New Form I-9 effective February 2

Employers have just over a month left to comply with the latest changes to the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9).

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the interim final rule to streamline the Form I-9 process in the Federal Register on December 17, 2008. There are several changes in the new I-9 form, including new verification guidelines and a redefined list of acceptable proof of identification documents.

Beginning February 2, 2009, all employers are required to use the revised Form I-9 for verification of new employees and re-verification of existing employees.

There are several changes in the new I-9 form, including:
  • Expired documents are no longer considered acceptable proof of identification or work authorization.
  • Three additional documents were eliminated from List A of the List of Acceptable Documents.
  • Foreign passports with machine-readable visas for certain citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) were added to List A.
  • The new U.S. Passport card was added to the list of acceptable employment eligibility verification documents.
  • Revisions to the employee attestation section of the Form I-9.

Employers who fail to use the revised I-9 form by February 2, 2009 may be subject to violation fines. Keep your company in compliance by ordering the updated Form I-9 today.

DOL releases updated FMLA poster

On December 18, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) poster based on revisions published in November 2008. Employers with 50 or more employees, and all public sector employers, are required to update their mandatory employee and applicant labor law postings with the new FMLA poster.

The new FMLA poster outlines how the expanded FMLA provides job-protected leave for the spouses, children or parents of members of the armed forces called to active duty in the U.S. military. Additional FMLA rights for employers and workers are clarified on the new poster, too.

Along with the FMLA poster, employers must post all other mandatory federal and state labor law posters, a burden that entails monitoring up to 20 different posters from as many as seven different agencies. And with the incoming Democratic administration expected to serve a more regulatory function with labor issues and workers’ rights, the level of labor law posting enforcement is expected to increase.

That’s why many employers are turning to third-party poster providers to maintain their posting compliance.

Poster Guard Compliance Protection, guaranteed by G.Neil, offers employers the easiest way to keep up to date with all federal and state posters. In addition to a poster set containing all required postings, employers automatically receive a new poster any time a federal or state posting regulation changes. Poster Guard Compliance Protection also offers a 100% Compliance Guarantee against fines, online auditing tools and dedicated customer support.

The ADA Amendments Act, Part 2: How employers should prepare

In our last post, we examined the major changes the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act will have on the original law when it becomes effective on January 1, 2009.

The new amendments make major changes to the original ADA, including what is considered a major life activity and the definition of disability. Employers must be aware of the changes and the effect they will have on their businesses. From the Word on Employment Law with John Phillips:

All we know now is that the realm of “the disabled” is about to be significantly enlarged. While it may be incorrect to say the new Act makes everyone disabled, we’ll be much closer to that point than we’ve ever been. Reasonable accommodation requests will become more frequent and more complicated. Disability discrimination charges and litigation will increase dramatically. Given the new Act’s language, it’ll be difficult for courts to dismiss these cases without letting a jury decide them.

In many respects, we’re starting all over with disability discrimination. If the Supreme Court has, in the past, given employers an advantage in these cases, the advantage is about to be given to employees.

If you haven’t started already, employers should be preparing for how the changes to the ADA will effect employment processes, accommodating employees with disabilities and compliance requirements.

In a recent Workforce article, author Tina M. Maiolo explained the next steps employers should take to prepare for the upcoming ADA changes. Here are her seven steps to compliance with the ADA Amendments Act:

  1. Assume every employee is healthy. Presume nothing, especially whether the employee has any type of impairment.

  2. Assume all employee impairments fall under the ADA. When an employee claims to have an impairment, always assume that it is qualified as a disability under the ADA Amendments Act. Employers are “safer to assume from the outset that an impairment qualifies as a disability than trying to argue later that it does not.”

  3. Accommodate employee impairments. After a claim is made, be sure to make all reasonable attempts to accommodate the employee’s impairment. Unless the accommodation creates “undue hardship,” by being so burdensome or expensive that it changes the nature of the business, employers must be accommodating.

  4. Review and edit job descriptions. “An employer’s defense against an ADA Amendments Act claim is likely to rest on whether the disabled employee was "qualified" to perform the essential functions of his or her job.” Write an accurate and detailed job description from the beginning that clearly defines essential job functions.

  5. Begin ADA Amendments Act training. “HR should treat the ADA Amendments Act as an entirely new law.” Everyone involved in the hiring process, including HR and managers should go through training to understand the changes.

  6. Throw away, modify or create disability policies. Either start from scratch writing new disability policies, or modify your existing policies to reflect the latest ADA changes. It would be best to have these done before the law goes into effect on the first of the year.

  7. Make modifications as the courts interpret the new amendments. “The impact of the ADA Amendments Act will not be static,” they will continue to evolve over time. Stay on top of the latest changes and your business will be better protected.

Understanding the changes to the ADA is the first step to compliance. Once the law goes into effect on January 1, 2009, it is up to employers to choose to follow what is required of them under the law.

If you’re looking for help managing employee accommodation requests, the ComplyRight ADA Administration System contains all the forms and information employers need to comply. Complete with forms, tip sheets and valuable best practice information, the system can help you manage any request.

ADA Amendments Act, Part 1: What changed?

In September, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act as an effort to restore protection for disabled individuals that were created in the original 1990 bill. The new ADA Amendments will go into effect on January 1, 2009 and every employer and HR professional must be prepared to stay in compliance with the new regulations.

The new ADA changes allow more protections for disabled individuals by reversing Supreme Court decisions that once narrowed the definition of disability and what is a major life activity. It also forms broader parameters to how the law may be interpreted by the courts in the future.

