Happy GPS Anniversary Barbara Greene!

Happy GPS Anniversary Barbara Greene!

Meet Barbara Greene!  Barbara is our GPS Safety Specialist aka Safety Guru and is celebrating her 3rd GPS Anniversary today!  She is certified in Temporary Workforce Safety and POSH Certified.

Barbara, congratulations on a successful year in your career.  May you take some time to reflect on your accomplishments and be blessed with continued growth and prosperity in the years ahead!

We wish your plans and dreams come true and your success saga at GPS continue!

#gpsjobs #gpsassociatesrock #gpscares #gpssafetyguru

EEO-1 Survey for 2017 Now Open

EEO-1 Survey for 2017 Now Open

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (01/25/18)

Private Sector Employers Must Provide Workforce Data to EEOC by Mar. 31

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has completed its mailing of the 2017 EEO-1 survey Notification Letters, the federal agency announced today.

The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report. The EEO-1 report provides employment data by race/ethnicity, gender and job categories. The filing of the EEO-1 report is not voluntary and is required by federal law, Section 709(c), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; and §1602.7-§1602.14, Title 29, Chapter XIV, of the Federal Code of Regulations. The annual filing deadline is March 31.

Employers who meet the criteria listed above, or employers that filed the EEO-1 report in 2016 and have not received the 2017 EEO-1 Notification Letter by Jan. 29, 2018, should immediately contact the EEO-1 Joint Reporting Committee at 1-877-392-4647 (toll-free) or by e-mailing e1.techassistance@eeoc.gov.

The EEOC’s EEO-1 Survey website at https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey contains reference documents such as a EEO-1 User’s Guide, sample form, instructions, FAQs, a fact sheet and a EEO-1 Job Classification Guide.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Are you ready for Eclipse 2017? We are!

Are you ready for Eclipse 2017?  We are!

Some of our GPS Corporate staff are ready for the Solar Eclipse 2017!

GPS gave out FREE solar eclipse glasses to our staff and associates.  Thank you Experience Columbia SC for making it so easy to order our NASA approved eclipse glasses early in the year!  Please refer to our Facebook pages (Gallman Personnel Services, Inc. and Gallman Consulting) for viewing locations, viewing tips, etc.

GPS Branch Closures

GPS Branches in South Carolina will be closing at 12pm on Monday, August 21 to ensure our staff members can make arrangements with their families to view the Eclipse safely as possible.

 

Pictured above from left to right is Terri Stone (Accounting), Sue Ellison (Accounting), Barbara Greene (Safety), Georgette Sandifer (Gallman Consulting), Karen Smith (Human Resources).  And these ladies are all ready for the Eclipse. Are you?

GPS branches in South Carolina will close at 12:00pm on Monday, August 21, 2017.

Please reference below information to ensure the safety of your Eclipse experience.

 

DON’T GO BLIND AUGUST 21, 2017!

Total Solar Eclipse:

Newberry, SC approximate time 1:11pm–4:05pm (max view 2:41pm)
Columbia, SC approximate time 1:13pm–4:06pm (max view 2:43pm)
Orangeburg, SC approximate time 1:14pm–4:07pm (max view 2:44pm)
Charleston, SC approximate time 1:16pm–4:09pm (max view 2:47pm)

It should go without saying that it’s dangerous to stare into the sun. But so long as you trust NASA, the American Optometric Association, and many other experts who’ve dedicated their lives to understanding how the sun and your peepers work: You can look directly at the total phase of a solar eclipse (and only the “total” phase where the sun is completely covered by the moon) with the naked eye without causing eye damage. Problem is, the total phase only lasts a couple of minutes, but people likely will want to watch from the partial phase which lasts much longer. From start to finish on all phases, an eclipse lasts about three hours — so more than two and half of those hours spent watching could pose a serious risk to unprotected eyes.

You’re going to need something more powerful than a pair of polarized sunglasses if you want to safely block out those harmful rays.

Aug. 21, 2017, may be one of the worst traffic days in national history, some NASA representatives predict. Although about 12 million people live within the narrow band of totality, approximately 25 million reside within a day’s drive of it, and the agency has estimated that the population inside the path of totality may double on the day of the eclipse.

With that in mind, make sure you plan for extra travel time, especially on the day of the eclipse. Most hotel rooms inside the path of totality have been booked for months or years, so you may not be able to stay inside the path the night before.  Traveling even short distances could be difficult in some areas, and midday in the middle of August can mean punishing heat in many parts of the country.

 

 

** DISCLAIMER: This pair of eclipse viewing glasses is provided as is without any guarantees or warranty. In association with the product, GPS makes no warranties of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of merchantability, fitness for a viewing purposes, of title, or of noninfringement of third party rights. Use of the product by a user is at the user’s risk. GPS is not responsible for any injuries suffered by viewing of any eclipse. **

How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer

How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer

For many employees, their dogs and cats are beloved family members. Here are seven ways your company can show it cares.

