Earlier this year,  the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised Employee Form I-9. Employers are required to begin using the new form by January 22, 2017.

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, is required under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which requires employers to verify the employment eligibility and identity of new employees by reviewing documents provided by the employee, such as passports, visas, licenses, etc., and completing the Form I-9. This requirement applies to all new employees, including U.S. citizens. In the past, employers have had difficulty complying with all I-9 requirements and errors were frequently made when completing the form. The new form is intended to help reduce errors.

According to the USCIS, changes in the new version include:

  • Section 1 now asks for “other last names used” rather than “other names used,” and streamlines certification for certain foreign nationals.
  • The addition of prompts to ensure information is entered correctly.
  • The ability to enter multiple preparers and translators.
  • A dedicated area for including additional information rather than having to add it in the margins.
  • A supplemental page for the preparer/translator.

Instructions are found separate from the form and clearly define what is needed to complete each field in the form, making it easy to complete.

The new I-9 form is not only more user friendly but is now much more simple to use on a computer. New advancements have been made to the form including: drop-down lists, easy fill in calendars, and an option to clear the form and start over. Other advancements made for employers include a scan friendly QR code which is automatically generated when forms are filled out.

Employers should continue to store and maintain all previously completed I-9 forms. HR departments that rely on Complete Payroll Solutions’ Workforce Management System are able to electronically store I-9 forms with other benefits and HR files for easy viewing and reporting.

For more information, visit the USCIS website and join us on January 12th for an informational webinar on Form I-9: Keys to Compliance.  You can also download the new I-9 form here.

 

Join us on Thursday, January 12th from 1-2pm

An I-9 audit can be an intimidating event. If you haven’t properly completed or maintained your I-9s, it can be a costly one as well. During this session, you’ll learn key record keeping requirements so you can be confident that your organization is compliant. We’ll also focus on general federal record keeping policies, including required retention periods for employment documents, payroll and tax information, and other important employee file recommendations.

Thursday, January 12, 2017
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM ET

This event is now closed. If you missed our January webinar, “Form I-9 Keys to Compliance”, we have a recording of the complete session. We hope this discussion is helpful and gives you some great ideas to implement in your own organization.

The 21st Century Cares Act, signed into law by President Obama earlier this month and effective January 1, features a variety of healthcare provisions, including one that will boost the healthcare reimbursement benefits that small businesses can offer to their employees.

The new law provides exemptions for eligible small employers and allows them to fund Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to reimburse employees for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses and non-group plan health insurance premiums. This includes plans purchased on public health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In order for an employer to qualify for this new HRA allowance, it must have fewer than 50 full-time employees and must not be offering a group health plan. The employer must also provide the HRA on the same terms to all eligible employees with an exception for age and family-size variations in the price of an insurance policy.

The maximum reimbursement small employers can provide under the plan is $4,950 for individuals and $10,000 for families, and the provision is effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2016. The coverage and payments under a qualified HRA are excluded from gross income, unless the employee does not have minimum essential coverage for the month in which the medical care was provided.

This provision overturns Department of Labor and IRS guidance that currently prevents some employers from funding employee HRAs because these arrangements were found to violate the Affordable Care Act insurance market reforms. The agency guidance would still prohibit these arrangements for larger employers.

We expect the new HRA allowance to be welcomed by small businesses that have wanted to help their employees purchase affordable health insurance plans.

H.R.6 – 21st Century Cures Act

Here at CPS we make sure that you stay up to date with any changes to state or federal regulations. Please reach out to jstebbins@completepayrollsolutions.com with questions to ensure that your organization stays on top of benefit changes.

The IRS has announced two measures to ease Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements for applicable large employers (ALE) this year.

The first measure extends the due date for distributing to employees the 2016 Form 1095-B, (Health Coverage), and Form 1095-C, (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer Coverage), from January 31, 2017 to March 2, 2017.

This extension does not change the deadline for filing Forms 1094 and 1095 with the IRS. The deadline for employers to file Forms 1094-B, 1094-C, 1095-B or 1095-C with the IRS remains February 28, 2017, (if filing by mail) or March 31, 2017, (if filing electronically).

As a result of this measure, individuals do not need to wait to receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C before filing their personal tax returns.

The IRS also extended “good faith transition relief” and announced it will not penalize employers for incorrect or incomplete forms if they can demonstrate good-faith efforts to comply with the reporting requirements. Good-faith efforts, which can help employers avoid substantial penalties, include filing on time, as well as making reasonable efforts to prepare the required information for reporting and furnishing it to employees and covered individuals. The IRS will also take into account the extent to which the employer or coverage provider is taking steps to ensure ability to comply with reporting requirements in 2017.

Both measures were issued by the IRS on November 18, 2016, in Notice 2016-70.

An employee handbook is an essential resource to many organizations. It explains the rules that govern day-to-day functions and communicates a company’s values and culture. It can also ensure that your organization is compliant with government regulations and form the first line of defense in an employment lawsuit or investigation.

Here’s how it works:

 

handbooks_infographic-copy

 

Is your organization’s employee handbook complete and up-to-date?

To help you decide, read our earlier post, 10 “Must Haves” for an Employee Handbook, or attend our upcoming webinar where we’ll cover the basics and the custom considerations that go into creating an employee handbook, as well as best practices for distributing and using the handbook. All attendees will also be able to ask specific questions during and immediately after this live event.

