Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Due This Month

Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Due This Month

Federal employment law is about to give birth to some long-overdue requirements. As of June 27, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must provide pregnancy-related accommodations to employees and applicants under the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). Below we will refer to employees and applicants collectively as “employees.”

Pregnancy Related Accommodations

Under the PWFA, employees are entitled to accommodations for a condition related to or affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The condition can be physical or mental. Pregnancy-related conditions include, among others, morning sickness, gestational diabetes, post-partum depression, and lactation.

This law expands employer obligations beyond what is already required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in that being entitled to a pregnancy-related accommodation does not require that the employee’s condition rise to the level of disability. Also, employees are entitled to accommodations even if they cannot perform their essential job functions on a temporary basis.

Possible accommodations include but are not limited to:

  • Providing more frequent or longer breaks
  • Modifying a food or drink policy
  • Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if their job requires standing
  • Observing limits on lifting
  • Providing job restructuring, light duty, or a modified work schedule

Employers cannot require an employee to take leave if a reasonable on-the-job accommodation is available. Like the ADA, the employer and employee should engage in the interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations can be provided. However, if the employer is willing to grant the employee’s request, the interactive process is not required.

Note that many states have already implemented pregnancy accommodation laws, some of which may be more generous than the PWFA. Employers need to apply the law—or the aspect of each law—that is most favorable to employees.

Undue Hardship Exception

Employers do not have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. Undue hardship is defined as “an action requiring significant difficulty or expense,” the same as under the ADA. This is a high standard for employers to meet.

Tips from CHR

  • Add a pregnancy accommodations policy to your handbook if you do not already have one. Contact the HR compliance team at CHR if you need help devising this policy.
  • If you are subject to a state law that provides similar accommodations, make sure your policy captures the most employee-friendly aspects of the applicable laws
  • Ensure that managers are aware of the law and types of accommodations that may be required.
Direct Deposit Scams: A Growing Phishing Threat to Businesses

Direct Deposit Scams: A Growing Phishing Threat to Businesses

Online and email scams are not new, but the ways in which bad actors perpetrate cybersecurity breaches are continually evolving. There are several types of fraudulent activity that affect payroll departments: deliberate worker misclassification by employers, pay rate alteration by malicious insiders, creation of “ghost” employee profiles, and direct deposit scams, which we focus on in this article.

What is a direct deposit scam?

A direct deposit scam, also called a payroll diversion scam, involves phishing emails that target a company’s HR functions—including HR and payroll managers—and is costing companies a lot of money and time.

This scam is rendered via a fraudulent email that is generated to look like a typical direct deposit bank change request. It appears to come from an employee to the human resources or payroll department, requesting a bank change for their paycheck direct deposit. The more sophisticated direct deposit scams address the correct person at the company directly as well.

How direct deposit or payroll diversion scams are implemented

The spoofers establish an email address using the real employee’s name and display name in the messages. At a glance, the email looks “real.” The cyberthief may ask for a company’s direct deposit change form or may include a completed form with the email, having located it online. The unwitting person in charge of direct deposits changes the bank routing number according to the request, which sends the affected paychecks to the scammer’s account. The employee is not paid timely and the employer is out the stolen money, which it must replace.

Payroll diversion emails usually have a sense of urgency about them (“must be done before …” “need this in time for …”) as well as something that personalizes the phishing email further. They are designed to invite the HR manager or payroll manager to help the employee as promptly as possible.

Increased working from home increases the threat

More employees working from home (WFH) means they are conducting more business over email rather than walking down the hall at the office. This increased WFH environment is making it easier for scammers to execute this cybersecurity threat. After all, human resource managers get many legitimate requests by email from employees, such as arranging paid time off or vacations. A bogus change request for their direct-deposit paycheck can be easily overlooked—especially as spoofing capabilities improve all the time.

