Offering summer job opportunities? Double-check child labor laws

Spring has sprung — and summer isn’t far off. If your business typically hires minors for summer jobs, now’s a good time to brush up on child labor laws.

In News Release No. 22-546-DEN, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently announced that it’s stepping up efforts to identify child labor violations in the Salt Lake City area. However, the news serves as a good reminder to companies nationwide about the many details of employing children.

Finer points of the FLSA

The Department of Labor is the sole federal agency that monitors child labor and enforces child labor laws. The most sweeping federal law that restricts the employment and abuse of child workers is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The WHD handles enforcement of the FLSA’s child labor provisions.

The FLSA restricts the hours that children under 16 years of age can work and lists hazardous occupations too dangerous for young workers to perform. Examples include jobs involving the operation of power-driven woodworking machines, and work that involves exposure to radioactive substances and ionizing radiators.

The FLSA allows children 14 to 15 years old to work outside of school hours in various manufacturing, non-mining, non-hazardous jobs under certain conditions. Permissible work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds are:

  • Three hours on a school day,
  • 18 hours in a school week,
  • Eight hours on a non-school day,
  • 40 hours in a non-school week, and
  • Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.*

*From June 1 through Labor Day, nighttime work hours are extended to 9 p.m.

Just one example

News Release No. 22-546-DEN reveals the results of three specific investigations. In them, the WHD found that employers had allowed minors to operate dangerous machinery. Also, minors were allowed to work beyond the time permitted, during school hours, more than three hours on a school night and more than 18 hours a workweek.

In one case, a restaurant allowed minors to operate or assist in operating a trash compactor and a manual fryer, which are prohibited tasks for 14- and 15-year-old workers. The employer also allowed minors to work:

  • More than three hours on a school day,
  • More than 18 hours in a school week,
  • Past 7 p.m. from Labor Day through May 31,
  • Past 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day, and
  • More than eight hours on a non-school day.

The WHD assessed the business $17,159 in civil money penalties.

Letter of the law

In the news release, WHD Director Kevin Hunt states, “Early employment opportunities are meant to be valuable and safe learning experiences for young people and should never put them at risk of harm. Employers who fail to keep minor-aged workers safe and follow child labor regulations may struggle to find the young people they need to operate their businesses.”

What’s more, as the case above demonstrates, companies can incur substantial financial penalties for failing to follow the letter of the law. Consult an employment attorney for further details on the FLSA. We can help you measure and manage your hiring and payroll costs.

© 2022


Pondering the possibility of a company retreat

As vaccination levels rise and major U.S. population centers fully reopen, business owners may find themselves pondering an intriguing thought: Should we have a company retreat this year?

Although there are still health risks to consider, your employees may love the idea of attending an in-person event after so many months of video calls, emails, and instant messages. The challenge to you is planning a safe, productive, and enjoyable retreat — and that doesn’t unreasonably disrupt company operations.

Mixing business with fun

First, nail down your primary objectives well in advance. Determine and prioritize a list of the important issues you want to address but include only the top two or three on the final agenda. Otherwise, you risk rushing through some items without adequate time for discussion and formalized action plans.

Suppose one of the objectives is to include time for socializing or recreational activities, great. Mixing business with fun keeps people energized. However, if staff see the retreat as merely time away from the office to party and golf, don’t expect to complete many work-related agenda items. One way to find the right mix is to consider scheduling work sessions for the morning and more fun, team-building exercises later in the day.

Craft a flexible budget

Next, work on the budget. Determining available resources early in the planning process will help you set limits for variable costs such as location, accommodations, food, transportation, speakers, and entertainment.

Instead of insisting on certain days for the retreat, select a range of possible dates. Doing so widens site selection and makes it easier to negotiate favorable hotel and travel rates. Keep your budget as flexible as possible, building in a 5% to 10% safety cushion. Always expect unforeseen, last-minute expenses.

The good news is that the hospitality industry is generally trying to rebound from the pandemic's challenging downturn. So, you may be able to find some special deals offered to “draw out” companies that haven’t held a retreat in a while.

Also, if you wish to minimize the health risks, you might want to focus on venues with outdoor facilities, such as farms or golf resorts. You could hold sessions mostly outdoors (weather permitting, of course), where it’s very safe.

Reunite and reenergize

Holding a company retreat this year may be a great way to reunite and reenergize your workforce. As convenient and practical as video meeting technology may be, there’s nothing quite like seeing each other in person. We can help you assess the costs and establish a reasonable budget that supports an enjoyable, productive, and cost-effective retreat.

© 2021


New law provides a variety of tax breaks to businesses and employers

While you were celebrating the holidays, you may not have
noticed that Congress passed a law with a grab bag of provisions that provide
tax relief to businesses and employers. The “Further Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2020” was signed into law on December 20, 2019. It makes
many changes to the tax code, including an extension (generally through 2020)
of more than 30 provisions that were set to expire or already expired.

Two other laws were passed as part of the law (The Taxpayer
Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 and the Setting Every Community
Up for Retirement Enhancement Act).

Here are five highlights.

Long-term part-timers can participate in
401(k)s.

Under current law, employers generally can exclude part-time
employees (those who work less than 1,000 hours per year) when providing a
401(k) plan to their employees. A qualified retirement plan can generally delay
participation in the plan based on an employee attaining a certain age or
completing a certain number of years of service but not beyond the later of
completion of one year of service (that is, a 12-month period with at least
1,000 hours of service) or reaching age 21.

Qualified retirement plans are subject to various other
requirements involving who can participate.

For plan years beginning after December 31, 2020, the new law
requires a 401(k) plan to allow an employee to make elective deferrals if the
employee has worked with the employer for at least 500 hours per year for at
least three consecutive years and has met the age-21 requirement by the end of
the three-consecutive-year period. There are a number of other rules involved
that will determine whether a part-time employee qualifies to participate in a
401(k) plan.

