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Form I9 Audits – What you need to know

The I-9 Form is a legally required document for new hires. It is used by employers to prove an individual is legally eligible for employment in the United States. The form is legally required by the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The current form is 2 pages long; employees and employers complete their respective sections, as well as sign and date it.  A properly completed form verifies the identity of an employee and ensures that the individual is legally capable of working in the U.S. These forms shall be kept separate from the employee’s file, and in Florida, employers are required to either use E-verify or keep copies of the employment authorization documents.

So far in 2022, Consultstu has performed several independent third-party immigration reviews for companies contracting with Publix Supermarkets Facilities Services. When completing I9 audits, here are some common compliance errors we identify in client paperwork:

  • I9 form was created late (employee completed Section 1 after 1st day).
  • Section 2 (review and verification section) is not fully completed by the employer or an authorized representative (within 3 business days of hire).
  • Employee start date missing, or different than payroll records.
  • Issuing authority of out of state drivers’ license incorrect
  • Employee failing to complete the translator box (bottom of page 1).
  • Putting Driver’s License information in List A (should be List B).

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, if corrections are necessary to an I9 form, corrections should be initialed and dated on the form so it is clear who and when the correction was made. Employees make corrections to Section 1, and Employers make corrections to Section 2.

When completing an audit, ConsultStu provides the client with valuable notes and recommendations regarding your Form I-9s, how to correct any errors, and best practices to improve your knowledge and overall compliance.  This extra service has been greatly appreciated.  Our service is completely remote, thorough, and accurate, and reviews your company’s Form I-9s, supporting documents, and E-Verify documentation. 

Have any questions? Call us today at (727) 350-0370 to discuss or schedule an annual (new or re-certification) Publix Immigration Review and I-9 Audit.

CDC Revises Indoor Mask Guidance (Feb 2022)

In late February 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) relaxed its mask guidance for communities where hospitals aren’t under high strain. The CDC announced its new COVID-19 Community Levels tool which is a way for communities to decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.  According to early news reports, nearly 70% of Americans live in communities with low or medium risk and are not advised to wear masks indoors.

The new guidelines for assessing community risk weighs hospitalizations for COVID-19 and the proportion of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in local hospitals more heavily than rates of new infections alone. The CDC will release updated county-by-county risk levels weekly on its website. Unfortunately, the CDC does not release the underlying community data so that individuals can decide on their own. The CDC change comes at a time when many states are dropping mask mandates and people are becoming increasingly fatigued from mask-wearing. Recent studies and medical scholarship has also reached varying conclusions about the effectiveness of cloth masks under normal wear conditions.

Check your state and county here. In high-risk (orange) communities, the CDC Guidance recommends wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk.

Connie Beck, HR Generalist, joins Consultstu

Connie Beck is passionate about people and feels that Human Resources plays an integral part in both the employee’s success, as well as the employer. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida, as well as two HR designations; Professional in Human Resources through the Society of Human Resources Management and Certified Practitioner through the Human Capital Institute.

Connie has worked in various industries including manufacturing, entertainment, medical, financial, and assisted living, giving her the unique opportunity to work with diverse populations and grow her human resources skills. She has extensive experience working with employee relations, training, policy and procedures interpretation, employee investigations, and unemployment. Outside of work, she loves spending time in her North Carolina home. Her favorite activities include quilting, working in the yard, and spending time with friends and family. She and her husband currently have one child, their fur baby Wiggy, rescued from a kill shelter 14 years ago.

ConsultStu is a Qualified Independent Third Party for Publix Immigration Reviews

ConsultStu is a qualified independent third party that can complete your Publix required Immigration Review and Audit, whether it is your first one, or the annual compliance re-certification. Since 2018, we have worked with many companies from various industries to complete their mandatory annual Immigration Law Certification. We have worked with companies in technology, construction, equipment and service. Our clients have included local Florida companies, as well as companies from around the United States. Publix Super Markets is the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the U.S. Founded in 1930 by George W Jenkins, Publix operates over 1,200 retail food supermarkets throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia.