Also consider that for some organizations, a single handbook alone may not suffice. Multifaceted businesses that span a variety of industries may need addendums to their corporate handbook, such as individual guides for specific job sites or locales. It’s not uncommon for states to have their own requirements too, so it’s important that your corporate HR department works in tandem with regional offices to create the right employee handbook for each area.

If you’re unsure how to develop your employee handbook, or overwhelmed by the prospect, let Complete Payroll Solutions (CPS) help. Our HR service provides templates and samples for standard handbooks and our HR and Compliance experts can help you review, update, and tailor a custom or industry-specific handbook that’s right for your company.

On Tuesday, November 22, a federal court blocked implementation of the “overtime rule” that would have made an estimated 4 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay starting December 1.

It is important to remember that this injunction is temporary – it may be implemented at a later date.

Many employers have been making preparations to comply with the December 1 implementation date for months. Not knowing whether the ruling will be implemented – or even when, creates many dilemmas.

Under the new regulations, the minimum salary would have increased from $23,660 to $47,476 required for employees to meet the “white collar” exemption salary test to be exempt from the federal law’s overtime and minimum wage requirements.

As a result of the court injunction, employers are no longer required to meet the new overtime salary minimums, and may continue to follow the existing Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) salary test regulations in determining whether an employee is qualified as exempt from overtime ($455/week and $23,660 year).

There are many uncertainties about what may happen with the ruling. Some experts are speculating that the new, higher salary level requirements may never become law.

If you were waiting until December 1st to implement changes at your organization, then you have the option of awaiting a final determination on the fate of the rules.

However, if you have already raised employees’ salaries in order to maintain their exempt status it may be difficult to undo the change or communicate that the change will not be made.

Employers still need to be sure all employees are properly classified under the current ruling and the FLSA’s exemption requirements duties test, and should review actual job duties to ensure they qualify under the executive, administrative, professional, computer or outside sales exemption.

We will continue to track the developments of the overtime rule and provide updates on managing changes you may have made in anticipation of the ruling going into effect.

Overtime Rule Blocked

On Tuesday, November 22, a federal court blocked implementation of the “overtime rule” that would have made an estimated 4 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay starting December 1.

The U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas granted the nationwide preliminary injunction that prevents the Department of Labor from implementing the changes while the regulation’s legality is examined. A total of 21 states had sued the agency to block the rule before it took effect.

 

What does this injunction mean for employers?

For now, businesses have a reprieve in implementing the changes outlined in the overtime rule. While this injunction is in effect, employers are not required to pay overtime in accordance with the new rules. However, the injunction is only temporary. It is too soon to determine whether the regulation will be upheld and implemented at a later date, or whether it will be permanently blocked.

The preliminary injunction may be too late for many employers. If you have already gone through the process of identifying workers affected by the final rule and made alterations to your compensation plans or your employees’ exemption status, the timing of this preliminary injunction is going to create new challenges.

There are many aspects of this temporary injunction that will impact employers and their employees. We will continue to keep you updated on news about this ruling and how to manage changes you may have made in anticipation of the ruling going into effect December 1.

 

On July 14, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an Act Relative to Housing Operations, Military Service and Enrichment (“The HOME Act”).

Massachusetts has previously required that employers provide leave to military veterans wanting to participate in Veterans Day or Memorial Day exercises, parades, or services in their communities of residence. Previously, employers had the discretion to determine if that time off from work would be paid or unpaid. The HOME Act amends the law to require employers with 50 or more employees grant the leave of absence on Veterans Days with pay, provided the employee provides “reasonable notice” of the leave. The new law does not require employers to provide paid leave for Veterans on Memorial Day.

 

What does it mean?

Employers may have some challenges in regards to compliance with this new holiday law, because this is the only holiday law of its kind. No other holiday law requires employees to be paid for their participation in related activities. In the case that your company is already closed on these days, you may decide to keep the current holiday pay practice in place.

 

Who is considered a veteran?

The new law defines a veteran as “any person, with an honorable discharge and who served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Air Force of the United States, or on full time National Guard duty for not less than 90-days active service, at least one day of which was for wartime service.” It also includes any person who served in wartime and was awarded a service-connected disability or a Purple Heart. Note that the leave provisions do not apply to employees whose services are “essential and critical to the public health and safety” and determined to be “essential to the safety and security” of the employer.

 

Veterans as a Protected Class

The HOME Act also amends the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act by adding “veteran status” as a protected category. Employers must now treat “veteran status” as a protected class, much like race, ancestry, color, religion, etc.

 

How should I handle these changes?

If you feel that your organization employs veterans that will benefit from these changes, we suggest having a process in place similar or the same to requesting time off. You can decide to ask for verification of their service or you may already have this information on file. Employers should update their employee handbook policies and procedures to reflect the new leave entitlements and see if veteran status is already listed in the protected class status and be sure to communicate the changes to their employees. This will ensure that the proper paid or unpaid leave time tracking, and in the event of multiple veterans being out that day, you are able to still maintain workloads for those days. Veterans Day is observed on Friday, November 11 this year so you need to be aware of this new ruling.

 

A Meaningful Conversation on New OT Rules…

Event Expert/Speaker: ChrysMarie Suby, President-CEO of the Labor Management Institute, brings over 35 years of workforce management experience and has been featured in numerous industry publications.

Please join ChrysMarie and your local colleagues to look at the critical issues we face today. Share with and hear from each other on strategies and best practices.

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