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# Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We have been hearing a lot about job creation over the last year and have read a lot of arguments around how to accomplish this very daunting task.  Over the past couple months I've been seeing more about giving tax breaks to employers for hiring.  Makes sense given our current tax system.  We are used to seeing tax credits.  TALX even has a whole service dedicated to helping employers obtain tax credits. 

Today, however, I read an article proposing another approach.  Instead of giving a tax credit for hiring someone who has been unemployed, 2 senators are proposing a tax break on the employer's portion of social security taxes for the rest of 2010.  Their position is that it would encourage hiring sooner and be a much more simple program to administer.

While I'm sure there will be many reasons why this won't work (aren't there always?), I did feel pretty good about the fact that there are legislators out there trying to not only think outside the box and solve the specific problem at hand, but are actually thinking about doing it in a way that would cost less tax dollars and be easier on the employer.  That's not to say that this would do either of those 2 things (I wouldn't pretend to have an opinion on it either way without a lot more detail), but it's nice that they actually thought about it.

Tammy Mullin

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 4:07:36 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Unemployment Cost Mgmt
# Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here is the latest on what you can expect in the states in which you do business for 2010.  I'll send updates periodically.

Click here.

Tammy Mullin

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 4:20:12 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Unemployment Cost Mgmt

HR Service Matters

By: Mike Smith


Since inception, the focus of my blog has been HR services.  And, in thinking about the important roles for the HR teams, employee communication seems to be of foremost concern in these uncertain times.  Intertwined with employee communications is the need for thoughtful marketing as you approach employee messaging.


My last blog highlighted the top trends in marketing and those trends that HR can incorporate for better HR service.  But how can we make those trends come alive for our organization?  Looking once again to marketing we can uncover ways to reach our employees with a positive message.


Today I looked at some reviews and references to a new book (just released 1/26/10) by Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?  Seth Godin revolutionized marketing with bestselling books that have changed the way people think about marketing and change.  There is an interesting interview with Seth where you can hear Seth tell first hand about his premise in the book.




What caught me from the reviews of Linchpin was Seth Godin’s concept that to make a tangible difference in the lives of our customers today, we must provide exceptional value.  I believe that employees need encouragement to take the risks needed to consistently provide exceptional value.  Seth said in an interview, “…if you do work that is remarkable, people will remark on it.”  So for HR teams, I believe we should provide a forum in our HR Service delivery to promote (e.g. remark on) employees who are demonstrating remarkable work.  The person who does work that matters should be celebrated in our organizations.  Not the same old celebration, but a focus on the indispensable aspects of their work that keeps customers coming back again and again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 4:00:08 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
HR & Payroll
# Thursday, January 21, 2010

The attached information regarding 2010 taxable wages bases was sent to our client base last week. I wanted to make it available to anyone who did not receive it.

2010 Unemployment Taxable Wage Base (PDF)

Thursday, January 21, 2010 2:16:43 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Employer Tax Services


Representative Steve Conway, Chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, has introduced and fast tracked House Bill (HB) 2553 in the Washington State Legislature. This unemployment insurance (UI) legislation seeks to amend the voluntary quit statutes to liberalize the payment of benefits. If enacted, UI costs to employers could increase.

What Employers Need to Know

HB 2553 proposes adding language to the 11 set reasons in which claimants may currently collect benefits under voluntary quit law provisions. This new language would basically allow payment of UI benefits, if a person quit employment for “unreasonable hardship,” based on the perception of a “reasonable person.”

The pending legislation only loosely defines “unreasonable hardship” and there is no definition for what is a “reasonable person.” In order to be granted UI benefits, a claimant would basically only have to say he/she was dissatisfied with the job to the extent he/she perceived it created an undue hardship. UI benefits paid in this instance would be charged to the employer.

In addition, the proposed bill also provides that a claimant cannot be denied benefits for refusing to seek full time work. Further, a claimant could receive his/her full weekly benefit amount even if his/her job search is restricted to offers of work of only 17 hours or more a week.

Employers who are not in favor of the provisions in HB 2553 may voice their opposition by immediately contacting the office of Governor Christine Gregoire or their state legislator, or both.

