A revised I-9 form went into effect today. Do you have it? Make sure you are using the form with the expiration date of 8/31/2019 (you can find that in the upper right-hand corner) and an edition date of 7/17/17 (you can find that in the lower left-hand corner).
Are you a federal contractor? Did you know that, on Labor Day, President Obama issued an executive order requiring employees working on federal contracts to be provided with up to 7 days of paid sick leave per year? Workers will earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked and employees may use it for their own illnesses or to care for a family member. This new requirement goes into effect for new contracts beginning in 2017.
How will you handle this? Do you offer sick leave already, and, if so, is it as generous? Or will this be a new benefit that you must offer, and how might it impact your other time off policies?
And before you breathe a sigh of relief if you are not a government contractor, the President is also renewing his call for paid sick leave for all employers employing 15 or more employees. Stay tuned to see whether Congress takes this up!
Are you aware that the Department of Labor has proposed sweeping changes to the regulations regarding overtime? It remains to be seen whether these changes will be enacted, but they will affect nearly every employer who is subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act. If enacted, the minimum salary threshold for those who could be eligible for overtime will be increased from $23,660/year ($455/week) to $50,440/year ($970/week)! Of course, there are duties tests associated with these salary levels in order for a position to earn the exemption from overtime, but if you currently pay a supervisor under $50,000/year and consider that individual to be exempt from overtime, you would be required to pay overtime if the regulation is changed even if the position is managerial or professional in nature. Stay tuned!
And that may be good news or bad, depending on your perspective. Based on one decision, it looks like it would be a good idea to review your email policies. The Board decided that employees may use company email systems to engage in protected activity during nonworking time. This could open the door to increased union organizing activity through a company's email system. Employers will want to review their handbooks to ensure their policies comply with the Board's new decision.
In a second decision, the Board has opened the door again to the "quickie" election and has handed down a ruling that will go into effect in April of 2015. The rule will speed up the union election process and will compel employers to turn over personal email addresses and telephone numbers of all eligible voters. Whether employees themselves have the right to opt out of that kind of information sharing remains to be seen, but it might be a good idea to stop gathering employees' home email addresses if you do that as part of your information gathering. In addition, because there will be less time during a union organizing drive, employers would be wise to educate their supervisors about the signs of union organizing and what is permissible to say to educate employees about why the company believes it should remain union-free.
You probably heard that the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the appointments that the President made to the National Labor Relations Board were not valid. At the time they were made, there was some question as to whether Congress was actually in recess and this case is the result of those questions.
There were a few controversial decisions the board had imposed since these appointments
were made and the question now is what happens with those decisions in light of the Supreme Court ruling. Will the matters before the board be decided again, will the board simply rubber-stamp the decisions, will the issues be tabled indefinitely? We will wait to see what they decide to do.
Keep in mind that some of the decisions included the rights that employees have when complaining about their jobs on social media and the protections afforded employees regarding communications amongst themselves, whether the information related to other employees or to their own investigations. Depending on how these decisions are re-examined, employers could regain some control over how their organizations are portrayed both internally and externally.
The USCIS has released an updated I-9 form and you can begin using it immediately but no later than May 7, 2013. To access it and learn more about what was changed, visit the USCIC website at www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf.
Many employers may not be aware that the Form I-9 is re-issued on occasion and that it does actually contain an expiration date in the upper right-hand corner of the form. Sometimes, there are substantive changes made to the form, changing the documents permitted or other data that needs to be collected. Often, there are not. And, sometimes, the USCIS is not ready to make changes to the form by its expiration date.
This is one of those times. While there have been some discussions about potential changes to the form, they are not in place just yet and so the current form will need to be used beyond its current expiration date of August 31, 2012. So, if you knew there was expiration date - and even if you didn't! - you can continue to use the current form until further guidance is provided.
Employers would be wise to check back in with some regularity at the USCIS website - www.uscis.gov - to determine whether a new form or a form with a revised expiration date has been issued; HR Matters will also provide updates through our blog so check back!
In what seems like a flurry of activity recently, the Supreme Court has handed down a number of rulings in recent weeks and many of them affect the world of human resources. Below is a brief summary of what's been happening; if you would like to discuss any of these in further detail, please feel free to drop us a line!
A few weeks ago, the Court ruled that pharmaceutical sales representatives at GlaxoSmithKline were not entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act as they are fall under the exemption for outside sales. While there was some question among the lower courts with respect to whether they actually "made sales", the Supreme Court felt that the commitments they received from doctors had a close enough nexus to the definition contained with the FLSA. Business owners would be wise to regularly review their employment classifiations though to ensure compliance. The Department of Labor will generally presume an employee is entitled to overtime - classified as nonexempt - and will require demonstration of the various exemptions should a question arise as to how you classify your employees.
While not specifically directed at human resources, the Supremes also looked at Arizona's immigration law and struck down certain provisions, indicating that federal law governed. Though the Arizona law had a much broader scope than what an individual business owner contends with, employers should continue to ensure they are complying with the Immigration Reform and Control Act by completing the Form I-9 within 3 days of employment and verifying that those they employ are authorized to work in the United States.
Of course, the granddaddy of them all is the Court's ruling on the healthcare law. While this was unexpected by many, employers need to get serious about understanding the law and ensuring compliance. There are some activities which need to be addressed immediately - for example, 2012 W-2s need to have the cost of the health insurance listed as an informational item - and others that require attention for future planning, but now is the time to review your benefits with your provider and ensure you understand the necessary reporting and enrollment requirements.
As always, HR Matters stands ready to help with these and other HR issues that may be taking time away from what you truly want to be doing - growing your business!
Last month, we told you that the requirement to post a new National Labor Relations Board posting by April 30th was delayed again. Another NLRB ruling - perhaps more concerning - was also set for an implementation date of April 30th, and this related to expedited elections for representation in a workplace. Employers have been concerned about this rule because it would provide little time to detail why the company should remain union-free as well as delay the determination of who, in fact, was actually eligible to vote in the election until after the ballots had been cast and counted.
Earlier this week, the US District Court for the District of Columbia struck down this rule. While it did not actually make a determination about the rule's lawfulness, it instead made its finding based on the lack of a quorum at the Board when it was voted upon. In fact, the Court leaves room for the notion that the rule may have been passed had such a quorum existed.
So, while the "quickie election" rule is currently stayed, there may still be action on the part of the NLRB to revisit the rule with the required quorum and attempt passage again. And, should that happen, can we expect another challenge based on the actual merits? Stay tuned!
In the meantime, however, this gives you the opportunity to check up on your employee relations activities at your organization, ensure your managers and supervisors have the necessary training to handle employee concerns on a consistent basis, and review your policies and procedures to ensure they reflect current operations. Of course, HR Matters is here to help!
In an earlier blog post, I mentioned that the NLRB posting requirement, which had been delayed a few times, was finally set to go into effect April 30th. Most employers have dutifully ordered new "all-in-ones" or printed out a copy of the posting from the NLRB's website - and to their exact size specifications! - and have it ready for posting at the end of this month.
Well, there is now another delay due to court decisions on April 13th and yesterday, April 17th, that remove the requirement that the poster go up in your workplace at the end of the month. Further arguments are slated for later this year (possibly September), and we will wait, once again, to see if this poster does indeed need to be posted.
For now, file it away!