Form I-9 – What Is It and How Do I Complete It?

Federal Law stipulates that employers only hire individuals who can legally work in the United States, either U.S. citizens or foreign citizens who have the required authorization. To act in accordance with the law, all employers must complete and preserve Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) to document verification of the identity and employment authorization of all new employees, citizens and noncitizens, to work in the United States.

Employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form. The employee must complete Section 1, which they must confirm to their employment authorization. The employee must also present their employer with suitable documents providing identity and employment authorization. The employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) the employee presents to determine if the document(s) appear to be authentic and relate to the employee and record the document information in Section 2.

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The Family and Medical Leave Act

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period where their job is guaranteed upon their return. The law also requires that any group health insurance benefits the employee participates in are continued for the duration of the FMLA leave as if the employee was still working full time.

Covered Employers

FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more employees during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the previous or current calendar year. This may include members of controlled groups and joint employers if the total employee count is 50 or more. In addition, all public agencies (including local, state and federal government agencies) as well as public and private elementary or secondary schools are covered employers regardless of the number of employees.

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Unemployment Fraud – Stay on Top of Claims to Reduce Potential Liability

There has been a recent increase in the number of fraudulent unemployment claims filed in Michigan and many other states throughout the US. One form of fraudulent claim filed is a type of identity theft – where someone creates an unemployment claim using the name and personal information of a second individual without the second individual knowing. These types of claims can create major headaches for the identity theft victims as well as for any employer or former employer that may be subject to charges for the unemployment claim.

Many times an employee is not made aware that a fraudulent claim has been filed in their name (and using their Social Security number) until they try to file a legitimate unemployment claim for themselves only to find out they already have an existing claim.

Other times, an employee may find out about the fraudulent claim when an expected federal or state tax refund is intercepted because the unemployment agency has received wages reported for the employee and has determined that the claim filed was fraudulent in that wages earned were not accurately reported to the unemployment agency.

A third way of finding out about a fraudulent claim is the employee or employer receiving a notice that a claim was filed from the state unemployment agency. If the employee receives notice of a claim that they did not file they should call the fraud reporting department of their state’s unemployment agency right away. Likewise, if an employer receives a notice that a claim has been filed for an active employee they should speak to the employee right away to find out whether the claim is legitimate. If not, the fraudulent claim should be reported to the state right away.

Employers should also monitor charge statements sent by the state unemployment agency to make sure there are no charges incurring for current employees. If charges do occur, the employer should promptly notify the state that the charges are for a fraudulent claim. The employer may need to provide proof that the employee is still working, such as copies of pay stubs.

The Department of Labor has provided a list by state of websites and phone numbers to report suspected fraud. To view the list, click here.

Top 5 Mistakes That Lead to a Poor Hire

Hiring a new employee comes with the potential of making a myriad of mistakes. Aside from mistakes with potential legal ramifications such as discriminatory hiring practices, there are a number of other mistakes commonly made by employers which can easily be avoided.  Quite possibly the biggest hiring mistake that can be made is hiring the wrong person. There are tremendous costs associated with hiring the wrong candidate: for example, advertising costs, interview costs, background and drug screening costs, training costs, and probably a negative affect on morale for your other employees. Generally it’s less expensive to continue your search for the ideal candidate rather than settling on the wrong one and terminating the bad hire. Continue reading

Drug and Alcohol Testing Rules and How Legalized Marijuana Affects the Workplace

With more and more states legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and/or for recreational purposes, many employers are unsure what they can and cannot do in regards to drug and alcohol testing and substance abuse policies.

There is no federal law that prohibits drug and alcohol testing, nor are there any federal regulations providing specific requirements for drug and alcohol testing for private employers. Some states do have specific requirements, so it’s important for employers to be aware of the rules in place in each state for which they have employees to remain in compliance. Listed below are brief summaries by state of rules relating to drug and alcohol testing and medical or recreational marijuana in the workplace where either have been legalized.  Continue reading

New York City Employers Banned from Asking Applicants About Salary History

Effective October 31, 2017 New York City becomes the next city following the recent trend of prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.

Employers will no longer be able to legally ask applicants about their pay in former positions held nor can they search any publicly available records or reports to obtain the applicant’s salary history. Continue reading

Rules for Final Paycheck Vary by State

When an employee quits their job voluntarily or is terminated involuntarily by their employer, it is important for an employer to know the rules regarding any final wages owed to the employee.

Each state’s wage and hour laws determine when and how the final payments are made. Many states have different rules for voluntary resignations and involuntary terminations. For example, some states require a check to be given at the time of termination when the termination is involuntary  but don’t require final payment to be paid to an employee who is voluntarily quitting until the next regularly scheduled pay date. Continue reading