staffing firm, legalThis week I’m providing a bit of a legal/legislative update – highlighting some things that have caught my attention in the past few weeks that are relevant to all employers but particularly important to staffing firms. It is always a challenge to stay ahead of all the new and updated rules and regulations governing the workplace and my post today should not be a substitute for your own research or advice from legal counsel. As a staffing firm owner, I know the importance of getting it right, for my own company and because of the key role a staffing provider plays in helping their clients stay on the right side of the law when it comes to employment issues. I hope you will find this information helpful.

1. The Supreme Court’s June decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act means that it is time for employers to begin the process of compliance. The Corporate Counsel article Four Health Care Law Compliance Tasks for US Employers, gives a succinct look at what employers should be doing right now to ensure they are ready. Key provisions will become effective over the next 18-24 months and timely planning and implementation is crucial to ensure compliance.

2. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) published some really useful tips in their article Understanding the role of OSHA in the workplace. The BBB attended the webinar “Top Safety Questions: OSHA at the Door” and report the recommendations from the session. They note, “OSHA exists to ensure safe working conditions, and to help you avoid citations rather than just give them” and, whatever your reaction to that statement may be, you’ll find the advice useful when you have to prepare for an OSHA inspection.

3. More and more states are requiring employers to check employees’ work-authorization status through the federal government’s E-Verify program (e.g., South Carolina, Pennsylvania). The legal site reports on a case that should cause all employers to stop, think, and review their own processes and software related to E-Verify. In An Employer Can be Sued by the Dept. of Justice for Its Electronic I-9 Provider’s Flaws, they report on an Indiana manufacturer being sued by the DOJ for unfair employment practices in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provisions because the electronic I-9 program used by its vendor ran afoul of the law in asking for documentation. Though the violations were unintentional on the employer’s part, they are nonetheless being held responsible for the software’s failures. Food for thought indeed.

4. In the article Recruiter Misuse of Social Media Can Increase Risk of Liability, also warns of the increased risk of running into problems related to Federal and state anti-discrimination laws when using social media sites for recruiting purposes. These sites often contain information about a candidate’s race, ethnicity, age, disability, pregnancy, etc., information that companies are prohibited from using in hiring decisions. The possibilities for problems are absolutely real, and companies need to be vigilant and careful in ensuring they don’t unintentionally create problems for themselves as they harness the recruiting power and potential of social media sites.

5. Finally, a bit of positive news from the legislature for, especially for those of us who need critical IT positions filled; the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act took an important step when Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Republican Chuck Grassley removed his “hold” on the bill, allowing it to move forward. Initially he opposed the bill because of worries about fraud in the program, exploitation of foreign workers and concerns about US jobs but “lifted his objection to the green-card quota bill after he struck a deal with Democrats to include enhanced oversight and annual compliance audits to the H-1B program.” Immigration reform, of which this is a small part, is such a hot button political issue that progress is slow on any front. It’s important to guard against misuse of the H-1B program but overall this is a positive development.

Again, I caution everyone to obtain proper legal advice and make wise decisions that benefit and protect your own business. My piece today is simply designed to raise awareness about a few key issues. What else is keeping you awake at night? Let us know at Staffing 360 so we might help provide information on those topics too.

Jerry Brenholz
President and CEO
ATR International


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