News, Articles & Updates

USCIS RELEASES NEW FORM I-9

On November 14, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a new version of Form I-9, Employee Eligibility Verification. This new version is mandatory for employers beginning January 22, 2017. Employers may continue to use the previous version of Form I-9, dated 03/08/2013, or the new version through January 21, 2017.

In an accompanying statement, USCIS stated that the new version of Form I-9 reduces errors, improves the population of computer-generated data, and streamlines certification for foreign nationals. A new section for additional information eliminates the need for writing in the margins of the form.

Attorneys at the Mitzel Group are available to train employers in this new version of Form I-9.  Please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or by phone at 415-742-4972 with any additional questions.

WHAT TRAVEL TIME COUNTS AS HOURS WORKED?

Generally, an employee’s commute is not considered hours worked, and therefore the employer does not need to pay an employee for travel time.

However, there are some scenarios where driving time has been found to be compensable:

  • The time spent traveling to and from a required offsite meeting or conference in excess of the employee’s normal commute is compensable.
  • The time spent traveling to an airport or train station that is over and above the time spent in the employee’s normal commute is compensable.
  • The time spent traveling to a remote work site from an employee’s home may be compensable if it goes beyond the employee’s normal commute.
  • The time spent, once an employee reports to work, for any work-related travel during the day is compensable.
  • The time spent traveling for a special assignment or emergency outside of regular hours is compensable.

Employers may establish a separate rate for travel, so long as it is not lower than the minimum wage and employees know about the travel rate in advance.

Additionally, Labor Code 2802 requires employers to reimburse employees for automobile costs incurred when required to use a car for work.

CLARITY ON EMPLOYEE PAY STUBS

California Labor Code section 226(a) requires employers to issue a wage statement containing nine specific items. Recently, the 4th District Appellate Court clarified that unless an item is specifically included in 226(a) an employer does not need to list it on a wage statement. This resolves confusion over whether the 226(a) items were all-inclusive or merely a starting point for wage statement inclusions.

Items:

  • Name and address of the employer
  • Name of the employee
  • Last four digits of the employee’s social security number or an employee identification number assigned to the employee by the employer
  • Pay period the wage statement represents
  • Number of total hours the employee has worked
  • Employee’s hourly wage
  • Gross wages the employee has earned
  • Net wages the employee has earned
  • Any deductions removed from the employee’s wages

CHANGES TO OVERTIME RULES

Beginning December 1, 2016, the minimum salary employees must earn in order to qualify for the FLSA overtime exemption will increase to $913 per week or $47,476 per year.

  • The minimum salary requirement will increase every three years.
  • The qualifying job duties for exempt employees have not changed.

What should employers do?

  • Identify those employees with salaries under $47, 476.
    • Increase salaries of employees to meet the threshold, or change these salaried employees to nonexempt, hourly wage earners, eligible for overtime.
  • Review salaries paid to exempt employees annually to ensure compliance with FLSA or state requirements.

California’s salary overtime exemption is two times the state minimum wage.  The California requirement will surpass the FLSA requirement when the minimum wage increases to $12 per hour on January 1, 2019.

  • Note: Local California minimum wages that are higher than the state minimum wage have no impact in determining the exempt status of employees.

CHANGES TO HEALTH CARE SECURITY ORDINANCE IN 2017

1. The HCSO Health Care Expenditure Rates for 2017 will be:

  • $1.76 per hour for medium-size employers (20 to 99 employees worldwide)
  • $2.64 per hour for large employers (100 or more employees worldwide

2. The minimum salary for managerial, supervisorial, and confidential exemptions will be $95,101.

3. Beginning January 1, 2017, only money actually spent on employee health care can be counted toward compliance with the HCSO.

  • Employers have until January 30, 2017 to make the required health care expenditures for the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • 20% of expenditures for that quarter may be revocable when made

*San Francisco Administrative Code Section 14.1(b)

HOW TO FULFILL ELECTION DAY OBLIGATIONS TO EMPLOYEES

California Elections Code § 14000 requires employers, both public and private, to give paid time off for employees who do not have enough time outside of normal working hours to vote.  Section 14000(b) allows for up to two hours of paid time off to allow employees to vote.  Unless an employee has a prior agreement with the employer, the employee must take the time at either the beginning or end of the working shift — “whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift.”  Cal. Elec. Code § 14000(b).

Tips:

– Give employees as much time as necessary to go to the polls.

– If it is helpful, ask employees to provide notice that they will be taking time-off to vote (can require notice of at least two days before the election).

– If it is helpful, set a window of time for employees to vote during the workday.

California law also requires employers to post time-off to vote notices at least ten days before the election in a conspicuous, public place to notify employees. These notices are available in multiple languages from the California Secretary of State’s webpage.

NEW & IMPROVED FORM I-9 ON THE HORIZON

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to release a new version of the Form I-9 by November 22, 2016. There will be a new “Smart” PDF version of the Form I-9 available, which will flag inconsistencies in the information entered by employees about their citizenship or immigration status. This new “Smart” PDF version should help employers to avoid fines, which increased drastically in August of this year. Note that after January 21, 2017 all previous versions of the Form I-9 will be invalid.