While checking off your holiday gift-giving list, you might also be shopping for co-workers. Whether buying for the office holiday party, “Secret Santa” or gift swap, it is the gift-giving season and the office is not untouched by the fun.
Don’t be surprised by the legal requirements attached to bonuses.
According to Career Builder’s annual holiday survey, about 20 percent of workers surveyed plan to exchange gifts with co-workers this season. Most (80 percent) will spend less than $25.
But, as the survey revealed, some of these gifts may be rather “awkward.”
This year, some of the more creative gifts reported include:
- A squirrel toilet seat decal.
- A roll of duct tape.
- A bell on a string.
- A mystery bag with a coat in it.
- A giant heart shaped box of candy … from Valentine’s Day.
- A picture of a bear.
- A bowling ball.
- A ceramic sheep you can dress up seasonally.
Employers are also in on the gift-giving fun with holiday perks like parties, bonuses and gifts. A higher percentage of employers reported offering these perks this year than in past years.
For example, more than half of employers (54 percent) plan to give bonuses this year, up by seven percent from 2014. Perhaps not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of employees (93 percent) would prefer a holiday bonus or time off to a party (one percent).
Employers who plan on giving out bonuses must be aware that a few legal strings are attached because bonuses are a form of wages.
An employer must keep track of the amount awarded to each employee. For purposes of unemployment insurance, employers must keep payroll records for all employees for at least four years, and those records must include payments such as bonuses or gifts, the nature of the payments and the period of employment covered by each payment.
Other considerations also apply, so pay close attention to the wage and hour and other legal implications of bonuses.