hr woman at laptop in office

Recordkeeping

OSHA’s recordkeeping rule requires employers to record and report certain work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses, and provides employers a system for tracking workplace incidents.

Which recordkeeping requirements apply to me?

Reporting fatalities and catastrophes: Under a final rule, all employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-596) must notify OSHA of all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, and of all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Keeping injury and illness records: The final rule also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees—regardless of its industry classification—from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.

In addition, the following establishments are now required to electronically submit information from their OSHA recordkeeping forms to OSHA:

Click here for more information on the electronic recordkeeping requirement.

How can I tell if I am exempt?

OSHA has released a list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records.

smiling small business owners

New Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Form Released

Form Used by Eligible Employers to Claim Credit for 2017 Tax Year

The IRS has released Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, and related instructions, for tax year 2017. Eligible small employers use this form to figure the credit for health insurance premiums under the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is designed to encourage small businesses and tax-exempt employers to offer health insurance coverage to their employees. Among other requirements, an employer may be eligible for the credit for tax year 2017 if:

  • It had fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the tax year;
  • It paid at least 50% of the premium cost for single health care coverage for each employee;
  • The average annual wages of its employees for the year were less than $53,000; and
  • It paid premiums on behalf of employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace (or qualifies for an exception to this requirement).

Note: Employers in Hawaii cannot claim this credit for insurance premiums paid for health plan years beginning after 2016.

Click here to review Form 8941 and its instructions.

Our Small Business Health Care Tax Credit section provides additional details regarding the credit.

open enrollment 2018 member benefits graphic

Reminder: Individual Marketplace Enrollment Deadlines Approaching

Enrollment Deadline in Most States is Dec. 15

Individuals are reminded that the deadlines to enroll in health insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov or a state Marketplace are quickly approaching. To obtain coverage that will begin January 1, 2018, individuals in the states below must sign up for coverage by the following dates:

  • Connecticut: December 22
  • Massachusetts: December 23
  • Minnesota: December 20
  • Rhode Island: December 23
  • All Other States: December 15

Note: Some states may still be able to extend their 2018 open enrollment deadlines. In addition, certain states may provide extended deadlines for returning customers. Individuals are therefore advised to consult their state’s Marketplace for the latest updates.

Visit our Health Insurance Exchanges (Marketplaces) section for more information on the Marketplaces.

stack of cash wrapped in ribbon next to holiday gift to symbolize a holiday bonus

Is Your Holiday Bonus Program Compliant?

Employers Must Consider Discrimination & Tax Implications

With the end of the year fast approaching, many employers are getting ready to hand out holiday bonuses, unaware that these tidings of the season can come wrapped in legal implications. To help avoid compliance issues, consider the following questions when planning your bonus program:

  • Are the bonuses discretionary?: Non-exempt employees covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. However, discretionary bonuses are not part of an employee’s regular rate of pay under the Act, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Are the bonuses nondiscriminatory?: As with all employee compensation, holiday bonuses must be provided on a nondiscriminatory basis. The eligibility criteria for bonuses must be applied in a nondiscriminatory way, and eligible employees must receive bonuses in nondiscriminatory amounts.
  • Are the bonuses taxable?: Cash gifts are subject to federal, state, and local withholding taxes. However, the IRS considers de minimis fringe benefits—typically non-cash items with a market value generally less than $100—to be non-taxable.

Click here for more information from the IRS on the tax implications of holiday gifts.

Visit HR360’s Employee Pay section to learn more about the rules regulating compensation.

person resting from flu under blankets

Flu and Your Workplace

Flu can be a big disruption for business. Employees who are sick may need to take time off to recover and may not be as productive when it comes to getting work done. In addition, symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and fever can spread germs to healthy employees.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering a cough and frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.

Tips for Fighting Flu

Everyday preventive actions that can help prevent flu and the spread of germs in the workplace include:

  1. Cover Your Mouth and Nose

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through the coughing, sneezing, or talking of someone with the flu.

  1. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth

Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.

  1. Clean Your Hands

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.

  1. Stay Home When Sick

Employees should be encouraged to stay home from work when they are sick to help prevent others from getting ill. If there is only one employee who performs a particular task, consider training others so that coverage is available should that employee need to leave work early or stay home due to illness.

  1. Practice Good Health Habits

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Resources and Printable Materials for Promoting Good Health Habits

To help businesses, employers, and their employees learn about strategies for preventing flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following toolkit, flyers, posters, and other materials:

This podcast provides information about recommended strategies to help businesses and employers promote the 2012–2013 seasonal flu vaccine.

Learn what two strategies are recommended to businesses and employers this flu season.

Host a flu vaccine clinic in the workplace and use this flyer–complete with fillable text boxes so you can add the location, date, and time of your flu vaccine clinic.

