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.