The employer tax credit for paid family and
medical leave is extended.

Tax law provides an employer credit for paid family and medical
leave. It permits eligible employers to claim an elective general business
credit based on eligible wages paid to qualifying employees with respect to
family and medical leave. The credit is equal to 12.5% of eligible wages if the
rate of payment is 50% of such wages and is increased by 0.25 percentage points
(but not above 25%) for each percentage point that the rate of payment exceeds
50%. The maximum leave amount that can be taken into account for a qualifying
employee is 12 weeks per year.

The credit was set to expire on December 31, 2019. The new law
extends it through 2020.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is
extended.

Under the WOTC, an elective general business credit is provided
to employers hiring individuals who are members of one or more of 10 targeted
groups. The new law extends this credit through 2020.

The medical device excise tax is repealed.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contained a provision that required
that the sale of a taxable medical device by the manufacturer, producer or
importer is subject to a tax equal to 2.3% of the price for which it is sold.
This medical device excise tax originally applied to sales of taxable medical
devices after December 31, 2012.

The new law repeals the excise tax for sales occurring after
December 31, 2019.

The high-cost, employer-sponsored health
coverage tax is repealed.

The ACA also added a nondeductible excise tax on insurers when
the aggregate value of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for an
employee, former employee, surviving spouse or other primary insured individual
exceeded a threshold amount. This tax is commonly referred to as the tax on
“Cadillac” plans.

The new law repeals the Cadillac tax for tax years beginning
after December 31, 2019.

Stay tuned

These are only some of the provisions of the new law. We will be
covering them in the coming weeks. If you have questions about your situation,
don’t hesitate to contact us.

© 2019


A shadow board could shed light on your company’s best future

In many industries, market conditions move fast. Businesses that don’t have their ears to the ground can quickly get left behind. That’s just one reason why some of today’s savviest companies are establishing so-called “shadow” (or “mirror”) boards composed of younger, nonexecutive employees who are on the front lines of changing tastes and lifestyles.

Generational change

Millennials — people who were born between approximately 1981 and 1996 — have been flooding the workplace for years now. Following close behind them is Generation Z, those born around the Millennium and now coming of age a couple of decades later.

Despite this influx of younger minds and ideas, many businesses are still run solely by older boards of directors that, while packed with experience and wisdom, might not stay closely attuned to the latest demographic-driven developments in hiring, product or service development, technology, and marketing.

A shadow board of young employees that meets regularly with the actual board (or management team) can help you overcome this hurdle. Ideally, the two boards mentor each other. The older generation shares their hard-earned lessons on leadership, governance, professionalism and the like, while the younger employees keep the senior board abreast of the latest trends, concerns and communication tools among their cohort.

Other benefits

You also can tap the shadow board for their input on issues that directly affect them. For example, would they welcome a new employee benefit under consideration or regard it as irrelevant? Similarly, you can use the board to “test drive” strategies targeting their generation before you get too far down the road.

And your shadow board can serve as generator of new initiatives and innovations, both employee- and customer-facing. Some companies with shadow boards have ended up overhauling their processes, procedures and even business models based on ideas that first emerged from the younger employees’ input.

Another benefit? Shadow boards can keep traditionally job-hopping Millennials from jumping ship. Many are eager to get ahead, often before they’re equipped to do so, and they don’t hesitate to look elsewhere. Selecting younger employees for a shadow board sends them the message that you see their potential and are invested in grooming them for bigger and better things. It also facilitates succession planning, a practice too many businesses overlook.

The right approach

Don’t establish a shadow board just for appearances or without true commitment. That can do more harm than good. Younger generations see lip service for what it is, and word will spread fast if you’re ignoring the shadow board or refusing to seriously consider its input. When done right, this innovative effort can pay off in the long run for everyone involved. Our firm can help you further explore the financial and strategic feasibility of the idea.

© 2019


Tax considerations for switching jobs or unemployment

If you are about to switch jobs or experience some sort of unemployment, there are certain tax implications you may need to consider.

Accrued money

When switching jobs, you may have a sizeable amount of money accrued coming to you from vacation or sick pay. Any form of severance pay you receive is taxable in the year you receive it, in addition to the vacation or sick pay.

Withholding

When you change jobs, you will have to adjust your withholding on Form W-4. Using the worksheet provided will help you determine the right number of withholdings to avoid over or underpaying.

401(k)

If you had a 401 (k) with your previous company, you will have the opportunity to either cash in your 401(k); switch it to the new employee; or pay a penalty if you choose to take the money. If you have more than $5,000 in the account and are fine with the way it is being handled by your former employer, you may elect to leave your savings in the plan where it will continue to grow.

Job search expenses

You may be able to deduct some of the money you expend while looking for another job, but those costs must meet the requirements outlined by the IRS. These expenses can include employment agency fees, the costs associated with sending out your resume, phone and fax expenses, and in some cases, travel.

Relocation

You may be able to deduct some moving expenses that are not covered by your new employer. If your old job is at least 50 miles from the old one, and you will have full-time employment for a 12-month period, you can deduct items like the cost of packing and shipping your personal possessions, insurance and 30 days of storage. Traveling to the new home, and any expenses dealing with the car, which includes gas and oil, parking and tolls.

It is important to note that when receiving unemployment benefits, if taxes are not withheld, you may be facing a large tax bill the following year.

To find out more about tax considerations for switching jobs, or the tax issues surrounding unemployment, contact us by calling 617 651 0531 or by emailing [email protected], or by filling out this contact form:

Get in Touch with Dukhon Tax

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