In this issue:
Legal Updates & Reminders
- 22: Texas judge issues a temporary injunction, delaying implementation of the new overtime rules set to be effective Dec. 1.
- 14: New I-9 form is rolled out, for implementation in January 2017
Temporary Injunction on Implementation of the New Overtime Rules:
A Blessing or a Curse??
You were ready for it. Or maybe you weren’t. But now you are in limbo. If your company was one with lots of employees potentially impacted by the new overtime rules set to go into effect on December 1, 2016, the announcement November 22 of the temporary injunction halting its implementation was perhaps a mixed blessing. You and others in your company had already invested a significant amount of time and energy estimating the various cost scenarios of raising base pay or paying overtime to these employees. You probably had already communicated to those impacted what you would be doing, why you would do it, and when it would go into effect. And then with only a week to ponder this news, you had to decide whether to implement your plans to address the new rules anyway, or back track to take a wait-and-see approach. There probably isn’t a right or wrong answer here.
It is unlikely that this issue will be resolved before January 20, 2017, the date of President-Elect Trump’s inauguration. Assuming that’s the case, it is likely that a new, probably more employer-friendly Department of Labor will withdraw the legal appeal filed under the Obama DOL, and just let the injunction stand. President Trump may then ask his new Secretary of Labor to review the situation and propose recommendations that might address some of the concerns business has had. Namely, the doubling of the salary threshold for exempt status, and perhaps excluding non-profits, higher education and public employees.
Of course, there is a remote possibility that the judge’s preliminary injunction order is reversed on appeal before January 20, 2017. If that happens, it is possible that employers who chose to take the wait and see position could face legal exposure under the Fair Labor Standards Act. All we can do is wait and see, and keep our fingers crossed that won’t happen!
New “User-Friendly” I-9 Form Ready For You!
No question about it, the current I-9 Form could use a dose of ‘friendly’! The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) has been working on updating this form for some time, and it sounds like some real improvements have been made. The current I-9 form (dated March 8, 2013) may continue to be used until January 21, 2017, but the new form must be used beginning January 22. You can access the new I-9 form online at www.uscis.gov/i-9.
Some highlights of the new form are:
- Separating the instructions from the form, into a more extensive instruction document
- A dedicated area for additional information
- Both a fillable and a plain paper I-9 form are available (although it is not an electronic form allowing for electronic signatures)
- Adobe-based document provides dropdown lists, calendars for date fields, and specific on-screen instructions drawn from the instruction document
- The USCIS plans to update the Handbook for Employers (Form M-274) by January, presumably providing more guidance
One of the significant challenges faced by employers is the hiring of employees in remote locations, and how/who to complete and verify the I-9 form. Unfortunately, it sounds as though the updated instructions still do not provide practical guidance on how employers should handle this situation. This is such a common situation in the private sector, maybe it can be addressed in the new Trump administration!
BEST WISHES FOR A SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!!
The goal of this monthly e-newsletter is to briefly bring you current news in the HR world that could impact your company and how you interact with your employees, and also to share some tips and lessons learned for keeping your company compliant with the myriad of federal and state employment-related rules and regulations. This newsletter is not intended to provide legal guidance to you.