February 2023 TogetHR Times

Payroll Tax Deadlines and Changes for 2023

1/31/2023Q4 941Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return
2022 940Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return
2022 W2Annual Wage Reporting Employee
2022 W3Transmittal of Wage & Tax Statements
Q4 MT UI5Montana Employer’s UI Quarterly Wage Report (or applicable state)
2022 MW3Annual State Withholding Reconciliation
2022 1099Various 1099 forms for non-employee compensation
2/28/20231096Annual Summary & Transmittal for 1099’s
5/1/2023Q1 941Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return
Q1 MT UI5Montana Employer’s UI Quarterly Wage Report (or applicable state)
7/31/2023Q2 941Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return
Q2 MT UI5Montana Employer’s UI Quarterly Wage Report (or applicable state)
10/31/2023Q3 941Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return
Q3 MT UI5Montana Employer’s UI Quarterly Wage Report (or applicable state)

Social Security Tax Wage Base – Increase to new base $160,200 (no change to 6.2% rate)

401K Contribution Limits – Employee Deferral Increase to $22,500; Catch-up (over age 50) increase to $7,500

Simple IRA – Increase contribution limit to $15,500, Catch-up (over age 50) increase to $3,500

Health Savings Account – Employee & Employer Contribution increase to $3,850 Ind, $7,750 Family

High Deductible Health Plan – Minimum Deductible increase to $1,500 Ind, $3,000 Family

High Deductible Health Plan – Maximum Out-of-Pocket increase to $7,500 Ind, $15,000 Family

Health Flexible Spending Account – Salary Deferral increase to $3,050, Rollover maximum to $610

IRS Standard Mileage Rate – Increase to $0.65.5 cents per mile for business use

Federal Income Tax – For 2023 Federal Income Tax rates are not changing however, the IRS has increased both the standard deductions and the threshold for all 7 tax brackets that will result in a higher paycheck for many. Visit IRS.Gov for a 2023 Circular E.

Contact your Payroll Consultant for assistance with these changes.


OSHA 300A- Must Be Posted February 1st

Many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. (Certain low-risk industries are exempted.) Minor injuries requiring first aid only do not need to be recorded. The Form 300-A is the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and is to be posted in the workplace annually. At the end of each calendar year, the Form 300-A must be completed by combining and summarizing the data from the Form 300 Log and Form 301 Incident Reports.  The Form 300-A must be certified by a company executive as correct and complete and posted in the workplace where notices to workers are usually posted. It must be posted for three months, from February 1 until April 30.

Employers are encouraged to timely comply with their OSHA Form 300-A posting and reporting requirements in order to avoid potential penalties. This information helps employers, workers and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards, and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards -preventing future workplace injuries and illnesses.

The records must be maintained at the worksite for at least five years. Also, if requested, copies of the records must be provided to current and former employees, or their representatives. Need assistance with your OSHA logs? Contact your HR Consultant.


What Should Employers Do When a Worker Tests Positive for COVID-19?

As employers respond to concerns over new COVID-19 variants, including the so-called “Kraken” variant, workers who test positive for COVID-19 should follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including its guidelines on quarantining and isolation, to minimize safety and legal risks. The guidance was last changed in August 2022.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) looks to the CDC as a source of guidance on what employers should do to keep workplaces safe, noted Jonathan Segal, an attorney with Duane Morris in Philadelphia and New York City. “OSHA could conclude that failure to comply with CDC guidance on isolation and quarantine violates OSHA’s general duty clause,” he said.

Further, to the extent that an employer’s failure to comply with OSHA guidance results in employee anxiety or fear, this could contribute to the risk of union activity, he added. “Union activity is accelerating, and health and safety is definitely a union-organizing issue,” Segal said.

In addition, an employee could bring a personal injury claim if the individual contracts COVID-19 at work due to close contact with an employee who should have been out of the workplace based on CDC guidance. “While workers’ compensation should bar the claim, the answer may vary from state to state,” he said. “At a minimum, there is the cost and reputational risk of ugly litigation.”

