Remote I-9 Authorization Ends July 31, 2023
Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Covid-era policy permitting remote I-9 authorization, which began on March 20, 2020, ends July 31, 2023. Employers who accepted I-9 documents electronically during that time are now required to physically inspect those same I-9 documents by August 31, 2023.
“Employers who did not change their I-9 procedures during the Covid era are unaffected by this requirement” according to Attorney Emily Noonan, “but for those who accepted the I-9 documents remotely, this presents a burden. It means that they must reach out to those employees hired between March 20, 2020, to July 31, 2023 and have them present the hard copy documents. Moreover, if the person who virtually examined the documents is not the one who performs the physical inspection, DHHS advises that the person conducting the physical inspection should complete a new Section 2 of the Form I-9 and attach that to the complete remote inspection Form I-9.”
“The employer must also, by this date, annotate the corresponding I-9s to indicate that the delay in completing the physical inspection of documents was due to COVID-19. If the physical inspection is not completed within this time frame, the employer may face civil penalties,” she added.
Connecticut Insurers File Rate Increases for 2024
Connecticut insurers have proposed double-digit rate increases for 2024 group health plans. For on-exchange small group health, Anthem proposed increases ranging from 8.9% to 22.1%, with an average increase of 14.9%. Insurers in the off-exchange group market proposed the following rate increases:
· Aetna: 10.9%
· Cigna: 23.04% average, 20.6 to 25.9% range
· Oxford Health Plans, Inc.: 7.5% average increase, 4.5 to10.1% range
· Oxford Health Insurance, Inc.: 8.5% average, 4.2 to 11.6% range
· United Healthcare Insurance Co. 8.2% average, 1.2 to 14.7% range
Minimum Wage Increased, Poised to Increase Again
Connecticut minimum wage increased to $15/hour on June 1, 2023. Beginning January 1, 2024, and annually thereafter, minimum wage will be tied to the employment cost index for wages and salaries for all civilian workers, as defined by the U.S. DOL on June 30, 2023 (or each June 30th thereafter).
Currently the employment cost index is 4.8%. If that number holds, minimum wage will go up by $0.72/hour this coming January 1st.
Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Annual Notice
Connecticut’s Paid FMLA law requires employers to provide written notice to employees upon hire and annually thereafter of their right to CT FMLA and CT Paid Leave. The notice requirement began on July 1, 2022. For employers who issued the initial notice last year at this time, the annual notice is coming due.
The written notice to employees must describe:
(1) their entitlement to job-protected leave provided under the CT FMLA and the terms under which such leave may be used;
(2) the opportunity to file a claim for compensation under the CTPL Act;
(3) the retaliation protections provided by the Acts; and
(4) the right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.
The Connecticut Department of Labor permits employers to fulfill the notice requirements by providing the notice in an employee handbook if the handbook is reissued annually. If the handbook is not reissued annually, then a separate notice needs to be provided annually. A template notice from the Connecticut DOL can be found at https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DOLUI/NEW-53122-Prototype-of-Employers-Written-Notice-to-Employees-of-Rights-under-CTFMLA-and-CTPL.pdf.
Connecticut General Assembly
The Connecticut legislature concluded its regular session on June 7th, having passed few workplace laws. Lawmakers rejected a series of workplace mandates, including a paid sick leave expansion, unemployment benefits for striking workers, a ban on noncompete agreements, and increased workers’ compensation costs. Among the bills that passed were:
P.A. 23-35: An Act Expanding Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Post Traumatic Stress Injuries to All Employees
This law would expand eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Injuries to cover all employees covered by the workers’ compensation law. Current law generally limits eligibility for PTSI benefits to certain first responders who are diagnosed with PTSI as a direct result of certain qualifying events (e.g., witnessing someone’s death) that occur in the line of duty. This law will instead allow any employee covered under Connecticut’s workers’ compensation law to qualify for the benefits if the same qualifying events occur in the course of the employee’s employment. The act now heads to the governor’s desk for signing. If signed, it becomes effective January 1, 2024.
P.A. 23-32: An Act Concerning Plans for the Treatment of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
Requires the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) chairperson, in setting standards for approving employer or insurer medical plans, to include whether the plan has an administrative process allowing employees to seek certain information about the medical and health care services recommended by the plan’s providers (e.g., their appropriateness and payment). The act now heads to the governor’s desk for signing. If signed, it becomes effective October 1, 2023.
S.B. 228: An Act Concerning Employees’ Loss of Health Care Coverage as a Result of a Labor Dispute
Permits unionized employees who go out on strike to be eligible to get health benefits from the state’s health insurance exchange through a special enrollment period. If signed, it becomes effective October 1, 2023.
Inflation Cools in May to 4% Annual Rate.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.1% in May, after increasing 0.4% percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today (June 13, 2023). This was the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending March 2021. Over the last 12 months, the all-items index increased 4% before seasonal adjustment.
Editor’s Note: These laws and several important court case decisions will be explained in our annual legislative update webinar on September 14, 2023. For advanced registration, e-mail Jessenia Narvaez, Office Manager, at email@example.com.