Hot Topics from HR

Gloria Williams, SHRM-CP President

Is your employee handbook current?  

As a Human Resources professional, I help my clients revise or develop employee handbooks, sometimes where none has existed before.  To illustrate how important this is, I’ll refer to an article in the February 2016 issue of HR Magazine, a publication of the Society for Human Resource Management.  This article cites a case where a small company (only four employees) didn’t think it was necessary to revise their employee handbook after their city enacted a law requiring reasonable accommodations for expectant workers.

When one of their employees became pregnant, and the company determined they could not operate short handed during her absence, they referred to the “at will” nature of employment in their state, and terminated the employee.  Their employee handbook did not include any reference to the new reasonable accommodation requirement for pregnant employees.  The former employee filed a lawsuit, and won her case against the small company.

This is just one of many cases, big and small, that could have been prevented by engaging a Human Resources Professional or employment law attorney to review the organization’s employee handbook, and its policies and procedures, on an annual basis.

Have you heard a new Form I9 is right around the corner?

The Form I9 being used today when you hire a new employee, came with an instruction package and the list of acceptable forms of identification.  This package consisted of 9 pages.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has proposed changes to the I9 package that will increase the size of the instructions to 15 pages.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the proposed changes to Form I9 package are intended to help reduce technical error and help employers complete the form on their computer after they download it.

One requirement in the proposed changes to the Form I9 is that “employers must ensure that employees have access to every page of the instructions”.   Four pages of the instructions consist of the list of acceptable documents which are broken down into bite size chunks of information with details on how record the information.

Employers must continue to use the current version of Form I9 until the Office of Management and Budget approves proposed version. As soon as the new Form I9 is released, it will be posted at www.uscisgov/I-9central