Trump Proposes The UI System Funds Paid Family Leave Program In Every State

paid leave
Photo Credit: Kaiser Family Foundation

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Yesterday, President Donald Trump, through the Office of Management and Budget, released their proposed 2019 budget for the fiscal year 2019 which begins on October 1st.

21% Decrease In DOL Budget

While the Budget proposal does request $9.4 billion for the Department of Labor, it is a 21% decrease of $2.6 million from the 2017 budget-enacted level. Included in the budget proposal is what President Trump had promised as a candidate: a Nationwide Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program.

Paid Leave Program Proposal

Under the plan, the Paid Leave Program would allow paid family leave to new mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents to take time off from work for the purpose of recovering from childbirth and bond with a new child. The FY2019 Budget Proposal states that the Plan would be supported by the Unemployment Insurance system to allow States to establish paid parental leave programs “that is most appropriate for their workforce and economy”.

As written, the language within the FY2019 Budget Proposal suggests that the program will not be federalized but instead, have funds allocated from the $9.4 billion to each State to establish their own paid parental leave programs.

Currently only five states have a paid family leave program ranging from 6 weeks to 16 weeks time off: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York (began January 1, 2018) the State of Washington (begins January 1, 2020), and the District of Columbia (begins July 1, 2020).

Another 23 states introduced one or more paid family leave proposals into their State legislative sessions within the past 3 years; all failed to gain enough votes to pass due to concerns over how those individual state’s programs would be funded.  

However, given inclusion into the FY2019 Federal Budget language that allocates funds to support state Paid Family Leave Programs, I would expect to see more States offer their own PFL programs within the 2018 legislative sessions.

Please follow this blog to keep up to date or contact Andrew Lopez at a.lopez@emptech.com or (310) 755-0183 direct if you have additional questions.  


Trump Proposes Mandatory E-Verify Today

e-verify-mandatory
Photo Credit: NSBA

Monday, February 12, 2018

Today, President Donald Trump, through the Office of Management and Budget, released their proposed 2019 budget for the fiscal year 2019 which begins October 1st.

E-Verify Mandatory Nationwide

The proposal explains that $23 million will be invested to expand the E-Verify program for mandatory nationwide use. The $23 million is on top of the $208 million being requested for 300 additional ICE Special Agents, support staff and the infrastructure needed to carry out Homeland Security’s mission to ensure that only those with a legal right to work in the United States are employed. Per the proposal, the budget also has language to receive reimbursement of the $208 million from the application fees of those requesting immigration legally into the United States.

Information on the proposed nationwide use of mandatory E-Verify is still coming out of Washington. To keep up to date, follow our blog or contact Andrew Lopez at a.lopez@emptech.com or (310) 755-0183 direct.


Employers, Protect Your Employees from Security Data Breaches Before It’s Too Late

protect employees from security breaches

Have you recently checked how your employees feel about safety of their personal, very sensitive data (or should we say – Personally Identifiable Information) that’s stored across your HR administration and Payroll systems?

If not, here’s friendly advice: it is about time.

The major security breach in 2017 will be long remembered, for it has affected 44% of the US citizens, compromising 145 million (!) social security numbers, over 200,000 credit cards, driver’s license numbers and other personal information.

Here’s what’s really going on: employees nationwide are FURIOUS.

The Infamous Security Breach

After Equifax announced the data breach back in September 2017, the Internet exploded with search queries on how to protect yourself from the breach and its consequences. This question is still trending on Google, and no one is going to forget about this soon.

equifax breach trending

People are enraged. For months they have been unable to find a way to cancel the company’s services, yet – the threats of data abuse are still imposed upon them.

US citizens confronted serious consequences, such as being a victim of identity theft 15 times in less than three months! They have been desperately calling support and requesting that their files be deleted — in vain.

Why are they worried to that extent?

Because the stolen PII is sold on the dark web that is not easily accessible to vast majority of web users, nor user-friendly. The price of a Social Security Number is as low as $1. “Family packages” go around $10 per a “bundle of SSNs”. These are extremely popular because they allow tax fraud.

Terrifying enough yet?

Here’s more: hackers can often access PII long before a breach has been exposed to the public. Equifax, for example, announced the breach to the general public on September 7th, while the first unauthorized access occurred July 29th.

Can it get any worse?

Yes, it can. The company knew the outdated Java framework called Struts was vulnerable to security standards. Patches to remedy the vulnerabilities were available months before the breach but were not put into place.

How Furious Are Employees?