Governor Christine Gregoire: Office - 360-902-4111; Fax: 360-753-4110   E-mail: http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp

You can locate your Washington state legislator at the following link:http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx

Tammy Mullin

Thursday, January 21, 2010 9:15:34 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Unemployment Cost Mgmt
# Tuesday, January 19, 2010


As a result of legislation passed last year and their request for a $6 million Title XII loan this month, the state of New Hampshire has announced that all employers’ unemployment tax rates will be increasing for the first and second quarters of 2010.

What The Employer Needs To Know

If the employer’s "Reserve" on the Tax Rate Determination issued in August, 2009 was positive, the rate on that notice will be increased 0.5% for the first two quarters of 2010. If the "Reserve" was negative, the rate will be increased 2.0%.

As a reminder, that same legislation increased the taxable wage base from $8,000 to $10,000 effective January 1, 2010.

What You Can Expect

No employer specific rate increase information will be issued by the agency; however, the higher rate will be indicated on the blank quarterly contribution reports for those quarters. If you use a third party payroll provider, please make sure they are aware of this rate change to avoid underpayment of contributions due.

Tammy Mullin

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:22:46 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Unemployment Cost Mgmt
# Thursday, January 14, 2010


By: Dave Fowler



UPDATE: February 4, 2010


The Illinios Department of Labor has now posted the attestation form on their website at http://www.state.il.us/Agency/idol/forms/pdfs/attest.pdf. This new attestation form clarifies the requirements for employers utilizing an E-Verify Designated Agent.


IMPORTANT! The information in the new attestation form makes at least some of the information in the original blog post irrelevant.


Regarding the E-Verify Computer Based Training (CBT) requirement, the attestation form says the following:

Under penalty of perjury, I attest that:

1. (a) Employer has received the Basic Pilot or E-Verify training materials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and all employees administering the program have completed the Computer Based Tutorial (CBT);


(b) Employer submits employment eligibility verification queries (EEVQs) via a Department of Homeland Security-approved Designated Agent, pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among Employer, the Designated Agent and DHS.



Some of the information for this entry was taken from a blog entry posted January 11, 2010 by Ogletree Deakins, one of America's leading labor and employment law firms, at the Lexology website. The blog entry titled "New E-Verify law goes into effect" and covers the IL law.

Did you ever wonder if our elected officials and their staffs ever bothered to take the time to understand how something works or doesn't work or how things could be made better before they pass a law? In the case of the new Illinois law that imposes requirements on employers who use E-Verify and penalties on employers who violate the requirements, the answer is a resounding YES!

Keep in mind as you read this that when IL passed a law prohibiting its employers from using E-Verify, they were sued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the law went away.

The recently passed law amending the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act places statutory obligations on employers that use E-Verify.

As of January 1, 2010, Illinois employers now are required to complete an attestation at the time of E-Verify enrollment. Employers are required to attest to the following:

  1. The employer and all its employees using E-Verify have received the E-Verify training materials and completed the online computer-based tutorial (CBT) training provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  2. The employer has posted the required notice from DHS indicating that the company is enrolled in E-Verify in a place that is clearly visible.
  3. The employer maintains the original signed attestation form, as well as all CBT certificates of completion and makes them available for copying and inspection at the request of the Illinois Department of Labor.
  4. The employer has posted the required anti-discrimination notice issued by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigrant-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) in a place that is clearly visible. Employers already enrolled in E-Verify must sign the attestation before January 30, 2010.

This sounds easy enough, right? Posting the notices are already required by the E-Verify MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that the employer signs to enroll in E-Verify. However, compliance with the other two requirements is more difficult and burdensome for the employer.

  1. The CBT training is only available to employers who use the E-Verify website. DHS does NOT make the training available to employers who use an E-Verify Service Provider (i.e., Designated Agent or DA) to submit E-Verify queries for them. Therefore, employers who use a DA will have trouble completing the CBT. DHS is working on a ppt deck for employers using a DA, but there are no plans to make the CBT available. So, the only way an employer using a DA can comply with the CBT requirement is to enroll to use the E-Verify website, take the training, and then not use the E-Verify website for submitting E-Verify queries. This is not a good solution for anyone.
  2. The employer can maintain the signed attestation form, but DHS does not really providee a 'Certificate of Completion' for the CBT. The only thing provided is a web page at the end of the training that says you passed and gives your score. So, this is just more paper an employer needs to retain for an audit that may never come unless IL is really going to spend the money to audit employers operating in the state.

