Quick Hits - September 1, 2021 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

Quick Hits - September 1, 2021

DHS extends Form I-9 requirement flexibility (effective September 1, 2021): The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19.  This temporary guidance was set to expire August 31, 2021. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended the Form I-9 requirement flexibility policy until December 31, 2021.  Source:  DHS 8/31/21

Pandemic UIA ends this week:  As of Saturday, 9/4/21, the following federal unemployment programs will end:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) — Provides an extra $300 per week to eligible unemployment recipients in addition to state unemployment benefits
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) — Provides up to 50 weeks of federally-funded unemployment for those who are not eligible for regular unemployment, such as the self-employed and independent contractors
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) — Provides an extension of benefits to claimants who have exhausted all rights to regular unemployment benefits
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) — Provides an additional $100 per week to claimants who have earned at least $5,000 in net self-employment income

Expiration notice required for those eligible for ARPA COBRA subsidy: The COBRA subsidy provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) are set to expire on September 30, 2021. ARPA requires that eligible individuals be notified when their premium assistance ends. Employers and plan administrators are reminded of their obligation to issue the required notice to those impacted. ARPA directs those responsible for COBRA administration to notify individuals of their eligibility for (and any expiration of) COBRA premium assistance. The notice of premium subsidy expiration must be provided to an individual 15 to 45 days before the individual’s premium assistance expires. For those individuals whose subsidy is expiring due to the end of the subsidy period on September 30, 2021, the notice must be provided between August 16, 2021 and September 15, 2021. The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a Model Notice of Expiration of Premium Assistance to use in fulfilling these notice obligations. The notice is available on the DOL’s website in English (MS Word | PDF) and Spanish (MS Word | PDF).  Source: Morgan, Brown & Joy LLP 8/27/21

Ogletree poll finds new ways manufacturers are building their workforce: Most manufacturers have been understaffed in their factories for a longer period than the pandemic, but many are taking initiatives to decrease the gap.  According to an Ogletree (law firm) poll, manufacturers may consider knocking down some hiring barriers that they chose to erect, and thereby turn away fewer candidates and let more potential new hires in the door.  Beyond increasing pay, some changes include:

  • 37% of manufacturers ceased to screen for marijuana in pre-employment drug tests
  • 27% of manufacturers ended marijuana screenings for non-safety sensitive jobs only
  • 12% eliminated all pre-employment drug testing
  • 32% narrowed the scope of disqualifying convictions
  • 27% relaxed the requirement to have a high school diploma or general education development (GED) diploma
  • 20% loosened aptitude testing requirements
  • 20% eased required prior experience standards
  • 5% eliminated an English comprehension requirement

Further, the poll shows that manufacturers are refocusing on new sourcing:

  • Approximately 60% targeted students at nearby trade schools and community colleges
  • More than half focused hiring efforts on employees of nearby employers
  • Nearly 40% sought military veterans
  • 17% pursued former prisoners

 Source:  Ogletree 8/23/21

Do you have DE&I added to your organization’s LinkedIn page?  Over three-fourths of job seekers on LinkedIn expect to find diversity, equity, and inclusion information on a company’s LinkedIn Page, according to the online job seeking platform. However, unconscious bias continues to pose a very real threat to fair and equitable recruiting — an issue LinkedIn is hoping to tackle with their blind resume offering, which includes a new “hide your face and photo” feature for recruiters. When the feature is turned on by recruiters, an avatar will replace the candidate’s photo and four randomly generated letters will replace their name, according to Monica Lewis, Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn. That way, recruiters are prompted to evaluate candidates based on their qualifications and skills, not their perceived social identity of appearance.  Source:  EBN 8/24/21

If you have a workers’ compensation case, don’t forget FMLA may arise too: Workers’ compensation laws and the FMLA serve different purposes: one provides medical benefits and wage replacement while the other offers job protection. Workers’ compensation generally allows an employee who is injured in a work-related incident to receive payments for reasonable medical care and a portion of their lost wages resulting from that injury.  But if such an injury also constitutes a “serious health condition” within the meaning of the FMLA, the employee has additional rights, and the employer has additional obligations. The employer must notify the employee regarding the employee’s eligibility within five days of learning of the potentially FMLA-qualifying condition and must provide certain other information regarding leave benefits and obligations. Failing to do so can have consequences. So, when should a company inform an employee of his or her FMLA rights? As soon as it becomes aware the employee has a condition that potentially qualifies as a “serious health condition.”  Source:  Akerman LP 8/23/21

ADA Title III lawsuits on the rise:  ADA Title III filings picked up in the second half of 2020, and they've continued to rise in 2021.  In March 2021, there were 1,240 filings – the most ever in one month.  The total for January 2021 through June 2021 is 6,304, which is on track to see 12,000 filings this year.  These numbers include Title III lawsuits filed on all grounds – physical facilities, websites and mobile applications, service animals, sign language interpreters, mask-wearing requirements, hotel reservations websites, and more.  California led the pack with 3,340 filings, followed by New York (1,423) and Florida (609).  Coming in at #4 was Texas (179) and Nevada (122) was #5.  With more people working remotely, website accessibility needs to be a focus for employers or be caught in a lawsuit. For example, one law firm in southern California filed over five hundred lawsuits about hotel reservation websites allegedly not providing sufficient disclosures about accessibility features in hotels starting in the fall of 2020 and continuing into 2021. Source:  Seyfarth 8/19/21

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