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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.

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. A
re 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:

November 2018

Q.  With the WA Paid Family & Medical Leave payroll deductions starting January 1, can you recommend helpful resources to make sure we are adequately prepared?

A. The WA State Employment Security Department (ESD) just conducted an excellent outreach webinar earlier this month. Click HERE to download the webinar to view. Click HERE to access the combined handouts.

ESD Educational Links

  • Employer Toolkit can be found by clicking HERE.
  • Everyone can engage in the Rulemaking Process through our Public Engagement Portal by clicking HERE.
  • Sign up for our newsletter or contact our Customer Care Team through our Contact Page click HERE.
  • Voluntary Plan Guide can be found by clicking HERE.

You can also submit questions through wafla HRAnswers anytime. Click HERE.

October 2018

Q.  I received an "informational" letter from the Social Security Administration entitled "Educational Correspondence (EDCOR) Announcement" regarding online services available to verify social security numbers. It all sounds informational until you get to the end where it says we will receive notifications regarding no-matches on 2018 W-2 data next year. It is vague about the consequences. Are you familiar with the letter?

A. From the articles we see, it appears that the Social Security Administration is in the beginning stages of reinstating this program eventually. We wrote a briefing paper on this subject. You can access click here.

September 2018

Q.   I am wondering if wafla is going to provide guidance to members regarding the new WA Paid Family & Medical Leave starting January 1, 2019? I have many questions regarding this new act.

A. The WA State Employment Security Department (ESD) has been tasked to run this program. They have excellent resources and updates posted to their website. Click here.

You are encouraged to sign up to receive email updates directly from ESD. Click here.

ESD will be conducting an educational outreach webinar on this topic for wafla members on November 6. Learn more.

ESD is also hosting several free outreach forums around the state this month:

  • Wenatchee: 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Wenatchee Public Library, 310 Douglas St.
  • Vancouver: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Cascade Park Community Library, 600 N.E. 136th Ave.
  • Bellingham: 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at Bellingham Technical College, 3028 Lindbergh Ave.
  • Yakima: 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at Maggie Perez Student Success Center, 111 S. Second Ave.

Deductions from payroll are to start Jan. 1, 2019. Employees can start utilizing benefits Jan. 1 2020. We look forward to providing wafla members outreach and guidance in the coming months on this topic.

August 2018

Q. I have been reading in the media about increased U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity. Does wafla have guidance on what to do if ICE shows up?

A. That is correct. In fact, the Acting Executive Associate Director for ICE's Homeland Security Investigation Division has indicated a new benchmark of 15,000 I-9 audits per year. To put this in perspective, in 2017 ICE only conducted 1,360 I-9 audits. Wafla partnered with Pasco law firm Roach & Bishop in drafting guidance that is written in English and Spanish on What to do if ICE Shows up at Your Place of Business. The guidance is posted on our Employer Resources page under the Form I-9 section. Also, should ICE show up, please call wafla. We can help! Write this number down (360) 455-8064! Ask for Dan Fazio or Kim Bresler.

July 2018

Q. I have heard that some employers are taking advantage of the recent U.S. Supreme Court Ruling that allows employers to require workers to resolve workplace issues through arbitration. Is that only for class actions? Is an arbitration clause legal in Washington? How do I know if it is right for my business? How can I do it right?  

A. You are correct. Employers that may not have utilized arbitration agreements in the past are now getting on board with this new added protection. The recent Supreme Court ruling allows employers to mandate that each employee file an individual arbitration claim for work-related issues, prohibiting class actions. In the past, this was not allowed. Arbitration agreements require that workers resolve workplace grievances through mandatory arbitration. Mandatory arbitration agreements are particularly useful for small businesses, where the time, emotional drain, and cost of protracted litigation are devastating – to the worker making the claim as well as the business. Requiring arbitration or some other alternative dispute resolution technique is in many cases preferable to a civil trial, and therefore federal courts require civil litigants to attempt mediation before trial.

Arbitration agreements have many advantages for employees. To name a few: 1) confidentiality; 2) arbitration programs can include mediation to address concerns even if there’s no legal basis; and 3) employees are keeping all the same rights and available remedies that they would have in court, just a less burdensome, and less costly process.

Mandatory arbitration is accomplished through an agreement that an employer requires new hires or existing employees to sign as a condition of employment or as a condition of continued employment.

