The Holiday Season is Here!

Time to hang the mistletoe, bring out the holiday cheer, give presents to everybody (the more personal the better!), hugs and kisses abound!!! Not really, only kidding!

It really is time NOT to actually do the above-mentioned things. At the risk of sounding like a typical HR Guy, however, it is time to throw out a word of caution to employers and employees alike. Holiday decorations are a nice thing, but take care not to make them too religious or present only one religion while disallowing others to decorate with different items. Make it open so the “d” word cannot be used.

Holiday parties are a good way to celebrate. Caution should be taken here not to drink too much, start flirting with co-workers, getting too personal with the boss, or driving under the influence. Liability is often placed on the party thrower or host (employer) if someone leaves under the influence and has an accident. If someone does celebrate too much, offer to call a cab or the person’s emergency contact. If this fails, tell the person you are going to call the police. If the employee still insists on driving, do call the police.

Holiday gifts are nice too, but do not make them so personal that eyebrows are raised and people begin wondering, “What does he/she mean by this?” Undergarments, perfume, after shave, some magazines, for example, fall in the too personal category.

Holiday bonuses are a nice thing too. Remember that cash is always taxable. If cash is given to a non-exempt employee, remember it must be “discretionary,” meaning not expected and not based on hours worked, productivity, or efficiency. Otherwise, it must be included in any overtime calculations for the period considered.

Giving personal gifts – gift cards, personal electronics, etc. – usually do not come into play with the overtime calculation. However, they may be taxable if the value is more than “de minimis.” There is no dollar value assigned to “de minimis,” but acceptable examples include hams, turkeys, fruit baskets, etc. Be careful not to substitute gift cards for low-value merchandise, as gift cards have cash value and are taxable. Check with your CPA.

Happy Safe, Sensible Holidays to All!

The above information is provided for informational purposes and is not to be considered legal advice. Questions, call Larry Elinskas at 804-966-8100.