Get to Know a StratExian: Katie Samuelson

Name: Katie Samuelson

ks1History at StratEx:
I started at StratEx in March of 2015 as a Service Specialist and have since been promoted to a Project Specialist. In this role, I help clients implement our HR software, eStratEx, and I train them on the system modules they will use. I like that I continue to be on my client’s Service Team even after implementation, helping resolve any questions or issues that may arise! I have also recently taken on the title of StratEx’s Social Media Ambassador.

How have you helped a client solve an HR or Payroll problem?
I think our software specifically helps our clients’ payroll and HR needs because its a one-stop shop for all things HR/payroll related. eStratEx gives our clients the ability to manage everything in one place – payroll, recruitment, timekeeping, etc. I’ve seen a lot of our clients that have transitioned from a paper process to our paperless process, which is always a cool transition to see. On the StratEx Service Team, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback in the sense that our software gives our clients that ability to manage everything in one place without feeling overwhelmed. As a team, we help with that transition to ensure the client feels educated and confident in their ability to utilize eStratEx in the best way possible. 

What’s on your bucket list this year?
The year is almost over, which is crazy! But, I definitely want to relearn Spanish, go bungee jumping and head to Asia in 2017!

If you could travel, would you travel to the past or the future?
Past for sure! There have been so many cool eras and decades. I’d love to go back to the 20’s, 60’s and witness some of the major events that have occurred.

Which HR/Payroll topic is your Patronus?
I’d probably say learning and development because I absolutely love training!

Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Kate Hudson – she’s so bubbly and easy going.

Backpacking or Luxury Hotel?
I think a mix of both is the way to do it. It’s fun to be outdoorsy, but also feel like you can relax in a nice hotel for a few nights.

Favorite thing about working at StratEx:
The people! I love that I have the opportunity to work with smart, encouraging and fun (funny – cough Eric) people each day!

Advice to new StratExians:
I think my biggest piece of advice would be to assert yourself as someone who is ready to hit the ground running. But, I’d also say it’s okay to not know the answers to everything. You won’t have all the answers in one day, and we are working in the software/tech industry so there will always be new advancements in technology. It’s good to turn to others for help and guidance. If you have the expectation to just kind of constantly be learning and asking questions, you’ll be in a good spot. That, and having a positive attitude really does make a huge difference!


Employee Time Off on Election Day

Ready or not (and aren’t we all ready?), Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day. As the date approaches, it is important to ensure that your company’s Voting Leave Policy is up-to-date and your employees are aware of their rights under the law.

Federal Law protects a citizen’s right to vote, but it is state law that dictates how much time off (if any) an employer is required to give an employee so that they can vote. Now’s the time to review your current Voting Leave Policy to make sure it’s up to snuff. To help with this endeavor, we’ve created a quick list of the laws surrounding this subject for some of the biggest states in the U.S.:

CPeople voting in polling placealifornia

Employees are entitled to take up to two hours without loss of pay to vote if they don’t have sufficient time outside of working hours. The time must be taken at the beginning or the end of a shift and must be requested ahead of time. Employers must post a notice of employees’ rights to take time for voting.


With prior notice to an employer, employees may take up to two paid hours off of work for the purpose of voting if they do not have at least 3 hours available to vote outside of their normal working hours. The employer may specify the hours the employee will take off, but the period must fall at the beginning or end of the work period if the employee so requests.


Employers are prohibited from discharging or threatening to discharge employees who vote in elections. Likewise, employers are prohibited from discharging or threatening to discharge employees who refuse to vote. Some local ordinances provide employees time off without pay to vote on an election day.


The State of Illinois grants employees 2 hours of time off to vote if an employee’s working hours on the day of the election begin less than 2 hours after the opening of the polls and end less than 2 hours before the closing of the polls. The employee must request leave prior to election day and the employer may specify the hours in which the employee can be absent.


