NewsBrief: February 2020

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In This Issue:

The New Federal W-4 – What You Need to Know

Bethany Wright, HR Consultant
Cascade Employers Association

The IRS released a new W-4 tax form for 2020. Each new employee needs to complete a W-4 form to tell you how much, or little, they want withheld from each paycheck. Having too little withheld means employees will likely owe money when they file their taxes. If they have too much withheld then they will generally be owed a refund.

Existing employees who already have a W-4 on file are not required to complete a new one unless they want to change their withholdings.

What has changed?

The biggest change to the W-4 form is that there is no longer an “allowances” section. Employees no longer claim allowances to change their withholding. Instead, the new form attempts to determine all of their sources of income, as well as how many dependents they have to make their tax withholdings as precise as possible.

Are employees required to complete all steps?

Step 1 and Step 5 on the form are required for all employees who fill out the new form. Employees only need to fill out Steps 2 through 4 if they apply to them. Otherwise, all they need to do is provide their name, address, Social Security number and filing status, and sign and date the form. Done.

Step 1 is the employee’s personal information, such as their name and Social Security number. Step 2 asks about additional jobs and spouse’s income. Step 3 is for counting dependents. Step 4 is for other adjustments, such as extra withholding. Step 5 is for signing and dating the form.

There are three ways employees can complete Step 2:

  1. The easiest way will be to use the IRS's tax withholding estimator.
  2. Use the Multiple Jobs Worksheet, located on page three of Form W-4 and enter the result in Step 4(c). The worksheet is on page three of Form W-4. According to the IRS the worksheet should only be completed on one W-4 form and employees should only enter information for the highest paying job in order to end up with the most accurate withholding.
  3. If there are only two jobs in total, check the box in option C. Make sure to do the same on the W-4 for the other job as well. This option should only be used if both jobs have similar pay, otherwise more tax may be withheld than necessary.

In Step 3, employees claim dependents.

Step 3 is fairly self-explanatory. If their income will be $200,000 or less ($400,000 or less if married filing jointly), follow the steps listed on the Form.

As an example, let's say their household income is $150,000, they file single, they have one child under the age of 17, and their sister lives with them and they support her financially.

With this example, their total for Step 3 will be $2,500. This is because they have one qualifying child, so 1 x $2,000 = $2,000. They also have one other dependent, which gives them an additional $500. These add together like this: $2,000 + $500 = $2,500. Your employee would write $2500.00 in the box for Step 3.

Step 4 includes other adjustments.

If your employee has non-job income for which they would like to have tax withheld, follow the directions for Step 4(a). If they don’t want any additional taxes withheld, they need not complete that step.

Step 4(b): if your employee is NOT expecting to claim the standard deduction, they should use the Deductions Worksheet on Page 3 of the form. Most people will take the standard deduction.

Step 4(c) was already discussed above in Step 2(b) with regards to the Multiple Jobs Worksheet.

The last step is Step 5. All employees who fill out this new form must sign and date the form in order for it to be valid.

Voila! You now know how to complete the new Federal W-4 form.

Don’t forget, here in Oregon we have our very own State W-4 form, and all any employees who were hired after January 1, 2018 or have updated their withholdings since then should have both the State and Federal form on file.


New FLSA Salary Threshold Took Effect January 1, 2020

By Jenna Reed, Vice President of HR Services and General Counsel
Cascade Employers Association

On January 1, 2020 a new salary threshold increasing the minimum annual salary for exempt positions from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $35,568 ($684 per week) took effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As we wrote about previously, there are no changes to the “duties” test used to also determine an employee’s status under the FLSA.

One notable change allows employers to include up to 10% of an employee’s salary from non-discretionary bonuses, incentives and commissions in meeting the salary threshold. These payments must be paid at least annually. If the bonus amounts do not bring the employee’s salary to the $684 per week threshold then the employer must make a “catch-up” payment within one pay period, or go back and pay overtime for the past calendar year.

If your organization needs to evaluate its salary structure for the new overtime rules, Cascade is here to help. We offer extensive compensation services to ensure your organization is competitive and compliant.


Hot Compliance Question

By Caitlin Egeck, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association

Question: I really want to see how candidates will perform the job and fit in with our staff. Can I have them do a working interview where they come in for a few hours and work on a project with some of our team?

Answer: No. In this scenario, the candidate would be performing compensable work since the activity would benefit the employer and this would create an employment relationship with that candidate. Because of this, the candidate would need to complete a W-4 and I-9, and be paid for the time worked at an agreed upon rate that is at least minimum wage.

While working interviews can provide a great glimpse into the way the candidate may actually perform, conducting an interview that would create an employment relationship creates a lot of risk. There are lots of other creative ways to learn about your candidates without creating legal risk. Having candidates conduct job observations and debriefing can give you valuable insights without creating an employment relationship.

You may also consider having candidates complete simulations, such as asking a Training Facilitator candidate to deliver a 20 minute mock training on a topic of their choice. If you’re struggling in this area, just reach out. We’ll get creative with you.


NLRB Ruling Addresses Confidentiality in Investigations

By Jenna Reed, Vice President of HR Services and General Counsel
Cascade Employers Association

HR professionals know the importance of confidentiality during investigations in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, encourage candor and minimize the risk of retaliation. However, there has been some disconnect between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) causing confusion for employers trying to conduct effective investigations.

A recent NLRB ruling reversed the NLRB’s limitations to align with EEOC guidance which allows employers to require confidentiality during workplace investigations. This is a good decision for employers and reduces the disconnect between the two agencies.

