The National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA) is hosting a webinar specifically on Covid-19 and compliance issues surrounding the ever changing world of what we should be doing. Travis Vance with the firm Fisher and Phillips will lead the webinar. All cotton Ginners are invited to take part. The link for the free webinar is https://cotton.zoom.us/j/99549992735. To log-in manually, the meeting ID is: 995 4999 2735
All ginners are encouraged to attend this webinar. This topic was very popular at the recent NCGA issues webinar and many requests came in for more information and a webinar on this single subject. The meeting will be August 11 at 3 PM Eastern time (2 PM Central) and should last about 2 hours. Give us a call if you need the full invitation information.
OSHA’s approach to Covid illness in the workplace has …. evolved…. over time. As of now there are no hard rules set to address covid and covid like illness but over time, OSHA and some state’s workers comp (such as California) say that Covid can be a work related illness if a reasonable person can expect the exposure that caused the illness came from the work place.
Although no citations that we’re aware of at the moment have been issued, it seems logical that at some point osha will look at widespread outbreaks of Covid as something to investigate. The General Duty Clause is a catch-all piece of OSHA law that can be cited in the absence of other standards. If an outbreak happens, and a complaint occurs, it is possible for OSHA to look at whether or not an employer has done anything to help stop the virus.
To that end, we’re urging you to take a look at our HELPFUL Covid Links page. This is NOT a comprehensive list of resources… far from it. It is just a good starting place to start work on this issue. No one can prescribe the things each employer needs to do to address this but some attention needs to be made and remember… if it didn’t happen on paper, it didn’t happen. Develop a plan, write it down and follow it.
Earlier this year the USCIS announced a new I-9 form. The I-9 is the document that employers must use every time they put a new employee on the payroll. We discussed this in an earlier blog post when the new form was announced in January. The M-274 is the manual that goes along with the I-9 and contains a lot of really good information that helps when understanding how the I-9 works.
Probably more importantly, the M-274 explains what to do and what not to do when filling one out or having a new employee fill one out.
Please find the new M-274 at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/handbook-employers-m-274
Remember the US Federal Government is the only place a 2 page form can have 10+ pages of instructions and a 80+ page manual.
Give us a call if you have questions.
Well this is an unprecedented situation we face. I can’t remember anything quite like this. We’ve received a few calls and emails asking some very good questions as we move into the second full week of the screeching halt that has become life in the US.
One of the most important things to remember is that given the current circumstances, it appears that the virus will work its way through society over time. Over how much time seems to be one of the most pressing questions. Without some significant changes, it’s not a matter of if but when someone you know will be affected by the virus. The outcomes in all but a few cases are good. The vast majority of people do get better. What I have read today is that most will get better in a few days just treating the symptoms. Some will require a hospital stay and that could be a significant time away from work even if the hospital stay is short. The idea is to keep the wave of patients to the hospitals below their capacity.
All of the things that we have seen implemented have been to reduce the impact to the medical community and ultimately to humanity. So what does that mean for you the cotton ginner? The first thing it means it to make sure anyone who is symptomatic to stay at home. It also means following the CDC guidelines and using common sense. Keeping distance, implementing increased hand washing and use of sanitizers and PPE where washing and distancing are not as practical. Keeping gatherings to a minimum or eliminate them altogether.
A really good place to start is the CDC. Follow their Guidelines for employers. Another source of information for employers is OSHA. OSHA put out Guidelines for employers last week at www.osha.gov. This has been updated and will continue to be as this evolves. We work closely with Fisher and Phillips who are a nationwide law firm. They have started a COVID-19 response team of lawyers on how employers can prepare and help themselves moving through this. Please go to their page on the COVID response. It is also continually updated as they see necessary. All these pages should be checked often.
As far as government response. Of course, you need to follow the guidelines in your local area. We’ve seen and will continue to see stronger response in some areas over others. Congress has passed one bill and will pass more to help alleviate the impact on employers and employees. Please refer to THIS SUMMARY of the first bill. It provides for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expands job protections for employees to all businesses. Please refer to the Summary for more details. President Trump just today said there will be relief for small businesses along with bailouts for airlines and cruise industries but no details were given.
This is a very VERY VERY fluid situation. In just over a week we went from a handful of cases to thousands and whole cities being put on lock down with highly restrictive travel. We’re monitoring the situation and please let us know if we can help.
PS: Keller and Heckman put out info on Insurance and the Coronovirus
We wanted to remind everyone that the deadline for submission of your OSHA 300A data is near. All employers in certain industries (including ours) that had 20 or more employees at any point in 2019 must submit their OSHA 300A summary information online to OSHA by March 2, 2020.
This is the third year of the program and the earliest online submission date. Please don’t fall for any schemes or scams. I did a google search on this today and found a couple companies that will do this for you for a fee. THIS IS TOTALLY FREE DO NOT PAY SOMEONE TO DO THIS SUBMISSION.
The process is straight forward. Go to https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/index.html and go to the red block on the right side of the page that says “Launch the Injury Tracking Application”. This will get you started. The page linked above has a lot of information about the reporting process as well as who should report etc. If you don’t know, the NAICS code for cotton gins is 115111.
Please give us a call or email me if you have any questions
On Jan. 31, 2020, USCIS published the Form I-9 Federal Register notice announcing a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, that the Office of Management and Budget approved on Oct. 21, 2019. This new version contains minor changes to the form and its instructions. Employers should begin using this updated form as of Jan. 31, 2020.
The notice provides employers additional time to make necessary updates and adjust their business processes. Employers may continue using the prior version of the form (Rev. 07/17/2017 N) until April 30, 2020. After that date, they can only use the new form with the 10/21/2019 version date. The version date is located in the lower left corner of the form.
USCIS made the following changes to the form and its instructions:
Revised the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field (when selecting a foreign passport) in Section 2 to add Eswatini and Macedonia, North per those countries’ recent name changes. (Note: This change is only visible when completing the fillable Form I-9 on a computer.)
- Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
- Updated USCIS website addresses
- Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9
- Updated the process for requesting paper Forms I-9
- Updated the DHS Privacy Notice
A revised Spanish version of Form I-9 with a version date of 10/21/2019 is available for use in Puerto Rico only.
For more information, visit I-9 Central or join a free Form I-9 webinar