Employers must permit voters time off to vote during the period of two hours after the polls open in their district. This law only applies to employees who work in mercantile, manufacturing, or mechanical establishments.

New York

Employees who do not have 4 consecutive non-working hours between polls opening and closing, and who do not have “sufficient” non-working time to vote, are entitled to up to 2 hours paid leave to vote. Employees must request the leave between 2 and 10 days before Election Day. The employer can specify whether it be taken at beginning or end of shift. Employers must post this rule conspicuously 10 business days prior to election.


Employers are prohibited from knowingly refusing to permit employees to be absent to vote on an election day or penalizing or threatening to penalize employees who go to the polls to vote on election day. The exception to this is when the polls are open for at least two hours outside of the employee’s scheduled working hours.


Employers must allow employees to be absent to vote in a political election for up to three consecutive hours while the polls are open if they request time off before the election day. Employers may decide the time for the absence and are not entitled to pay non-exempt employees for the time they are absent from work.

New Overtime Regulations: What you need to know

Gretchen-Van-VlymenStratEx’s Gretchen Van Vlymen recently contributed to a SHRM article written by Dana Wilke, The Nuts and Bolts of Complying with the New Overtime Regulations. Click here for the full article, but here are a few highlights:

  • The annual salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay will increase from $23,660 to $47,476 on December 1st.
  • Gretchen reports it is taking our HR Account Managers at StratEx from eight to 24 hours with each client to navigate through the new regulations and implement the changes necessary to be compliant with the rule. The DOL estimated it would take one hour per company.
  • Hospitality and restaurant companies can be particularly tricky to figure out, with variable or unpredictable hours, split roles and other considerations.
  • Paycheck deductions tied to benefits may need to be reviewed and updated if benefit offerings are affected based on employee exemption statuses.

If you have questions about the new overtime regulations and how they may affect your employees’ exemption statuses, StratEx can help you navigate this, and other tricky HR and Payroll related topics. Contact us now for more information.

New features on eStratEx!

Great new updates were deployed to our HR software, eStratEx, this weekend. Here are a couple of highlights:

Custom Payroll Import

Processing payroll can be a daunting task. Inputs change frequently and with little notice, and if something is missed, it can have a significant impact on employee lives. Our goal is always to make the entry of payroll data as easy (and automated) as possible. We are always looking for ways to reduce the chances of manual errors and increase the time available to audit for accuracy.

An invaluable feature to this end is the external import tool. This allows users to quickly and accurately import everything: from hours, to bonuses and commissions. But we know that the success of an import is dependent upon the format of the data being imported. If data comes from different sources, you often have to convert it to another format prior to importing. This takes time and re-introduces the possibility of manual error.

With this release, we are excited to introduce a new custom import tool! We will now be able to configure custom import templates. This will greatly increase the number of file formats accepted for import. We know that this will save our clients a lot of time manipulating files for import, which should make processing payroll faster and easier.

Authorize for Punch with Ease

A central component of any web-based timekeeping system is being able to control where employees are allowed to punch in from. While we’d love to know with certainty that employees will follow the rules, it is easiest to just eliminate temptation by not allowing them to punch in from unauthorized locations. This means, though, that an admin user has to stay on top of authorizing the specific locations and devices that employees are allowed to punch from. If a change is made, an employee could be left sitting at work, unable to punch in or out for the day, until the admin has time to log into the system to make the update.

PUNCHregisterTo help ensure this doesn’t happen, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for admin users to authorize locations for punch. This can now be done directly from the punch page itself!

If a device is not authorized, users will clearly see so directly on the punch page. A button to Register Device will display, and admin users will be able to register the device and/or IP address quickly and easily.

Looking Ahead…

We’re excited to share that in the coming months, our development team will be working to revamp the look and feel of eStratEx!  We have converted many pages to the new look in previous releases, and with this update, there are updates to the Myself and Team tabs. These changes greatly improve the organization of our HR software and improve navigation through the site. We’re looking forward to our next release and continued enhancements!