HR & the Law in the News
January 2016, Volume 15, Issue 1
Happy New Year (almost)!  Please enjoy this latest edition of FiveL Company's monthly e-newsletter, bringing you current news related to employment policies, practices and programs. 

Don't miss the discounted, annual subscription to FiveL Company's 2016 webcast series.  Get access to all 11 webcasts for the price of 8, a savings of $147!! Pre-approved by HRCI and SHRM for 1.25 credits! Click here for more info or to register. 
Ignorance is Bliss?     
Hurry Up and Wait; It'll Change
The Form I-9 is no stranger to change. Nor are the business and HR professionals that are required to use it. The Form has been changed at least 11 times since 1987. Change number 12 is on the horizon.  

On November 24, 2015 US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) published a notice in the Federal Register to inform the public of proposed changes for the Form I-9.  You may submit comments on those proposed changes through January 25, 2016. Just a few of the proposed changes include:
1. Hover text, helper text, drop-down menus and error messages added to the on-line form to help prevent employer and employee error when completing the form;
2. New buttons added to the on-line form such as Start Over, Help, Print and Finish;
3. Auto-fill features based on specific answers to questions;
4. New programming to prevent entering duplicative or unnecessary information; and more!  

Comments should address the following four, primary inquiries: 
(1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
(2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
(3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
(4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

US CIS has provided a comparative chart showing the current Form and instructions and the proposed changes. To view the proposed Form I-9 changes click here (57 pages in all) and the list of proposed changes to the Form I-9 Instructions click here (an easy breezy 37 pages).    

Need a Refresher?  With a continuing focus on immigration reform US CIS and the Department of Homeland Security have not relented on their efforts to audit employers and enforce I-9 compliance.  Stay tuned and plan to join the February 24th webcast, "I-9 Compliance: Tips & Tools for Employers" for news you can use. In the interim, check out the latest guidance from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for conducting a self-audit. 
U.S. EEOC Listens
On December 7, 2015 the EEOC's Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace (STF) held its third public, panel discussion this year. The subject of this meeting was the "Faces of Workplace Harassment and Innovative Solutions," during which two panels of experts shared information.  The first spoke on a wide range of bases of harassment. The second panel addressed the use of social media to combat harassment. The previous two meetings were on October 22nd, "Promising Practices to Prevent Workplace Harassment and June 15, "Examining the Scope of the Problem and Potential Solutions."

You can see the history of the Task Force and previous panel testimony here

Why this issue and why now? On March 30, 2015 when the EEOC announced the formation of the STF it explained that 30% of all the charges they receive include an allegation of workplace harassment.  The EEOC hopes that through these efforts they may reach, "more in the employer community so we can understand the challenges they face and promote the practices we've seen work."

Lessons Learned?  Be proactive. Know what the hot topics so-to-speak are in your state(s) of operation. Don't wait until an issue arises in your workplace to education and inform employees about their rights and their responsibilities to maintain a non-hostile workplace. Provide supplemental training for your supervisors, managers and executive team members about their related duties and responsibilities (and liability). I find when a charge is filed with the federal, state or local agency one of the first Requests for Information (RFI) may be for a copy of the employer's related training records and policies.  It is not the best place to start in a defense to admit you have none.  

Contact FiveL today for a training program outline, description with learning objectives for staff and management team members and pricing.  Web-based, live and/or on-demand training is also available. Click here for more information.   

Register today for the 2016 series and get access to all 11 programs for the price of 8; save $147! Click here to subscribe.

Next Webcast: Wednesday, January 27th, "When Worlds Collide: Religion in the Workplace," 10:00 - 11:15 a.m. EST Click here for more information or to register.

Click here for a full listing of upcoming events.

FLSA Update

You have likely heard the latest news but just in case you missed it: the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division's most recent announcement indicates the new white-collar or EAP regulations are scheduled to be published in July 2016.  Prior indications pointed to a "late" 2016 publication date.  What does this mean for employers? Crunch your numbers now.  The latest indications also reveal that there may be only a 60-day implementation period before the final rule takes effect.  This may not give employers as much time as they had hoped to re-evaluate all of their exempt positions to determine if they will still qualify for exempt status. 

Click here to learn more from the DOL's FAQ page.  Then also see the July 2015 edition of this newsletter for some more detailed information and employer options as well.
Here it is...the infamous and oh-so-important disclaimer...This publication does not constitute the rendering of legal advice.  You should consult your company's employment or legal counsel for guidance on any particular issue.