So, how is an IL employer who uses a DA's electronic I-9/E-Verify service supposed to comply with the IL law since DHS does not make and has no plans to make the CBT available to these employers?

  1. Signup to use the E-Verify site and have your IL employees signing I-9s complete the CBT and print the completion page. Then only use the DA's I-9/E-Verify system to complete I-9s and E-Verify cases.
  2. Use a tool like Live Meeting and show your IL users the CBT, have them write down the answers, score the answers, and print out completion pages for those that pass and write their name on it.
  3. Screen capture the CBT, create a ppt, and require the test to be given and scored locally. Keep a printout of the completion page for those that pass.
  4. Finallly, you can opt to take the position that the requirement only applies to users who are actually using the E-Verify system (i.e., website) and that the law does not apply to users accessing E-Verify through a DA's third-party system.


The new law also prohibits employers that are enrolled in E-Verify from:

  1. Failing to display the notices supplied by DHS and OSC in a place clearly visible to both prospective and current employees.
  2. Allowing an employee to use the E-Verify system prior to having completed the CBT training.
  3. Allowing employees that have not taken the CBT training to use the E-Verify program under an employee's user identification or password that has taken the training.
  4. Using the E-Verify program as a pre-screening mechanism for prospective employees.
  5. Terminating an employee prior to that employee receiving a final non-confirmation notice from the Social Security Administration or DHS.
  6. Failing to notify the employee, in writing, of the employer’s receipt of a tentative nonconfirmation notice and of the employee’s right to contest that tentative non-confirmation letter.
  7. Failing to safeguard the information contained in the E-Verify program database.

These are all prohibitions that are already prohibited by the federal E-Verify laws and regulations so what's the point?

The law also prohibits an individual from falsely posing as an employer to enroll in E-Verify, and prohibits an employer from using E-Verify to access information regarding someone who is not an employee of the employer. This is a good thing. As I've pointed out before, DHS needs to have a credentialing process for employers and DAs to make sure employers are legitimate and DAs are qualified to serve as an agent for DHS and E-Verify.

Employees and applicants now have a private right of action based on an employer's violation of the Act. Here is an example of a state promoting unnecessary lawsuits. DHS already provides for an employee to contact the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Council if they feel their rights have been violated by the employer. Under the IL law if an employee or applicant believes the Act has been violated they must:

  1. File a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor.
  2. Under certain conditions, file a lawsuit in state court.
  3. The court may award $500 plus costs, attorney's fees, and actual damages.
  4. If the employer doesn't pay the employer can be held in contempt and=, found guilty of a petty offense, which carries a maximum penalty of $1,000.

The IL Department of Human Rights has been granted the power to investigate such claims under the IL Human Rights Act when an employee or applicant believes that the employer refused to hire the applicant or to promote, renew employment, or discharged, or disciplined the employee without following E-Verify procedures.

Visit the IL Department of Labor website for more information on the law.

A more cynical writer or reader might twist this new IL law into some kind of attempt by IL to 'get even' for being sued by the USDOJ for trying to prohibit the use of E-Verify? But, as everyone knows our elected officials would never do that. That would be a waste of the people's time, money, and resources. Our elected officials are there to protect us from those that would do us harm. They would never engage in playground politics like this. Would they?

Thursday, January 14, 2010 10:15:19 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [1] -
# Tuesday, January 12, 2010

HR Service Matters

By: Mike Smith


At this time of year there is a lot of discussion of the coming trends in 2010.  And, a lot of the smart people look to the recent past to help get a grip on what is coming.  There is a marketing resource that I have used for many years that always seems to offer solid scrutiny of a variety of marketing topics.  MarketingProfs is a resource website http://www.marketingprofs.com that is comprised of a self-described talented and somewhat eccentric team.  I have found them to put forward some very ingenious ideas and views about trendy marketing practices.


So what is the connection with HR Services?  Well a big part of effective delivery of HR Services should be thoughtful consideration of marketing the services.  It is so important to habitually consider how to effectively market powerful HR Services to our employees.  As you consider your HR Services in 2010 and how you market your offerings, consider what MarketingProfs reported (see their full report on their website) as their most-viewed, most-read and most-downloaded content in 2009.


1) What will we do with social media?  Marketers seem to be all over this media tool and it has moved into mainstream marketing.  Has your HR team figured out how to use social media effectively?

