April 2017 Focus
Forms I-9 and E-Verify Spring Cleaning
Conducting annual self-audits of I-9 and E-Verify processes is a good practice to ensure compliance. It’s an opportunity to verify if all employees have an I-9 on file and if E-verify is used correctly. Businesses should always have correct and up-to-date forms of ID, use the current Form I-9 for new hires, and store and retain Form I-9’s correctly and securely. This is great time to create or update a checklist to be used when completing Form I-9’s during the onboarding process.
Additional resources are available on E-Verify and Form I-9 to help avoid falling out of compliance. Remember, Form I-9 records (not E-Verify) will be one of the items requested in the event of an ICE inspection!
President’s Labor Nominee Will Have to Address the Overtime Rule
Andrew Acosta provided good insight as to how he might address the controversial 2016 DOL Overtime Rules during his confirmation hearing on March 22nd. The Obama Administration was in the process of appealing a federal court decision against raising the minimum threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) from $23,660 to $47,476 when Donald Trump became the President-elect. Acosta will have to decide to either continue the appeal with possible changes, or drop the appeal and rewrite the rules. Acosta stated during the hearing, “The overtime rule hasn't been updated since, I believe, 2004. And I think it's unfortunate that rules which involve dollar values can sometimes go more than a decade and sometimes 15 years without being updated. Because life does become more expensive over time.” He indicated he believes a change should be made based on inflation of the cost of living, and that number would probably be somewhere around $33,000.
This controversy over raising the overtime threshold isn’t going to go away. For employers who had made preparations ahead of the impending changes, those preparations will likely be put to use. For those employers who were holding out until the last minute, changes to the 2016 thresholds will probably be implemented.
H.R. 1313 May Provide Clarity for Employer Wellness Programs
The EEOC issued final rules in May of last year on employer wellness programs, clarifying limits on financial incentives, safe harbors, and other areas relating to ADA, and GINA. In spite of a legal setback in January of this year, affirming a lower court’s ruling of EEOC v. Flambeau Inc., these regulations still stand, putting employers in a bind with contradicting ACA rules on wellness programs.
A bi-partisan bill addressing this is being moved through Congress. The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313) is intended to provide regulatory clarity for employers to continue offering a wellness program. Critics have claimed that H.R. 1313 will open a Pandora’s Box of discriminatory possibilities. Wellness programs have a track record of improving the overall wellbeing of employees and helping to lower healthcare cost. It will be interesting to see if congressional efforts will pay off.
ProSential Group Webinars for April
As a client of MWG Employer Services, we are pleased to offer free, monthly educational webinars through ProSential Group. Previous webinars are available through the ProSential Group Client Portal. To register for this month’s webinars, click on the links below.
Optimizing Turnover and Employee Selection
Thursday, April 20th
Form 5500 Reporting for Health & Welfare Plans
Tuesday, April 25th
The Simple Truth
On Friday, March 24, 2017, Speaker Paul Ryan pulled proposed legislation, labeled as “repeal and replace” of the Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act (ACA), from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives when it became clear there would not be enough votes for the bill to pass. In reality, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) wasn’t going to fully “repeal and replace” the ACA anyway. Instead, it was only step one of what the republicans laid in a three-step process. During discussions prior to the scheduled vote, and after it failed to be voted on, I’ve had numerous people ask me, “Why don’t they just repeal Obamacare and start over?”
Well, this is my answer. The ACA was the largest piece of legislation to be passed since Social Security. It took every remaining democrat in the Senate to pass the bill on Christmas Eve of 2009. Then the bill was fast tracked and passed the House without ever being vetted through the committee process. The bill was over 900 pages in length and has now impacted just about every facet of our economy. There have been thousands of pages of rules and regulations that have been written and implemented to enforce the law over the past seven years. The breadth of this law is so far reaching, it is almost impossible to comprehend the totality of its influence.
The simple truth is, it would take a law two to three times the size of the original ACA to repeal it, transition from what has been put in place, and then replace it with something new. Anything short of that would result in a total economic and political disaster. I doubt a law of this size would ever make it through the legislative process, even if the republicans held 100% of the House and Senate. Getting so many people to agree on anything of that magnitude is nearly impossible. So how did the democrats all agree to pass the ACA? According to the then Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they had to pass it so they could know what was in it. The Republicans can’t afford that same mistake.