Jay Starkman

Jay is the founder and CEO of Engage PEO.

In 2011, after more than two decades marked by substantial achievement within and outside of the PEO industry, Jay set out to build a new kind of PEO where quality service would be the driving focus of everything. That PEO is Engage. Today, Engage is one of the fastest growing companies in the country.

Before forming Engage, Jay was president and CEO of AlphaStaff, a PEO which he grew from a small player to a top five industry leader. The then fastest growing PEO under his leadership, Jay sold the company in 2008 to a private equity group, creating a large return on investment for company shareholders. Jay also previously served as president and CEO of OneChem, a software application provider to the chemical industry.  

In addition to his corporate leadership success, Jay had a distinguished legal career, serving as the managing partner of his own firm, which specialized in employment and commercial law, arguing seminal cases as high as the United States Supreme Court. Jay served as a member of the board of directors of ESAC (Employee Services Assurance Corporation), the accrediting body for the PEO industry. He also served on the board of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO).

Jay has received numerous awards in recognition of his business accomplishments, including the Gold Stevie® Award for Executive of the Year in the 2015 American Business Awards. He also received Florida’s Top Entrepreneur Award from Florida Business Leader; named HRO Top Superstar by HRO Today, and a Florida TrendSetter by Florida Trend. A frequent writer and expert commentator on a wide range of HR and legal compliance issues, Jay is a contributing writer for The American City Business Journals, Employee Benefits News, Insurance Advocate, and other HR and insurance industry publications.


Summer Interns: To pay or not to pay. What are the rules?

May 24, 2018

Some experts are predicting an increase in more traditional unpaid internships this year. This is likely due to the Department of Labor's new test for determining whether interns qualify as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  If an intern does qualify as an employee, he or she must be paid at least minimum wage as well as overtime.

Simply Engaged Named One of the Best HR Blogs of 2018

May 1, 2018

Thanks to Fit Small Business for the recognition, and congratulations to our dedicated blog contributors. Your experience and HR expertise makes all the difference to our readers - and especially to Engage's clients.


What the New U.S. Tax Law Means for Employee Benefits

January 15, 2018

Repeal of the individual mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act, new tax credits related to the Family and Medical Leave Act, and elimination of some “fringe benefits” including employer-provided commuting and parking benefits: These are just some of the changes from the sweeping tax overhaul legislation signed into law late last month. 

Although tax and HR benefits experts are still interpreting the full impact of the new provisions, it is imperative for employers to know which of their programs may be cut or eliminated.

Exempt or Non-exempt Employee: A Guide to FLSA Classifications

November 20, 2017

At first glance, the rules for when employees should receive overtime pay appear to be straightforward, but nothing could be further from the truth. Issues constantly arise for employers.

The Bermuda Triangle for Employers: Navigating ADA, FMLA and Workers’ Comp Leave Laws

October 27, 2017

Sometimes an employee’s leave request is straightforward and requires the application of only one leave law, but not often. There is a good reason why the interplay between  FMLA, ADA, and workers' compensation laws is known as the Bermuda Triangle of employment law.

President Trump’s Executive Order on Healthcare: Key Takeaways

October 14, 2017

The President’s recent executive order is aimed at increasing competition and lowering consumer costs in the health insurance markets. Specifically, the order directs three federal agencies to consider proposing new rules that would allow the sale of low-cost, short-term insurance, expand the use of health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), and lift some of the restrictions on associated health plans (AHPs).

What Employers Should Know About the Affordable Care Act: It's Still the Law

October 2, 2017

As debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act continues, questions loom for many Americans. Individuals and businesses alike are concerned and want to know what to do right now, and how to plan ahead.

Employee Speech: What is Protected?

September 25, 2017

What should an employer do when an employee voices his or her personal beliefs or opinions that are offensive or do not align with the company’s vision and principles?

9 Employment Law Issues You Need to Watch

September 7, 2017

Year after year, companies struggle to keep up with the latest employer regulations and trending workplace issues. So far, 2017 is no different.

Home Health Care Employers: About the 8/80 Rule for OT

August 3, 2017

From an employment perspective, operating a residential health care facility that requires 24-hour staffing creates a variety of compliance issues.

Employee Verifications: 5 Common I-9 Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

July 25, 2017

The I-9 is a government document used by employers to verify the identity and employment authorization of all employees hired and working in the U.S. On July 17, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a revised version of Form I-9. 

