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 things you should know

Two new tax benefits - Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE)

Employers who hire unemployed workers this year (after Feb. 3, 2010 and before Jan. 1, 2011) may qualify for a 6.2% payroll tax incentive, in effect exempting them from their share of Social Security taxes on wages paid to these workers after March 18, 2010.

In addition, for each worker retained for at least a year, businesses may claim an additional general business tax credit, up to $1,000 per worker, when they file their 2011 income tax returns. The new law requires that the employer get a statement from each eligible new hire certifying that he or she was unemployed during the 60 days before beginning work or, alternatively, worked fewer than a total of 40 hours for someone else during the 60-day period. Employers should consider whether the tax benefits of HIRE outweigh the benefits of WOTC.

The IRS has issued form W-11 to use when employing someone under the HIRE Act. To view the form and learn more about the law go to,,id=221036,00.html

COBRA subsidy extended through May 31, 2010

The latest Extension Act really has not changed anything drastically. Employers have 30 days to notify their plan administrator of an employee termination, and the plan administrator - even if it's the employer - then has 14 days to send notice to qualified beneficiaries. Employers should closely track all terminations that occur following March 31, 2010 and administratively prepare to rapidly send out notices once model notices and guidance is received from DOL.

DOL crackdown on internships

With the summer season approaching, employers need to be aware of the proper classification of internships. The United States Department of Labor continued its publicity campaign on the issue of unpaid interns by releasing a Fact Sheet this week on whether and when interns need to be paid minimum wage or be treated as employees.

FMCSA requires electric onboard recorders for trucking companies violating Hours of Service Rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed a rule that will allow the use of the results of a single compliance review to decide if trucking companies must install electronic onboard recorders. The FMCSA’s new rule will go into effect on June 1, 2012, and is likely to impact more than 5,700 trucking companies.

Under the new rule, a trucking company that violates trucker work hours more than 10% of the time during a single compliance review must install these recorders on its trucks. Electronic onboard recorders monitor driver work hours, and prevent the driver from exceeding the hours of service rules that currently stand at 11 consecutive hours.

Study: Shift work creates sleep problems in 30- to 40-year-olds

A new study from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine finds that shift work most severely impacts workers in their 30s and 40s. The most common sleep issue associated with shift work is waking up too early. Although former shift workers tend to have more sleep problems than people who have never performed shift work, study authors believe the effects are reversible – but it may take some time after giving up shift work for sleep patterns to normalize. The study was published in the April issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

OSHA unveils new workplace initiatives at Latino summit

Several initiatives to improve workplace safety were announced in April during OSHA's National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety. The initiatives include:

Compliance officers must check to ensure training provided to workers is done so in a format employees can understand. A new pilot program in which Mayors of 10 cities will be asked to have city building inspectors work jointly with OSHA when they observe unsafe work conditions. In construction, the four leading causes of worker deaths are falls, electrocution, being crushed or caught between and being struck. Inspectors participating in this pilot program will notify OSHA when they observe unsafe work conditions leading to these four major causes of workplace fatalities.

Expansion of the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. Harwood Training Grants provide funding to nonprofit organizations to support quality education and training programs on workplace safety to workers and employers. OSHA's Susan Harwood Training Grant Program Web page has been updated to provide the public for the first time with worker safety training materials created by past grant winners.