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June 2018 Reporter

June 2018

Dear Members,


FTC Investigation Found Failures to Disclose Pricing Information

In 2017, FTC investigators who were working undercover in 11 states, found 25% of the Funeral Homes failed to disclose pricing information. The FTC's Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to disclose pricing information at the beginning of an in-person meeting about funeral arrangements.

First time offenders of the price list disclosure requirements can enter the Funeral Rule Offenders Program (FROP), which is a program run by NFDA to help increase compliance with the Funeral Rule. All 33 Funeral Homes in violation opted to enter the FROP rather than facing FTC action, which could result in fines up to $40,654 per violation.

Source: Memorial Business Journal, April 26, 2018

RememberingALife.com: Empowering Consumers at Every Stage of the Journey

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the world's leading and largest funeral service association has launched RememberingaLife.com, a guide to honoring a life well-lived, from planning a tribute to mourning a loved one.

RememberingALife.com is NFDA's first stand-alone consumer website. It features information about what to do at the time of death, how to plan or preplan a funeral, how to find an NFDA funeral home and what to expect during the grieving process.

The Latest News from the Department of Labor

NFDA believes there are several important developments at the Department of Labor (DOL) that may be of interest to funeral directors and funeral homes. On April 12, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta testified on the DOL Fiscal Year 2019 budget request before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chair of the subcommittee, described the DOL request as "once again ... under significant budgetary constraints ....". The proposal reduces funding for the Department by $1.3 billion, a decrease of 11 percent.

At the hearing, Acosta discussed several themes, including reducing regulation and providing clarity on regulatory requirements. With respect to OSHA, Acosta, described the need for both enforcement and compliance assistance. He noted that the number of enforcement-related inspections conducted in 2017 had increased. However, Acosta suggested that OSHA's emphasis will be on providing compliance assistance, namely by helping business comply with the laws before incidents occur and remain in compliance with worker protection laws.

Despite the overall reduction in the DOL FY 2019 budget, the request includes increases for several OSHA programs, federal enforcement and compliance assistance and outreach, including resources for the Voluntary Protection Program.

Source: NFDA Bulletin, April 23, 2018

Department of Labor Issues Opinions on Rest Breaks Due to Health Conditions

Recently, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter concerning whether workers should be paid for health-related rest breaks, an issue of interest to NFDA members.

In reference to breaks, DOL regulations construing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provide that an employee must be paid for certain rest breaks. Rest periods typically lasting from 5 minutes to about 20 minutes, are common in business and are considered working time and counted as hours worked.

In its opinion letter, the WHD considered whether a non-exempt employee's 15-minute rest breaks, certified by a health care provider, as required hourly, because of the employees' serious health conditions, are compensable time under the FSLA. (Non-exempt employees generally do not hold executive, administrative, or professional positions or are commissioned outside sales persons.)

These breaks accommodate the employee's serious health condition, the breaks predominantly benefit the employee and not the employer. For that reason, the WHD determined that they are not compensable and not part of the wage that the employer must pay.

You may read the full opinion letter at https://www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/FLSA/2018/2018_04_12_02_FLSA.pdf

The FLSA is a complex and technical statute, which does not apply in all instances to all employers and certainly not to all funeral homes. NFDA recommends before adopting the guidance provided in the recent opinion letter, care should be taken to determine whether the guidance is applicable to your funeral home.

Source: NFDA Bulletin, April 30, 2018

Five New FTC Commissioners Confirmed

The FTC has been functioning over the last three years with only two commissioners and three vacancies. On April 26th, that all changed when the Senate confirmed five new commissioners. The new panel members are: Chairman Joe Simons, a veteran Washington D.C. antitrust attorney; Noah Phillips, who served as chief counsel to Texas Senator John Cornyn; Christine Wilson, senior vice president for regulatory and international affairs at Delta Airlines; Rebecca Slaughter, former chief counsel to New York Senator Chuck Schumer; and Rohit Chopra, former Assistant Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Due to the vacancies at the FTC, the Funeral Rule review was pushed back from 2017 to 2019. NFDA has made the FTC staff aware that items they will be pushing to revise are the price list distribution requirements of the Funeral Rule and the option of using variable basic service fees.

Source: Memorial Business Journal, May 3, 2018

NFDA Announces Health Insurance Options Program for Members

NFDA members now have a new option for health insurance coverage. NFDA's Health Insurance Option provides employers of any size with options to provide coverage to their employees. The program is valid for NFDA members only and could save member funeral homes five to 15 percent on annual premiums. More information about the NFDA Health Insurance Options program is available online,



BPOA Announces Streamlined Background Checks and Online Application Process for New Licensees

The Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs sent a memo announcing two important matters concerning licensure: 1) All new licensees will need to pay $27.00 for a background check, which will now be processed by the board rather than the applicant; and 2) Paper applications for 6 Funeral Professional licenses will continue to be accepted for initial applications. Please note that both the new fee and ongoing acceptance of initial paper applications only apply to new applications, not license renewals. For more information and to read the entire memo go to: http://www.pfda.org/pfda-breaking-news/.

Tom Flynn Receives Lasting Impact Award

Tom Flynn, owner of Flynn Funeral Home, Hermitage, PA; Flynn Pet Funeral Home and Crematory; and America's Cemetery was presented with ICCFA's Lasting Impact Award. Flynn was recognized for placing the first Canine Companions for Independence grief dog into a funeral home and for creating the famous Avenue of 444 Flags and War on Terror Memorial.

