Employee Paperwork: The Feds Are Coming

If you have been worried about America’s spending binge not resulting in action, here’s some fine news. The Federal government is putting your money (actually, much of the money is borrowed) to work. A $138 million federal employee compliance worksite enforcement effort is underway in 2013. Federal agents are tasked with verifying that employers fully comply with 21 different federal labor laws. Even the smallest companies must comply with some of the laws and are audit targets. In short, your company’s chances of being audited have increased.

One of the agencies most involved in the new audit push is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). They will verify whether your I-9 forms are properly completed for all employees hired after 1986. This enforcement activity is imminent. Strict compliance is required and is part of the foundation of the Obama immigration policy. ICE reports they will audit any employer, anytime, anywhere. Even employers with no illegal immigrants face hefty fines for clerical errors. A Katy, Texas small business with no illegal immigrants was fined $13,300 for administrative errors on its I-9 forms. Fines range from $375 to $16,000 for hiring undocumented workers, and up to $1,000 per employee for not meeting I-9 requirements. Repeat offenders are subject to criminal penalties. Our website has the I-9 in the “Forms” section. It’s easy to complete.

The Department of Labor is joining the audit crusade, too. They added $30million to their budget to beef up audit efforts. Wage, job classification, overtime, and safety rules apply to even the smallest employers. Penalties here include orders for back pay, fines up to $11,000 per worker, and criminal penalties. Not to be outdone, OSHA and the Employee Benefits Security Administration will be joining the audit party as well. There’s no better way for bureaucrats to justify their job than to find many instances of employers not following the rules and fine them accordingly. On a positive note for small employers, Obamacare’s employer provided health insurance requirement does not apply to employers with less than 50 employees.

Here are three key things you can do to get your business prepared for an audit. 1) Complete I-9’s on all employees; 2) Properly classify all employees as salary or non-salary (more on this next month); and 3) Be able to document for non-salary personnel hours worked and that they are properly compensated for any overtime worked. It’s more critical than ever for businesses to know their federal, state, and local employment obligations.

Kurt Kelley
President
Mobile Insurance
[email protected]