The ever-changing landscape of HR regulation changes requires continuous monitoring. As laws change on local and federal levels, small businesses are having a hard time keeping up.
The latest change to pay attention to is the end of temporary flexibilities for I-9 forms that were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, companies have to complete in-person physical inspections for workers who underwent remote document verifications while temporary flexibilities were in place. The deadline is August 30, 2023.
While government bodies and local authorities often give businesses time to adjust to the latest changes, facing them unprepared usually leads to errors and fines. That’s why many companies choose to work with HR partners that keep monitoring and adaptation under control.
Form I-9: What Changed?
In March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) implemented temporary changes to the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification process. These changes allowed employers that were operating remotely to verify employee identity in a remote fashion (through email, fax, and video).
Even after the pandemic started winding down, ICE extended these temporary flexibilities in laws and regulations several times. The latest extension was introduced in October 2022 and ended on July 31, 2023. This time ICE announced that they don’t plan to extend the flexibilities any longer.
Accordingly, employers who have been verifying their workforce remotely over the past three years (between March 2020 and July 2023) have to complete in-person inspections by August 30, 2023.
How to Prepare Your Business for New Government Regulations
When new government regulations and labor laws come into effect, adjusting to them can take a while. The best way to prepare for these changes is to take a highly proactive approach.
TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN EXISTING HR LAWS
Before diving into the new laws and regulations, you need to gain a solid understanding of the existing laws that govern your industry.
This will provide a foundation for analyzing how the new regulations may impact your business operations. Conducting a thorough review of the current human resource laws that apply to your industry allows you to ensure full compliance.
If you are not already in compliance when changes arrive, all existing non-compliance issues can snowball into significant problems that lead to unexpected expenses.
SET UP A STRONG HR INFRASTRUCTURE
Establishing a strong HR infrastructure can make it easier for you to adjust to the new regulations. When you have a team of specialists who know exactly what they are responsible for, they can handle any change seamlessly.
Small human resource teams that are overwhelmed with payroll, benefits administration, pension funds, occupational safety and health needs, and other manual administrative tasks rarely have sufficient resources to handle compliance properly.
When laws and regulations change, weak infrastructures struggle. Without a strong approach to your HR framework, you risk hurting business operations.
GET ASSISTANCE FROM HR PARTNERS
Seeking assistance from competent specialists, such as consultants who specialize in HR compliance, can be invaluable in navigating new government regulations. These experts can provide guidance on the ever-changing requirements, help you understand the implications of the new regulations, and assist with implementing necessary changes.
They can also keep you informed about any updates or changes to regulations that may affect your business specifically. A reliable HR partner is a team of professionals who have the time and resources to handle continuous monitoring of the regulation landscape.
For example, an HR partner would know that the temporary flexibilities for I-9 forms are about to end and help you set up a procedure for verifying employee identity and authorization in advance. At the time ICE announced changes, your company would have already been on the way to completing the new requirements.
RULE OUT REGULATIONS THAT DON’T AFFECT YOU
Not all new regulations directly impact your business. Carefully evaluate and determine which laws are applicable to your specific industry and business operations.
By ruling out regulations that don’t affect you, you can focus your resources on understanding the laws that truly matter. This can help streamline your preparation efforts and avoid unnecessary compliance burdens.
STAY INFORMED AND PLAN AHEAD
Government regulations are always subject to change. Some may stay the same for decades while others change monthly. To avoid stress, errors, and fines, you can monitor the landscape by:
- Reading industry news
- Checking government websites
- Joining professional associations and following their discussions
The more resources you use to stay informed, the more likely you are to pinpoint the change the moment it occurs. By planning ahead and anticipating potential regulatory shifts, you can position your business to adapt efficiently.
TRAIN AND EDUCATE YOUR EMPLOYEES
When changes occur, your team has to be ready to tackle the issue quickly without causing downtime or facing non-compliance. To respond effectively, your workforce requires training. If you are working with an HR partner, they can share valuable knowledge with your employees and empower them to adjust to the changes.
In addition, encourage open communication and provide channels for employees to ask questions or seek clarification on the new regulations.
TAKING A PROACTIVE APPROACH
Staying on top of the latest regulations is a full-time job, often requiring significant adjustments to your HR processes when changes occur. Rushing or not being thoughtful in adapting leads to errors, fines, and reputational issues.
As you can see with the I-9 updates, two new announcements were published within one month. If you don’t have the resources to handle active and ongoing monitoring, you may want to consider collaborating with an HR partner you can trust.
New regulations often appear as a reaction to an employer who did something wrong. Becoming a case for new regulation is easy. Getting back on track and regaining your reputation can be close to impossible.
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: The Big Stay: A New Workplace Trend Presents Opportunities for Small Businesses or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.