By: Lisa Rabasca Roepe

February 22, 2017

Office life isn’t for everyone. It certainly didn’t suit Beasley. After his first foray into the work world, he found himself feeling skittish and overwhelmed. He got carsick on the commute, and some of the employees made him uncomfortable.
It soon became clear this wasn’t going to be a good fit. He wasn’t let go so much as left at home—by his owner, Cheryl DeSantis, vice president of people and organization for Mars Petcare North America in Franklin, Tenn.
You see, Beasley is a 3-year-old goldendoodle. And while he didn’t have the right personality to accompany DeSantis to work, he remains a very good boy. DeSantis found a better office mate with her mini-goldendoodle puppy, Riggins, who enjoys the daily routine and meeting new people.
“It’s looking promising for Riggins,” DeSantis says.
Beasley and Riggins are members of the more than 54 million U.S. households that include a dog and the nearly 80 million families with a pet of any kind, according to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. And Mars Petcare is among a growing number of companies that allow dogs to come to work with their owners.
As organizations look to provide perks that will attract and retain key talent, many are coming to realize that offering pet-friendly benefits—whether that means take-your-dog-to-work days, pet insurance or animal-related volunteer excursions—can be an effective tool for improving recruitment, morale and even wellness.
“Dogs have become a bigger part of everyone’s life, especially as Millennials delay having children,” says Jennifer Joyce, vice president of marketing for Kurgo, a company based in Salisbury, Mass., that makes travel accessories and outdoor products for dogs. “For many, their dog is often their first child.”
Indeed, when Kurgo recently surveyed 1,242 dog owners across the country, 65 percent said their dog is part of their family, while only 8 percent referred to Fido as a pet.

The Benefits of Furry Friends

Mars Petcare, which owns the Banfield brand, has been allowing its employees to bring their dogs to work five days a week since 2007, DeSantis says. On a typical day, there are 900 employees and 30 to 40 dogs in the headquarters office.

Copack
Copack scheduler Lee Wilson greets Mackenzie at the Mars Petcare office in Franklin, Tenn. Photograph courtesy of Mars Petcare.

From an employer’s perspective, one of the biggest benefits of allowing pets in the workplace is related to retention. A 2016 study by Banfield Pet Hospital found that 83 percent of employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to companies with pet-friendly policies.

Moreover, more than half of workers at companies without such policies said they would be more likely to stay at their organization if it were to offer pet-related perks. The same survey found that 88 percent of the 1,006 employees surveyed, and 91 percent of 200 HR decision-makers, agreed that having pets at work improves morale.

​“What we hear is people will pick Mars over another employer because they can bring their dogs to work,” DeSantis says. “We also hear that it is hard for associates to leave Mars because not every business allows pets in the office.”

Dogs and cats can also bring people closer together. “They create unity among staff and opportunities for interaction among departments that might not otherwise have interacted,” says Bill Page, HR director for Arkansas Business Publishing Group in Little Rock, Ark., which has 72 employees and four to five dogs at the office each day.

Shaping Pet Policies

Before creating any policy that involves bringing pets to the office, it’s critical to get employees’ input, says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins.

“Everyone’s opinion must be heard,” she says. Are you willing to lose good employees because some don’t want to work in a pet-friendly office? If the feedback is mixed, one way to gauge the potential impact on your culture is to try allowing pets one day per week or month.

“Bringing a dog to work is a privilege, not a right,” says Robbie Eddison, a service desk manager at Softchoice Corp., an IT consulting firm based in Toronto. Eddison oversees her office’s Dog Committee. Softchoice has allowed dogs on the premises for at least 20 years. More than 700 employees work in the Toronto office, and they share the space with about 115 dogs each day.

Sometimes smaller companies become pet-friendly by accident after one or two people start bringing their dogs to work and other employees follow suit. That’s what happened at Arkansas Business Publishing Group five years ago, when CEO Olivia Farrell started bringing her Labrador retriever to the office every day, Page says.

“The generally tacit agreement [was] that your dog is friendly, housebroken, well-mannered and gets along well with others,” Farrell says. The organization recently developed a short policy laying out the ground rules in writing.

Kurgo
The office at Kurgo, a pet-accessory company in Salisbury, Mass., was designed with dogs in mind. It has easy-to-clean floors, dog-level water fountains and synthetic grass for playing. Photograph courtesy of Kurgo.

Initially, TINYpulse in Seattle—which creates employee engagement surveys—also lacked a written policy. Company leaders wanted to embrace the flexible, informal feel of a small startup. However, as the organization grew from 20 employees and two to three dogs to 60 workers with six to nine canines, the senior team realized it needed to provide clear guidelines and expectations. “It felt important, especially for non-dog owners,” HR Director Eliza Polly says.

As Polly and her colleagues delved into the issues, they realized there was a lot more to consider than they initially thought. “The leadership team still laughs about how much time it spent on this policy,” she says, noting that the topic was discussed at the group’s regularly scheduled meetings for three consecutive weeks. “When you get senior leaders talking about how much a dog should weigh to be allowed to roam free, it feels like a silly detail,” she says.