One of the biggest questions the amendments answer is in regards to: What is a major life activity? As written, the new ADA states that it shouldn’t be interpreted strictly and whether someone is disabled “should not demand extensive analysis.” According to The Word on Employment Law with John Phillips, Phillips explains:

The Act includes a nonexhaustive list of activities that constitute major life activities, including caring for oneself; bending; performing manual tasks; speaking; seeing; breathing; hearing; learning; eating; reading; sleeping; concentrating; walking; thinking; standing; lifting; communicating; and working. Are you beginning to get the picture? If an employee can’t perform one of these activities, he/she is automatically disabled. Wow!

We’re just beginning, however. The Act also includes a subset of major life activities called “major bodily functions,” including functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. There is no requirement that the functions have any relation to the ability to perform a job. Indeed, some are completely unrelated to work. If these functions are substantially impaired, however, you have a disability.

In another big change, the Act reverses Supreme Court rulings that denied disability status to people with conditions in remission or improved by medicine or medical treatment. The new amendments state that such a condition is still considered a disability if it limits a major life activity when that person is active. According to Phillips:

A disability is to be determined without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as “medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices . . . prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies; use of assistive technology; auxiliary aids or services; or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.” The only exceptions are eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Additionally, the amendments make the process of claiming a disability less involved. To prove that an employee was disabled under the original ADA, one had to prove they were regarded as having a physical or mental impairment and that the impairment considerably limited a major life activity. “Pandora’s box will be opened,” by the new act, in that an employee may be considered disabled “whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.”

The definition of disability has been significantly altered by the new ADA Amendments Act, employers must be educated on how to fully comply with the latest changes. In our next post, we’ll explain how employers should prepare for the new ADA changes before it becomes effective on the first of the year.

For help managing ADA accommodation requests under the new amendments, take a look at the ComplyRight ADA Administration System. It contains all the necessary forms, tools and information to effectively manage employee requests for reasonable accommodation.

25 states scheduled to raise minimum wage in 2009

In 2009 the country will see minimum wage increases in 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Listed below are all of the states that have scheduled minimum wage increases next year. Visit Anne Bares at Compensation Force for a complete breakdown of all the scheduled changes.

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Researching continually changing labor laws and what your business is required to post is a never-ending task, but luckily there are tools out there to help you stay up to date.

G.Neil’s Poster Guard Compliance Protection is just one valuable service that takes the stress of wondering whether you’re in compliance with federal and state labor laws off your shoulders and places it into the hands of experienced labor law professionals.

Read this and learn more about how Poster Guard can help you track the latest labor law changes and keep your business in compliance.

How the new FMLA regulations affect you, free webinar

Last month, the Department of Labor released the final regulations under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that go into effect on January 16, 2009.

This ruling marks the first set of revisions to the FMLA regulations since its enactment in 1993. As a result of the changes, new forms and posters will be required for employers subject to FMLA guidelines.

Next week, ComplyRight will be hosting a free webinar to inform you on exactly what you need to know to fully comply with the new FMLA regulations before they take effect in January.

This free webinar is packed with the latest information to keep your business in full compliance. You will learn:
  • The impact the new regulations have on your business, what changed and how to comply
  • Your rights as an employer under the FMLA, including methods to handle FMLA abuse
  • Specific key requirements of the law
  • How to modify your policies, notices and employee postings
  • New rules for handling common FMLA issues, including intermittent leave, chronic conditions, light duty, supervisor access to medical information and leave for military families.

Sign up today to attend The New FMLA Regulations: What You Need to Know, presented by Wendy J. Smith, Esquire, Fisher & Phillips LLP, on Thursday, December 11, 2008 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. Visit the registration page for more information.

Related information:

New FMLA regulations, what employers need to know

Family and Medical Leave Act Changes Q & A

Corporate giving, it’s never too late to start

Though there’s only a few weeks left until the year is over, it’s never too late to start a corporate giving program. Even during tough times, evidence shows that philanthropy is a solid business investment.

In a 2007 survey of corporate executives by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, 61% said corporate citizenship makes a “tangible contribution to their company’s bottom line.” In nine out of ten industrial sectors, corporate philanthropy had a positive impact on corporate revenue, according to a study presented at the 2004 meeting of the International Communication Association.

There’s no time like the present to put together a corporate giving program and make a difference in the community. If you want to give back before the year is up, you only have a few weeks left to get going. Start with these simple ideas for corporate giving:

  • Organize a canned food drive. Have everyone in the office bring in canned goods to be donated to a local food bank. Encourage more employees to give by providing an incentive such as a day to dress-down at the office. Visit Feeding America to find a food bank in your area.

  • Give employees a day to volunteer. Allowing employees to volunteer on the company’s time shows goodwill and improves employee morale. Pay it forward and give employees a day to give their time to a local charitable cause.

  • Hold a bake sale. Have everyone in the office bake their favorite holiday treat and bring it in for a company bake sale. Donate the proceeds to a local charity.

  • Put leftovers to good use. Once you’ve sent happy holiday wishes to employees and customers, take your leftover company Christmas cards and put them to good use. There’s a number of ways to repurpose your business holiday cards, including sending a card to a wounded soldier, sick child or to a neighbor in need. Read this article for a full list of ideas.

  • Sponsor a clothing drive. A clothing drive is a great way to give back to community members in need and also help employees clean out cluttered closets. Donate clothing to nonprofit organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army or a local homeless shelter.

Few things say “Happy Holidays” better than a charitable donation. Foster employee teamwork and show your corporate goodwill by giving back to the community during the holiday season and throughout the year.

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