By Carol Nibley, PeopleServe

Most business owners may wonder about the effect of the recent presidential election on their organizations. The economic climate in the U.S. is somewhat uncertain as the impact of the fiscal cliff, immigration reform, and the Affordable Care Act come into focus. Following are a few cautions to consider with this new year.

Payroll Tax Withholding. Work closely with your payroll provider to make sure your payroll tax rates are up to date as the tax drama unfolds in Washington. Proper withholding of payroll taxes is the responsibility of every employer, and this last-minute fumbling in Washington will create an added burden of compliance.

Federal E-Verify. If you are not yet using the federal E-Verify program, this may be mandated by the federal government as part of massive immigration reform. Currently, federal government contractors and employers in certain states are required to participate. Make sure you know the laws governing your workplace.

Healthcare Reform. Review the timeline of healthcare reform obligations to ensure compliance with the 2013 requirements. For example, the cap on flexible spending accounts to $2,500 for calendar year plans is effective January 1, 2013. A new Medicare tax exists for high earners. Standard disclosure forms must be provided by insurers to consumers. Work closely with your insurance company or broker on these and other important compliance obligations.

Other Considerations. If you are planning to give pay increases to your employees, the median increase in 2013 is 3 percent. Top-performing employees will likely earn 50 percent more than their average counterparts. Employers are also expected to offer bonuses and other incentive pay in 2013, responding to a greater willingness of employees to look elsewhere.

Expect new labor and employment regulations by federal agencies, including a proposed rule to expand military family leave under FMLA and affirmative action rules for covered veterans and individuals with disabilities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) likely will continue its reach into non-union workplaces in challenging common employer policies, such as use of social media and at-will employment to see if these policies “chill” protected speech.

I expect 2013 will be anything but boring from an employer’s perspective. Best wishes to you for a happy and compliant new year!

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