Actually, it’s not. “We had a big Irish setter puppy coming in that liked to knock over garbage cans and get into everything,” Polly says. “It was the sweetest dog, but he wanted to play and get attention. Not every dog is workplace-ready.”

That’s why TINYpulse’s policy explicitly states that dogs weighing more than 25 pounds can’t roam the building unattended and that dogs must not disturb any employees.

Each of Softchoice’s 21 U.S. and eight Canadian offices sets its own rules and guidelines for its dogs-at-work program, including negotiating agreements with local landlords.

In the Toronto location, employees are required to have worked at the company for three months before they can apply to bring their dog in. When workers make the request, Eddison says, they need to note their department; the location of their desk; their dog’s name, age, breed and gender; whether the dog has been fixed; whether it has had obedience training; and how often the pooch would come to work.

Employees must also get their manager’s written permission and confirm that they have asked nearby co-workers if having a dog around would be OK. A manager can revoke an agreement at any time if he or she thinks the situation isn’t working out, and people who aren’t dog lovers or who are allergic can request to work in a dog-free zone that has its own entrance and exit and a separate HVAC system, Eddison says.

Many company policies also stipulate that pets need to be healthy, clean, and up-to-date on vaccinations and heartworm and flea treatments.

[SHRM members-only resource: ADA Reasonable Accommodation Policy: Service Animals]

Accommodating Service Animals

There are approximately 20,000 U.S. service dogs, according to the American Humane Association. These animals are trained to perform tasks to help people with disabilities, such as guiding employees who are blind or deaf.

Regardless of whether an office allows pets, service animals must be allowed to accompany a person with a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That said, animals whose sole function is to provide comfort do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, although some state and local laws allow emotional support animals in the workplace.

Deciding whether to allow an employee to bring in a so-called comfort animal is not that different from making a reasonable accommodation, says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins. Ask yourself these three questions to make the determination.

Is it reasonable?

A monkey or snake is unlikely to be considered a reasonable companion, but a small trained dog may be. Ask the employee to provide medical documentation that having a comfort animal is a valid accommodation for his or her condition.

​Would it be an effective solution?

Will the animal keep the employee from performing his or her essential functions? Perez knows of a case where a woman who pierced ears at a mall kiosk asked if she could do her work while holding a comfort dog. In this instance, the employer could make the case that the animal was interfering with the worker’s effectiveness because many people likely wouldn’t want their ears pierced by someone clutching a canine.

Is it an undue burden?

If an employee needs a comfort animal but the building lease won’t allow it, for instance, it is probably not reasonable to expect the employer to move to make the accommodation.

Once Bitten

Dogs have bitten employees at Softchoice’s Toronto office twice, Eddison says. “Biting is cause for an immediate expulsion for us,” she says, adding that there is a three-strike policy for lesser complaints, which any employee can submit anonymously; most are related to barking, whimpering or playing with a squeaky toy.

The owner gets a warning when someone complains. A pup that accrues three strikes is not welcome in the office for six months to a year, although it may return on a trial basis if the owner can show a change in behavior, Eddison says.

TINYpulse’s policy relies heavily on self-reporting. If an employee knows her dog barks too much or has had an accident, she is expected to report it, Polly says. The company has a three-strike rule for accidents and no tolerance for biting. “If a dog even bites someone once, they are not welcome back in the office,” she says.

Trupanion
Seattle-based pet medical insurance provider Trupanion is one of the few companies that allow employees to bring cats to work. Photograph courtesy of Trupanion.

Employers can’t assume that workers’ compensation would cover a bite from a dog visiting the workplace, Perez says. That’s because, to submit a claim, the employer must show that an injury was caused by the scope of the employee’s work.

However, workers may be able to sue an employer for allowing dogs in the office, Perez says, although she isn’t aware of any such cases. Employees might also have a case if two or more dogs get into a fight and one is injured.

Another tip: Make it very clear who is responsible for the dog at all times. Perez worked at a law firm where an attorney who brought her dog to work asked a co-worker to dog-sit on the days she needed to be in court—which made the co-worker less productive. Your policy should address what happens when someone has to go to meetings. Consider stipulating that workers can’t bring their pets in on the days they have other scheduled events, Perez suggests.

Other Options

If allowing workers to bring their pets to work doesn’t seem like a good option for your company, you’re not alone. Although office animals are making headlines, most organizations don’t allow them. According to the SHRM 2016 Employee Benefits research report, only 7 percent of employers permit pets in the workplace (compared with 8 percent in 2015 and 4 percent in 2014).

Fortunately, there are many other creative ways to show your support for furry friends, including the following:

Foster puppy (or kitty) love online. Because so many employees at Genentech, a San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company with 11,000 employees, were sharing dog photos and advice through e-mail, the company set up gDOGs, an employee resource group for dog owners, in 2014. More than 200 of Genentech’s employees are members, says Andrew Villani, senior manager of corporate relations and co-founder of gDOGs. The group created an online community and schedules events to encourage members to socialize with their dogs after hours and on weekends.

