. He is survived by his son Randy and his grandson Wesley, both Licensed Funeral Directors working in the family business.
Gail Ryave, 73, died on October 30, 2016. Gail was the Owner and President of Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., Shadyside. She is survived by her daughter Sharon Ryave Brody, a Licensed Funeral Director, who is the Vice-President and Licensed Supervisor at the family business.
Senator J. Barry Stout, 79, of Bentleyville, died October 29, 2016. He was a Licensed Funeral Director and had worked at Kenneth V. Thompson Funeral Home, Bentleyville.