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Human Resources & Payroll Blog

Phishing Emails Target Payroll, New Employer Tax Credit

Oct 30, 2018 10:00:00 AM / by John Duval


If October seems like the month for scary tricks, don’t forget there’s always something to sweeten the news.

This month, we cover payroll phishing emails, a new employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave, Halloween workplace do’s and don’ts, and more. That’s a lot to take inbut don’t get spooked! We’re going to break it all down for you in our monthly roundup below.

FBI issues warning about phishing emails targeting payroll

You might want to think twice before responding to payroll-related emails.

A public service announcement reported that cybercriminals are hacking into employees’ payroll accounts by using phishing emails to capture their login information. These hackers would redirect deposits to their own account and change the account settings so employees can’t receive alerts. So far, these schemes affected employers in many industries including education, healthcare, and aviation.

The FBI suggests the following steps to prevent payroll scams:

  • Alert and educate the workforce about phishing scams.
  • Instruct employees to hover their cursor over hyperlinks to confirm if the URL is linking to a dependable source.
  • Direct any suspicious requests to the HR or IT department.
  • Restrict access to systems handling sensitive information.

Learn more about mitigating the threat of payroll diversion here.

Treasury announces new employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave

Employers who provide paid family and medical leave to their employees in the 2018 and 2019 tax years may qualify for a new business credit. “By enhancing the benefits of this tax credit, we help empower working parents to pursue their careers while balancing their demands at home," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

If you’re setting up or updating a leave policy, a retroactive credit may also be available to employers. Generally, employees with paid family and medical leave who earned $72,000 or less in the previous year qualify for the credit.

Check out this guidance to learn how to calculate the credit and the application of special rules and limitations.

New OSHA guidance reveals permissible safety incentive programs and drug tests

It’s better to be safe than sorry when you report workplace incidents, and OSHA wants you to know that. Under a new guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most safety incentive programs and drug testing policies are not considered retaliatory.

Previously, the agency stated that the guidance could deter employees from reporting work-related injuries and post-accident drug and alcohol testing in fear of retaliation. The updated guidance clarifies that safety incentive programs are unlawful and retaliatory only if they seek to punish an employee rather than promote workplace safety and health.

Lawful safety programs include:

  • Incentive programs that reward employees for reporting unsafe conditions in the workplace
  • Employee training programs to reinforce reporting rights and responsibilities
  • Systems for accurately evaluating employees’ willingness to report injuries and illnesses

Lawful types of drug tests include:

  • Random drug testing
  • Drug testing unrelated to the reporting of a work-related injury/illness
  • Drug testing under state workers’ compensation law and other federal law
  • Drug testing to evaluate the cause of a workplace incident that harmed or could have harmed employees

To ensure your policies are compliant with OSHA’s new guidance, you can learn more here.

DOL pushed back overtime rule until 2019

If you’re expecting regulation updates on overtime exemptions, you’ll have to wait until next year. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) pushed the date to propose new regulations governing overtime exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to March 2019.

The DOL plans to roll out an updated salary level for exemption and seek the public’s view on salary-related issues. Today’s salary threshold for overtime pay is $23,660, but President Trump’s DOL may propose a range between $32,000 and $35,000.

When the rules are changing, employers need to prepare their businesses and HR departments for compliance with important FLSA resources. You can also read here to learn more about DOL’s fall regulatory agenda.

Best practices for Halloween workplace festivities

Costume contests, Halloween parades, and harvest festivals can fill an office with high spirits and employee morale. Yet, it can also be an opportunity to cross the line.

Costumes that violate dress codes or seem offensive can get you in trouble at the workplace. Religious and political costumes are especially problematic when worn around election time. Employers should also be cautious of office decorations that violate safety codes. That may include pumpkin carvings and anything fire-related.

But these potential pitfalls are preventable. Talk to your employees about proper Halloween attire. Have them ask themselves if they’re likely to offend someone with what they’re wearing. If there’s any doubt, encourage them to choose another costume. Turning Halloween festivities into charitable events or wellness initiatives are also great alternative celebrations. Employees can wear a costume in exchange for a donation to any charity, or bring healthier snacks with Halloween-themed touches.

Halloween is a fun time to celebrate with others at work, but it’s a wise idea to set the right tone for any company-sponsored Halloween events first. For more Halloween workplace do’s and don’ts, take a look at this SHRM article.

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Topics: HR Roundup

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