Posted in E-Verify
The holidays are coming, which means the annual increase in seasonal hiring is about to begin.
The employment verification process for such seasonal workers is complex and can be difficult for employers (particularly small business owners) to fully understand.
This is most certainly the case when it comes to Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements. Mistakes here are often punished with large fines, so it’s vital to be completely clear on laws and employer obligations.
What’s the difference between form I-9 and E-Verify?
The two actually work hand in hand to validate that an employee is authorized to work in this country. Although similar in their role, there are a few key differences:
- I-9 is used by an employer to document an employee’s identity and eligibility to be employed legally in the U.S. E-Verify compares information from an employee’s I-9 with government data (such as Social Security) to confirm the individual is eligible for employment.
- I-9 is mandatory for all employers, while E-Verify is voluntary for most employers (and only mandatory for employers with federal contracts containing a FAR E-Verify clause).
- I-9 is filled out by both the employee and the employer, E-Verify is only handled by the employer.
Mistakes to avoid
When completing these processes, there are a handful of errors that we see employers make time and again. Be vigilant and on the lookout for the following:
- Incorrect or missing forms
- Not maintaining documents effectively
- Not completing I-9 within three business days of an employee’s first day of work
- Failure to re-verify after Form I-9 has expired
- Invalid identifying documents
If you have any further questions about how to use I-9 and E-Verify effectively in your business, our team will be happy to help.
Posted in background checks
On September 28, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will require Uber and Lyft (or any other transportation network company) to perform full background checks on drivers.
Previously, the law only required background checks to cover the past seven years.
Drivers will also face tighter rules on driving under the influence, prohibiting them from having a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 or higher compared to the current level of 0.08.
The new law comes as Uber and Lyft are under fire over claims that they don’t do enough to protect the safety of their passengers, and this is just one of many recent legal battles faced by the ride-sharing companies.
In June this year, Uber paid a $7.5 million fine amidst claims that they used background checks on drivers without applicants’ knowledge or authorization to make hiring decisions. Just a few months earlier they had settled a case in California for $10 million over the quality of their checks. And a few months prior to that, another background check lawsuit had cost them $28.5 million.
A small positive for the ride-sharing companies…the new law avoids the controversial fingerprint issue altogether, something they have been fighting against for quite a while.
Posted in employment
According to ‘The Employment Situation‘ news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in September 2016. The unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons sat at 5.0 percent and 7.9 million respectively.
The labor force participation rate in September rose to 62.9 percent and, over the last 12 months, more than three million more people have entered the workforce. In fact, job growth has averaged 178,000 per month so far this year, compared with an average of 229,000 jobs per month in 2015.
All told, the private sector has added 15.3 million jobs since February 2010; this month’s report continued the longest streak of overall job growth on record.
According to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez:
“Other measures affirm the strength of the economy. Consumer confidence is now at the highest level we’ve seen during the recovery. Initial unemployment insurance claims remained near historic lows in September. For 83 consecutive weeks, these initial claims have remained under 300,000 – a streak we’ve not seen since 1970.”
The change in employment for July 2016 was revised from 275,000 jobs added to 252,000 jobs added while August 2016 was revised from 151,000 jobs added to 167,000 jobs added. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July were 7,000 less than previously reported.
Posted in EEOC
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a new online resource center designed to help small business owners comply with the laws enforced by EEOC.
The online resource intends to act as a one-stop shop for small businesses, where they can find information on federal employment anti-discrimination laws.
There are also answers to frequently asked questions, guidance in making employment decisions, and tips for small businesses on a variety of potential workplace discrimination issues.
The new resource is part of the EEOC’s Small Business Task Force, launched by Commissioner Barker in 2011. The task force addresses the needs of small businesses by providing ready access to information through the use of the internet, social media and other sources that is plainly written and easy to understand.
“Small businesses are engines for economic growth,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “The release of this new resource is part of the agency’s continuing efforts to ensure that small business owners have the tools they need to ensure equal employment opportunity in their workplaces.”
A very easy-to-digest piece of content published in this resource is the Small Business Fact Sheet. This is a great first step for any small businesses looking to learn more about the EEOC and workplace discrimination.