They are fuming — and they have every right to be. The company has refused to delete their files, even though their disregards for security put them in harm’s way. Now, those affected are addressing the media. Not only are employees restricted from deciding who has the right to access their PII — they were also informed that trying to prevent data inputs will result in serious consequences. NY Times’ journalist, Rob Lieber, writes about employees’ endeavors and the emails he has received since Equifax revealed the breach:

“Peter Herman, a self-described recovering attorney in Charleston, S.C., had a typical experience: a long wait, a number of prompts, a disconnection and a firm “no” on deleting his file. Then came an odd warning from the live human being he did reach. Any attempt to get his lenders to stop sending payment information to Equifax, Mr. Herman said he had been told, might result in his credit score being ruined because his payments would be marked late.”

How Employees Really Feel

Beyond rage, employees feel let down, powerless, and afraid. They do not want to be seen as a mere number in a system, but as a valued employee with the right to data security. Employees worry about their safety day in day out, desperately seeking a resolution to this injustice.

You, as an employer, have the power to give your employees a sense of protection, by advocating for their digital security.

To test the idea of an individual employee trying to resolve this issue through their own company rather than through direct source of breach, Ron Lieber of NY Times, asked his employer — the NY Times — “to cancel its contract with Equifax for a service called Work Number, which provides employment verification and other details like work history and salary.”* After considering the idea, his employer decided to accept his request.

*To get the broader image of that event, and what it means for millions of unhappy employees around the country, read Roy’s full article here.

This Affects Your Company, Too

Your employees may be thinking and feeling the same. They may be scared to bring up their feelings due to negative consequences they could face afterwards. Your employees are under a lot of stress, and now more than ever they need to be reassured their company cares about employee security.

If your employees feel that their safety and security is not put first, they will perform less productively or work less efficiently in teams. Ensure your employees feel safe and protected. Find a vendor focused on your employees’ data security, so they can focus on their job at hand.

What Can You Do?

Communicate with Your Employees

Proper, honest, and direct communication is the best way to avoid a problematic situation. No matter how busy you are, find time to meet with your employees and openly discuss the current state and possible solutions. Do your best to understand their points of view, and take their requests into consideration.

Conduct A Survey

If bringing the entire company around the table is next to impossible, and you can’t manage to organize team meetings, invest some time into creating a survey. Send all your employees a personal email to let them know you are on their side, reassure them that you have their best interest in mind, and ask them to fill out the survey to help you understand their needs.

Explain How Your Security Systems Work

Comfort words are nice, but they don’t solve any problems. After the exposure, employees need proofs that their information is truly protected in order to finally feel relieved.

Make an effort to explain to your employees how your security systems work in a nutshell, let them know who, and under which circumstances, can access their data, and if they are notified upon such an event.

Look at The Issue from An Employee’s Perspective

Nobody is immune to a breach, whether you are a summer intern or the CEO. Your personal data is all stored in the same place, and lack of security means you are just as susceptible to a data breach. As a decision maker, you can choose a vendor who takes security seriously.

Listen to Your Employees

…and find a solution everyone will benefit from.

Let us spare you the headache of inadvertently exposing your company’s employees to identity theft and financial losses.

Meet Verifyfast: a 100% FREE of charge A VOIE solution that eliminates unwanted entities from obtaining employee information.

You will gain access to a team of experienced professionals that act as your outsourced VOIE department, dedicated to disseminating only the approved data to the approved verifiers.

Verifyfast is not a data reseller, but a direct furnisher of data focused on employee experience and security.

Ease your employees’ minds: the verification of income and employment can happen only after the employee has given permission for the verification. Both you and your employees can review who requested a verification, the type of verification requested, and the time and date of the verification. A verifier must go through several layers of security to ensure they were given permission by the employee to receive the verification.

All your data and applications rest in a closed, secure network with up-to-the-minute intrusion detection using current threat models. This closed environment is audited annually to SOC 1 and SOC 2 standards. All data is encrypted in transit and at rest.

Verifyfast runs constant scans against the most recent database of threats on both network and applications. Any framework vulnerabilities are exposed and addressed immediately. The application model is simple: it does not introduce outside frameworks, reducing our footprint of potential vulnerabilities.

Call us today at 1-800-518-3874, or reach out via email at solutions@verifyfast.com. Let’s make sure security issues never waste your company’s valuable time and resources.

Severe Civil Penalties for Employers in California if Served with An I-9 Notice of Inspection

assembly-bill-i9-update

In California, employers have another penalty to worry about when it comes to immigration related practices, particularly I-9 inspection process.

Signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 5, 2017, and effective January 1, 2018, CA Assembly Bill 450 has several provisions that enforce stricter I-9 inspection process and propose severe fines for non-compliance. Here’s a simplified explanation of how the newly passed bill influences employers.

No Voluntary Consent Without Warrant

An employer cannot provide voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to any nonpublic areas of a place of labor without a warrant.

An employer who violates this provision (Section 7285.1 of the CA Government Code) is subject to a civil penalty of:

o   Two thousand dollars ($2,000) up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) for a first violation

o   Five thousand dollars ($5,000) up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each subsequent violation.

Employees Must Be Notified of Any I-9 Inspections

The Bill also includes several provisions aimed at notifying employees once a Notice of Inspection of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification has been received.

These provisions were added to the CA Labor Code 90.2 and 1019.2 where the employer must:

Provide a notice to each current employee of any inspections of Form I-9 or other employment records conducted by an immigration agency within 72 hours of receiving notice of the inspection.

Mandatory Elements of Notice

The posting must contain the following:

o   Be in the language the employer normally uses to communicate employment-related information to the employee.

o   The name of the immigration agency conducting the I-9 inspection.

o   The date that the employer received notice of the inspection.

o   The nature of the inspection to the extent known

o   A copy of the Notice of Inspection of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for the inspection to be conducted.

o   Upon reasonable request, shall provide an affected employee a copy of the Notice of Inspection of I-9.

Severe Civil Penalties Due to Violations

An employer who violates this Section 90.2 of the CA Labor Code is subject to a civil penalty of:

o   Two thousand dollars ($2,000) up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) for a first violation

o   Five thousand dollars ($5,000) up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each subsequent violation.

Safety Measures Against Fineable Offenses

If you think these are not enough of a reason to comply with CA AB 450, the Bill has additional language aimed at prohibiting the employer from reverifying eligibility of employment. The penalty for doing so subjects the employer to a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Having employees complete paper I-9’s and/or using an electronic solution that is not integrated with eVerify opens up the possibility of fineable offenses.

Protect your budget from clerical errors by turning to our I-9 electronic platform that is fully integrated with eVerify, and powered by human subject matter experts. We ensure I-9 compliance, cost-effectiveness, and 24/7 support for your team.

Feel free to contact me at a.lopez@emptech.com or at (310) 755-0183 to learn more about how we can help you conduct a seamless I-9 verification process.

Full version of CA AB 450 can be found here.


In light of Equifax breach: How to ensure maximum security of sensitive data

Equifax, one of the biggest credit reporting agencies, reported on September 7, 2017 one of the largest data breaches in history which is now impacting half the U.S. population! Equifax reported that criminals “exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”

The breach includes the compromise of personal information of approximately 143 million individuals, as originally reported; however, as of Oct. 15, CNN reported that there have now been another 2.5 million people breached. The breach includes information including social-security numbers, birthdates, credit card numbers and drivers’ licenses.

Now, as to how much liability Equifax will face, nobody really knows just yet. We do know, however, that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and many state attorney generals have already started proceedings against Equifax. “The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations,” spokesman Peter Kaplan wrote in an email to Reuters. “However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, I can confirm that FTC staff are investigating the Equifax data breach.” In addition, almost 40 states have joined an investigation into Equifax’s business practices.

Continue reading “In light of Equifax breach: How to ensure maximum security of sensitive data”


Best Practices for Exclusion Sanctions Screenings

Earning an exclusion from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) can spell the end of a career or business in the healthcare industry. Once excluded or sanctioned, an individual or entity is prohibited from receiving payment or reimbursement from any Federal healthcare program, which includes Medicare and Medicaid. The payment prohibition affects the person, anyone who contracts or employs the excluded person, and health providers that service the said person.

If a company is found to be using federal healthcare funds to service or pay an excluded individual, it can face hefty fines and civil monetary penalties. These include $10,000 for each claimed item or service furnished to the individual, up to 3 times the amount claimed for each item or service, and the possibility of also getting excluded. In order to avoid these, it is a must for companies, especially healthcare providers, to regularly and diligently screen their employees, contractors, and subcontractors for exclusions and sanctions.

Continue reading “Best Practices for Exclusion Sanctions Screenings”


How Often Should Employers Screen Excluded Individuals?

Screening for individuals and entities that have been excluded from participating in healthcare programs is a must for any healthcare provider. After all, contracting or employing the services of excluded entities can result in significant monetary penalties, Medicaid payment bans, and the possibility of earning exclusion for the company itself.