New Guidance

Quarantine is a strategy used to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 by keeping people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 apart from others, according to the CDC. Isolation is used to separate people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from those without COVID-19. People who are in isolation should stay home, apart from others, until it’s safe for them to be around other people.

The guidance from the CDC recommends that:

  • Instead of quarantining if they are exposed to COVID-19, individuals should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day six.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, individuals should isolate from others when they have COVID-19.
  • Individuals should also isolate if they are sick and suspect that they have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. If their results are positive, follow CDC’s full isolation recommendations. If their results are negative, they can end their isolation.
  • If individuals test positive for COVID-19, they should stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in their home. They are likely most infectious during these first five days. Individuals should wear a high-quality mask when they must be around others at home and in public.
  • If after five days, individuals are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and their symptoms are improving—or they never had symptoms—they may end isolation after the fifth day.
  • Regardless of when individuals end isolation, they should avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11.
  • If individuals had moderate illness (if they experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing) or severe illness (they were hospitalized) due to COVID-19 or they have a weakened immune system, they need to isolate through day 10.
  • If individuals had severe illness or have a weakened immune system, they should consult their doctor before ending isolation.
  • If, after individuals have ended isolation, their COVID-19 symptoms worsen, they should restart their isolation at day 0. They should talk to a health care provider if they have questions about their symptoms or when to end isolation.

The CDC no longer recommends testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures in most community settings.

No exceptions should be made for key employees or management, cautioned Art Silbergeld, an attorney with Stradling in Los Angeles. “Employers should exercise good judgment in deciding whether these minimum periods of isolation are sufficient in every case,” he said.

With quarantine and isolation, some states, such as California, have additional requirements.

Jenifer Bologna, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in White Plains, N.Y., noted that the CDC’s guidance highlights individual responsibility. In addition, she said it no longer differentiates between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Those in locations where the CDC says that there is a high incidence of COVID-19 should take additional precautions for everyone, she added.

Nonemployee Lawsuits

Failure to comply with CDC guidance could be used against an employer in a case where a nonemployee contracts COVID-19 and becomes very sick or dies due to the employer’s noncompliance with CDC guidance, Segal said.

For example, a lawsuit might be brought if an employee contracts COVID-19 at work as a result of close contact with a co-worker who should have been out of the workplace based on CDC guidance, and then a family member gets COVID-19 from the employee and becomes very ill or dies.

In another example, a case might ensue if a customer, vendor or supplier contracts COVID-19 as a result of close contact with an employee who should have been out of the workplace under CDC guidance, and the third-party individual becomes very ill or dies.

“In both cases, workers’ compensation most likely is not a bar to a negligence claim because the injured party bringing the claim is not an employee,” Segal said. “While there may be difficult contact tracing issues and other impediments for the injured party to establish liability, the costs and reputational risks of litigation remain.”

Nondiscrimination and Safety Concerns

Employers that are following CDC guidelines should ensure that their policies reflect the guidelines and are applied to employees as consistently as possible, said Arielle Eisenberg, an attorney with Cozen O’Connor in Miami.

Nonetheless, Silbergeld said the risk of a safety legal challenge may be greater than a discrimination lawsuit over application of COVID-19 guidelines.

He believes the best practice is to require proof of vaccination and, when exposure or symptoms have occurred, proof of a negative test before allowing an employee to return to work. Nonetheless, the number of employers asking job applicants to be vaccinated before starting a new role continues to fall.

SHRM-  Employers and COVID in 2023

No More Fridays

A real-world experiment just proved that we should all shift to a four-day workweek

More companies are finding success with the four-day workweek. A recent trial of 33 companies had overwhelmingly successful results.

The results are in: It’s time for your company to stop working on Fridays (or Mondays).

The latest, perhaps most convincing evidence yet for the shift to a four-day workweek comes from a six-month trial which began in February 2022 in which 33 companies with employees in six countries decreased their employees’ workload to four days, or 32 hours, a week. Organized by 4 Day Week Global, the real-world experiment sought to see whether the employees could be just as productive in 80% of the time — all for the same pay. The results were overwhelmingly positive: Companies in the program reported increased revenue and improved employee health and well-being, and had a positive impact on the environment. And after the success, a hundred more companies that together employ thousands of people are considering or are already implementing the same approach.

