New I-9 Form Released!
On March 8, 2013 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the release of the new I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form. All employers are required to use the new I-9 for all new hires immediately. However, the USCIS has provided a 60 day grace period for employers to continue to use the current version of the form until May 7, 2013. An employer’s failure to ensure proper completion and retention of I-9 forms subjects an employer to civil money penalties of up to $1,100 per I-9 and in some cases, criminal penalties. Although the new two page I-9 form is mostly format changes, additional data fields and instructions increase the administrative burdens placed on employers. The new I-9 can be downloaded from the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/files/foms/i-9.pdf.
Employers: It’s Time to Review Policies to Address Employee Overtime via Smartphones
Smart phones and similar devices have made it easier for employees to perform work anywhere and at any time. But this activity can also make employers liable for unpaid overtime based on the additional “hours worked” on such devices. Employers must address employees’ work after hours via email, text, skype and instant messenger to avoid liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and one of the best ways to do this is to implement policies prohibiting employees from working after normal hours without prior written consent from their managers. The policy should clearly specify that responding to email or texts after hours constitutes work and is prohibited without prior authorization. If your policies and/or handbooks do not address this issue, you could be subjecting your company to a costly claim based on those extra hours of work.
Ohio Introduces Social Media Password Protection Bill
Senator Charleta B. Tavares has introduced in the Ohio General Assembly Senate Bill 45, the Social Media Privacy Protection Act, which would prohibit employers, employment agencies, personnel placement services and labor organizations from requiring an applicant or existing employees to provide access to private electronic accounts. The bill defines “private electronic accounts” broadly to include social media sites and private email accounts. The proposed legislation, however, has a specific exemption that permits employers to monitor accounts that belong to the employer. It is unclear whether Senate Bill 45 will become law in its present form, with further amendments, or at all. Currently, the bill is in its infancy and merely has been assigned to committee. We will continue to monitor SB 45 and report any significant developments.