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wafla WIRE Newsletter HRAnswers Great Question

The wafla HRAnswers responses are designed to provide reasonably accurate and authoritative information in regard to general HR questions for seasonal employers. Wafla cannot and does not assume responsibility for omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained in this response. Individuals needing legal or other professional advice should seek the assistance of an attorney, CPA, or other licensed professional.

December 2019

Q.The new W-4 for 2020 is very confusing. The IRS video was cumbersome. Can you offer some guidance?

A. The answer to your question is that we are working on developing suggested instructions. We too are working our way through trying to better understand the complexities of this new form. This is what we know thus far:

  • All new employees hired as of Jan. 1, 2020, must complete the new form.
  • Current employees are not required to complete a new form but can choose to adjust their withholding based on the new form.
  • Any adjustments made after Jan. 1, 2020, must be made using the new form.
  • Employers can still compute withholding based on information from employees' most recently submitted Form W-4 if employees choose not to adjust their withholding using the revised form.

Here is an FAQ from the IRS on the 2020 form W-4. It encourages individuals to use the Tax Withholding Estimator available at if they:

  • expect to work only part of the year (this does not apply if they are only switching jobs),
  • had a large balance due or refund last year and it is no longer the beginning of the current year,
  • have a dividend or capital gain income or are subject to additional taxes, such as the additional Medicare tax,
  • have self-employment income,
  • prefer the most accurate withholding for multiple job situations, or
  • prefer to limit information provided in Steps 2 - 4 but do not want to sacrifice accuracy.

The IRS also provided a Sample Letter Explaining the 2020 Form W-4 to Employees. Access new form and FAQ here.

I hope this helps to answer your questions. We plan to provide more information to our wafla members as we continue to familiarize ourselves with it. As an employer, you may also want to consult your tax adviser for additional details.

November 2019

A. The answer to your question is yes, an employee who is going to medical appointments for an L&I injury can request and use their accrued paid sick leave if they want to get paid for that time away from work. 

Under the  Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for employees in need of medical attention during working hours: “Time spent by an employee in waiting for and receiving medical attention on the premises or at the direction of the employer during the employee’s normal working hours on days when he is working constitutes hours worked.” This means that in those circumstances, employees must be paid for the time spent waiting for and receiving medical attention. This scenario usually takes place on the day of the injury, when the employer is directing the employee to get medical attention that day. It can also occur when the employer requires injured employees to go to a specific doctor, possibly at specific times, and often as a condition of continued employment.

However, follow-up appointments are not “at the direction of the employer”; rather, they are scheduled by the employee, generally with the doctor of their choice. Typically, such time would not be considered “hours worked,” but would be paid or unpaid in the same way any other employee’s absences due to medical appointments would be paid. This usually involves following company policy guidelines for using sick leave or PTO. 

October 2019

Q. I attended your WA Paid Family & Medical Leave webinar last week. If an employee has a child in 2019, can they apply for benefits?

A. A parent who had a child in 2019 would be eligible for Paid Family and Medical Leave for up to the child’s first year or birth/placement. If they take a separate type of leave, say a company offered 6 weeks, utilizing that leave does not diminish their access to Paid Family and Medical Leave. So they potentially could use the 6 weeks from their company and then apply for 12 weeks Paid Family and Medical Leave. Download the Employer Toolkit and more here.

September 2019

Q. I have noticed that the current Form I-9 has an expiration date of August 31, 2019. Can you tell me more about this?

A. The Form I-9 is set to expire on August 31, 2019. However, we are expecting that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend the current version of the Form I-9 07/17/17 N (marked 08/31/2019 in the upper right hand corner).

We do not expect to see any changes made to the form itself, but do expect to see some minor clarifications to the form’s instructions. Proposed revisions to the instructions include:

  • Clarity on who employers may designate as an authorized representative to complete Section 2 of the form.

  • Changes to the requirement of writing “N/A” in certain portions of the Form I-9 that are not being used.

  • Removing Employment Authorization Document from List C documents, as the EAD (Form I-766) providing temporary employment authorization to work in the United States is a List A document.

We do not have a definitive time frame yet when DHS will provide a new expiration date, but we know from past practices that employers may continue to use the current Form I-9 after the expiration date of the current form, until a revised version is made available.

In the interim, make sure you are using the current version of Form I-9. To determine whether you are using the correct version of Form I-9, look at the revision date printed on the bottom left corner of the form, and not the expiration date printed at the top of the form. Currently, only the forms showing the following revision date are valid: Rev. 07/17/2017 N.

August 2019

Q.I received an e-mail from (ARS) Annual Refiling Survey requesting information for Washington State Employment Security Dept. and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Reading the instructions I cannot tell if this is mandatory or not. Are you aware of this survey?  

A. The answer to your question is no, the ARS is not mandatory in the State of Washington. It is voluntary and you can find more information at:

The main purpose of the Annual Refiling Survey (ARS) is to verify or correct the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes assigned to establishments. Other important purposes of the ARS are to verify or update establishments' mailing and physical location addresses and geographic codes such as county and township.

