May 2015

HR Extras

Federal, state agencies target independent contractor misclassification

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been waging an aggressive campaign to bring an end to independent contractor misclassification for some time. It has ramped up its efforts through a new level of cooperation between state and federal agencies. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Misclassification Initiative has established memorandums of understanding with other agencies to share information in an effort to reduce the incidence of employee misclassification.
 
Misclassification of employees as independent contractors can result in employers failing to withhold taxes; complete I-9s; cover employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement, and workers’ compensation; and pay overtime. To avoid getting caught in the trap, school districts should analyze the facts at the beginning of the work relationship.
 
Some indications that a worker is an employee and not an independent contractor are the following:
  • The employer controls how the work is done or the hours of work.
  • The employer provides the workspace, materials, tools (e.g., telephone, e-mail), and training needed to perform the job.
  • The worker performs work that is integral to the employer’s business or there are other workers on the employer’s payroll who do the same job.
  • The worker participates in staff meetings and celebrations and is subject to workplace rules for requesting time off or reporting absences.
  • The worker has not set him or herself up as an independent business that advertises services, works for multiple organizations, provides the tools and equipment necessary to do the job, and invoices clients on a per-project basis for services performed.
  • The relationship between the employer and the worker is long-term and ongoing.
Additional information on independent contractors is available in the Employment section of the HR Library.

Socorro ISD named ‘District of Distinction’ for new teacher mentor program

Having a good mentor can make all the difference to a new teacher. Socorro ISD was recently honored for its effort to support new teachers. In 2014, the district started the Building a Friend for the Future (BFF): New Teacher Induction and Mentorship Program to train and retain new teachers.
 
The program began in the summer, with nearly 50 new teachers and 40 mentors meeting for a week of professional development focused on state and federal education guidelines, the district’s grading system, school safety, intervention practices, using electronic resources, and other topics.
 
During the school year, new teachers meet with their mentors once a month for eight sessions to develop their skills at lesson planning, instructional practice, collaborative learning, and more.
 
District Administration magazine recently named Socorro ISD a ‘District of Distinction’ for the innovation and success of this initiative. The district was one of 62 to receive the honor in March. “Building strong, one-to-one relationships among teachers and students will inspire a great dynamic that can produce phenomenal results in the classroom,” said Superintendent José Espinoza.

Until new FML forms are issued, districts should use expired forms

HR administrators may be aware that the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Family and Medical Leave Act forms were set to expire on February 28, 2015, and on March 1, 2015 there were no new forms.
 
The DOL subsequently extended the expiration date to March 31, 2015, and now until April 30, 2015. It is a safe assumption that the forms will be granted another 30-day reprieve, and will be set to expire on May 31, 2015.
 
The reason for having an expiration date that appears to be impermanent is this: the Department of Labor (DOL) is required to submit its forms every three years to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The OMB reviews the forms to ensure the information requested and the estimated time employers spend on responding to the request is accurate. Because the forms are still under OMB review, the DOL is allowed to use the older forms.
 
One expected change is a disclaimer added to the model medical certification instructing health care providers to not collect or provide any genetic information related to an employee’s serious health condition, since that is prohibited under the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA). TASB’s model FML form, Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition, already includes the GINA Nondisclosure Notice.
 
Once new FML forms are approved by the OMB, TASB HR Services will update the appropriate forms in the HR Library. One final reminder: employers are not required to use the DOL’s FML forms. They are provided as a guide to employers.