So if you’ve ever tried to persuade your boss to shift to a four-day workweek, this is the best evidence yet that it can work. The results of the new report were unequivocal: The four-day workweek was better for everyone.

‘It probably sounds crazy, but it works’ 

At the outset of the trial, employees at Soothing Solutions, a Dundalk, Ireland-based company that makes cough lozenges for children, were skeptical that a four-day working week would be feasible, let alone profitable. But the founders Sinéad Crowther and Denise Lauaki had high hopes. When the company was founded in 2017, the duo wanted to establish a people-focused culture, so when Crowther learned about 4 Day Week’s program in 2021, she saw it as a way to attract and retain talent.

Since Soothing Solutions hired its first employees last year, no staff members have left the company, and Crowther told me the anecdotal feedback about the four-day week had been so glowing that it almost moved her to tears. “One of our employees has an elderly parent who was terminally ill, and she got to spend three, four days a week with them,” she told me. “She said nothing can give her that time back. She wouldn’t have got to do that in any other job.” Another worker has been able to pursue her passion for photography in her time off, Crowther said, adding that “it turns out, she’s a fantastic photographer!”

Because Soothing Solutions started operations using the four-day week, the founders don’t have anything to compare their business growth to, but Crowther isn’t worried about any negative impact a four-day week might have on business, even as the company grows. When we spoke, Soothing Solutions had just launched on Amazon and had its first UK sale. Its products are available in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and Scotland, with plans to expand further. “We have absolutely no concerns,” she said. “It probably sounds crazy, but it works.”

4 Day Week Global is a nonprofit community platform that promotes the four-day workweek by helping companies implement it and by funding research into the future of work. The organization was established after the success of a landmark trial program at its cofounder Andrew Barnes’ New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian. To conduct trials at companies and analyze their results, the group has partnered with academics at Harvard Business School, Oxford University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The four-day-week movement has been gaining momentum on the heels of the Great Resignation and the push from employees to rethink the way we work. The tech startup Bolt became the first unicorn to trial it in 2021, finding it so successful that it implemented it after three months. Other trials of shorter weeks have found success as well: A 2021 trial in Iceland found positive results, and a 2019 research paper by Henley Business School found that two-thirds of businesses operating on a four-day week saw employee productivity increase.

There is some pushback, though. A shorter week could mean employees’ workload increases each day, causing more stress rather than less. For companies that experience significantly busier periods around holidays or during the summer, it may not be possible to extend the program across the whole year. And many companies, such as banks or insurance companies that require around-the-clock customer service or news organizations that follow a 24-hour news cycle, aren’t able to shutter for even one day each week. But in those cases, companies could approach the four-day week the way they already handle weekends: Simply arrange teams’ schedules so there are always people working.

No downsides

The ongoing push for a four-day workweek isn’t the first time there’s been a movement to upend the traditional model of work. Until 1926, the standard US workweek lasted six days. Then, Henry Ford reduced the workweek at his namesake company down to five days. He believed an extra day off would increase workers’ productivity and give workers more leisure time to spend more money — hopefully on Ford cars. The trend caught on, and, after organizing by workers in favor of the shift, the Fair Labor Standards Act set the standard for the workweek at 44 hours; an amendment in 1940 set the now-standard 40-hour week. Fast forward to today, and our norms appear ripe for a shake-up once again.

Barry Prost, a cofounder of the Irish company Rent a Recruiter, a specialist talent-acquisition service, took part in the six-month 4 Day Week trial with the goal of addressing staff turnover — a problem for many businesses since the coronavirus pandemic. When the pandemic began, Rent a Recruiter was already moving to a permanent remote-work model, and after hearing about the program the company decided to try the four-day week as well. To Prost, it was particularly important to ensure the switch didn’t hurt clients. Despite these reservations, Prost told me that not only had customers been supportive of the modified schedule, but some had even asked about implementing the policy themselves.

