I-9 physical inspection delayed an additional 30 days: On March 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This temporary guidance was set to expire May 19. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended this policy for an additional 30 days. Source: USCIS 5/15/20
Managers have difficult time with remote work: Two-thirds of U.S. workers say their quality of work life has improved amid the recent COVID-19 disruptions. However, managers and executives are having a tougher time with things. That’s the word from a survey of 1,000 employees and managers, conducted in April by KPMG, based in New York, which finds that 64% of workers say their quality of work has actually improved amid the disruptive impact of COVID-19. They report greater collaboration (70%) and that their team has effectively adapted to working together (82%) during this time. 59% indicate that they had adequate resources to do their job remotely, and they also reported that their team is effectively using technology to communicate (87%). However, those in management reported having a harder time adapting in comparison to non-management respondents, the KPMG survey shows. Managers are more likely to state their jobs are more demanding now (67% of managers versus 50% of staff employees), work/life balance is more difficult (55% versus 47%), and work is overwhelming (63% versus 39%). Forbes 5/10/20
When reopening work, watch for OSHA complaints: Between March and April, employers surveyed by law firm Blank Rome saw soaring increases in OSHA-related complaints—suggesting a troublesome trend for employers, especially as many gear up for bringing employees back to work in the coming weeks and months. The COVID-19 Employer Return-to-Work Survey included responses from more than 150 C-suite executives, HR leaders, in-house attorneys, and more across a range of industries. About 3% of respondents said their workplace had OSHA-related complaints filed against them in March, a figure that jumped to 12% when respondents were asked about April. “This indicates a potential trend whereby workers are flagging potentially unsafe working conditions related to business operations during the pandemic,” says Brooke Iley, co-chair of Blank Rome’s Labor & Employment practice group. With non-essential businesses shuttered during this time, Iley notes that many such complaints were made about manufacturing and productions operations that struggled to instate social-distancing guidelines. Source: HR Executive 5/8/20
USCIS proposing 10% surcharge to make up shortfall in revenues: On Friday, May 15, USCIS sent a request to Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency funding, proposing to pay it back with a 10% surcharge on application filing fees. The immigration service is entirely funded by these filing fees and has seen a significant drop in applications due to the coronavirus pandemic. It said in the statement it expects a 61% drop in revenue through the end of the fiscal year. Dykema 5/15/20
Access to 401(k) becoming easier: A majority of U.S. companies are making it easier for employees to access their 401(k) plans’ assets even as some companies are cutting matching contributions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings are according to the latest pulse survey by Willis Towers Watson, which also revealed companies are increasing their emphasis on financial wellbeing resources to help workers cope during the crisis. Many employers are making adjustments to their 401(k) plans as a result of the CARES Act, the law designed to help protect American workers from the economic impact of COVID-19. Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) increased access to in-service distributions from participants’ 401(k) accounts while 16% either plan to or are considering doing so this year. Nearly as many (64%) are now allowing participants to defer loan repayments while 48% increased the maximum amount available for plan loans. Another 17% are planning or considering making either adjustment this year. Source: CCH 5/12/20
OFCCP updates disability self-ID form: In response to stakeholder feedback, OFCCP has streamlined and revised the Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form (CC-305). They believe that the updated form will increase the response rate of applicants and employees who choose to voluntarily self-identify their disability status. Doing so will aid contractors in developing programs to increase the utilization of people with disabilities. Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal contractors and subcontractors with a contract of at least $50,000 and 50 employees aspire to meet an annual 7% utilization goal for individuals with disabilities. Federal contractors and subcontractors have until August 4, 2020, to implement the new form into their applicant and employee systems and processes. Source: OFCCP 5/8/20
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Certification FAQ from SBA: Question: How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request? Answer: When submitting a PPP application, all borrowers must certify in good faith that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has determined that the following safe harbor will apply to SBA’s review of PPP loans with respect to this issue: Any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.
SBA has determined that this safe harbor is appropriate because borrowers with loans below this threshold are generally less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment than borrowers that obtained larger loans. This safe harbor will also promote economic certainty as PPP borrowers with more limited resources endeavor to retain and rehire employees. In addition, given the large volume of PPP loans, this approach will enable SBA to conserve its finite audit resources and focus its reviews on larger loans, where the compliance effort may yield higher returns.
Importantly, borrowers with loans greater than $2 million that do not satisfy this safe harbor may still have an adequate basis for making the required good-faith certification, based on their individual circumstances in light of the language of the certification and SBA guidance. SBA has previously stated that all PPP loans in excess of $2 million, and other PPP loans as appropriate, will be subject to review by SBA for compliance with program requirements set forth in the PPP Interim Final Rules and in the Borrower Application Form. If SBA determines in the course of its review that a borrower lacked an adequate basis for the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request, SBA will seek repayment of the outstanding PPP loan balance and will inform the lender that the borrower is not eligible for loan forgiveness. If the borrower repays the loan after receiving notification from SBA, SBA will not pursue administrative enforcement or referrals to other agencies based on its determination with respect to the certification concerning necessity of the loan request. SBA’s determination concerning the certification regarding the necessity of the loan request will not affect SBA’s loan guarantee.