Workplace Violence - Awareness and Prevention

June 5, 2017

Recent tragic events are sobering reminders that acts of violence - within and outside of the workplace -  are an issue of concern for all of us.

7 Key Guidelines to Crafting a Social Media Policy

May 3, 2017

In the workplace, social media has replaced the water cooler. People gather on Facebook and Twitter or Instagram to share information and engage with friends, family, co-workers and even complete strangers. These days, businesses simply can’t afford not to have a social media policy in place to protect the image and reputation of the company and provide some practical guidelines for employees.

What Employers Should Know About Election Day

October 12, 2016

Election day is almost upon us. Although the majority of workers should be able to vote before or after their normal work hours, some companies need to prepare for employees who will need to take time off to get to the polls.

How Maximizing Employee Financial Skills Boosts Their Well-Being

September 27, 2016

It’s no secret that personal financial issues can significantly impact employee job performance. Stress, an inability to focus on work, absenteeism, low morale and declining physical health are often cited as the top five workplace factors most impacted by financial concerns.

Fluctuating Workweek: What it is and how it saves you money

September 12, 2016

The Department of Labor’s final rule increasing the salary threshold for overtime exemptions has left many wondering what they will do with their salaried employees who do not meet the new threshold.

Can I afford giving them a raise? If I move them to hourly, can I afford overtime at time-and-a-half?

Employee Compensation for Time Spent Checking Emails

August 16, 2016

Until recently, employers had little reason to question whether or not to allow their white-collar employees (workers exempt from both federal minimum wage and overtime pay regulations) to access company email on their smartphones. That's about to change.

Employees May be Your Company’s Best Defense Against Cybercrime

July 18, 2016

Human behavior has been found to be a leading cause of data breaches. All it takes is one employee clicking on an email link with malicious code to compromise an entire network. This includes employees using company-owned computers and individually-owned devices connected to the Internet through a company’s local or remote network.

ACA Reporting: What's Next for Employers?

June 14, 2016

Many companies have completed their Section 6055 and 6056 information reporting under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but their work and worries are not over.There's still a good deal of confusion among employers and concerns about possible penalties or audits by the IRS.

Minding Your Company's Generation Gap

March 31, 2016

All eyes are on Millennials. Maybe, but companies that recognize and embrace the varied perspectives and talents of a multi-generational workforce are much better positioned to succeed.

Zika Virus Worries: A Q&A for Employers

February 17, 2016

Concerns over the Zika virus are rising, especially among companies with employees who travel to affected areas for business purposes.

As with any potential infectious disease, education is the best defense.

The ABCs of IRS Tax Form 1095

February 1, 2016

Much like W-2s are used to determine whether or not someone owes income taxes, the IRS will now use the information reported on Form 1095 to determine any penalty an individual might have to pay if he or she did not have qualifying health coverage (also called minimum essential coverage) during the prior tax reporting year.

This is the first tax year that the healthcare law requires this notification, so there is some confusion about the 1095s, who sends them, who receives them and what to do with them. The good news is that the IRS recently extended the deadlines for insurers and employers to furnish 2015 Form 1095-B and 2015 Form 1095-C to individual taxpayers from February 1, 2016, to March 31, 2016.  

Is an Unlimited Vacation Policy Right for Your Business?

January 21, 2016

Unlimited paid time off is catching on, at least at some businesses. Is it right for yours?

Employment-at-Will & Terminations: Advice for Employers

January 7, 2016

Many employers expect that the employment at-will doctrine will provide them the protection to terminate unsatisfactory employees. Not so fast.

As reported in L.A. BIZ

What Employers Should Know About 'Ban the Box'

December 22, 2015

The movement to remove one question from employment applications — the question regarding an applicant’s criminal history — continues to garner attention and has become law in more than 60 cities and 13 states, with more to join soon.

How to Protect Employees from Workplace Violence

December 7, 2015

Recent tragic events are sobering reminders that violence in the workplace is an issue of concern for all of us.

9 Tips for Planning the Company Holiday Party

November 30, 2015

The holiday season is a great time to celebrate and thank employees for all of their hard work. But even the most well-intentioned employer can find itself in trouble if the company's holiday party is not planned properly.

How to Detect the Not So Perfect Job Candidate

October 19, 2015

Hiring and retaining the best talent is often a company’s greatest competitive advantage. That's why every company should have a clear definition for what it takes for an individual to succeed in the organization. Equally as important is knowing how to identify job seekers who are not a good fit and to have a process in-place that eliminates them from the candidate pool as quickly as possible:   

Before the Interview:  A poor performer can be easy to spot if you look for clues.