If you have questions about conducting investigations, or need an objective outside party to conduct one on your behalf, give us a call. We can help!


The ROI of HRCI Certification

Guest Article by Clare Chiappetta
HR Certification Institute

Before we make any business moves, we have to know what return on investment (ROI) we can expect. And that applies to making decisions about our career goals. Luckily, earning an HR certification offers a pretty big ROI. In fact, according to a recent industry survey, certification holders tend to receive both better positions and better pay.

There are benefits to earning a certification and then adding the credential’s letters after your name. While upgrading your signature does offer unparalleled satisfaction and a huge boost to your personal morale, the benefits of certification reverberate across your HR practice.

We recognize that earning your certification requires dedication and hard work. But guess what? So do employers. And when it comes to job searches and pay-increase evaluations, that dedication and hard work count for more than you may realize.

Here are just a few of the many returns HRCI certification earns on your invested time and effort.


Bolster Your Reputation in the Industry

When employers see the letters you’ve earned through HRCI, they will definitely take notice, says Amy Benbarka, director of talent operations at Frontpoint and volunteer subject matter expert at HRCI. “HRCI credentials are considered to be the brand and industry standard of HR certification, so achieving that gives you more clout,” she says.

Your credentials don’t just tell the story of your professional accomplishments. They say a lot about who you are as an HR practitioner — and as a person. “Certification represents that you have demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning,” Benbarka says. And with great learning comes great responsibility. “Employers expect a certain level of confidence and standards from certified HR professionals,” she says.

Be Prepared for Anything Your Practice Throws at You

As you prepare for your certification exam, you will probably learn about aspects of HR that have never crossed your desk. That doesn’t mean that you won’t use that knowledge in the future — often sooner than you’d think. “HR, especially at larger companies, can sometimes be insular,” Benbarka says. “HRCI exams really represent the practice of HR as it is.”

Certification prepares you to handle any aspect of HR that your organization could possibly throw at you. For example, Benbarka points out that unions only represent about 10% of the private workforce. But your certification prepares you to handle union scenarios, too. Why? “The goal of certification is to end up with a more professional and effective HR team,” Benbarka says. When you want to reach the top of your game, every aspect of HR matters, even those that don’t affect your current daily practice.

Keep Ahead of the Changing Times

To maintain your HRCI certification, you have to recertify every three years. The continuing professional development required is one of the biggest benefits to the certification process, Benbarka says. “Our profession changes, laws change, best practices change,” she says. “The requirement to continue educating yourself in order to maintain certification is its greatest long-term value.”

Few professions are changing as rapidly as HR is. And with its ongoing focus on employee retention, satisfaction and experience, HR has already come a long way from its more administrative past. “Recertification ensures that you're constantly staying up-to-date on the best and brightest ideas in the industry,” Benbarka says.


Five Things You May Not Know About NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation – Featured Member

By Gayle Gilham, President
Cascade Employers Association

NIRSA logoWith more than 4500 members, this not-for-profit association — whose headquarters are now nestled in Corvallis, Oregon — was founded because dedicated recreation programs and facilities at institutions of higher learning inspire diverse and sustainable communities of wellbeing through the platform of inclusive recreation. Did you know...

  1. From the time two state schools in the Midwest devoted spaces and resources to campus recreation in 1916, a century of ever-growing commitment to programming, participation, inclusion, and outside-of-the-classroom learning has prevailed for students and faculty in higher education. It all began as more and more campuses began to offer recreational sports, catching the attention of scholars who were interested in their positive effects on campus culture and students’ quality of life. Dr. William Wasson was one such scholar, discovering the value of intramurals while studying Physical Education under Elmer Mitchell at the University of Michigan in 1946. The connection between a healthy body and healthy mind continues to be explored today.

  2. Dr. Wasson went on to develop his own intramural program at Dillard University, and in 1948 commenced a study with funding from the Carnegie Foundation, titled “A Comparative Study of Intramural Programs in Negro Colleges.” In 1950, Wasson founded the National Intramural Association, convening a meeting of 20 representatives from 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities at Dillard University in New Orleans. The NIA was the first organization of its kind, bringing intramural program leaders together for the purpose of sharing skills and wisdom to advance the good work of their profession.

  3. The face of the Association has changed a great deal over the decades, adapting its purposes and membership to changes in the profession and national culture. Since those early generations, collegiate recreation has flourished from a hodgepodge of opportunities that originally catered to the needs of a minority of students to comprise a well-integrated, inclusive range of offerings that inspire millions of students every year.

  4. Today, NIRSA members can be found on more than 950 campuses, with a busy staff and thousands of active members sharing time and skills to continue in the aim that moved Dr. William Wasson. Campus recreation departments play a vital role in the development and success of students.

  5. Where does NIRSA plan to go from here? Campus recreation professionals have for decades been collaborating to strengthen their resolve and ability to build inclusive and welcoming environments, foster positive student engagement, and advance a culture of health and wellbeing that is essential for thriving individuals and vibrant communities. Their vision is nothing short of inspiring healthy people and healthy communities worldwide as the premier association of leaders in campus recreation.

Cascade is proud to feature this member that believes participation in campus recreation programming can make our global community healthier.


You Also Might Be Interested In These Recent Great Work! Posts

By Cascade Staff
Cascade Employers Association

Curious about partnering with a Compensation Consultant? Here are some of the numerous advantages to hiring an outside compensation consultant versus trying to tackle pay plan development on your own.

2020 is here and so are several new surveys including the Oregon Wine & Vine Pay and Benefits Survey. Want to learn more?


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