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25 Feb

February 2021 Federal HR Updates

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ICE Extends I-9 Verification Flexibility

Update Applicable to:
All employers with remote workforces.

What happened?
On January 27, 2021, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the extension of flexibilities in the rules related to Form I-9 compliance. 

What are the details?
On March 19, 2020, due to precautions implemented by employers and employees associated with COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would exercise prosecutorial discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This policy only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

The current extension will apply through March 31, 2021.

The original announcement can be found here.

The current announcement can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers with continued remote worksites may keep operating as they have.


OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance

Update Applicable to:
All employers.

What happened?
On January 29, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance for employers: “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.”

What are the details?
The guidance contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards.  It does not create new legal obligations for employers.  Instead, as OSHA states, “he recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.”

The resource touches on several aspects of COVID-19 prevention programs in the workplace. OSHA has noticed that programs that touch of some of these aspects are effective. The four key elements that should be included in these programs are:

  1. Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work by conducting a hazard assessment.
  2. Identification of a combination of measures that will limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.  This includes a combination of eliminating the hazard, implementing engineering controls, establishing workplace administrative policies, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE), among other measures. Employers should prioritize controls from most to least effective to help protect workers from COVID-19 hazards.
  3. Instruct workers who are infected or potentially infected to stay home and isolate or quarantine to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  4. Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards.

Other content covered in the resource includes return-to-work criteria, engineering controls, face coverings and PPE, sanitization, cleaning, and disinfecting practices.

The guidance may be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should read the provided information and review it with their workplace policies in mind.


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