Questions? Feel free to reach out to our team or contact your local EEOC Small Business Liaison.
Posted in drug testing
Marijuana laws have been added to the ballot in nine states for the upcoming 2016 election. Of these, five are asking voters whether or not marijuana should be legalized.
As more and more states pursue the legalization of marijuana, employers are having to consider how this can align with existing drug-testing policies and how to best deal with employees who test positive for a legal drug.
Colorado has already had such discussions in the courts, with the Colorado Supreme Court ruling that employers may lawfully terminate employees that fail drug tests due to marijuana usage, even if the drug is only used outside of working hours.
And Alaska has also had a similar conversation: “Alcohol is legal, but I imagine most jobs, if you show up drunk, you’re getting fired or disciplined,” said Jason Brandeis of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Justice Center.
Here are the five states where, come November, marijuana may be a legal drug (originally provided by IBTimes):
- Arizona – Under the guidelines of Proposition 205, adults 21 and up would be allowed to possess and recreationally use one ounce or less of marijuana.
- California – Proposition 64 would legalize recreational weed and hemp for people 21 and older.
- Maine – Question 1 would legalize recreational use of marijuana throughout the state, allowing adults 21 and up to use and possess cannabis.
- Massachusetts – Question 4 would fully legalize marijuana with regulations similar to the state’s approach to alcoholic beverages.
- Nevada – Under Question 2, people 21 and older would be able to possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes.
Despite the precedents set by Colorado and Alaska, among others, each state will approach the issue with unique rulings and employers should be aware of their state’s current stance on marijuana legalization, and how things may change following the upcoming election.
If you have any questions about how the legalization of marijuana in your state may affect you, our team will be happy to help.
Posted in Department of Labor, employment
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced over $20.4 million in contract awards to 14 national industry intermediaries and national equity partners to expand apprenticeship opportunities across the U.S.
The contracts will support the growth of apprenticeship programs in various industries, including healthcare, construction, transportation and logistics, manufacturing, and information and communications technology; and support increasing demographic diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship among traditionally underrepresented populations.
Since 2014, the U.S. has added almost 115,000 new registered apprenticeships – the largest increase in nearly a decade.
“Apprenticeship is a tried and true strategy for employers to build the talent they need to compete and grow and for workers to gain the skills and credentials that put them on the path to quality, middle-class careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The funding announced today will help ensure that as we grow apprenticeship in America, all workers – including women, people of color, and people with disabilities – have the opportunity to punch their ticket to the middle-class through apprenticeship.”
With 68% of employers reporting challenging recruiting conditions, announcements such as this are welcomed by employees and employers alike.
In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast a decreasing overall labor force where replacement needs will exceed new job growth vacancies in four out of five occupations. Investments in employment are critical in creating and sustainable and productive workforce for future generations.
Posted in drug testing
The number of positive drug tests in the U.S. workforce has reached a ten-year high, according to an analysis of nearly 11 million workforce drug test results released by Quest Diagnostics.
The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) examines illicit drug use by America’s workforce based on an analysis of de-identified results of more than 9.5 million urine, 900,000 oral fluid, and 200,000 hair laboratory-based tests performed nationally by the company for employers in 2015.
This 2015 positivity rate reflects an increase of 14 percent over the 10-year low of 3.5 percent observed in both 2010 and 2011.
The DTI found the rate of amphetamine positive drug tests increased by 44 percent, marijuana increased by 26 percent, and heroin increased 146 percent, since 2011.
The last year that the positivity rate for urine drug tests in the combined U.S. workforce was at or above four percent was 2005, when it reached 4.1 percent.
Particularly disturbing is the increase in heroin use by those employed in the workforce. While disturbing, one could argue that it’s not surprising. It’s well reported that heroin use in the US has been on the rise, with TIME Magazine calling it an “epidemic” in a 2015 article.
“Our nationally representative analysis clearly shows that drug use by the American workforce is on the rise, and this trend extends to several different classes of drugs and categories of drug tests,” said Barry Sample, Ph.D., senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. ”The 2015 findings related to post-accident testing results should also be of concern to employers, especially those with safety-sensitive employees.”
