** Update April, 2021 ***
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) extended the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. The temporary guidance was set to expire March 31 and has been extended to May 31, 2021 due to ongoing precautions related to COVID-19. Employers and workplaces operating remotely can continue to inspect the Section 2 documents of the Form I-9 virtually through May 31, 2021. See our original blog, below, for more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form 1-9.
** March 27, 2020 **
Over the past two weeks, the HR professionals and attorneys at Lake Effect HR & Law have been helping our clients weather the storm of COVID-19. Every day, we meet as a group on Microsoft Teams to collaborate on client issues, discuss and assess the latest developments, share legal and HR research we have conducted, and, equally as important, touch base with each other as friends, not coworkers. At the end of each meeting, we share quick tips that we have gained throughout the prior 24 hours. Please find below some of our latest tips for employers:
- Set up New Pay Codes for EFMLEA and EPSLA paid leaves: Establish two new pay codes in your payroll system to track employee time for paid time off under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Leave Act (EPLA). This will facilitate your ability to receive tax credits. See our summary of these acts Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Enacted 3/18/2020 which are part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
- Inspection of Employee’s Form I-9 Work Authorization Documentation: Employers will not be required to review new hires’ identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence when the new hire will immediately be working remotely due to COVID-19. Employers must still inspect the Section 2 documents over video conference, fax, or e-mail and obtain and retain copies of the documents within three business days. Employers are instructed to enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the additional information field in Section 2. Employers that avail themselves of this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. This exception to the usual I-9 process will remain in effect until May 19th, or within three business days after the termination of the national emergency, whichever comes first.
- Direct Deposit of Paychecks: Encourage employees to sign up for direct deposit or pay cards in the event you are unable to deliver live paychecks in person or if mail is disrupted.
- Concerns About Employees’ Safety and Wellness while WFH: Encourage managers to conduct wellness checks on employees who are working from home. Certainly, check on employees COVID-19 related wellbeing. Further, not every home is a safe haven and some of your employees may have the additional stressors, including but not limited to finances, domestic violence, mental health, or addictions. Encourage your managers and HR to share resources for employees, including your employee assistance plan (EAP) and community resources like United Way’s 211, which is designed to connect people to needed social services, confidentially and free of charge. Individuals can call 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211 for help through United Way. If you need assistance finding resources, let us know and we can try to help.
The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. Keep watching for new blogs or subscribe to our mailing list for important legal updates and HR best practices. If you have any questions regarding our quick tips, the attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-844-333-5253.