Who is doing the payroll phishing?
Bad actors who engage in this payroll phishing scam may be a former employee who knows the inner workings and personnel of your company. The phishing may come from an external party through a data breach of your computing network. Or it could be someone who takes the time to research your organization and figures out who handles payroll and processes the direct deposit change requests. Creating the fake email is the easy part!

How to combat direct deposit scams

  • Training: The importance of employee training cannot be overstated. There are training programs to help your team more readily identify email phishing scams of all kinds, from executive spoofing to payroll scams. These trainings should be part of your standard operating procedures to keep up with savvy cybercriminals. Also, remind employees that they should remain vigilant and not respond to any suspicious emails; nor should they ever send sensitive, confidential information by email to anyone.
  • Policies and processes: Make sure to include a cyber policy and processes in your employee handbook. Your staff should be aware of and follow them in case of a breach, including what notices need to be given. Review these periodically to ensure they are current with evolving threats and update them as needed.
  • Proactive measures: Be wary of any requests coming to you through email. Always check the sender’s email address and verify this is someone who works for your company, with an established and exact email address you have on file.
  • If you aren’t certain the direct deposit bank change request is legitimate, call the employee on a known phone number to check it out.
  • Notify your HR or payroll manager and/or payroll provider if the request is not legitimate.

How CHR helps avoid direct deposit scams

CHR works very hard to protect clients. We can help your team draft cyber policies and procedures to protect your organization against nefarious phishing scams and leverage the power of our third-party partners to assist on the cybersecurity side for you.

We also encourage our clients to have their employees use our secure employee portal which encrypts emails. Your staff can manage and make direct deposit change requests there, providing a layer of protection for all parties. CHR uses multi-factor authentication to verify registered users’ identities and our technology meets the most stringent cybersecurity standards to prevent email spoofing scams from occurring. In short, our protocols are designed to mitigate the risk of cyber threats for our clients.

If one of our clients falls prey to the direct deposit change request scam, we will notify the bank(s) about this fraud and create a paper trail detailing efforts. We may also work with government or state agencies depending on the amount of money involved. Our services are used by 80,000 organizations and we handle $2 billion in payroll wages annually—so we’re always integrating new technologies to safeguard those payroll dollars and the companies we serve.

Contact CHR USA and keep out the scammers

We’re here to help your team avoid direct deposit and other email and payroll scams that will cost your organization precious money and time or incur legal action. Reach out to your account specialist or sales@chrusa.com for more information.

Important Payroll Tax Compliance Dates

Payroll tax filings and tax payments are an important part of every employer’s fiscal responsibilities to their employees, federal, state and local agencies. From FICA to FUTA (federal unemployment tax) to local taxes, our clients never have to worry about filings, payroll taxes, and deadline dates. Our payroll team handles it all for you, timely and efficiently. And if you receive any notice from a state or federal agency, including rate change notices, all you need to do is send it to us for review and response.

We are sharing the dates below for your information and planning purposes.

General calendar notes

For monthly depositors, the payroll tax payment deadline is the 15th of every month (or the first Monday following that date) for the previous month. Funds are paid via electronic transfer to the IRS.

Upcoming 2023 payroll tax payment due dates

The monthly payroll tax payments must include federal income tax withheld and both employer and employee FICA (Social Security and Medicare taxes).

  • May 15, 2023
  • June 15, 2023
  • July 17, 2023
  • August 15, 2023
  • September 15, 2023
  • October 16, 2023
  • November 15, 2023
  • December 15, 2023

Quarterly payroll tax filings, FUTA deposits

These filings, using Form 941, report federal income tax withholding amounts, FICA from employee paychecks, and employer payments for those items for the previous quarter.

If you are required to make quarterly FUTA tax deposits on the following dates (paid for the previous quarter), we use Form 940. FUTA tax payments exceeding $500 for the calendar year require at least one quarterly payment.

  • July 31, 2023
  • October 31, 2023

With CHR USA on your team, you never have to worry about meeting these deadlines and remaining in compliance. Contact your CHR USA account specialist with any questions about IRS and state treasury requirements or notices.