3 Important Admin Things You Need to Know
December 6, 2016 10:42 AM
DOL Overtime Rule
On November 22nd, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction to halt the Department of Labor’s overtime rule that was supposed to take effect on December 1st. The emergency motion was granted at the request of 21 states, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Society of Association Executives, and other like-minded organizations that challenged the DOL’s authority to double the salary limit that determines which workers should be eligible for overtime pay.
The Labor Department filed notice Thursday, December 1st that it would appeal the court ruling.
Judge Amos Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted the injunction as it “preserves the status quo while the court determines the department’s authority to make the final rule as well as the final rule’s validity.” In this injunction, the court ruled that the regulation exceeded the authority granted to the DOL by Congress.
Numerous small businesses, states, universities, associations and nonprofit groups said they would not be able to absorb the additional payroll expenses caused by the overtime rule, and could be forced to lay off employees, switch some salaried employees to hourly positions, or restrict the hours that some employees work.
Conference Spending Guidelines
The Office of Management and Budget has released new conference spending guidelines that could help federal government employees more easily attend conferences. For the first time in four years, the Obama administration has relaxed guidelines on federal employee attendance at conferences, which may have a positive impact on researchers.
The updated guidance issued last week by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) makes changes to the rules issued by the White House in 2012, which intended to drastically reduce government travel after inappropriate conference spending by federal agencies was first reported and investigated by Congress. It also reinforces the positive role of face-to-face attendance at conferences and modifies the conference approval process for federal agencies, with the goal of reducing bureaucracy and maintaining fiscal responsibility. “Conferences play an important role in the Federal Government, whether by enabling the sharing of knowledge among large groups, bringing together dispersed communities, or providing opportunities for interaction, collaboration, and presenting cutting-edge work,” the OMB memo states.
Last week’s memo makes three major changes to the conference approval process. First, it focuses on guidance for approval and oversight of agency-sponsored or -hosted conferences—but not outside conferences. This provides agencies with more flexibility for approving travel expenses and conference activities.
Second, the memo allows for preapproval of known recurring conferences, especially those not sponsored by the government, to prevent excessive review processes.
Finally, the memo does not extend the funding caps that expired at the end of the 2016 fiscal year in September. In the past, federal employees had been reluctant to approach supervisors about attending outside conferences because of the rigid caps and rigorous approval processes in place throughout the government since 2012
New Form I-9 Released
The US. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published an updated version of the Form I-9, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form. Employers must start using the new form, which is dated 11/14/2016, after January 22, 2017. The older form dated 03/08/2013 or the new form can be used by employers from now until January 22.
Employers must complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for all newly hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the US.
The changes on the new form are intended to both correct and reduce errors, and to make the form easier to complete using a computer. Section 1 of the form changes the "other names used" box to "other last names used" to improve clarity, as well as improves certification for some foreign nationals. Prompts have been added to help ensure correct information is entered into the form, and now information for multiple preparers and translators can be added. Other form improvements include a dedicated area for additional information, and a supplemental page for preparers and translators. The instructions of the new form have also been separated to keep consistency with other USCIS forms, and include more detailed instructions for each field.
Enhancements have been added to the Form I-9 to make it easier and more intuitive to fill out on a computer. Accessing instructions is now easier, with quick access to the full instructions on the form as well as on-screen instructions for each field. Drop-down lists and calendars for date fields have been added, along with a "clear all" button. The new form now generates QR codes for employers when the form is printed, for easy access.
The new Form I-9 and updated instructions are now available to download through the USCIS website.
The new form is also available through I-9 Advantage, our cloud-based I-9 solution, if you have selected that option with us.
If you are a Full-Service or Managed Payroll Client, the new form has been uploaded to your ShareFile account. This form needs to be downloaded and saved from ShareFile for the functionality of the form to work.
As mentioned previously, the older revision of the form (dated 03/08/2013) can still be used until January 22, 2017, but employers should immediately start using the new Form I-9 to prepare for the change.
If you have any questions, need further clarification on these new rules, or would like to view a demo of our cloud-based solution, please contact us.