Is nonmonetary compensation the same as wages?

For most injured employees, the calculation of the workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits is straightforward: They will receive two-thirds of the average of their earnings over the 26 weeks prior to injury. If you are an employer who provides some form of nonmonetary compensation as part of a remuneration package, however, the calculation can become much more complicated. Vehicles, ski passes, cellphone service, cows, and food and lodging, to name a few, can all factor into the calculation of what your carrier pays out in weekly wage replacement benefits. Most recently, the commissioner of the Department of Labor ruled in Haller v. Champlain College that tuition-free college credits Champlain College offers to all full-time employees should also be included in the calculation as a form of nonmonetary compensation. Champlain appealed that decision to the Vermont Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in February.

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Big motivation hides behind ‘Small Data’

“Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends” by Martin Lindstrom, 2016, Picador, $16, 244 pages. It’s always the little things. A chocolate on the pillow or slippers beneath a turned-down bed. Stickers for a customer’s kids. A lagniappe in the box to make a baker’s dozen: all things to ensure a speedy return of buyer or client.

Visitors tour the wastewater treatment facility in Waterbury.
JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR / STAFF FILE PHOTO

Treatment plants are robust sites for energy efficiency upgrades

 
Vermont’s communities are trying hard to use less energy for their buildings, facilities and services — reducing both municipal energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. When thinking about how we use energy we tend to focus on the most obvious consumers of electricity and fuel. Lights, furnaces, water heaters and appliances are the first that come to mind. It’s easy to forget about the many processes taking place behind the scenes. One such process that may fly under the radar is wastewater treatment.

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‘Rich20Something’ inspiring, but worthy of caution

“Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business, and Score the Life You Want” by Daniel DiPiazza, 2017, TarcherPerigee, $24, 281 pages. Your paycheck was a lot smaller than you thought it would be. How irritating: After taxes and other deductions, you’re making a pittance for your work. How unfair. This isn’t the way it was when your parents started out!

Don’t let your investments take a ‘vacation’

It’s summer again. Time for many of us to take a break and possibly hit the open road. But even if you go on vacation, you won’t want your investments to do the same — in summertime or any other season. How can you help make sure your portfolio continues to work hard for you all year long? Here are a few suggestions:
— Avoid owning too many “low growth” investments.

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Think you’re enjoying your weekends? Guess again

“The Weekend Effect” by Katrina Onstad, 2017, HarperOne, $25.99, 304 pages
Zzzzzzzzzip. That was the sound of your last weekend as it passed by. But it probably doesn’t matter, anyhow: It was packed with work, to-do’s, obligations, kids sports and more work. Sometimes, you wonder why you even bother. You might as well just go to the office.

Medical video recording provision creates tricky dispute

Among Vermont workers’ compensation lawyers, one of the most hotly debated issues of the past year has involved the clash between an employer’s right to neuropsychological testing and the injured worker’s right to video record all employer examinations. Neuropsychological testing is an assessment of how someone’s brain is functioning, which includes an interview and the administration of a battery of tasks or questions by a neuropsychologist. One of the requirements of valid neuropsychological testing is that it cannot be conducted with the presence of a third-party observer. Doing so is considered not only allowing an unknown variable that can affect testing, but a violation of the neuropsychologist’s professional ethics. Even a video or audio recording of the actual testing compromises the test, they say.

Sandwich generation: Preserving your future — and theirs

Life is complicated these days. And if you’re part of the sandwich generation, with a parent 65 or older and either raising a child under 18 or supporting an adult child, then calling life complicated may feel like a ridiculous understatement. But while being squeezed in the middle will never be easy, there are a few steps you can take to manage your financial and emotional risks. Your challenge
One or more of your parents may need financial and emotional support. One or more of your children may need financial and emotional support.

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‘Broke’ author on quest to destroy financial illiteracy

“Broke Millennial” by Erin Lowry, 2017, Tarcher Perigee, $15, 276 pages. You are so busted. And that’s never a good thing in relationships, recreation or in finances. Especially in finances. When your wallet is empty, so are both calendar and stomach, but what can you do when even the word “money” scares you?

What does conservative mean for older investors?

If you’re a certain age, or getting close to it, you might hear something like this: “Now that you’re older, you need to invest more conservatively.” But what exactly does this mean? For starters, it’s useful to understand that your investment preferences and needs will indeed change over time. When you’re first starting out in your career, and even for a long time afterward, you can afford to invest somewhat aggressively, in stocks and stock-based investments; because you have time to overcome the inevitable short-term market drops. At this stage of your life, your primary concern is growth — you want your portfolio to grow enough to provide you with the resources you’ll need to meet your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But when you finally do retire, and perhaps for a few years before that, your investment focus likely will have shifted from accumulation to preservation.