Human Resource Professionals face a demanding legal compliance year in 2009. The following five items should be added to your “To Do” list for the first quarter of ’09:
ADA Amendments Act Compliance (effective 1/1/2009): The amendments greatly expand the definition of disability refocusing compliance on determining whether the employee is “qualified” and evaluating reasonable accommodations. Employers should consider the following:
- Revising job descriptions to define essential job functions and minimum qualifications.
- Formalizing the interactive process for assessing disability issues.
- Educating supervisors on the expanded ADA coverage.
E-Verify Registration and Immigration Compliance (effective 1/15/2009): Government contractors and subcontracts may need to register for and use the E-Verify System for new and existing government contracts. Employers who may be covered should inventory their existing contracts and review prospective contracts and subcontracts to determine whether they are covered by the regulations.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has amended regulations governing the types of acceptable identity and employment authorization documents that employees may present to their employers for completion of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Under the interim rule, employers will no longer be able to accept expired documents to verify employment authorization on the Form I-9. There are other changes to the types of acceptable documents. Employers must use the revised Form I-9 (not yet issued) for all new hires and to re-verify any employee with expiring employment authorization beginning January 31, 2009. The current version of the Form I-9 will no longer be valid as of February 2, 2009.
FMLA Regulations Implementation (effective 1/16/2009): Amendments to the FMLA’s regulations require action by employers in the following areas:
- Reviewing the regulatory changes and integrate them into your compliance program.
- Using the new forms and poster.
- Revising Employee Handbook provisions.
EFCA and RESPECT Act Planning: This pending legislation has enormous potential consequences for employers. Developing an action plan should include the following items:
- Assessing union eligibility of working supervisors under RESPECT Act.
- Educating supervisors on authorization cards and the Nuts and Bolts of EFCA.
- Adopting union-free policies on solicitation, bulletin boards, and use of e-mail.
- Initiating engagement surveys.
Wage & Hour Self-Audit: As evidenced by Wal-Marts recent record settlement, wage and hour lawsuits will play prominently in 2009. A self-audit of compliance practices can mitigate these claims particularly in the following areas;
- Employee classification (exempt vs. non-exempt)
- Off the clock work (starting times, breaks and meal periods)
- Donning and Doffing
- Child labor