March 2020 is when the world as we knew it, changed. The Federal Government declared a national pandemic that altered not only the way we lived, but the way we worked. It also created an environment in which federal laws related to certain employment regulations and practices were altered to protect both employees and employers because of the pandemic declaration. Outside of the Department of Labor enacting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, one of the biggest impacts in employment regulations related to the COVID pandemic fell under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC was regularly providing updated technical guidance on how to protect the workforce as it relates to the employment laws, they enforce such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act and Title VII. Here we are 3 three years later, and the federal pandemic declaration has been lifted.
On May 11, 2023, the federal government ended the COVID pandemic declaration and just as the EEOC had done throughout the pandemic, they issued another round of updated guidance related to the end of the pandemic and what that means for ongoing covid-19 related situations. You can find the EEOC’s updated guidance here. In general, there are still COVID impacts in the workplace and any accommodations, considerations and protections for employees should be maintained as appropriate. Particularly as it relates to long covid and evaluating reasonable accommodations for employees impacted by long covid. It is important to read the updated guidance from the EEOC and ensure compliance for your business.
It is important to read the updated guidance from the EEOC and ensure compliance for your business.
During the pandemic when so many people went to remote work, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “relaxed” the rules around the completion of the Federal Form I-9 (which is required for every employee at all companies). The flexibility was provided to allow for the remote verification of the eligibility documents required for Form I-9. Although the deadline for that flexibility has been pushed out a number of times over the past couple of years, it is now set to expire on July 31, 2023. You can read the details here but what that means could be a big headache for small businesses that went fully remote through the pandemic. What employers need to do to prepare for the July 31st deadline is:
Any I-9’s that were verified remotely from March 2020 to current will need to be physically verified and made compliant.
Set up a process for in-person, physical reviews going forward. There are a variety of options available that are acceptable for in-person verification.
Keep an eye on this as it may change again, but don’t wait. There is a proposal to retain remote verification, but we still don’t know when or if that will be passed.
It can be confusing and hard to understand what this means for a small business. There is a FAQ page that is helpful but know that the team at Employers Advantage LLC is here to help.