It is mandatory in some states and voluntary in others. It is voluntary in the State of Washington.

July 2019

Q. Are there specific break time rules for pregnant or nursing mothers that pertain to agricultural workers?

A. There are no special rules for nursing mothers working in the agricultural industry. The same rules apply to all pregnant or nursing mothers. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health has published a Fact Sheet on Click here to access: Supporting Nursing Moms at Work - Solutions for Agriculture that is very informative. 

June 2019

Q. I just viewed the recording of the SSN No-Match Responding to Employer Correction Requests and

I had a question about the difference between E-Verify vs. SSNVS?

A. E-Verify confirms the employment eligibility of newly hired employees.

The Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) verifies that a name matches a Social Security number (SSN). SSNVS is used to ensure that the records of current or former employees are correct for the purpose of completing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement).

A person in the United States may have a valid SSN but not be authorized to work in the United States.

Neither E-Verify nor SSNVS is mandatory. Use of these services is an employer choice.

May 2019

Q. I attended your very informative SSN no-match webinar last week on how to respond to a Employer Correction Request. I'm having issues trying to access my report from the BSO website. Anyone else experiencing problems?

A. Yes! Several employers reported issues with the Social Security Administration's Business Services Online (BSO) site to us. We had supplied webinar attendees with a BSO Tutorial handout from their website that appeared to be missing some steps. We did some digging on their site and found a better resource video that is complete. That video and other valuable resources on this topic are posted to the Employer Resources tab under the Members Only section - SSN No-Match guidance. Employer's that may have additional questions can submit them here.

Did you miss the webinar and still want to purchase it to view the recording? Please contact Jean Maybin via email or (360) 455-8064 x 113.

April 2019

Q.  How does the requirement of 50 or more employees affect the seasonal employer regarding Paid Family & Medical Leave?

A. ESD will calculate your business’s size on an annual basis Sept. 30 of each year. It is based on your average employee headcount over the previous four quarters as reflected in the reports you submit to ESD. It is not calculated by FTE positions. For 2019 only: ESD will determine the size of your business based on your first quarter report (January – March), and this is the number ESD will use for 2019.

See the Employer Toolkit page 8. Click here.

March 2019

Q.  What's the difference between E-Verify and Social Security's Number Verification Service - Business Services Online (BSO) verification process? I'm trying to prepare for the impending SSA No Match "Employer Correction Requests" that will be sent to employers by the Social Security Administration this spring. Can you supply more information on this topic?

A. E-Verify confirms the employment eligibility of newly hired employees administered by the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) program verifies that a name matches a social security number (SSN). A person in the United States may have a valid SSN but not be authorized to work in the United States. It can only be used to verify current or former employees and only for wage reporting (Form W-2) purposes.

Employers who do not respond to the SSA Employer Correction Requests may face fines by ICE, on a theory that it is not reasonable to ignore the information provided by the SSA. Please thoroughly review the Briefing Update SSA No-Match Letters click here. The briefing and other resources on this topic are posted on the Employer Resources page under the members only section under "SSA NO-MATCH" section. Click here to access. We will be conducting a webinar on this matter for members in the near future. Watch your inbox for details.

February 2019

Q. We have an employee who has recently "updated" their SSN and work authorization documents (now has a green card). They have changed their DOB and the first name on these documents as well. Do I need to correct, re-do the Form I-9 and/or W-2? 

A. Yes. Both. Following the instructions listed in section 5.3 of the Handbook for Employers M-274 for the Form I-9. See below. You should also complete a new W-4 and staple the old to the back as well.

Click here to access entire section.

You may encounter situations other than a legal change of name where an employee informs you (or you have reason to believe) that their identity is different from that previously used to complete the Form I-9. For example, an employee may have been working under a false identity, has subsequently obtained work authorization in their true identity, and wishes to regularize their employment records. In that case you should complete a new Form I-9. Write the original hire date in Section 2 and attach the new Form I-9 to the previously completed Form I-9 and include a written explanation.

In cases where an employee has worked for you using a false identity but is currently authorized to work, the Form I-9 rules do not require termination of employment.

In addition, there may be other laws, contractual obligations, or company policies that you should consider before taking action. For example, the INA prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin. See Section 11.0 Unlawful Discrimination and Penalties for Prohibited Practices for more information.

January 2019

Q. Do you have a standard template that informs employees about the new Washington state Paid Family & Medical Leave deduction or helpful employer guidance? 

A. The WA Paid Family & Medical Leave Employer Toolkit has a payroll insert you may use available in several languages. Access the English and Spanish inserts for your convenience as well as the Employer Took Kit. Also, please attend a Winter Ag Academy near you. A Labor & Industries Paid Family & Medical Leave outreach specialist will be presenting on this topic along with other labor and employment specialist on many other need-to-know state and federal updates. Learn more. 

For more information:

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