Allow occasional visits. The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance company based in St. Petersburg, Fla., invites employees to bring their dogs into the office for occasional photo shoots, says Erin O’Neill, the organization’s people and culture manager. It’s important to communicate with staff ahead of time that dogs will be at the office, she says. “We have one staffer who is allergic, and she is super gracious about it and just stays out of the area,” O’Neill says.

Motley Fool
Once a quarter, The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., hosts an animal therapy day for staff, featuring either puppies or ducklings. Here, Kristine Harjes is visited by a pup from the Operation Paws for Homes rescue. Photograph courtesy of The Motley Fool.

Schedule animal therapy days. Once a quarter, investment media business The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., sponsors an “animal therapy day.” A staff member who lives on a farm brings in puppies or ducklings, says Chief Wellness Officer Samantha Whiteside. “I try to schedule them when the staff seems stressed-out,” she says.

Other building tenants are also invited to participate, she says, because “it’s a good way to create intentional collision points to build relationships.” And the company sponsors an occasional “yappy hour”—a social event in which pets are welcome—at a nearby restaurant with an outdoor patio.

Arrange volunteer opportunities. Mars Petcare offers employee volunteer opportunities with the Nashville Humane Society, and staff deliver lunches and pet food to homebound seniors with pets.

Provide bereavement leave. San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is one of a few employers to provide three days of bereavement leave following the death of a pet. Mars Petcare gives one day.

Offer pet insurance. Pet-related coverage was offered by 36 percent of companies in 2015, and that number is expected to surge to 60 percent by 2018, according to a 2016 survey by Willis Towers Watson. The Motley Fool added pet insurance to its benefits package after an employee survey indicated demand.

Consider offering a coverage discount, says Chris Middleton, president of Pets Best Insurance. The typical markdown is 5 percent, he says, and even organizations with only 20 employees can offer this benefit affordably. Keep in mind, though, that each employee’s premium will be different based on where he or she lives and the pet’s species, breed and age, Middleton says.

Genentech offers a plan that covers dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets, Villani says. Employees can pay premiums through payroll deductions, and owners of multiple pets receive additional discounts. The company has also negotiated with several local doggie day care providers to offer employees a discount on the daily rate.

No matter which options you pursue, showing employees you care about their lives outside of work—including their pets—can give you an edge when it comes to recruiting, wellness and morale. And who doesn’t want to be top dog?

Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va. 

Opening photograph courtesy of Trupanion.

Pet-Friendly Office Checklist

Experts at Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet medical insurance provider with a 1:2 pet-to-employee ratio (233 cats and dogs to 434 employees) offer this framework for creating a pet-friendly office.

Get executive buy-in. The CEO and senior management must agree to any pet-friendly policies.

Secure landlord approval. The Motley Fool can’t permit daily visits from animals at its offices because the property owner says the ventilation system won’t filter out all the dander and allergens, says Chief Wellness Officer Samantha Whiteside.

Create a policy. Clearly outline expectations, beginning by defining “pet-friendly,” says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins. Do you mean just dogs and cats? What about boa constrictors and ferrets?
Pet-proof your space. This may include incorporating baby gates or tethers and hiding electrical cords. When Trupanion redesigned its offices, it included gated cubicles so office dogs and cats could enjoy being off-leash while sitting near their owner, says Erich Wuhrman, the company’s vice president of HR.
Communicate with employees. Let employees know if and when they can bring their pets to work. Some companies require employees to sign a written acknowledgment of the pet policy.
Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter. 

New Form I-9: Key Changes HR Needs to Know

New Form I-9: Key Changes HR Needs to Know

  By Roy MaurerJan 17, 2017

Employers have until Jan. 22, 2017, to get up to speed on using the newest version of the Form I-9, marked 11/14/2016. The version that has been in effect since 2013 (marked 03/08/13) will become obsolete on that date. The new form can be accessed on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. The expiration date on the new form is 08/31/2019.

Failure to use the new form beginning Jan. 22 will expose organizations to penalties, which were recently nearly doubled.

“With a new administration coming in we have a lot of indications that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] audits will increase, new investigation officers will be hired and enforcement in this area will get a lot of focus,” said Cynthia Lange, managing partner of immigration law firm Fragomen’s Northern California practice in San Francisco.

“Employers will find that the Form I-9 in many ways is very similar to the previous version, but some individual fields and the form instructions have been revised,” said Katie Nokes Minervino, an immigration attorney in the Portland, Maine, office of law firm Pierce Atwood. “The core requirements of the form have not changed,” she added. The acceptable documents list and retention requirements have remained the same.

Employers are not required to use the new I-9 on existing employees—one of the most common queries after a new version of the form is released, said Dave Basham, a senior analyst in the verification division at USCIS.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Complying with I-9 and E-Verify Requirements]

There are now three ways for users to complete the Form I-9:

  • Print it and fill it out manually, pen to paper.
  • Fill it out electronically, then print and sign it. Take note that using the online “smart” version of the form does not qualify as a compliant electronic I-9. If the online fillable version is used, it must be printed and signed pen to paper.
  • Use an electronic I-9 vendor.