Crucially, the new approach has brought huge gains to the small startup, which employs 20 people. Over the six-month trial period, Rent a Recruiter doubled its gross profits and calculated that its staff’s productivity doubled over that time as well. And though it wasn’t the initial motivation, Prost told me the benefits had shown up in more than just the company’s bottom line. “Anecdotally, we have a manager who’s also a psychotherapist — she’s now able to spend more time on her therapy practice,” he said. “We’ve got mums and parents who are able to drop off and pick up their kids on a Friday, which they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

While staff well-being and retention are important, the trial also was associated with a revenue boost among the participating companies. Among the 16 companies in the trial that provided revenue data, combined revenue for the companies, weighted by size, increased by 8.14%, which for some companies was nearly 40% higher than revenue growth during the same six-month period of the previous year.

The companies that took part in the trial have reported almost no downsides. None of the 27 companies that filled out a final survey for participants said they had any plans to return to a five-day week. And nearly all of the 495 employees involved in the trial wanted to maintain the four-day working week. According to the post-trial surveys, everyone from CEOs and managers to junior employees noticed far-reaching benefits, and a new UK-wide trial is now underway.

Fewer work hours may also help the environment and gender inequality

While adopters of a four-day workweek might be primarily seeking a business impact — in revenue or employee well-being — there could also be less-obvious benefits.

For one thing, less time working correlates with lower carbon emissions — people are commuting less, and businesses use less energy. The 4 Day Week trial found that participants spent an hour less time commuting than before the trial. And as Orla Kelly, an environmental sociologist at University College Dublin who was the lead researcher for the 4 Day Week trial, told me, the shorter workweek also helps people make more pro-environmental choices. “When people are working longer hours, they tend to be in this kind of work-spend cycle where consumption patterns tend to be quite intensive,” Kelly said. With less free time, people are more likely to buy food in disposable plastic packaging, drive to work instead of walking or taking public transportation, and spend more money on material goods. Kelly tells me that because this is hard to measure, the research is still in its early stages, but she hopes to dive deeper into the idea and provide more concrete evidence of the environmental benefits of a shorter working week.

A four-day week also provides vast improvements in well-being, life satisfaction, and sleep for women. Since women tend to take on more caring responsibilities, the extra day off work was most beneficial for them, allowing the extra load of emotional labor to be spread more evenly. In Ireland, where many of the companies in the trial were based, 70% of part-time workers are women. “Women tend to often be in jobs that pay less, so they tend to be the ones that move to part time, even if they don’t want to,” Kelly told me. In the past few years especially, women have been leaving the workforce in droves, or cutting back hours, over burnout or a lack of childcare options. “This can be problematic for their long-term career trajectory, their pension contributions, and the dynamics of power within the household,” Kelly said. Cutting back working hours for everyone helps women stay in their full-time jobs and not feel as if they’re getting pushed out of the workforce.

It’s unlikely that the world will shift to a four-day week overnight, but the trial produced real benefits and found it’s possible for many different kinds of corporations, as long as they are willing, to make the change. As companies continue to grapple with attracting and retaining staff, the four-day week could be a relatively simple solution. And after the latest trial, there aren’t many excuses not to try it out.

Business Insider: 4 Day Work Week

Winter Blues Got You Down?

If you are already dreaming of spring you are not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real experience for many people and has an impact on everyday functioning, including work. Especially in Montana in the heart of winter, we may be more prone to SAD symptoms. If your employees seem like they are dragging at all, they may be experiencing SAD. It might be worth implementing a couple of easy ways to support your employees to keep spirits high and therefore increasing productivity at your business.

Here are some ideas of how you can support your staff:

– Get Outside: Have an all hands meeting outside of your building for some fresh air and new perspective. You could even encourage everyone to go outside on their breaks if the weather permits.

– Eat Healthy: Bring in some easy snacks that will lift people’s moods. Nuts or tangerines are easy and packed with energy. Stay away from a quick sugar buzz when possible to prevent people from crashing later in the day

– Talk it Out: Be available to talk in a group or on an individual basis so that people can bring awareness to their mood and possible SAD symptoms. Just sharing how things are going is a great way to help people feel better.

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