As we have now entered the second month in 2018, some of our organizations will be hiring new employees for continued operation and some for the upcoming seasonal summer months. Hiring new employees into the workforce is great, we have a tremendous opportunity to set the new hire up for success with a great onboarding process and introduction to the organization. With new hires, comes legal paperwork. State and federal forms get updated and posted on government websites for all of us to use. As leaders and business owners, we need to ensure our forms are updated and legal.
Below are the new hire forms needed in New York State:
- Form I-9, Eligibility to work in the United States: This form is required in every state for new hires and needs to be reviewed for expired ID’s; driver’s license, passport, etc. Organizations must verify that each new employee is legally eligible to work in the United States. Ensure the form is filled out correctly and signed by the right person in the organization. This form changed in late 2017.
- Form W-4, wage Withholding Allowance Certificate: This form is necessary for federal withholdings. All employees should complete and sign a Form W-4 prior to starting work. Currently, the 2017 form is still being used. Watch for any updates or changes in 2018, related to the new tax legislation.
- Form IT-2104, Employer Allowance Certificate (NYS): This is the New York State withholding form required to be completed in full prior to an employee starts working for the organization. Ensure you are using the 2018 version of the form.
- Wage Forms Required by New York Labor Laws: Organizations are required to provide wage notification forms to all employees. The forms vary by hourly, salary, salaried nonexempt, etc. The link above provides a definition on which form to use based on the classification of the employee. Reminder, these forms were updated in 2017 as well.
These are the legally required forms that employees are required to complete prior to starting work (I-9 the first three working days). Other forms will vary by organization; direct deposit, safety rules and regulations, handbooks and policies, IT and login information, safety and security, vehicle registration, cellphone policy, tour of the facility, labor and employment posters, payroll deductions, payroll processing, etc. Remember, state forms will vary. Pennsylvania uses a different withholding form from that used in New York. Consultants should be providing a signed an updated (revised 11.2017) federal Form W-9.
Develop a checklist for your organization to ensure we consistently cover information for all new hires. The onboarding process is an important part of the employment relationship and many people will decide during this process how long they will potentially stay with an organization. As leaders, we need to ensure all employees feel welcome and engaged on day 1, while covering the legalities of the employment relationship. If you need assistance developing a new hire orientation checklist, seek guidance, the last thing we want is to place a new hire in a conference room and have the individual read policies and sign paperwork alone all day. I have been part of process like this and it does not work!
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released the “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment.” This is a guidance document for employers, that contains harassment prevention recommendations for all employers in four categories. As leaders we have a responsibility to take all harassment claims serious and need to ensure a proactive approach to investigations, communication and accountability as it related to workplace harassment claims, sexual harassment, retaliation, bullying, workplace violence concerns, etc.
The Four Categories:
- Leadership and Accountability: “The cornerstone of a successful harassment prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of senior leaders to create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated.”[i]
- Comprehensive and Effective Harassment Policy: “A comprehensive, clear harassment policy that is regularly communicated to all employees is an essential element of an effective harassment prevention strategy.”[ii]
- Effective and Accessible Harassment Complaint System: “An effective harassment complaint system welcomes questions, concerns, and complaints; encourages employees to report potentially problematic conduct early; treats alleged victims, complainants, witnesses, alleged harassers, and others with respect; operates promptly, thoroughly, and impartially; and imposes appropriate consequences for harassment or related misconduct, such as retaliation.”[iii]
- Effective Harassment Training: “Leadership, accountability, and strong harassment policies and complaint systems are essential components of a successful harassment prevention strategy, but only if employees are aware of them. Regular, interactive, comprehensive training of all employees may help ensure that the workforce understands organizational rules, policies, procedures, and expectations, as well as the consequences of misconduct.”[iv]
For additional information on the Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment guidance (each of the four have additional recommendations on the website) for your organization and workforce, the link is below:
Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment
Cadillac Tax Updates
Congress passed a law on January 22 to delay the affordable Car Act’s 40 percent excise tax on high-value healthcare plan for two years. The Cadillac tax was set to take effect in 2020, under the new law, the tax will be delayed until 2022.
What to expect in 2022:
- $10,200 for individual coverage ($11,850 for qualified retirees and those in high-risk professions).
- $27,500 for family coverage ($30,950 for qualified retirees and those in high-risk professions).[v]
Under the new administration we could see significant changes to the Affordable Care Act and healthcare in general. Continue to monitor for updates and changes, that can and will impact your workforce. If you are confused seek guidance, healthcare law continues to evolve in complexity at the federal and state levels.
The weather, throughout the country during this time of year can be extreme, causing delays, and at times we will need to shut down operations because of inclement and unpredictable weather. As most of us know, a few weeks ago the extreme cold was a perfect example of weather causing operations to close. As leaders, we need ensure safety of our workforce and to fully understand the laws and regulations related to pay for both exempt and nonexempt workers, if the organization closes due to inclement weather.
Below are 4 need to knows on inclement weather and pay:
- Exempt Employees: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, exempt employees almost always must be paid during inclement weather and/or a natural disaster. The Department of Labor has a list of instances in which an employer can dock an exempt employees pay, inclement weather and/or a natural disaster does not fall into pay docking. The exempt employee must be paid for the entire day. If the organization plans to close for an entire week due to weather or a disaster, at this time, an organization would not have to pay an exempt employee.
- Nonexempt Employees: Under the FLSA (federal law), employers are only required to pay hourly, nonexempt employees hours worked. Certain states have report-in or call-in pay laws that can require employers to pay nonexempt employees if they show up to work as scheduled.
- New York State Nonexempt Laws: The New York Labor Law “Call-In Pay” provisions state, “that an employee who, by request or permission, reports to work on any day shall be paid at least the lesser of: a) four hours at the basic minimum wage rate; or (b) the number of hours in the employee’s “regularly scheduled shift” at the basic minimum hourly rate.”[i] In inclement weather or a natural disaster, call-in pay will be due regardless of whether or not an employee was called in or showed up for work during their regularly scheduled shift and is informed at that time, the organization is closed.
NYS DOL Minimum Wage Order Language
- Federal versus State Laws: In this situation, state law will supersede the federal laws related to inclement weather and nonexempt employee pay. State laws on this subject will vary, this is just an example from New York State. Be aware of legal requirements during this season of unpredictable weather. If a nonexempt employee is working from home (emails, phone calls, etc.) during the inclement weather, this would also constitute payment for hours worked.
Communication is critical in situations involving inclement weather or natural disasters. We need to be proactive with our communication, while ensuring our employees know about closures prior to showing up for work. Communication should be the normal communication process in the organization (phone, email, text, etc.)
I wrote about this topic last year as well. Cyber thieves continue to file fake tax returns and claim refunds. Recently the thieves have posed as company executives and have obtained protected information from organizations about the employees.
Below are links to helpful resources regarding these scams:
Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers
How to Handle W-2 Phishing Scams
Report Phishing and Online Scams