Employers using electronic I-9 systems should not experience any direct impact with this form change, Lange said. Electronic systems should simply update the form.

If relying on a vendor, employers should compare the electronic product and the fields and requirements of the new I-9 version to ensure the vendor is collecting all the necessary information, added Pierce Atwood immigration attorney Tony Derosby, also in the Portland office.

Using the ‘Smart Form’

The newest version of the I-9 has been dubbed a “smart I-9” because of the fillable, interactive PDF option that enables users to fill in the fields of the form online before printing and signing a hard copy. “When a user opens the smart I-9 in Adobe Reader, the fillable PDF form limits options for further responses based on information previously provided, flags errors and fields where information is missing, provides a link to the form instructions, and includes additional instructions for specific fields that are available by hovering over a question-mark icon that appears above a field within the PDF,” Minervino said.

“The form substitutes for training and helps guide people to not make the same mistake over and over again,” Lange said. But she reminded employers that the smart form is not a safe harbor against ICE enforcement, is not integrated with E-Verify nor other HR systems, and cannot store information nor enable reporting.

“This is still really a ‘paper’ I-9,” she said.

There’s also no requirement that employers use the smart form at all. Or, the smart form can be partially filled out online before being printed, finished and signed.

Derosby explained that an employee could, for example, fill in Section 1 online, print it out and sign page 1 before handing it to his or her employer. The employer could then fill in Section 2 and sign the document, making sure to keep the two pages together for retention. Or, a new hire could fill in Section 1 by hand, and the employer could complete Section 2 online, print and sign.

He said that while the smart I-9 option is “probably not worth going out of your way to have an employee use,” especially if it will complicate getting it back on time, there’s enough benefit to it that employers shouldn’t write it off completely.

“The new fillable I-9 is a good fit if your onboarding process involves the new hire sitting down at a company computer to complete the I-9 on the first date of hire and you can ensure that the employee has access to the current version of Adobe Reader, the internet and a printer,” Derosby said.

Read the New Instructions Carefully

Users will notice three tabs on top of the online I-9—Instructions, Start Over and Print—after clicking on the link for the form on the USCIS site.

“If someone makes mistakes while entering information onto the form and wants to start over, they can hit the Start Over tab,” Basham said. If the HR professional decides to print out the form to be completed, he or she will need to click on the Instructions tab and print those out as well to give to the worker filling it out.

The instructions were more than doubled from six pages to 15 to provide more guidance for users. “The instructions are dense but actually provide a lot of good information to train your HR team,” said Montserrat Miller, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Arnall Golden Gregory.

Changes to Section 1

Patrick Shen, a partner in Fragomen’s Washington, D.C., office, said only the employee can fill out the information in Section 1.

One key change is that users must enter N/A in any fields that they previously would have left blank. For example, if there is nothing to enter in the fields asking for a middle initial, or apartment number or Social Security number, those fields can no longer be left blank.

The main benefit of using the smart version of the form is that once the employee and employer are finished entering information and click out of the form, all entries are reviewed for the correct format, including entries in blocks that require an N/A. If errors are found, the form will signal what needs to be fixed.

Another modification lessens the administrative burden on foreign workers. If the new hire attests to being a foreign national authorized to work in the U.S., he or she can provide either an alien registration number, Form I-94 admission number or foreign passport number. Previously, foreign nationals authorized to work were required to provide both an I-94 number and foreign passport information.

The new form allows for up to five preparers and/or translators to each sign and date the form in his or her own field. The prior form had one field for potentially multiple preparers and translators to fit their signatures in.

“The employee [now] needs to affirmatively check a box indicating that he or she did not use a preparer or translator if that’s in fact the case,” Minervino said. “This is an important double check for all employers to ensure that this box is completed by the new hire.”

Changes to Section 2

Employers are responsible for completing Section 2 of the Form I-9. Lange said the employer representative verifying employment eligibility must be in the physical presence of the person being verified and must also see the original documents being presented.

Although the smart I-9 was an attempt to leverage technology to assist employees and employers in the I-9 process, USCIS stated that using FaceTime or Skype with a new hire to review documents is not permissible under the regulations, Derosby said.

“Employers are still confused about this,” Lange added. “Using a webcam or some remote technology is still not acceptable.”

Basham said that if an employee is using the online version of the form, Section 2 will self-populate the worker’s full name on page 2. A new field asks for the new hire’s citizenship or immigration status. Employers must enter the corresponding numeral (1, 2, 3, 4) from the employee attestation on page 1.

There are no changes to the document list columns, but dropdown menus common to electronic I-9s are now available on the online form.

“Use the dropdown to select which document(s) was presented,” Basham said. “We don’t require HR professionals to be document experts. But HR must accept documents presented by an employee if they reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the individual.”

