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DECEMBER 2017

 

In This Issue:

Six Local Transit Payroll Taxes – Not Just for Businesses Located in These Districts

By Diane McBride, Director of Finance and Accounting
Cascade Employers Association
dmcbride@cascadeemployers.com

In the many years of working in the payroll field, there's one comment I hear from a lot of companies: they didn’t realize they may be subject to transit taxes because their business is not located in that district. It's not just about the location of the business, but is also about performing work in the district. If you are a business that isn’t located in one of those districts but occasionally perform work in those areas or have employees who live in one of the districts and work remotely from home, you may be subject to the tax.

Lane and Trimet are the most common transit districts you may be aware of, but did you know there are four others? All six have similar rules, and it would be a good idea to read through the rules for the district that pertains to you to understand what is taxable and what may be exempt. And if you have employees working in multiple areas, you will need to prorate their payroll dollars according to the areas they worked so you avoid paying double. Lane and Trimet are reported on the Oregon OQ quarterly report, but the other four have their own form and rules for payment.

Below is a list of all six areas along with a link to learn more about each:

As always, we are here to help should you have any questions.

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Five Things You May Not Know About ABC House –
Featured Member

By Gayle Klampe, President
Cascade Employers Association
gklampe@cascadeemployers.com

ABC House LogoThis nonprofit member works with children, youth and their families to overcome the crisis of abuse and neglect. Did you know...

  1. Established in 1997, ABC House is a Child Abuse Intervention Center (CAIC) offering child abuse assessment, treatment and support services, post-trauma counseling and youth and adult educational programming.
  2. ABC House is the only agency in Benton and Linn counties providing forensic evaluations and support services to children whom authorities have received a report or allegation of abuse.
  3. The organization’s staff is a multi-disciplinary team working in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Health Services (DHS), the District Attorney’s office and many other agencies focused on children’s health and safety.
  4. ABC House provides services to over 4,500 people annually, including abuse assessments and medical consultation services to over 600 children each year.
  5. More than 50% of ABC House’s funding comes from the community—individuals, businesses, foundations and other funders.

Cascade is proud to feature ABC House, a member that envisions a world in which every child has the opportunity to be happy, healthy and safe.

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Hot Compliance Question

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
rorr@cascadeemployers.com

Question: I want to give my employees gift cards for the holidays. Can I do that? Would it be considered a bonus that needs to be taxed?

Answer:  Yes, you can give your employees gift cards, but it will be considered taxable income.

You can, however, give de minimis gifts, such as a turkey, without taxing the value of the gift. There is no specified dollar limit on de minimis gifts (although the IRS has ruled that a gift valued at $100 could not meet the de minimis exception), but they must be occasional or infrequent, they must have a low fair market value, and accounting for it would be unreasonable or impracticable.

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OSHA’s Top 10 Safety Violations

Courtesy of Safety Northwest
safetynorthwest.org

Clients throughout the Northwest are always alert to OSHA’s “TOP 10” safety violations. Nobody’s perfect... learning from the mistakes of industry colleagues and competitors is smart business that results in better safety and cost savings.

And despite most firms in the Northwest not having full-time safety personnel, we consistently find sincerity and interest in achieving a better “Safety Month” every day.

The 2017 list shows several great improvement trends in safety nationally. If you aren’t seeing similar results, give Safety Northwest a call – we are happy to lend a hand where we can.

The TOP 10 list for 2017 – and tips for better safety results.

  1. Fall Protection. Violations decreased by 12% in the construction industry - this is great news! But fall violations were still at the top of the list – mostly failures to guard edges and open sides.

    SAFETY TIP: keep up those daily worksite inspections that reveal fall risks of six feet or higher especially from cut holes in floors and walls. If not in construction, make sure your general industry fall protection written program has the updated “walking surfaces” regulations.

  2. Hazard Communication. Citations in 2017 decreased an outstanding 26%! The more straightforward GHS standards implemented several years ago have proven effective.

    SAFETY TIP: keep your written hazard communication program and SDS binder/database up to date. Hazard awareness and response training for new folks is important too.

  3. Scaffolding. Violations in the construction industry in 2017 were down by 15%. Violations mostly were issues with scaffold assembly, safe access, and guardrails.

    SAFETY TIP: safe scaffolding can be difficult depending on a worksite’s layout. Avoid acquiescing to even temporary safety shortcuts.

  4. Respiratory Protection. Violations declined 13% in 2017 but with the new silicosis prevention rules companies may find themselves in fresh trouble next year.

