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How to Spot an Employee with Debt Problems

Stressed married couple looking frustrated, having no money to pay off their debts, managing family budget together

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By South Florida Caribbean News: July 20,2021

Happy employees are usually more productive and social. However, there are many stress factors that can affect an employee and therefore their productivity and interactions with other employees. Finances are one such stressor and they have been shown to be one of the biggest sources of stress in the workplace. Human resource managers, business owners and team leaders should know the clues to watch out for out to tell whether their employees or those they manage are in debt and therefore under financial stress. Here are just some of them.

Repeated Pay Advance Requests

There are many reasons why an employee would ask for a pay advance. It is also quite normal for them to ask once or twice. However, if an employee makes a habit out of asking for a pay advance, that is a huge indicator that they may be in debt and are struggling with something bigger than the normal emergencies one might expect. If this is the case, you could advise them to talk to a financial manager to help structure their debts better and get into a payment pattern so they can get out of debt.

Frequent Overtime Requests

As with pay advances, asking for overtime is not unusual. However, employees who suddenly start asking for more overtime might be having some trouble making ends meet at home. As a manager, this can become problematic because it is not possible to give all the overtime work to the one employee who requests additional work.

Stress and Depression

Stress is a lot harder to pin down than any of the clues that someone is in debt. However, employees are able to tell when something is off with their co-worker. They may seem anxious, agitated, tired or have mood swings. Any of these signs can point to them having financial difficulties. These signs should not be ignored because untreated stress can lead to depression. Stress and depression can become much larger issues if they are ignored and this is why it is so important to initiate a conversation with someone suspected of being in debt. Getting to the root of the problem, such as irresponsible gambling, over-leveraging on investments or borrowing for any other reason, is usually the first step to coming up with a viable solution.

Anger

People who have financial difficulties will often be angry about their situation, and this anger can bleed into other areas of their lives. They could also have misplaced anger towards their co-workers for not helping, their managers for not paying them enough, or their loved ones for being a burden. This anger can also show up as an employee being irritable and snapping when talked to.

Although it is not possible for employers and small business owners to give all their employees raises, it is still important to keep an eye out for signs of financial stress. If you notice any signs, you should point the employee in the right direction and ensure they get the help they need to get their lives back on track. There are lots of financial resources and advisors available to help in these situations.

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Michigan license number:   DM-0016282 Available to the public and licensed in Michigan.

Section 13(1)  When a licensee establishes a debt management plan for a debtor, the licensee may charge and receive an initial fee of $50.00

Section 13(2)  A licensee shall attempt to obtain consent to participate in a debt management plan from at least 51%, in number or dollar amount, of the debtor’s creditors within 90 days after establishing the debt management plan. If the required consent is not actually received by the licensee, the licensee shall provide notice to the debtor of the lack of required consent and the debtor may, at its option, close the account. If the debtor decides to close the account, any unexpended funds shall be returned to the debtor or disbursed as directed by the debtor.

Sec. 14. (1) A contract between a licensee and debtor shall include all of the following:

(a) Each creditor to which payments will be made and the amount owed each creditor. A licensee may rely on records of the debtor and other information available to it to determine the amount owed to a creditor.

(b) The total amount of the licensee’s charges.

(c) The beginning and termination dates of the contract.

(d) The principal amount and approximate interest charges of the debtor’s obligations to be paid under the debt management plan.

(e) The name and address of the licensee and of the debtor.

(f) Any other provisions or disclosures that the director determines are necessary for the protection of the debtor and the proper conduct of business by a licensee.

Sec. 18. (1) In addition to the fee described in section 13(1), a licensee may charge a reasonable fee for providing debt management services under a debt management plan. The fee under this subsection shall not exceed 15% of the amount of the debt to be liquidated during the express term of the plan.

(2) A licensee may offer a debtor the option to purchase credit reports or educational materials and products, and charge a fee to the debtor if the debtor elects to purchase any of those items from the licensee.  Fees charged under this subsection are not subject to the 15% limitation on fees described in subsection (1).

(3) Except for a cancellation described in subsection (4), in the event of cancellation of or default in the performance of the contract by the debtor before its successful completion, a licensee may collect $25.00 in addition to any fees and charges of the licensee previously received by the licensee. This $25.00 fee is not subject to the 15% limitation on fees and charges under subsection (1).

(4) A contract is in effect when it is signed by the licensee and the debtor and the debtor has made a payment of any amount to the licensee. The debtor has the right to cancel the contract until 12 midnight of the third business day after the first day the contract is in effect by delivering written notice of cancellation to the licensee. A cancellation described in this section is not subject to, and a licensee shall not collect, the fee described in subsection (3).

(5) If a debtor fails to make a payment of any amount to a licensee within 60 days after the date a payment is due under a contract, the licensee may, in its discretion, cancel the debt management contract if it determines that the plan is no longer suitable for the debtor, the debtor fails to affirmatively communicate to the licensee the debtor’s desire to continue the plan, or the creditors of the debtor refuse to continue accepting payments under the plan.

(6) A licensee shall not contract for, receive, or charge a debtor an amount greater than authorized by this act. A person that violates this subsection, except as the result of an inadvertent clerical or computer error, shall return to the debtor the amount of the payments received from or on behalf of the debtor and not distributed to creditors, and, as a penalty, an amount equal to the amount overcharged.

530 W Allegan Street, 7th Floor
Lansing, MI  48909-7720
877-999-6442

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