Shen said that the smart form is “pretty smart, but it’s not perfect. Using it is not a safe harbor.” He added that it’s important for HR to continue to be familiar with immigration-related anti-discrimination laws to stay compliant. If an employer asks too many questions of foreign workers about documents or doesn’t accept a valid document, then it could be exposed to liability. “Note that not all acceptable documents are included in the dropdown menus,” he said. Even though the scenario is not common, an employer may receive an acceptable document that is not listed and can be open to a discrimination charge if it is rejected.

Finally, USCIS has added a large box for additional information in section 2. This could be used to notate information that used to have to be scribbled in the margins of the form, such as a foreign national’s Temporary Protected Status or Optional Practical Training information. “You can use it to include an E-Verify case number, employee termination date, form retention dates, and any other comments for the employer’s business process,” Miller said. “But make sure whatever comments you write are limited to the Form I-9 or your participation in E-Verify. If your form is the subject of a government investigation, whatever you write on the form is fair game.”

No Changes to Section 3

Section 3 regarding reverification has not changed, but any reverifications done after Jan. 22 must be done using the revised form. Reverification must be done when a worker’s employment authorization or employment authorization documentation expires. “Employers must remember that workers can show any document that shows right to work and don’t have to use the same documents they presented when verified previously,” Shen said.

USCIS is holding a national teleconference on Jan. 31  to review the latest enhancements to the Form I-9 and answer questions from the HR community.

Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter.

Minimum Wage Increases In Store For Many In 2017

Minimum Wage Increases In Store For Many In 2017

12.19.16  Fisher Phillips Legal Alert

While the federal minimum wage has remained steady at $7.25 for the past seven years, many state and local jurisdictions have set their own minimum rates higher than the federal level. And, of course, when a local jurisdiction mandates a rate higher than the federal rate, you must pay your employees the higher rate.

Here is a listing of all the planned increases currently on tap for 2017. If your state or local jurisdiction is not listed, there is presently no increase in store for you in the new year. Obviously, though, these laws may change at any time, and you should consult with your local employment counsel before acting upon the information contained in this summary.

NOTE: These rates are for non-tipped employees. Check with your Fisher Phillips attorney, or with any attorney in the Fisher Phillips Hospitality Practice Group, for information about minimum wage rates for tipped employees.


The Alaska minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $9.80 on January 1, 2017.


Arizona will see a minimum wage increase from $8.05 to $10.00 on January 1, 2017. Also, the city of Flagstaff will see an increase from $8.05 to $10.00 on January 1, 2017, and an additional increase to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.


The minimum wage for Arkansas will increase from $8.00 to $8.50 on January 1, 2017.


There will be plenty of activity in California. The statewide minimum wage will increase from $10.00 to $10.50 as of January 1, 2017 (although employers with 25 or fewer employees will receive a one-year reprieve and will not face the statewide increase in 2017), but 18 local jurisdictions in the state will also see minimum wage increases this coming year:

  • Berkeley will see an increase from $12.53 to $13.75 on October 1, 2017.
  • There will be an increase in the minimum wage in Cupertino from $10.00 to $12.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • Smaller employers in Emeryville (55 or fewer workers) will see an increase from $13.00 to $14.00 on July 1, 2017, while the increase for larger employers will be announced in 2017 and go into effect on July 1, 2017.
  • The minimum wage in Los Altos will increase from $10.00 to $12.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • Los Angeles will see an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.
  • Those employers in Los Angeles County will also see an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.
  • Mountain View employers will face a minimum increase from $11.00 to $13.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • In Oakland, the minimum wage will increase from $12.55 to $12.86 on January 1, 2017.
  • There will be a minimum wage increase in Palo Alto from $11.00 to $12.00 as of January 1, 2017.
  • In Pasadena, employers with 25 or fewer employees will face a minimum wage increase to $10.50 as of July 1, 2017, while larger employers will face an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 as of the same date.
  • Richmond will see an increase in the minimum wage from $11.52 to $12.30 on January 1, 2017.
  • In San Diego, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $11.50 as of January 1, 2017.
  • San Francisco’s minimum wage will increase from $13.00 to $14.00 as of July 1, 2017.
  • The San Jose minimum wage will increase from $10.30 to $10.50 as of January 1, 2017.
  • There will be a minimum wage increase for employers in San Mateo, with rates increasing from $10.00 to $12.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • Santa Clara will see a minimum wage increase from $11.00 to $11.10 as of January 1, 2017.
  • In Santa Monica, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.
  • Employers in Sunnyvale will face a minimum wage increase from $11.00 to $13.00 on January 1, 2017.

The Colorado minimum wage will increase from $8.31 to $9.30 on January 1, 2017.


Connecticut will see an increase to the state minimum wage increase from $9.60 to $10.10 as of January 1, 2017.


In the District of Columbia, the minimum wage will increase from $11.50 to $12.50 as of July 1, 2017.


The Florida minimum wage will increase from $8.05 to $8.10 as of January 1, 2017.