    SAFETY TIP: keep your written respiratory protection program updated and conduct those required medical examinations for workers who use respirators!

  5. Lockout/Tagout. Violations dropped by 15% here too – a terrific trend given that lockout violations most often cause severe injuries. Lockout/tagout safeguards employees from hazardous energy during maintenance and repair work.

    SAFETY TIP: there are simply no substitutes for consistent lockout training and enforcement.

  6. Ladders. Another great downward trend, improper use of ladder citations fell (no pun intended) by 15%. Surprisingly, ladder injuries are often quite serious – broken bones, shattered feet, paralysis. Rehabilitation takes years.

    SAFETY TIP: (1) firmly secure ladders; (2) don’t over extend your reach – do the right thing and reposition the ladder.

  7. Powered Industrial Trucks. Forklifts are true workhorses and their drivers must be trained, certified and reevaluated every three years. Citations were down 24% so employers are doing a much better job.

    SAFETY TIP: SLOWDOWN! Keep pedestrians away from active forklift areas and retrain operators as required.

  8. Machine Guarding. Machine guarding protects workers from the nasty “pinch points,” rotating parts, flying chips and sparks dangers. Although citations were down 21%, point-of-operation hazards still account for most violations.

    SAFETY TIP: regular inspections and diligence putting guards back on after clearing jams and repairs.

  9. Fall Protection Training Requirements. These category violations are new to the TOP 10 list. Fall injuries are almost always severe – hence the enforcement priority on training.

    SAFETY TIP: fall protection training is proven effective and is straightforward: fall hazard recognition and proper PPE.

  10. Electrical Wiring. Although down by a fantastic 27%, faulty electrical wiring violations are being issued in regular office and warehouse settings more than ever before. The big concern is fire from extension cords being overloaded and substituted for permanent wiring.

    SAFETY TIP: don’t “daisy-chain” your power strips.

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HR Stats You Should Know

By Jenna Reed, JD, General Counsel and Director, Compliance Services
Cascade Employers Association
jreed@cascadeemployers.com

According to The Engagement Institute, disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion each year.

What should you do with a disengaged employee? Don’t make the mistake of ignoring them and icing them out. Deal with it directly. Tell them what you’re observing. What would make their employment experience better? Are they willing and able to do what it takes to make it better? What can you do to support them?

And here’s a tip…if they don’t want to make it better you’re probably wasting your time. Deal with it directly and focus your energy on keeping your more engaged employees engaged.

And of course, if you want to look at engagement across your organization let us know.

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State Contractors Required to Certify Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policies

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
rorr@cascadeemployers.com

In order to award a state contract, Oregon contracting agencies typically must now receive certifications that an employer has policies prohibiting sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination against protected classes. In order to make this certification, employer policies must do the following:

  • Provide a written notice to each employee that clearly prohibits and specifies disciplinary measures for conduct that constitutes sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination against a member of a protected class.
  • Establish a clear reporting process (including identification of specific individuals to whom a report may be made) and employer response that resolves the issues identified in the report and disciplines employees who engage in prohibited conduct.
  • Establish a practice of treating as confidential, to the extent permitted by law, any report that an employee makes.
  • Prohibit retaliation against an employee who experiences or witnesses, and reports, conduct that constitutes sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination against a member of a protected class.
  • Prohibit discrimination in providing benefits to an employee or a dependent of the employee based on the employee’s membership in a protected class or the membership of the employee’s dependent in a protected class.
  • Prohibit denying benefits to an employee or a dependent of the employee based solely on the employee’s gender identity or the gender identity of the employee’s dependent, if the prospective contractor provides health insurance or health care benefits.

For more information about your organization’s state contracting obligations, give us a call.

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Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Consumer Price Indexes listed were issued November 15, 2017 for October data. 1982-84 = 100, unless otherwise noted.

  CPI-W
United
States
2016

235.732
2017

240.573
Change

2.1%
Portland/
Salem

Avg. 1st 
half/year
2016

237.784
2017

247.871


4.2%
  CPI-U
United
States
2016

241.729
2017

246.663
Change

2.0%
Portland/
Salem

Avg. 1st
half/year
2016

247.143
2017

258.055


4.4%

Note: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) program produces monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of certain retail goods and services. CPI-W consists of urban households whose primary source of income is derived from the employment of wage earners and clerical workers. CPI-U includes wage earners and clerical workers, salaried workers, the self-employed, retirees, and the unemployed.

US Department of Labor Historical CPI Data

 


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