2) How can we do more with less?  Search out tips from a variety of resources on how to market for less and even look at classical guerilla marketing principles for low cost ideas.

3) Two Words: Digital Marketing. Taking the time to explore popular digital marketing concepts could lead you to some actionable ideas for your workplace portal.


And, as you consider deploying and marketing some of your HR Services through the workplace portal, consider some great reminders and fresh thinking from a recent post at Jason Averbook’s blog.



Tuesday, January 12, 2010 12:35:56 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
HR & Payroll
# Thursday, January 07, 2010


By: Dave Fowler


Updates: July 6, 2010 - from comments submitted to the blog post.

  1. USCIS has issued guidelines for the hire date to be entered on the Form I-9 as well as in E-Verify and these dates can be different.
  2. Question:
    1. Does the employee signature date in Section 1 have to match the hire date in Section 2?
    2. Answer: The employee signature date in Section one should be the same or prior to the hire date in Section 2 unless you are completing a new Form I-9 for an existing employee because the original Form I-9 was lost or damaged, or if a Form I-9 was not completed for the employee at the time of hire.
  3. Question:
    1. Can the certification date be a later date than the employee's signature date in Section 1?
    2. Answer: Yes. This happens frequently because the Form I-9 can be completed prior to the employee's first day of work for pay. If the employee is being hired today and completing the Form I-9, but won't start working until next week, the employee signs Section 1 today and, as many employers do, the hire date will be the date the employee starts work next week.

I have it on good authority that after much discussion at USCIS around the employment and rehire dates on the Form I-9, USCIS has formulated new guidance that will be published in updated documentation due out in a few months. The guidance is consistent with the postion that has been taken by TALX, other E-Verify Designated Agents, professional associations such as the American Payroll Association, and other government agencies. This is good news since this guidance will put the issue to rest and provide employers, E-Verify Designated Agents, and auditors with definitive rules around correctly entering hire dates on Form I-9.

The guidance will essentially include the following.

  • The employment date in Section 2 must be the date the employer signs Section 2 or a prior date.
  • The employment date in Section 2 must not be a future date. A future date is not acceptable by E-Verify.
  • The rehire date in Section 3 must be the date the employer signs Section 3 or a prior date. The rehire date in Section 3 must not be a future date.
  • There is no requirement that the employment date in Section 2 or the rehire date in Section 3 match any date in the employer's systems. Since the Form I-9 can be completed prior to the employee's first day of work for pay, the employment date in Section 2 (or rehire date in Section 3) of the Form I-9 may be a date prior to the employee's first day of work for pay and it may be a date prior to the date the employee qualifies for benefits from the employer.

This is a very good thing. Thank you USCIS for stepping up and providing this guidance. Having this documented will clarify the employment date rule or all stakeholders. Hopefully, USCIS will continue to provide updated guidance to clarify other rules regarding Form I-9. Anyway, for now kudos to USCIS. We all appreciate your efforts and can't wait for the updated documentation to be published.

Thursday, January 07, 2010 4:12:24 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [4] -
# Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HR Service Matters

By: Mike Smith


One of the hottest areas associated with HR Services is talent management.  I say “associated with” because talent management must reach out directly to employees for feedback (for likes of reviews and self-evaluations) and up-to-date employee profiles to be effective.  I say “hottest” because there are numerous software and SaaS alternatives (40+ providers) to choose from and the market is still growing.  Both Gartner (Magic Quadrant for E-Recruitment Software) and Bersin Associates (Talent Management Systems Customer Satisfaction 2010 report) have produced reports in December 2009 so there are plenty of current technical and practical opinions to review.


In looking at the Josh Bersin blog which has an overview of the Bersin Satisfaction Survey, I noticed that while the functionality of the alternative solutions is high, the overall satisfaction level is low.  The link to the summary is below:


The survey reports that buyers like the features, but struggle with the implementation and integration with other related systems.  As we consider the overall delivery of HR services within our own organizations, I wonder if our employees also struggle.  Could it be that the portals we provide employees to access our HR services are not well integrated with the underlying HR systems?  Maybe we should survey employees regularly about their satisfaction level with HR services.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 9:34:21 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0] -
HR & Payroll

IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: Any tax advice in this communication is not intended or written by TALX to be used, and cannot be used, by a client or any other person or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein.

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