The minimum wage in Hawaii will increase from $8.50 to $9.25 on January 1, 2017.


In Illinois, the statewide minimum wage will remain steady in 2017, but employers in Chicago will see an increase from $10.50 to $11.00 on July 1, 2017, and those in Cook County will face an increase from $8.25 to $10.00 on the same date.


While the minimum wage in Iowa is not scheduled to increase in 2017, three local jurisdictions will see increases:

  • Johnson County employers will face a minimum wage increase from $9.15 to $10.10 on January 1, 2017.
  • For employers in Polk County, the minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $8.75 on April 1, 2017.
  • In Wapello County, the minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $8.20 on January 1, 2017.

In Maine, the minimum wage will increase from $7.50 to $9.00 as of January 7, 2017. In Portland, the increase to the minimum wage will be from $10.10 to $10.68.


Maryland’s minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $9.25 on July 1, 2017. Also:

  • Montgomery County employers will face a minimum wage increase from $10.75 to $11.50 on July 1, 2017.
  • For employers in Prince George’s County the minimum wage increase will be from $10.75 to $11.50 on October 1, 2017.

In Massachusetts, the minimum wage will increase from $10.00 to $11.00 on January 1, 2017.


The minimum wage in Michigan will increase from $8.50 to $8.90 as of January 1, 2017.


In Missouri, the minimum wage will increase from $7.65 to $7.70 as of January 1, 2017. Further:

  • The Kansas City minimum wage, which was slated to increase to $9.82 on January 1 2017, is stalled due to pending court challenges. The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to soon rule on the issue.
  • The same holds true for the St. Louis minimum wage, which was scheduled to increase to $10.00 as of January 1, 2017.

Montana’s minimum wage will increase from $8.05 to $8.15 on January 1, 2017.


New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase from $8.38 to $8.44 on January 1, 2017.

While the minimum wage in New Mexico is not scheduled to increase in 2017, various local jurisdictions will see increases:

  • In Albuquerque, the minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $8.80 on January 1, 2017. However, if the employer provides healthcare and/or childcare benefits to the employee during any pay period and pays an amount for these benefits equal to or in excess of an annualized cost of $2,500, the minimum wage will increase from $7.75 to $7.80.
  • In Bernalillo County, the minimum wage will increase from $8.65 to $8.70 as of January 1, 2017.
  • The minimum wage in Las Cruces will increase from $8.40 to $9.20 on January 1, 2017.

In New York, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $9.70 on December 31, 2016. For fast-food employers outside of New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $10.75 on the same date.

  • The New York City minimum wage increase will see rates rise for businesses with 11 or more employees from $9.00 to $11.00 on December 31, 2016. For smaller employers, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $10.50. For fast-food establishments in New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on the same date.
  • In Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $10.00 on December 31, 2016.

The minimum wage in Ohio will increase from $8.10 to $8.15 as of January 1, 2017.


Oregon’s minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $10.25 as of July 1, 2017, unless otherwise described below:

  • For employers within the state’s Urban Growth Boundary, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.75 to $11.25.
  • For employers in frontier counties, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.50 to $10.00 per hour.
  • For more information on this system, please read this summary.

In South Dakota, the minimum wage will increase from $8.55 to $8.65 as of January 1, 2017.


The minimum wage in Vermont will increase from $9.60 to $10.00 on January 1, 2017.


Washington’s minimum wage will increase from $9.47 to $11.00 on January 1, 2017. Meanwhile:

  • Seattle employers with 500 or more employees will see an increase in their minimum wage from $13.00 to $15.00 on January 1, 2017; those with 500 or fewer employees will see an increase from $12.00 to $13.00.
  • The SeaTac minimum wage applicable for hospitality and transportation workers will increase from $15.24 to $15.35 as of January 1, 2017.
  • In Tacoma, the minimum wage will increase from $10.35 to $11.15.

The minimum wage for federal contractors covered by those regulations and Executive Order 13658 (primarily those with Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act contracts) will increase from $10.15 to $10.20 effective January 1, 2017.

For more information, visit our website at www.fisherphillips.com, or contact your regular Fisher Phillips attorney.


This Legal Alert provides an overview of state and local minimum wage increases. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016

Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016: A Starting Point for Workplace Safety

Filed in Español, Safety By on October 18, 2016 

a worker climbs a piece of scaffolding wearing proper fall protection

Every October, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.

One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, our inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.

More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.

Consider this list a starting point for workplace safety:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolds
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Electrical wiring
  10. Electrical, general requirements

It’s no coincidence that falls are among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, and our top 10 list features lack of fall protection as well as ladder and scaffold safety issues. We know how to protect workers from falls, and have an ongoing campaign to inform employers and workers about these measures. Employers must take these issues seriously.

We also see far too many workers killed or gruesomely injured when machinery starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts. Lockout/tagout and machine guarding violations are often the culprit here. Proper lockout/tagout procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them. And installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevents amputations and worse.

