Employers need to be aware with today’s technology of “smart phones” and “tablets” employees have an additional means to recording their work hours. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has launched an electronic timesheet application designed to help employees keep a record of their time independently from the system their employer may be using. In cases where an employer has failed to keep accurate employment records, employees may not receive the correct amount of wages for the total number of hours worked. This DOL application is designed to offer support for employees in circumstances where their employer may not have maintained accurate employment records. The hours an employee records with this application can be used to support a wage-hour claim or assist in a DOL investigation of an employer.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLS A) requires employers to keep accurate records of the hours worked by employees. If a DOL investigation reveals an employer has failed to keep accurate records, the DOL is likely to determine the hours logged by an employee, using the DOL’s smart phone or tablet application are accurate. This could be very costly for an employer if they cannot offer a solid counter argument for the total hours reported as being worked by the employee.
The role of human resource and payroll professionals has evolved significantly in recent years. Both HR and payroll professionals are tasked to do more and the skills required have expanded in conjunction with their growing scope of responsibilities.
The Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration work together to confirm employment eligibility. The I-9 Form, Employment Eligibility Verification form, must be completed for every new employee, regardless of their national origin or whether or not the employee is a U.S. citizen, under the Immigration Reform and Control Act. If an employer fails to verify the identity and employment authorization of a new employee, the employer has violated federal immigration law.
This responsibility generally lies with human resources or the payroll department. It has become increasingly challenging due to a rise in people using fraudulent information to secure employment. Even though employers have the information on the I-9; they have no means to verify the employee provided documents are genuine.
E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, to data from U.S Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. E-Verify strengthens the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process. The results to an inquiry are within minutes. If the information matches, then the employee is eligible to work in the United States. Should there be a mismatch, E-Verify will alert the employer but the employee will be allowed to work while trying to resolve the issue.
Employers are continuously looking for ways to improve employee moral and job retention. Fringe benefits play an intricate part of a well rounded incentive package. Many of these benefits include health and life insurance, dependent care assistance, and other perks. Since most fringe benefits are tracked for taxability purposes, what happens when a benefit is received with a value so small its accountability is impractical? These types of benefits are called De Minimis Fringe Benefits.
Examples of these types of benefits range from occasional personal phone calls on the job to non-cash holiday gifts with a low fair market value. To qualify to be De Minimis, a benefit of this sort has to meet some basic rules. Cash is always taxable and can never be considered De Minimis. The frequency of the receipt of these gifts is also taken into consideration. An employer who regularly provides tickets to a sporting event as a reward or transportation fare can not claim the gift as De Minimis. If the gifting of these items were truly occasional and incidental, then they qualify. If the benefits qualify for exclusion, no reporting is necessary. For more detailed information about De Minimis benefits visit http://www.irs.gov and download Publication 15-B.
Employment fraud through identity theft has increased exponentially over the last few years. To understand the severity of the situation, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports it receives approximately 50,000 ID theft complaints a week. Most of the complaints filed with the FTC are related to tax refund scams.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses other individual’s personal information such as their name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without the individual’s permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Where and how do thieves get the information?
Personal information is everywhere and identity thieves will try every trick in the book to get their hands on it. Consider the amount of personal information you carry with you every day and it is a well-known fact employers keep databases full of personal data on their employees.
Identity thieves will go to extreme lengths to obtain information. The thieves will dig in dumpsters, steal mail, send “phishing” e-mails, and make phone calls pretending to need information for verification. Then there are the thieves who steal personal information at their place of employment.
What can employers do to protect this sensitive data?
Employers are required to have security measures in place to protect their employees’ personal information. Employee personnel files should kept under lock and key. Information in the files should be made available only to staff who have a legitimate need to have access. Security measures include but are not limited to written policies, employee training, system security and physical security systems.
The E-Verify system is a tool for employers in the United States to ensure they are employing a legal workforce. E-Verify Self Check is the first online E-Verify program offered directly to workers and job seekers. This voluntary service was developed through a partnership between Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Self-Check is a bilingual service available to users in both English and Spanish, broadening the scope of the program to members of our U.S. workforce.
E-Verify Self Check gives individuals in the United States access to their employment eligibility status and provides them the opportunity to submit corrections to their DHS and SSA records, if necessary, before applying for jobs. This will reduce frustration for the individuals applying for employment in addition to potentially reducing the number of data mismatches employers experience when using E-Verify. As a result it will decrease the amount of time and resources employers will have to spend resolving those mismatches.
E-Verify Self Check is not for employer use. It is important for employers to understand they may not require workers to use Self Check or show Self Check results.
Employers may not accept the results of an E-verify Self Check query as documentation for fulfilling the requirements of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Only documents on the Form I-9 List of Acceptable Documents may be used to complete Form I-9.
E-Verify is administered by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with SSA. For more information about E-Verify, please visit www.uscis.gov/everify. For more information on E-Verify Self Check, visit at www.uscis.gov or call the E-Verify Employee Hotline at (888) 897-7781.