Quick Hits - January 11, 2023 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

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Quick Hits - January 11, 2023

IRS mileage rate is 65.5 cents per mile in 2023:  The rate for business use of a car, van, pickup, or panel truck is now 65.5 cents per mile. This represents an increase of 3 cents from the agency’s midyear increase back in June for the second half of 2022, when the IRS set the per mile rate at 62.5 cents. The IRS did not adjust the rate of 22 cents per mile for vehicle operations related to medical or moving purposes for qualified active-duty members of the armed forces. All rates apply to electric and hybrid-electric vehicles as well as gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.

Watch for this W-2 phishing scam: The IRS is warning employers of a particularly dangerous email scheme that is currently circulating. Called a business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), this scheme involves a cybercriminal sending an email that appears to be from a company executive. The email is sent to an employee in the company’s payroll or human resources department, requesting a list of all employees and their W-2 forms.  The IRS has created procedures for employers and payroll professionals to report if they fell victim to a W-2 scam—or even if they didn’t. Businesses that lost data as a result of an email scam should notify the IRS as quickly as possible after the loss. If notified soon enough, the IRS may be able to take steps to protect employees from tax-related identity theft.  A business should email the IRS at [email protected]. The business should type “W-2 Data Loss” in the subject line. The email should include the following information so that the IRS can call the business: Business name, Business employer identification number (EIN), associated with the data loss, Contact name, Contact phone number, Summary of how the data loss occurred, and Volume of employees impacted.  Source:  CCH 1/10/23

More jobs advertised are office based:  Job positions specifically advertised as being office-based have increased, reaching a 19-month high of 4.2% in November, according to the job search engine Adzuna. Meanwhile, postings for remote jobs declined to 13.8% of all job listings, down from 15.4% in August.  Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Adzuna, states that “Employers are becoming more polarized in their approach to flexible working. In one camp, the likes of Elon Musk are mandating a return to the office, with the Tesla CEO recently asking Twitter employees to prepare to work 40 hours a week on site. And he’s not the only one, with companies including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs also adopting a non-flexible approach. In the other camp, some employers have become remote first, or guarantee flexible working as tactics to attract new talent. We’ve seen a surge in the number of advertised vacancies for remote and hybrid positions, even with the return-to-office push seeming to be in full effect from top companies, and flexibility remains at the top of many jobseekers’ wish lists. The current market still seems to be a jobseeker’s game, however, with more companies drawing a line in the sand over their return-to-office policies and demand for labor cooling slightly, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.” Source: Staffing Hub 12/13/22

Remote work as an accommodation may be required:  Since the pandemic, remote work has been a norm for many employers.  But many want the workers to return to the office. When can an employer argue that continued remote work is unreasonable, especially in light of an accommodation request? In Mobley v. St. Luke’s Health System, Inc., the employee managed a team of approximately 20 customer service employees, most of whom telecommuted full time. Managers, like the employee, were permitted to telecommute two days a week, with additional days permitted on a case-by-case basis. The employee had progressive multiple sclerosis, and requested several times for advance permission to telecommute on those days when his MS flared up. His requests were denied, ostensibly because he needed to supervise (poor-performing) direct reports in the office and because his flare-ups were unpredictable. The Eighth Circuit found that the employee could possibly show that “he was able to perform the essential functions of his job through his proposed accommodation of teleworking while he experienced a flare-up of his condition.” Moreover, “by allowing [the employee] to consistently work remotely aside from his medical condition, [the employer] implicitly demonstrated a belief that he could perform his essential job functions without being in the office all the time.”  Source: Shawe Rosenthal LLP 11/30/22

Keeping an employee safe may be another reason for remote work:  In (EEOC v. ISS Facility Services, Inc., No. 21-0378 (N.D. Ga. Sept. 7, 2021)), an employee worked at a manufacturing plant in Georgia, according to court documents. Per the complaint, in March 2020, she was diagnosed with hypertension and obstructive lung disease, which caused her frequent coughing episodes and shortness of breath. From March to June 2020, due to COVID-19, employees worked on rotating schedules, one day at the plant and four days at home. After the company required them to return to the plant five days a week, the employee asked to work from home two days a week and for frequent breaks when she worked on-site, the EEOC alleged. She submitted documentation that her severe bouts with pulmonary disease put her at high risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly because she had close contact with many employees and often shared a desk with co-workers, the complaint alleged. The company denied the employee’s request, even though it allegedly let others in similar positions work from home, the EEOC said.  The case settled for $47,000.   Source:  HR Dive 1/3/23


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