Newsletter from Integrated Benefit Solutions
New Form W-4 and Online Withholding Calculator
The Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) has released new versions of Form W-4 and its online
withholding calculator to help taxpayers check their 2018 tax
withholding following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in
December 2017. The IRS urges taxpayers to use these tools to make
sure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their
Among other things, the Tax
Cuts and Jobs Act increased the standard deduction,
removed personal exemptions, increased the child tax credit,
limited or discontinued certain deductions, and changed the tax
rates and brackets. If changes to withholding should be made as a
result of these changes, the IRS withholding
calculator gives employees the information they need
to fill out a new Form
W-4. Employees must submit the completed W-4 to their
Check out our section on Employer Tax Laws for other
tax topics of interest.
DOL Replaces Guidance on Employee Classification
The U.S. Department of Labor
(DOL) has withdrawn its 2014 guidance regarding the meaning and
scope of the term "employment relationship" under the
federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and replaced it with its
guidance from 2008. As a result of this change, the DOL no longer
advises that "most workers are employees."
Withdrawn 2014 Guidance
In 2014, the DOL issued guidance on how to determine whether an
employment or independent contractor relationship exists for
purposes of the federal FLSA. The guidance stated, among other
things, "Applying the FLSA's definition [of
"employ"], workers who are economically dependent on
the business of the employer, regardless of skill level, are considered
to be employees, and most workers are employees." Effective
immediately, this guidance has been withdrawn.
2008 Guidance Once Again Effective
The 2014 guidance has been replaced by guidance
from 2008. The 2008 guidance does not contain the statement that
"most workers are employees." However, this guidance
does include the same "economic realities" test present
in the 2014 guidance, under which determination of employee
status is made by considering the following factors:
- Whether the work performed is an
integral part of the employer's business.
- Whether the worker's managerial skill
affects the worker's opportunities for profit or loss.
- The worker's relative investment
compared to the employer's investment.
- Whether work performed requires
special business skills, judgment, and initiative.
- Whether the worker-employer
relationship is permanent or indefinite.
- The nature and degree of the
employer's control of the work.
Our Fair Labor
Standards Act section features additional information
on employers' responsibilities under the FLSA.
2018 HSA Contribution Limit Decreased for Certain
The Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) has announced that the 2018 annual limitation on health
savings account (HSA) contributions by individuals with family
coverage under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) is now $6,850.
This limit was previously announced as $6,900, but has been
revised downward due to an inflation adjustment provision in the
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 2018 annual limitation on HSA
contributions by an individual with self-only coverage under a
HDHP remains unchanged at $3,450.
here to read the IRS announcement. For information on
how to properly adjust employer or employee contributions to
comply with the newly announced limit, please contact the IRS.
Check out our Health Savings
Accounts section for more on HSAs.
Best Practices for Preventing Workplace Harassment
A report from the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) highlights best
practices for employers to prevent and respond to workplace
harassment. According to the EEOC report, employers should:
- Foster an organizational culture
in which harassment
is not tolerated;
- Adopt and maintain a comprehensive anti-harassment
policy (which prohibits harassment based on any
protected characteristic, and which includes social media
considerations) and establish procedures consistent
with the best practices outlined in the report;
- Ensure that any such anti-harassment
policy--especially details about how to complain of
harassment and how to report observed harassment--is frequently
communicated to employees in a variety of forms and
- Ensure that where harassment is found
to have occurred, discipline is prompt and proportionate
to the severity of the infraction. Discipline should be consistent and
not give or create the appearance of undue favor to any
particular employee; and
- Dedicate sufficient resources to training
middle-management and first-line supervisors on how to
respond effectively to harassment that they observe, that is
reported to them, or of which they have knowledge or
information--even before such harassment reaches a
to read the EEOC report in its entirety.
Information regarding employer responsibilities
under federal nondiscrimination laws may be found in our section
Counting Employees Vital to ACA Compliance
Employers are reminded that
it is important to know how many full-time employees they have in
order to ensure compliance with the employer shared
responsibility ("pay or play") provisions of the
Affordable Care Act, which apply to applicable large
Determining ALE Status
Whether an employer is considered an ALE
for a particular calendar year depends on the size of its
workforce during the preceding calendar year. For example,
employers will use information about the size of their workforce
during 2017 to determine if their company is an
ALE for 2018. Employers with an average of at least
50 full-time employees in the preceding calendar
year—including full-time equivalent employees—are generally
deemed ALEs for the current calendar year.
Identifying Full-Time Employees
In general, for purposes of pay or play:
- A full-time employee is, for a
calendar month, an employee who is employed on average at
least 30 hours of service per week. However, 130
hours of service in a calendar month is treated as the monthly
equivalent of at least 30 hours of service per week.
- A full-time equivalent employee is
a combination of employees, each of whom individually is not
a full-time employee, but who, in combination, are
equivalent to a full-time employee.
For additional rules on determining who is a
full-time employee, including what counts as an hour of service, click
To learn more about pay or play, please visit our Health
Care Reform section.
How to Conduct a Job Interview
The most important tasks in conducting a job interview
are preparing questions and evaluating candidate answers.
However, there are other key items you can attend to that will
ensure a successful job interview. Learn the action steps you
need to know by watching the video below.
For more information on job interviews, check out
our Recruitment &