Respiratory protection is essential for preventing long term and sometimes fatal health problems associated with breathing in asbestos, silica or a host of other toxic substances. But we can see from our list of violations that not nearly enough employers are providing this needed protection and training.

The high number of fatalities associated with forklifts, and high number of violations for powered industrial truck safety, tell us that many workers are not being properly trained to safely drive these kinds of potentially hazardous equipment.

Rounding out the top 10 list are violations related to electrical safety, an area where the dangers are well-known.

Our list of top violations is far from comprehensive. OSHA regulations cover a wide range of hazards, all of which imperil worker health and safety. And we urge employers to go beyond the minimal requirements to create a culture of safety at work, which has been shown to reduce costs, raise productivity and improve morale. To help them, we have released new recommendations for creating a safety and health program at their workplaces.

We have many additional resources, including a wealth of information on our website and our free and confidential On-site Consultation Program. But tackling the most common hazards is a good place to start saving workers’ lives and limbs.

Thomas Galassi is the director of enforcement programs for OSHA.

The Overtime Rule

In 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations to reflect the original intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to simplify and modernize the rules so they’re easier for workers and businesses to understand and apply. The department has issued a final rule that will put more money in the pockets of middle class workers – or give them more free time.

The final rule will:

  • Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.
  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.
  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.
  • Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

The final rule will become effective on December 1, 2016, giving employers more than six months to prepare. The final rule does not make any changes to the duties test for executive, administrative and professional employees.

Overtime updates will extend protections to 4.2 million workers across the country.

OSHA Publishes Report on Its Severe Injury Reporting Requirement

Evaluation: First year of OSHA injury reporting requirement helps agency engage with employers and focus resources where needed

Since Jan. 1, 2015, employers have been required to report any severe work-related injury – defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye – within 24 hours. (The requirement to report a fatality within 8 hours was unchanged.)

During the first full year of a new reporting requirement, employers reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations. For more statistics and the evaluation of the impact of the new requirements, see the full report*

In the majority of cases, OSHA asked employers to conduct their own incident investigations and propose remedies to prevent future injuries. OSHA provided employers with guidance materials to assist them in this process. Known as a Rapid Response Investigation, this collaborative, problem-solving approach invites the employer and an area OSHA expert to work together toward the shared goal of fixing hazards and improving overall workplace safety. At other times, the agency determined that the hazards described warranted a worksite inspection.

“In case after case, the prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers we wouldn’t have had contact with otherwise,” said report author David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “The result is safer workplaces for thousands of workers.” Read Dr. Michaels’ blog for examples of workplace safety success stories that resulted from collaboration between employers and OSHA.

Severe Injury Reports 2015
Injury types RRI Inspection
Amputation 41.34% 58.66%
Hospitalization 69.46% 30.54%
Total 62.13% 37.87%

An evaluation of 2015 results found that the requirement met its intended goals of helping OSHA focus resources where they are most needed, and engaging employers in high-hazard industries to identify and eliminate hazards.

“OSHA will continue to evaluate the program and make changes to improve its effectiveness,” Dr. Michaels wrote in the report. “And we are seeking new ways to make sure that small employers know about their reporting obligations and the resources available to them.”


See DOL’s weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.

For more frequent updates on OSHA activities follow DOL on Twitter and Facebook.

QuickTakes is emailed free twice monthly to more than 125,000 subscribers. You can receive it faster and easier by subscribing to the RSS feed that delivers almost instant information. Visit OSHA’s RSS Feeds Web page to subscribe.

QuickTakes is a product of OSHA’s Office of Communications. If you have comments or suggestions that you think could improve the quality of QuickTakes, please submit them to OSHA.QuickTakes@dol.gov or contact the Office of Communications at 202-693-1999. [Note: This address is for input on QuickTakes only. Other questions concerning OSHA should be submitted through the agency’s Electronic Mail Form.] For more information on occupational safety and health, visit OSHA’s website.



 

* Accessibility Assistance
Contact OSHA’s Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.

2016 State Unemployment Insurance Report

Department of Labor Releases 2016 State Unemployment Insurance Report

American Staffing Association (02/26/16)  Toby Malara

The 2016 State Unemployment Insurance Report has been released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Unemployment Insurance.

As of the end of 2015, four states and jurisdictions (California, Connecticut, Ohio, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) still had outstanding loans to the federal government, totaling $7.36 billion. Six states (Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas) currently have outstanding private loan and debt service obligations totaling $8.3 billion.

Even though most states’ trust funds show positive balances, only 18 states have balances that meet or exceed DOL’s recommended solvency level. States without sufficient funds in their trust accounts likely would have to borrow money from the federal government in the event of another recession.

In his latest budget, President Obama recommended several proposed reforms to state unemployment insurance programs. One proposal would require states to provide at least 26 weeks of coverage while maintaining reserves in their UI trust fund accounts sufficient to provide benefits for at least six months of an average economic recession. While these provisions are unlikely to be adopted by this Congress, they may be part of a future administration’s agenda.

The DOL report is available at dol.gov.