Ultimately, it’s more important now than at any other time in the last decade to ensure your workplace is safe and free from drugs. If you’d like to implement a drug testing program – or expand an existing program – our team would be happy to help.
Posted in workplace management
Amazon recently announced the development of specific technical teams, including managers, within the organization that will work 30-hour salaried weeks.
They will receive the same benefits as full-time employees and a salary at a 75% rate of what they would make at 40-hours per week. Their hours will be from 10 AM to 2 PM daily, with additional flex hours.
The stated goal of the program is “to create a work environment that is tailored to a reduced schedule and still fosters success and career growth.” Many also believe that this will help Amazon recruit and retain skilled technology employees, and diversify the firm’s workforce.
It’s a move that will no doubt resonate with millennials – a target demographic for large tech companies such as Amazon.
In fact, in 2015, FlexJobs found that 40% of millennials would ideally like to work part-time for one employer. The main reason for this is so that they have time to pursue other interests and projects.
“Research has shown that young adults aren’t necessarily interested in the traditional workplace environment and that their work-life balance is crucial to them,” said Jacqueline Breslin, Director of Human Capital Services at TriNet, an HR solutions company. “We’ve also seen that younger workers who are still in school for a master’s degree want the ability to balance their education with their work lives and this is a great compromise.”
The response, however, has been mixed.
Some believe this is simply a PR angle for Amazon, following the terrible publicity they received from an article in New York Times towards the end of last year. The story portrayed Amazon as an unforgiving environment where 60-hour plus work schedules and employees “crying at their desks” was the norm.
Others think this is a move in the right direction and the clearest indicator yet that the world of work is evolving.
Posted in Fair Credit Reporting Act, pre-employment background checks
Dish Network has reached a $1.75 million settlement with a group of contractor technicians who allege the satellite television company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The contractors suggest that Dish Network did not provide them with proper consent and disclosure forms needed to run their background checks.
Top Class Actions reports Plaintiff Scott Ernst filed the lawsuit against Dish Network and the company performing the background checks in 2012, claiming that both companies used information in consumer reports to conduct background checks which is subject to strict requirements under the FCRA.
The complaint also alleges that Dish Network used this information as a basis for adverse employment actions, such as prohibiting technicians from performing work installing and maintaining Dish Network services by rating them as “high risk.”
The company purportedly took adverse employment action on technicians based on the information.
Under the terms of the Dish Network FCRA settlement, the “adverse action class” which consists of about 9,000 contractor technicians who were regarded as “high risk,” will receive approximately $480 each.
Dish Network maintains it did not intentionally violate the FCRA’s requirements, and that their alleged violation was not willful.
Posted in employment, workplace management
To gain a better understanding about exit feedback and turnover, Quantum Workplace sent a survey to 1,848 employees across the country to gain their perspectives.
One of the most overwhelming learnings? Exit feedback matters.
In addition, 73 percent of respondents believe it’s important for employees to be able to offer input as to why former coworkers left.
According to Quantum Workplace, “These four numbers offer evidence that a substantial portion of employees believe exit feedback is important, valuable, and can make a difference, regardless of whether that feedback comes from the employee who is leaving or from that employee’s (former) co-workers.”
What to consider for an exit survey?
Employee exit interviews should focus on retention by identifying the reason the employee is leaving. Further, employers ought to try and determine if the company’s level of performance or the employees’ unfulfilled expectations are an issue in this departure.
Ideas for inclusion may be:
- Job responsibilities
- Job performance
- Job orientation and training
- Working conditions
- Opportunities for career advancement
- Training and development programs
- Supervision and management
- Work satisfaction
- Organizational culture
- Organizational communication
Failing environments with low levels of employee retention reflect low levels of job satisfaction and come at a great cost to the organization. It’s incredibly expensive to continue to hire and then train new employees over and over again, and turnover can have a negative impact on productivity and morale.
Consider: what’s your current rate of turnover and what can you implement to reduce it?
You can see more about these survey results here.
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