Source: Memorial Business Journal, April 26, 2018


Preneed Shortfalls: Are You Mortgaging Your Future with the Wrong Preneed Product?

In our recent survey of our PFDA members, many funeral directors expressed a concern about preneed shortfalls when those plans are converted to at-need. How can you prevent shortfalls from happening? What can you do about it if you are regularly seeing preneed shortfalls? In this article, Paul Lovelace, Vice President of Corporate Development at Funeral Directors Life shares a few important options for every funeral home owner to consider. Read More at bit.ly/PreneedShortfalls.


Passare Announces New Inventory Management Feature and Check Writing Feature

Passare, Inc. is proud to announce the addition of inventory management, allowing funeral homes to track and manage merchandise inventory automatically through Passare's collaboration software. The inventory system can track serial numbers of items and record which serial number is sold to each customer.

They are also proud to announce the release of "Check Writing," a new feature that allows funeral homes to print and manage check payments to vendors for services and cash advance items. This feature will help funeral homes improve efficiency, streamline check writing for multiple locations, and save time for administrative staff. Check Writing integrates seamlessly with each case's goods and services statement. Once cash advances are selected, funeral directors can create checks that are ready to be printed for each service with the click of a button.

Passare is the funeral profession's only collaboration system with integrated case management, offering a best-in-class experience for funeral professionals and the families they serve.

Source: Passare News Release, May 8, 2018 and May 15, 2018

Kerr Elected Director of Federated Insurance Companies

Mike Kerr, of Owatonna, Minnesota, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federated Insurance Companies. The election took place at the Annual Meeting of Policyholders held April 17, 2018, at Federated Insurance Companies' home office in Owatonna, Minnesota.

Kerr is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Federated Insurance Companies.

Source: Federated Insurance, News Release, April 2018

Keeping You and Your Employees Safe

Over the decades, the number of vehicle crash fatalities across the nation has relatively declined. But, in recent years, crash fatalities have increased dramatically. Between 2014 and 2015, fatalities increased 8.4 percent year over year - the largest year over year increase in over 50 years. Between 2015 and 2016, fatalities increased another 5.6 percent over the previous record-breaking year.

When seatbelts and specialized vehicle bumpers became required years ago, it was soon realized that technology can help prevent injuries and deaths. Today, a different type of technology is developing, and usage is increasing across various industries. Current technology will monitor driver performance and allow business leaders to coach employee individual performance.

Federated has recently built relationships with three vendor partners who specialize in driving technology – Lytx®, Sentinel HDx, and SmartDrive®. These relationships allow Federated clients access to discounted products and services.

If crash statistics continue to rise, we will continue to drive home prevention tools for our clients. There is real impact to the bottom line, but our greatest impact is keeping our roadways safe and making sure everyone makes it home safe today and every day.

Source: Federated Insurance, Risk Management Corner, April 2018


Cemetery Owners Stole $500K From Customers, Feds Say

The former owners of a York County cemetery have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges they defrauded their customers out of approximately $500,000.

Theodore Martin, 54, and his wife, Arminda Martin, 47, owned and operated Suburban Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Dover between 2003 and 2016. The Martins, formerly of York County, are accused of defrauding at least 200 customers. They are charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

U.S. Attorney David Freed said the maximum penalty under federal law is 20 years in prison on each count, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine.

Source: ABC 27, April 17, 2018

Uniontown Funeral Director Faces New Charges

Investigators believe Stephen E. Kezmarsky III, 50 of Uniontown, stole an additional $244, 377 from elderly clients who had pre-paid for their own funerals. Kezmarsky was charged and arrested in January for stealing from 51 other victims. It is believed from October 2010 to March 2017, Kezmarksy stole a total of $528,770. He collected advance payments from clients to cover their future funeral expenses, and instead of placing the money in escrow accounts as required by Pennsylvania law, Kezmarsky co-mingled the funds with his business and personal accounts.

Source: Pennsylvania Attorney General News Release, May 2, 2018


The Scams Continue

We recently had a member receive a telephone call indicating he had a DHL Express shipment in Philadelphia for which money was due. The caller provided an e-mail and a tracking number. This seemed very legitimate to the receiving funeral director except they knew they did not have any orders coming. Be careful about e-mails and phone calls. The scams are wide-spread.


Grief Support Program for Young Adults

The Highmark Caring Place is hosting a six-week grief support group for young adults between 18 and 30. Group meetings will be held on Tuesdays at 6:00pm in June and July, starting on
June 12.

To RSVP or for additional information, contact Terri Bowling at 717-302-8402 or terri.bowling@highmark.com

2018 District Meetings

PFDA's Annual District Meetings will be held during the weeks of September 10-13 and September 17-20, 2018. The continuing education seminars will be: Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse, presented by various speakers, for 2 CEU's and How Boomers Are Changing the Funeral Profession, presented by Josh McQueen, Passare, for 1 CEU.


Terrence, W. "Terry" Cooke, 59, of Quakertown, passed away on May 5, 2018. He is survived by his wife Alain Cooke, a licensed funeral director at Cantelmi Long Funeral Home.

Robert L. Green, 86, of St. Marys, passed away on May 14, 2018 at Elk Haven Nursing Home. He was a licensed funeral director and a partner in the Lynch-Green Funeral Home, St. Marys.

Damian M. Petaccio, 41, of Royersford, passed away on May 22, 2018. He was a licensed funeral director working as a Supervisor at Cattermole-Klotzbach Funeral Home, Royersford.

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