Big changes are happening in the realm of workplace compliance issues and labor laws in the United States. Noncompliance with government regulations can have serious consequences—and can cost your business big time. Keep up with what's happening between the government and the workplace with the HR Compliance Tracker: your go-to place to stay updated on some major workforce compliance issues.
DHS proposes a reform to the H-1B visa filing process
On December 3, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a new change to the H-1B visa filing process. This proposed rule would require employers to register candidates online for visas two weeks before the application deadline of April 1. Only accepted submissions are allowed to submit a full application. The new process would also flip the order in which the petitions are reviewed, which would favor candidates with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.
"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and this administration are intensely focused on reforming employment visa programs so they benefit Americans to the greatest extent possible," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars said in an emailed statement. The application process aims to reduce the overall costs for businesses of highly skilled foreign workers and decrease the administrative burden of processing thousands of applications.
The rule is yet to be finalized. Despite uncertainties, the best course of action is to stay informed.
IRS issues the next step of the ACA penalty process
In effort to enforce full-time employee coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the IRS began assessing excise tax penalties against Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) that didn’t comply in 2015. For those who failed to comply, the IRS sent Letter 226-J to alert companies that the IRS determined an employer shared responsibility payment (ESRP) was owed.
To put it more simply: if you were suspected for a violation with the employer mandate of the ACA, you might’ve received a letter telling you how much money you owe. It’s up to you to respond with an appeal by the deadline (a 30-day period) or pay the fine.
Now, the IRS will send out one of the five versions of Letter 227 in response to companies who answered:
- Letter 227-J is used if the ALE agreed to the proposed ESRP liability in its response to the Letter 226-J. No further action is required, besides paying the ESRP liability bill.
- Letter 227-K is used if the ALE provided additional information in response to Letter 226-J to inform that it should not owe an ESRP payment.
- Letter 227-L is used if the ALE provided additional information in response to Letter 226-J and the IRS responds in with its proposed assessment. The ALE can agree with the assessment or request an appeal.
- Letter 227-M is similar to Letter 227-L, but the IRS didn’t revise its proposed assessment.
- Letter 227-N is used to inform the ALE of the IRS’s decision following an appeals discussion. No further action is required, besides paying the ESRP liability bill.
The New GDPR Privacy Law Rolls Out
If you’ve taken a look at your inbox lately, companies and providers are sending you GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) policy updates. If you check every other news story dealing with privacy concerns, data breaches, and cyber security mishaps, “GDPR” is written and referenced. If you go to a news site, an ecommerce platform, or a web service provider, you may see a pop-up banner explaining how cookies are used for web tracking. Between “asking for consent” and sending updated privacy policies, the GDPR affects every commercial body in the online space. Even for HR organizations. And it goes into effect today, May 25th. Here’s a brief overview of the new privacy law:
What is the GDPR?
The GDPR is a European privacy law that regulates how individuals and organizations may collect, use, and retain personal data. It’s the latest effort to offer increased rights to individuals and keep organizations compliant with the new data privacy law. Any group that deals with people’s private data must meet new standards of accountability, security, and transparency.
Who is impacted?
Since the GPDR provides data protection for EU citizens, it applies to all organizations who offer goods and services to the EU customers. This includes U.S. companies as well. If you’re collecting personal data (including how data is collected, stored, processed, and destroyed) from EU citizens, you are liable for GDPR provisions. Which brings us to the next question:
What is considered personal data?
Information such as name, ID number, location data, online identifier, or other factors specific to the identity of that person qualifies as personal data. This also includes IP addresses, cookie strings, bank details, social media posts, medical records, and mobile device IDs. If you manage a large organization, this task may be overwhelming. So here’s the next step:
What do you need to keep in mind for the workforce?
After you map how your data flows and develop an audit, classify any areas of concern. You should have an inventory of all personal data of your employees, and justify reasons for its custody. Inform your workforce of the new rules and rights. Assess current data breach reporting procedures and establish a system that allows you to move forward with a transparent, secure, and compliant approach. If you don’t comply with the regulations, your company may be fined up to four percent of your annual global turnover. If there is a data breach, you’re required to notify a data breach authority figure within 72 hours.
With the new data privacy law rolled out, you’re just getting started with data protection compliance. While it seems like a daunting task, compliance is an evolving journey. Ensure that you keep up with best practices to avoid any breaches that may affect your organization.
President Trump releases spring regulatory agenda
The Trump administration released its Spring Regulatory Agenda, outlining the actions federal agencies intend to prioritize in 2018. Proposals include removing burdens on infrastructure, emerging technology, and small businesses in hopes to promote economic growth and innovation. The agenda (which includes 3,352 overall rules in play) represents ongoing progress towards more transparency, public notice, and due process in rule making.
Some points of entries include:
- DOL (Department of Labor) stated that it will revise the definition of “regular rate,” the number that shapes the foundation for overtime calculations, this coming September. Changes in bonuses and incentives mandated by the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) would tilt in favor to employers as it would reduce their overtime liability significantly.
- Another proposal in the agenda is to expand apprenticeship and job opportunities to minors under eighteen. It aims to ease rules that prohibit minors from working in “hazardous” occupations or around machinery that is barred.
- The agenda also puts forward relief for small businesses such as creating flexibilities designed to lower costs and allow more business owners to obtain insurance and expanding commercial fishing after fishing seasons close.
- The proposed rule to overturn the controversial “persuader rule” expands the reporting obligations of “consultants” who conduct activities to convince employees about their rights to join a union or bargain collectively. It requires reporting even when the consultant communicated only to the employer and has no direct contact with employees.
The agenda aims to reflect progress toward reducing regulatory burdens. In accordance with President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, the plan seeks to eliminate two regulatory actions for each new regulation—all managed within a controlled budgeting process to reduce government costs. As regulatory actions are in development, it’s important to note the public can create meaningful comments on policies that affect them.