When establishing an arbitration agreement, it is important to do it right. Be sensitive to employee concerns, especially employees who have been working for you for many years. Make sure that your policy has been drafted by a qualified labor and employment attorney. Wafla hired Seattle law firm Stoel Rives LLP to draft a template arbitration agreement (English/Spanish), and it is posted to our “Employer Resources” page under the “Members Only” tab for our member’s use. Access here. Arbitration language is now an option in the wafla employee handbook, a customized handbook we offer for seasonal employers. If you don’t have an employee handbook, find out more click here.

During the recently completed legislative session, the Washington state legislature adopted a new law that prohibits employers from mandating arbitration for harassment and discrimination claims. Many labor attorneys feel that the Washington law is preempted by federal law, and therefore they don’t recommend excluding these claims from your arbitration policy.

Bottom line: Meet with your attorney to discuss the pros and cons of utilizing an arbitration agreement. In today’s environment, it’s increasingly looking like a no-brainer.

June 2018

Q. I have been reading in the media about increased U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity. Does wafla have guidance on what to do if ICE shows up?

A. That is correct. In fact, the Acting Executive Associate Director for ICE's Homeland Security Investigation Division has indicated a new benchmark of 15,000 I-9 audits per year. To put this in perspective, in 2017 ICE only conducted 1,360 I-9 audits. Wafla partnered with Pasco law firm Roach & Bishop in drafting guidance that is written in English and Spanish on What to do if ICE Shows up at Your Place of Business. The guidance is posted on our Employer Resources page under the Form I-9 section. Also, should ICE show up, please call wafla. We can help! Write this number down (360) 455-8064! Ask for Dan Fazio or Kim Bresler.

April/May 2018

Q. I have heard that Governor Inslee just signed a new law prohibiting employers from inquiring into someone's criminal history on a job application that goes into effect early next month. Can you tell me more?

A. That is correct. Washington's Fair Chance Act (WFCA) will be effective June 7, 2018. The WFCA prohibits employers from asking about arrests or convictions before determining if an applicant is “otherwise qualified” for the position. This means that an applicant may meet the criteria for a position without taking into consideration their criminal record.

Prior to determining if an applicant is qualified for the position; an employer:

1. Must exclude questions on any employment applications regarding an applicant’s criminal history. Access updated application: English and Spanish.

2. May not verbally or in writing inquire upon an applicant’s criminal history or criminal record.

3. May not receive information via criminal background checks or otherwise regarding an applicant’s criminal background.

4. May not reject an applicant for failure to disclose a criminal record prior to the initial determination qualifying the applicant for the position.

Once the employer has initially determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified; the employer may inquire into or obtain information about a criminal record.

Access more details by viewing a Labor Alert on this subject here, and watch your inbox for an announcement of a "Timely Topic" webinar on this subject. You may also access our updated Seasonal Worker Job Application form here: English and Spanish. These are also located under the "Employer Resources" section off the "Member's Only" tab.

March 2018

Q. Do you have a template letter we can give to employees explaining the new WA Paid Sick Leave Law?

A. There are several valuable templates and resources posted on the Employer Resources page found under the "Members Only" tab at for your reference and use regarding the new WA Paid Sick Leave Law. All new employees hired January 1 and on were supposed to be notified at the time of hire and the deadline for alerting current employees was March 1.

We provide valuable resources. We retained Seattle Law Firm Stoel Rives LLP to create and employer friendly policy template for wafla members to use. There is also an Employee Handbook language addendum (English/Spanish) for your use.

    Last, if you would like to update or create an Employee Handbook with the new Paid Sick Leave language, wafla can assist you. Learn moreCurrent members that utilize the handbook product were emailed the addendum to use until their next reorder.

    Last, we are kicking off our 2018 webinar season with a presentation on the administration portion of the new WA Paid Sick Leave Law. Learn more.

    January/February 2018

    Q.   Can I still use the W-4 form from last year since the 2018 isn't out yet?

    A. Due to the tax law changes signed into law on December 22, 2017, the IRS 2018 W-4 form is currently unavailable.‎ The IRS released the 2018 Withholding Tables on January 11, and employers and payroll service providers are encouraged to implement the changes in February. The new tables reflect the increase in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions and changes in tax rates and brackets. The IRS emphasizes this information will be designed to work with the existing Forms W-4 that employees have already filed, and no further action by taxpayers is needed at this time. Publication 15 (2018), (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide has been updated and posted as well. 

    The IRS withholding calculator is still currently unavailable and they are working to get it updated. Until a new Form W-4 is issued, employees and employers should continue to use the 2017 Form W-4. The calculator and new Form W-4 ​(when released) ​can be used by employees who wish to update their withholding in response to the new law or changes in their personal circumstances in 2018, and ​when workers start a new job.

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