Sunday, July 26, 2009

You have reached your destination!

Just a quick reminder that the minimum wage under Fair Labor Standards Act reached its final destination, for now, of $7.25 per hour. You may recall that the minimum wage was set to be increased in three phases a couple of years ago. This last increase, effective July 24, 2009, marks the final installment in that amendment.

A new poster is available for downloading here.

If you currently have the poster which shows the three increases in minimum wage, you can continue to use that version as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No match no more. . . maybe

President Obama's administration recently announced that it intended to rescind the No-Match regulations which the Department of Homeland Security under President Bush had sought unsuccessfully to implement. Rather than focus on individuals, it appears that the DHS will turn its efforts to utilizing the E-Verify system for employers with federal contracts and subcontracts. But the No-Match regulations are not toast yet--the Senate has attempted to make rescission more difficult by proposing a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to eliminate the regulations.

Employers should continue to use best practices when hiring. If you have a reliable and strong system in place now, you will be better positioned to respond to whatever regulations might be waiting.

Happy hiring!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Govern yourself accordingly..."

This is a familiar phrase typically used by attorneys when putting a party on 'notice' that his or her legal rights are about to be affected by an upcoming event or legal proceeding.

This seems to be an appropriate phrase in light of a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on its effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration. In a News Release by the DHS dated July 1, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - ("ICE" - the immigration enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) - announced the launch of a new initiative to significantly increase the number of audits it will perform on employer’s records. An ICE audit will scrutinize whether an employer has properly documented its employees' authorization to work in the U.S.

[This documentation is reflected on your 'I-9 Form'. Generally, every employer is required to properly complete an I-9 Form for each employee. Failure to properly complete the form may result in significant fines and penalties. If you have not conducted a 'self-audit' of your I-9 Forms recently, we can help.]

Just how significant does ‘significant’ mean? In one day, (July 2nd), ICE issued Notices of Inspection to 652 businesses around the country. By comparison, only 503 Notices were issued for the entire 2008 fiscal year!

This is announced as a new “first step in ICE’s long-term strategy to address and deter illegal employment” by reducing the demand for undocumented workers. This shift in focus means that ICE is re-directing its resources to be more vigilant in its audits and investigation of U.S. employers.

ICE has sent a warning message to all employers that they will be watching more closely than ever for proper documentation of your employees. ICE has put you on notice. Govern yourselves accordingly….

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Have we met before?

A familiar face is back on the legislative block. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is once again making its way through the House of Representatives. This time, though, the bipartisan support for the law is greater than before. When it was last introduced in 2007, it passed the house after being watered-down and then stalled in the Senate.

The Act, as currently written, would prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in the workplace. It does not go so far as to require companies to extend employee benefits to partners of employees, and military and religious exemptions are present.

Stay tuned--we surely haven't heard the last on this one.