Given this situation, it seems like the most favorable approach for healthcare providers would be to conduct sanction screenings as often as possible. This is a fairly easy task for a smaller company, but not for one that has hundreds or thousands of employees. Going through a large number of individuals every month will require a dedicated group of people and can eat up a considerable amount of time and resources.

Continue reading “How Often Should Employers Screen Excluded Individuals?”


Emptech Exclusion Screening Update: News from the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

Providers Terminated in One State Continue to Participate in Other States…

In May, 2016 testimony to Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Inspector General Ann Maxwell reported on a study the OIG conducted in 2014 that revealed several shortcomings with respect to the extent to which States are utilizing risk-based screening of high-and-moderate risk providers. The outgrowth of that study is included in OIG’ s 2017 Compendium of Unimplemented Recommendations.

The study found that many States have not fully implemented fingerprint-based criminal background checks, and site visits (guidance that CMS initially issued in 2015). And very importantly, most Sates reported difficulties and sustained challenges obtaining and utilizing quality screening results from Medicare or other States as substitution for their own results. This has resulted in the enrollment and revalidation of thousands of high-to-moderate risk providers.

To solve these problems OIG’ s recommendations include stepped-up CMS support of States in their efforts to implement fingerprint based technology; to increase and improve site-visits; to ensure the quality and accessibility of substitute screening data; and to access and utilize a fully functioning central system for States to submit and access screening results from other States. Thus the OIG recommends that CMS should require each State Medicaid agency to report all terminated providers. And this points to the reality that the extreme importance of advanced, methodical, and frequent exclusion screening extends to every level of engagement with all participating individuals and entities.

On the enforcement front here’s a selection of some recent actions taken by the Office of Inspector General. The full descriptions can be found on the OIG’ s official website.

– An unlicensed New Jersey dentist agreed to a $1.1 million dollar fine and a 50-year exclusion from Federal health care program participation for assuming the identity of a licensed (later deceased) dentist and presenting Medicaid claims for services using that dentist’s identity. The allegation included that the unlicensed dentist perpetrated the fraud from late 2005 to late 2012.

– Two cases in February of this year were resolved by way of self-disclosure. In Rhode Island, Orchard View Manor agreed to pay over $61,000 dollars for allegedly employing an individual that it knew or should’ve known was excluded from Federal health care program participation. And in Ohio, OhioHealth Corp. agree to a CMP of over $231,000 dollars for allegedly employing three excluded individuals.

– In April this year Pafford Medical Services Inc. in Arkansas agreed to a CMP fine of over $390,000 dollars for employing an excluded individual.

Best practices call for minimum monthly screening of all individuals and entities that a provider does business with. Emptech provides high efficiency and ensures full compliance with the lowest overall screening cost available.


Recent Enforcement Actions from the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

On the enforcement front here’s a selection of some recent actions taken by the Office of Inspector General. The full descriptions can be found on the OIG’ s official website.

– An unlicensed New Jersey dentist agreed to a $1.1 million dollar fine and a 50-year exclusion from Federal health care program participation for assuming the identity of a licensed (later deceased) dentist and presenting Medicaid claims for services using that dentist’s identity. The allegation included that the unlicensed dentist perpetrated the fraud from late 2005 to late 2012.

– Two cases in February of this year were resolved by way of self-disclosure. In Rhode Island, Orchard View Manor agreed to pay over $61,000 dollars for allegedly employing an individual that it knew or should’ve known was excluded from Federal health care program participation. And in Ohio, OhioHealth Corp. agree to a CMP of over $231,000 dollars for allegedly employing three excluded individuals.

– And in April this year Pafford Medical Services Inc. in Arkansas agreed to a CMP fine of over $390,000 dollars for employing an excluded individual.

Best practices call for minimum monthly screening of all individuals and entities that a provider does business with. Emptech’s fully integrated platform helps ensure full compliance with the highest automated efficiency, the lowest overall screening cost available, backed by state-of-the-art data security and our locally-based subject matter experts.


FORM I-9 MADE EASY

Finding the answers to Form I-9 questions can be challenging, and the information can be confusing, unless you know where to look. There are more than 15 pages of instructions and a 69-page handbook that provides details on how to properly complete the Form I-9. In addition, there is an entire body of case law related to Form I-9 compliance.

Form I9 Made Easy

It’s important for employers and employees to be as detailed as possible when completing Form I-9, as fines for mistakes can be as high as $2,156 for a first offense, and an employer subject to a Form I-9 audit can be fined up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Continue reading “FORM I-9 MADE EASY”