When contracting with Publix, the Corporate Facilities Services team will notify your company about its responsibility to submit a current I-9 Immigration Certification Letter. This is an annual requirement for those with continuing business relationships with Publix. The Facility Services team will advise Publix contractors that they are expected to make the necessary arrangements to have its Immigration Certification Letter updated by a qualified Independent third party and then submit to the Facility Services department. Failure to update the certification letter may result in services being halted by Publix until it it received.

Here are some of the comments from our Publix Immigration audit clients: “awesome support”, “highly recommend”, “quick to respond to questions” and “excellent service.” Need an affordable Publix immigration review? Call Consultstu at 727-350-0370, and we will be your qualified independent third party reviewer for your Publix Supplier immigration review.

2021 EEO-1 Reporting Set to Open April 12, 2022

The 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection is tentatively scheduled to open on Tuesday, April 12th, 2022. The tentative deadline to file the 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 Report is Tuesday, May 17th, 2022. Updates regarding the 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection will be posted to the EEO-1 website as it becomes available. The Filer Support Team will not resume normal operations until immediately prior to the opening of the 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection.

Can a company still report for last year? No, additional 2019/2020 EEO-1 Component 1 Reports will be accepted, and the EEO-1 Filer Support help desk is no longer accepting new requests for assistance.

What companies are required to report the EEO-1 form? The EEO-1 Component 1 report is a mandatory annual data collection that requires all private-sector employers with 100 or more employees, and federal contractors with 50 or more employees meeting certain criteria, to submit demographic workforce data, including data by race/ethnicity, sex and job categories. For additional information on the types of reports required for EEO-1 Component 1 filers, please see the hyperlinked Fact Sheet: 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 Required Report(s).

Have a question, or need help with EEO-1 reporting or other HR compliance matters, give Consultstu a call at 727-350-0370.

OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring COVID-19 Vaccines Blocked by Supreme Court

On Thursday, January 13, the U.S. Supreme Court issued 2 decisions related to the Biden Administration’s push to require vaccines against COVIA-19 for the U.S. workforce. First, the Court stopped the enforcement of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that mandated that employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccines, or require weekly testing of those not vaccinated. The OSHA ETS took effect on January 10, 2022, but was halted by the Supreme Court decision. The Court stated that OSHA must have clear authority from Congress before implementing such a broad and wide rule (affecting an estimated 84 million workers). Read more (NFIB v. OSHA).

However, the Supreme Court refused to stop enforcement of the Biden rule withholding Medicare and Medicaid funding from medical facilities that do not ensure that their staff is vaccinated against COVID-19 (unless exempt for medical or religious reasons). The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which administers Medicaid and Medicare, has a core function of protecting patients’ health and safety, so the mandatory vaccine rule could be a reasonable exercise of its authority. Read more (Biden v. Missouri).

The vaccine mandate for federal contractors was not addressed in either of these decisions. That Presidential executive order was halted by several federal courts because there is a question about whether the law that gives the President authority to promote economy and efficiency in federal contracting, can justify a vaccine requirement.

As things stand today, the OSHA ETS mandate for vaccines or testing at large employers is not enforceable, but the HHS mandate for vaccines of staff at medical facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement is enforceable.

HR Checklist for 2022

Time to check in on your HR fitness for 2022. Now that we have closed out 2021, and started 2022, the human resources and payroll departments need to take some important January actions to ensure a smooth transition into 2022. We have a 10 point HR checklist to help your company get up to date with fast-changing federal and Florida rules and regulations. Read about 2022 payroll updates.

