As the holiday season begins, employers must carefully handle several issues that could lead to lawsuits and liability, including holiday parties, year-end gifts or bonuses and time off from work. Beth Milito, Senior Counsel with the NFIB Small Business Legal Center, has some advice to protect your small business.
Are you serving alcohol at your holiday party? Avoid liability by:
- Making holiday parties voluntary
- Serving heavy foods
- Stopping intoxicated employees from driving by offering alternative transportation
"Make sure employees understand that a holiday part is still a work-related activity, and that rules for appropriate work apply," Milito says.
Employers can avoid tax penalties by remembering that employee gifts are viewed by the IRS as supplemental wages and should be taxed. However, employers can give a holiday gift which may be excluded from payroll and income taxes if the gift is so small as to make accounting impractical. Milito says the amount of the gift has not be specified, but a general rule of thumb is to keep it under $25.
Finally, while there is no law requiring time off for the holidays, employers can keep up morale and avoid disputes by making sure holiday rules are clearly stated and consistently enforced with all employees.
NFIB's Legal Ease is a web video series with practical legal tips for small business owners. More videos in the series can be found at www.nfib.com/LegalEase.