The ACA Clock is Still Ticking for “Large Employers”

October 8, 2015

In a rare display of bipartisan consensus, both chambers of Congress passed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act, which will make it possible for “small employers” to remain defined as groups with 1 to 50 employees rather than change to 1 to 100 employees on January 1, 2016 as the Affordable Care Act had previously mandated. The President today signed the bill into law (October 8, 2015), giving states the flexibility to determine the size of their small-group market instead of being forced into the national standard.  

5 Tips for More Effective Open Enrollment Communications

October 2, 2015

Studies show that when a company invests time and resources to improve benefits communications, it can drive greater participation rates for programs and also boost job satisfaction and employee loyalty. Good communication clearly matters – but good does not mean a lot of bells and whistles.

6 Tips for Effective Documentation

September 2, 2015

Thorough documentation is a critical part of performance management. It’s also a vital component when building an employer’s defense against complaints such as EEOC charges or unemployment insurance disputes.

While an absence of documentation can be devastating to an employer’s defense, poorly written documentation can be just as damaging. Below are six tips on effective documentation:

The Final Word on How to Pay Home Healthcare Workers?

August 26, 2015

Since 2013, employers in the home health industry have been waiting for the final word on revised regulations by the Department of Labor (DOL) which would essentially prevent them from using the popular “companionship services” exemption from minimum wage and overtime pay. The wait may finally be over. A recent decision overturns a January 2015 ruling and holds that the DOL has the authority to extend the minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers employed by third parties.

Who are direct care workers?

Some Essentials for Your Performance Management Process

August 24, 2015

A growing number of companies are rethinking the way employee performance is measured. Some companies such as Adobe and Microsoft have done away with numerical rankings, while others, like Accenture, have eliminated annual performance reviews altogether.  Recently, an article appeared in the New York Times describing the other extreme at Amazon, where reportedly data is used extensively for vigorous performance management.

LGBT Workplace Policies: What Employers Need to Know Today

August 11, 2015

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - the federal agency that enforces civil rights laws and investigates complaints of job discrimination – saw the number of cases filed relating to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity increase by 40 percent from 2013 to 2014. Experts predict that the number of complaints will continue to rise.

Given the unprecedented pace of change in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) related legislation, companies should re-examine their workplace policies.

Employee or Independent Contractor? Making the Wrong Classification Can be Costly.

July 30, 2015

Misclassifications of employees are a continuing area of enforcement by the Department of Labor, the IRS and even some states. There are a number of critical factors involved when determining whether to classify someone as an employee or an independent contractor.

Religious Accommodations in the Workplace - What Employers Should Know

July 7, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in a significant employment discrimination suit filed by The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The case underscores the need for comprehensive HR training for all those with the authority to hire and fire workers.

The Minimum Wage Wave Rides On: Changes for 2015 and Beyond

July 1, 2015

The media dubbed 2014 “the year of the minimum wage,” following a wave of protests by minimum wage workers demanding higher pay. The wage rallies continue in 2015, triggering multiple states, cities and other localities to move wages well above the federal minimum. The bottom line for all companies is that they must closely monitor the changing laws to ensure compliance.

Obamacare is Here to Stay, at Least for Now

June 30, 2015

On June 25, 2015, the United States Supreme Court once again upheld aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this time ruling against the most recent attack against the statute, which was based upon the words of the statute itself. The wholesale changes brought about by the law, both past and imminent, are here to stay, and employers must be mindful of the impact. This is especially true for employers with between 50 and 99 full-time (benefit-eligible) employees, who, for the first time, will be subject to the “play-or-pay” provisions of the law beginning in 2016.

Your Company's Sick Leave Policy - Maintaining it is Not as Simple as it Used to be

May 8, 2015

Effective July 1, new laws will require employers in California and Massachusetts to provide mandatory sick leave to workers. Similar legislation has already been enacted or is pending in more than a dozen jurisdictions, including Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Seattle, and New York City.This has been a hot topic in recent months but mandatory sick leave is not a new trend. 

How Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) Can Help with HR Compliance Challenges

May 1, 2015

HR compliance worries, ongoing changes to healthcare laws in addition to tax and other administrative burdens have increased demand for professional employer organizations (PEOs).

Partnering with a PEO can provide affordable solutions to many compliance challenges today's business face, from regulatory duties to time consuming employment and tax-related reporting.

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