TWO IMPORTANT HR COMPLIANCE CHANGES OF NOTE: I-9 & FMLA
Busy HR Managers should be aware that there have been two recent compliance changes that require their immediate attention. These are a change in the Form I-9 and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
New Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) Issued
On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised Form I-9 to be used by all employers for each employee hired in the United States. While the deadline for using the new form is not until May 7, 2013, the USCIS encourages that employers begin using the new form immediately.
Some of the key changes included on the revised Form I-9 are:
- New fields, including phone number and email address of new employee (completion of these fields are optional);
- Clearer and more detailed instructions provided to reduce employer and employee confusion;
- The List of Acceptable Documents has been updated and clarified.
Not only was the Form I-9 revised, but the USCIS has also published an updated Handbook for Employers (M-274), which is a free detailed guide to the completion of the I-9.
Given the rise in the number of I-9 Audits over the past decade and fines for paperwork violations that can range from $110 to $1,100 per violation, employers are encouraged to take a proactive approach and comply with regulations by familiarizing themselves with both the new form and handbook. Both are available online at the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. Further, the USCIS also maintains a page on their website called “I-9 Central” that provides clear, user-friendly information to support employers through the form completion process.
New Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Regulations
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on February 5, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued new FMLA regulations that took effect on March 8, 2013. In summary, the major changes are:
- Clarifications on calculating intermittent and reduced schedule leave: Effective on March 8, employers must track FMLA leave using the smallest increment used for other leave when calculating FMLA leave. Furthermore, employers can no longer require an employee to take more FMLA leave than necessary to address circumstances that created the need for FMLA leave. For example, if an employee only needs two and one half hours of FMLA leave to attend a medical appointment, the employer cannot force the employee to take half a day of FMLA leave.
- Increase and clarify the scope of military exigency leave, including the addition of a new qualifying leave category for parental care;
- Extended military caregiver leave to include covered veterans who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness;
- Clarification of airline flight crew employees FMLA eligibility requirements.
As a result of these changes, employers who are subject to FMLA regulations are required to post the new FMLA Poster in a conspicuous place. The new poster can be downloaded on the DOL website here:
Employers are encouraged to review their policies and make any changes to ensure compliance with the new regulations. In addition, all of the DOL’s updated FMLA forms are available for download, including a new form for certification of the serious injury or illness of a veteran.
Given the complexity of these two compliance changes, employers who have questions on them should seek the advice of their legal counsel.