The Legislative Report blog provides timely information on federal and state legislation and regulations and state trends as well as the myriad issues affecting the private club industry. A companion to CMAA's Legislative website, this resource should be your first stop for any information regarding legal, tax or legislative club-specific issues.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services has
announced that the E-Verify online employment eligibility verification system
can now disable social security numbers that it deems to be fraudulent. USCIS
hopes that this security enhancement will prevent further illegal misuse of
social security numbers.
To detect social security misuses, USCIS will
rely on a combination of algorithms, detection reports and analysis to identify
patterns of fraudulent use and then disable the number from further use in
If an employee attempts to use a social
security number that has been disabled, E-Verify will generate a “Tentative
Nonconfirmation.” The employee receiving the nonconfirmation will have the
opportunity to contest the finding in person at a local Social Security
Administration office. If the office confirms the employee’s identity correctly
matches the social security number, the nonconfirmation will be converted to
“Employment Authorized” status in E-Verify and the employee will be deemed eligible
Clubs who currently use E-Verify should be
aware of this change to the system and how to direct prospective employees to a
local Social Security Administration office for further assistance.
In July, the White House announced the delay the enforcement of the Employer Shared Responsibility Excise Taxes until January 1, 2015. These taxes penalize businesses with more than 50 employees (or full-time equivalents) who fail to provide health care coverage to employees who work 30 or more hours a week. If an employee receives a subsidy to purchase insurance through a health insurance exchange, the business would be subject to a per employee fine. Despite the one year reprieve, clubs need to be preparing now. Clubs need to understand their current workforce and ensure that their current systems are functioning to calculate the number of hours employees are working. For the club industry, this is especially difficulty due to fluctuating hours and seasonal workers. Make sure you have reviewed the 71-page Quarles & Brady, LLC, Health Care Reform: Pay or Play Guide, which takes you through the eight steps you need to understand these provisions.
Changes will be coming soon to the safety warning signs placed on machinery or entrances. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) first proposed these changes to update the signs to meet the 2011 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standards for signs in June.
Since the agency did not receive any adverse comments to the proposal, OSHA announced November 4 that it plans to institute the final rule to implement the changes.
Clubs will not need to immediately replace signage but will have the option to use the updated signs with the new designs. The new signs are designed to better explain workplace dangers by providing more information regarding hazards and utilizing more illustrations, which may be beneficial to non-English speaking employees. Clubs may continue to use signs designed to meet previous standards without penalty from OSHA.
Effective immediately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that it will relax rollover rules for health flexible spending accounts (FSAs). Funds in these accounts may be used for qualified medical expenses such as prescription drugs. Participants will now be able to roll over $500 to the next year. This limit is annual and not cumulative; thus, a participant may not roll over more than $500 each year. Since this is immediately effective, plan sponsors may opt to amend their 2013 plans to allow for rollovers for this plan year. For plan sponsors who already provide an option of a two-and-a-half month grace period, this news will require a choice of benefit for the plan sponsor. Plan sponsors are limited and may either offer a grace period or a rollover option.
After 16 days, the federal government officially reopened on Thursday, October 17. Both houses of Congress approved a measure to fund the government at current levels through January 15, 2014, coupled with an increase of the US debt limit through February 7, 2014. This gives Congress time to work on a new budget agreement but another shutdown is possible if an agreement is not reached by the new deadline in January.
Even with federal employees back to work and federal offices open, the shutdown will have an impact on federal government operations for months to come.
The Internal Revenue Service has already announced that the 2014 tax filing season will be delayed one to two weeks. The original date was January 21, 2014; the IRS will begin accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns between January 28 and February 4 based on current estimates.
The new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is significant change for club operations. This international approach to hazard communication provides agreed upon criteria for classification of chemical hazards, and a standardized approach to label elements and safety data sheets. It is based on major existing systems around the world, including OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard and the chemical classification and labeling systems of other US agencies. In March of 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) first announced the adoption of the GHS and its integration into the Hazard Communication Standard. OSHA is requiring that employees are trained on the new label elements (i.e., pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements and signal words) and SDS format by December 1, 2013, while full compliance with the final rule will begin in 2015. CMAA University provides several options for educating yourself on the new requirements for both employees and supervisors. Invest time in understanding the new regulations!
The federal government officially shut down on Tuesday, October 1, at 12:00 midnight when both houses of Congress failed to agree on a continuing resolution to keep operations funded. More than 800,000 workers have been furloughed nationwide. While some operations like national security and the armed services have been deemed necessities, other regulatory agencies are closed until further notice.
Here is what you need to know about what agencies and services are operational and what are not.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – All offices remain open worldwide.
Department of Labor Office of Foreign Labor Certification and iCERT – This office is not currently accepting or processing applications related to visa programs, including H-2B visas, applications for prevailing wage determinations or applications for permanent or temporary employment certification. Further, the iCERT Visa Portal System is not accessible nor is the information being updated.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and E-Verify – “Law enforcement necessary for safety of life and protection of property” continues at the Department of Homeland Security. However, E-Verify is currently inaccessible to employers and US citizens who wish to check employment eligibility.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – All IRS filing deadlines remain in effect. For instance, if you filed a six month individual extension for your 2012 Income Taxes, it remains due October 15. That means that if you owe taxes, you need to pay them by that date or fines will be instituted. However, if you are owed money, you will have to wait on your refund.
Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) – Along with the majority of the Department of Labor excluding its Worker Compensation Programs, most staff at OSHA are subject to the furlough. If you need to report a workplace fatality, hospitalizations or an imminent danger situation, please call OSHA’s toll-free number immediately at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); TTY 1-877-889-5627.
Stayed tuned as CMAA will continue to monitor the shutdown and its impact!