Encourage employees to get vaccinated at locations in the community. Navigate to the Flu Vaccine Finder website to find locations offering flu vaccine and then update the flyer and post.

Share this flyer with employees to encourage flu vaccination. Consider posting this in the workplace, or copy and place in mailboxes or include in pay statements or newsletters.

Use this flyer with other workplace managers to kick off discussions about flu vaccination planning.

Promote flu vaccination using web technology:

Post on business windows and restroom mirrors.

young african american woman working in a bake shop

How Holiday Help May Impact Your ALE Status

Employers May Apply a Reasonable, Good Faith Interpretation of the Term ‘Seasonal Worker’

Employers that hire seasonal workers this holiday season are reminded that there is an exception when measuring workforce size to determine whether they are an applicable large employer (ALE) subject to the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility (“pay or play”) and corresponding information reporting provisions.

Seasonal Worker Exception

If an employer’s workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) for 120 days or less (or 4 calendar months) during the preceding calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 who were employed during that period were seasonal workers, the employer is not considered an ALE for the current calendar year. A seasonal worker for this purpose is an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis (e.g., retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons are seasonal workers).

Seasonal Worker Versus Seasonal Employee

While the terms “seasonal worker” and “seasonal employee” are both used in the pay or play provisions, only the term “seasonal worker” is relevant for determining whether an employer is considered an ALE. For this purpose, employers may apply a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the term “seasonal worker.” For more information on the difference between a seasonal worker and a seasonal employee under pay or play, please refer to IRS Pay or Play Q&A #26.

Check out our Pay or Play section for additional details.

manager making female employee uncomfortable with hand on shoulder per sexual harassment

Tips for Eliminating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

EEOC Recommends Certain Actions to Prevent and Correct Harassment

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) encourages employers to take certain steps necessary to prevent and correct workplace harassment.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination that can occur in a variety of circumstances. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct:

  • Explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment;
  • Unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance; or
  • Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Preventing and Correcting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Below are various actions the EEOC recommends employers take to prevent and correct workplace harassment.

  • Establish, distribute, and enforce a policy prohibiting harassment and setting out a procedure for making complaints. An employer’s anti-harassment policy should make clear that the employer will not tolerate sexual harassment or retaliation against anyone who complains of harassment or who participates in an investigation.
  • Conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation of any harassment complaint. The investigator should interview the employee who complained of harassment, the alleged harasser, and others who could reasonably be expected to have relevant information. The alleged harasser should not have any direct or indirect control over the investigation.
  • Take immediate measures to stop confirmed harassment and ensure it does not recur. Disciplinary measures should be proportional to the seriousness of the offense. The employer also should correct the effects of the harassment by, for example, restoring leave taken because of the harassment and expunging negative evaluations in the employee’s personnel file that arose from the harassment.

Taking steps to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace not only promotes a healthy and productive work environment, but it may also help an employer defend against liability in the event the employer is held responsible for unlawful harassment.

To learn more about sexual harassment, check out our section on Sex Discrimination.

man sitting at desk stressed reading papers

Job Conditions That May Lead to Stress

The following conditions have been listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which may cause stress at the workplace.

The Design of Tasks

  • Heavy workload;
  • Infrequent rest breaks;
  • long work hours and shift-work; and
  • Hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.

Management Style

  • Lack of participation by workers in decision- making;
  • Poor communication in the organization; and
  • Lack of family-friendly policies.

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors.

Work Roles

  • Conflicting or uncertain job expectations;
  • Too much responsibility; and
  • Too many “hats to wear.”

Career Concerns

  • Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; and
  • Rapid changes for which workers are unprepared.

Environmental Conditions

  • Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions, such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.
man calculating taxes

IRS Will Not Accept Forms 1040 That Omit Health Coverage Information

IRS Issues Guidance for Taxpayers on Reporting Health Coverage

The IRS has announced that the upcoming 2018 filing season will be the first time that it will not accept electronically filed tax returns until taxpayers report their health care coverage pursuant to the individual shared responsibility provision (“individual mandate”) of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, returns filed on paper that do not address these requirements may be suspended pending the receipt of additional information, and any refunds may be delayed.

Background

The “individual mandate” (also known as individual shared responsibility) generally requires every individual to have minimum essential health coverage for each month, qualify for an exemption, or make a payment when filing his or her federal income tax return. More detailed information about the individual mandate is available in IRS Q&As.

IRS Instructions

‎To avoid refund and processing delays when filing 2017 tax returns in 2018, the IRS is instructing taxpayers to indicate on their Forms 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, whether they (and everyone on their return):

  • Had minimum essential health coverage;
  • Qualified for an exemption from the coverage requirement; or
  • Are making a payment.

Click here to read the IRS guidance in its entirety.

Our Individual Mandate section features additional information regarding the individual shared responsibility requirements.

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