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Incentive Pay

Be prepared to explain bonus before discharge

Do you hand out periodic bonuses to employees? If so, be sure you can clearly describe how you calculate bonuses and what em­­ployees need to do to receive one. If you must later terminate an employee—and claim poor performance was the reason—she may point to the bonus as proof you fired her for discriminatory reasons.

Fiscal cliff averted: New law sets 2013 withholding rates; ‘payroll tax holiday’ expires

In the waning hours of New Year’s Day, Congress passed legislation averting a plunge off the “fiscal cliff” and making permanent Bush-era tax rates for all but the highest earners. Now employers can finally make concrete plans for their 2013 payroll operations.

Can we offer exempts extra vacation bonuses?


Q. Can we give an exempt employee a bonus of extra vacation days in addition to the standard accrued time off outlined in our employee handbook?

Keep your holiday pay & bonuses legal: 4 simple steps

Don’t confuse Uncle Sam with Santa Claus. When it comes to violating pay laws around the holidays, the feds won’t be generous if your organization is on the naughty list. Here are four rules to make sure holiday pay complies with the FLSA and IRS rules.

Holiday bonuses: When it’s OK to pass the buck

Commercials for holiday gifts have been running on TV since at least Halloween. So naturally, em­­ployees are making their lists and checking them twice. Perhaps they’re counting on a holiday bonus to pay for it all. If holiday bonuses are in your future, be sure to cover these bases.

Pay-for-performance raises to dominate 2013


This year’s merit increases will hover around 3%, according to a survey of 270 large multinational companies by compensation consulting firm Empsight Inter­na­tional. Say farewell to across-the-board pay hikes and years-of-service bumps. Instead, look for renewed emphasis on raises linked to meeting or beating organizational goals. Here are the compensation trends to watch in 2013.

23-cent bonus adds up to one big payroll headache

If an employer retains complete control over whether to pay a bonus and the amount of the bonus, then it can be excluded from an employee’s regular rate as a discretionary bonus. But both parts of this test count equally. Recently, a federal trial court ruled that bonuses that always equaled $50 failed the second part of the test.

Court of Appeals case reinforces value of written job offers

A recent decision by New York’s highest court highlights the value of spelling out the terms of employment in a written offer letter.

Retention bonus: Stay five years, get $50,000

After realizing how much it spent training new ­employees, SIB Development and Consulting in Charleston, S.C., decided to launch a novel retention bonus: If you keep your job for five years, you get $50,000.

Employee compensation: 12 trends for 2012

Compensation experts are predicting modest but steady wage growth over the next few years as employers shake off the salary freezes, layoffs and low profits brought on by the recession. Still, a recent Forbes story says 2012 could be The Year of the Employee Back­­lash, as workers look for greener pastures.