  1. Update New Hire Packet with 2022 documents. Replace your W4 with the 2022 version. Optional – send a W4 to existing employees to see if they would like to make changes for 2022.
  2. Ensure your current current Form I-9 is being used (expiration date for 2022). An update, or change, will be coming later this year.
  3. Go through I9 binder, or folder, to purge old I9 forms. The retention rule is a minimum of 3 years of 1 year after termination, whichever is longer.
  4. If insurance renewed January 1, update the Heathcare Exchange form (mandated by ACA) with current group health insurance renewal information (contribution cost and eligibility) on page 2.
  5. Update COVID policy, to reference latest CDC updates (recent update on shortened isolation/quarantine period issued December 27).
  6. Review, update and post the updated observed holiday schedule for 2022.
  7. Review recruiting and retention strategies for 2022 to keep up with the market changes. COVID has made an impact on the workplace and the Great Resignation is expected to continue into 2022. Check market rates for key positions.
  8. Review Employee Handbook for updates. Did employee count increase or decrease? Policy changes?
  9. If you are a federal contractor, with direct federal contracts, minimum wage will increase to $15.00 an hour in January 2022.
  10. If you are an employer who provides mileage, review the new rates effective January 1st, 2022.

CDC Updates Quarantine and Isolation Periods for COVID-19

On December 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance for employers on how long employees should quarantine and self-isolate after a positive COVID-19 test, and after close contact with a positive COVID-19 person.  Here is the update:

If you test positive for COVID-19: The CDC shortened the recommended time for isolation for people who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to 5 days if asymptomatic (or symptoms are resolving after 5 days), with 5 days of wearing a mask after the quarantine period.  The science behind the change is that COVID-19 transmission occurs 1-2 days before symptoms and 2-3 days after. Individuals who test positive must isolate for 5 days and wear a mask for another 5 days in public.   A person with fever should stay home until the fever resolves.

If you are exposed to COVID-19 unvaccinated or have not received a booster: If you are exposed to COVID-19 (close contact), the recommended quarantine period has been updated for those who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second vaccine shot (or 2 months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine) and have not been boosted. Those individuals are recommended to isolate for 5 days and after that wear a mask for another 5 days in public.  If the quarantine cannot occur, one who has been exposed to COVID-19 must wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.  Test on day 5 if possible.

For employees that have been vaccinated within the past 6 months, or have been boosted, or completed Johnson and Johnson within the past 2 months, no quarantine is needed – but wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5, if possible.

Salary Reports: How much should employees be making?

December is here and we are approaching the end of 2021.  At year end, employees start looking for raises or begin thinking about a new job for next year. With the ongoing pandemic and growing inflation news, employers must do their research to stay competitive.  According to the Harvard Business Review, employees between 30 and 45 have had the greatest increase in resignations during the “Great Resignation”.  Job advertisement with uncompetitive wage rates have low response rates, and if you are lucky to schedule an interview, you may get ghosted by the applicant.  Quality applicants are looking for competitive wages and benefits.  Because recruiting and retaining employees remains extremely tough today, staying up to date with local pay rates is critical.  HR can help you stay competitive. 

Recently, ConsultStu had a client reach out to us regarding salary information for an Account Executive position. The position was going to be posted on Indeed, one of the most popular and well-known job boards.  The client wanted to ensure that the salary advertised in the job post was reasonable and competitive to the other Account Executive positions in the area.  Consultstu reviewed the job description, researched wage data from a variety of open-source resources and created a salary report.  The data confirmed that the company’s salary figure was below market and adjustments were made. 

At ConsultStu, we have provided salary reports for numerous companies and job positions including Account Executive, Administrative Assistant, Warehouse, Bookkeeper, Software Developer, Safety Director, and more.  ConsultStu reviews the job duties and matches the position to the federal job classification system maintained by the Department of Labor’s O*Net online system.  Free salary data matching job classifications is available from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.  We mix government data together with a variety of online data from both employer and employee submitted data.  Using a various wage data, we are able to provide clients with an accurate salary that is up to date for your location.  Contact us today if you need salary information for your business needs.  

Remote I9 Document Review Approved thru April 2022

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that it has extended its temporary policy allowing employers to inspect Form I-9 documents virtually through April 30, 2022. This policy has been extended a dozen times since it was originally issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your business continues to operate remotely, you are allowed to postpone in-person physical inspection of documents that normally happens when completing the Form I-9, and do the review virtually (via email, chat, fax, videochat, etc…). Here’s the catch. When an employer resumes normal operations, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification must report to their employer within three business days to present their documents for in-person inspection. And, if there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Read more about the ICE compliance flexibility extension. ICE is also considering permanent rules to allow for remote document inspection.

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