Department of Homeland Security Provides Certainty For I-9 Employment Verification

Department of Homeland Security Provides Certainty For I-9 Employment Verification

On July 21, 2023, the USCIS gave employers a new option for verifying employment eligibility. Effective August 1, 2023, employers have an alternative procedure by which qualifying employers may inspect employees’ Form I-9 documentation virtually as opposed to performing a physical verification. This physical examination was required for all new hires until the COVID-19 exception was created in March 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic employers were temporarily permitted virtual, remote verification for remote employees. This option was initially supposed to end July 31,2023.

This important update advances DHS’s mission of safeguarding the integrity of the employment eligibility verification process, while recognizing the realities of the post-COVID economic recovery in which more Americans are working remotely than ever.

What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is a free, easy-to-use web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration. The system enables participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees. Current regulations for the Form I-9 require that, within three business days after the first day of employment, employers must physically examine the Form I-9 documentation presented by new employees to ensure that the documentation appears to be genuine and related to the individual who presents it.

This alternative virtual verification procedure is available only to qualified employers.

Such employers are:

  • In good standing in the E-Verify program;
  • Enrolled in E-Verify for all hiring sites in the United States, for which they seek to use the alternative procedure;
  • Have complied with all E-Verify requirements, including verifying the employment eligibility of newly hired employees in the United States; and
  • Have completed an E-Verify tutorial/training concerning fraud awareness and anti-discrimination. 

To utilize the alternative virtual verification, qualified employers must:

  • Examine remotely the front and back of their employees’ identity and employment authorization documentation or acceptable receipt to determine that the documentation reasonably appears genuine;
  • Conduct a live interaction with the employee presenting the same documentation discussed above to ensure the documentation reasonably appears to be genuine and relate to the employee;
  • Indicate on Form I-9, by completing the corresponding box, that an alternative procedure was used to examine documentation to complete Section 2 or for reverification, as applicable;
  • Retain clear and legible copies (front and back) of all documents presented by employees; and
  • In the event of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) I-9 audit or relevant federal government agency investigation, make available clear and legible copies of documentation presented by the employee for document examination in connection with the employment eligibility verification process.

It is important to note that those employers that are qualified have a choice to use the alternative virtual verification or not. Also, this procedure only applies to remote employees; it does not apply to employees who work onsite or have a hybrid arrangement. Further, employers must maintain a non-discriminatory basis for its decision-making.

Employers who are not currently participating in E-Verify

These employers may enroll in E-Verify, take the tutorial-course as mentioned above, and begin to utilize the alternative virtual verification procedure after August 1, 2023.

The alternative virtual verification procedure may be used instead of physical examination of an employee’s Form I-9 only if they:

  • Enrolled in E-Verify at the time of remote examination of the employee’s Form I-9 while using the COVID-19 flexibilities,
  • Created an E-Verify case for that employee (unless for reverification); and
  • Performed remote inspection between March 20, 2020 and July 31, 2023.

Employers who do not participate in E-Verify

Employers who do not participate in E-Verify have until August 30, 2023, as previously announced, to perform all required physical examination of identity and employment authorization documents for those individuals hired on or after March 20, 2020, and who have received only a virtual or remote examination under the COVID-19 temporary flexibilities.

A new one-page version of Form I-9 will be issued on August 1,2023 to encourage the transition to permanent virtual verification.

Employers will be able to continue using the current Form I-9 until October 31, 2023, after which the new form becomes mandatory.

It is important to note

If an employer is otherwise compliant with the law and regulation – and had followed the COVID-19 flexibility guidance – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will generally not focus its limited enforcement resources on Form I-9 verification violations for failing to complete physical document examination by August 30, 2023, particularly where the employer can show that it has taken timely steps to complete physical document examination within a reasonable period of time.

Have questions about E-Verify or your company’s I-9 verification process? Contact us for expert assistance.

Dodge the fines with a FREE workplace OSHA Safety Check

Dodge the fines with a FREE workplace OSHA Safety Check – CHR’s latest offering

At CHR, we know managing environmental health and safety requirements can be overwhelming for large and small companies alike. Plus, OSHA’s maximum penalties have increased almost 8% over previous years, which doesn’t help your bottom line if your facility is fined. That’s why we are partnering with Whitman Engineering to offer our clients a free OSHA Safety Check.

Helping You Stay Ahead of OSHA

Whitman’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Division is dedicated to assisting businesses in creating a safe work environment. With their knowledge of OSHA safety requirements and industry best practices, they will examine your facility, work processes, and safety policies to identify areas for improvement, and ensure compliance with regulations.

Identifying Potential Hazards

Safety hazards can exist in unexpected corners of a workplace, endangering employees, and hindering productivity. With this free safety check, Whitman Engineering will assess your workplace environment to identify and evaluate any potential hazards that may pose a risk to your employees’ health and safety. Whitman engineers know what OSHA is looking for during an inspection and can spot potential EH&S issues before they become reportable.

Receive a Detailed Report

Upon completion of the safety audit, Whitman engineers will provide you with a detailed report outlining their findings and recommendations. This report will serve as a valuable tool to enhance your safety protocols and implement necessary changes.

If you need help implementing the recommendations, Whitman can arrange consulting support and employee training on a project or retainer basis. Their engineers can also assist you when OSHA comes to inspect.

By proactively addressing potential risks, you can create a safer and more secure work environment that fosters productivity and employee well-being.

Request Your Free Safety Check

Investing in workplace safety is not only a legal obligation but also a strategic decision that leads to increased employee morale, reduced accidents, and improved business outcomes. With Whitman Engineering’s free safety check, you can proactively identify potential hazards, improve safety protocols, and safeguard your most valuable asset—your employees.

Take the first step towards safety excellence today by scheduling your complimentary safety audit. Contact us today!

Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Due This Month

Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Due This Month

Federal employment law is about to give birth to some long-overdue requirements. As of June 27, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must provide pregnancy-related accommodations to employees and applicants under the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). Below we will refer to employees and applicants collectively as “employees.”

Pregnancy Related Accommodations

Under the PWFA, employees are entitled to accommodations for a condition related to or affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The condition can be physical or mental. Pregnancy-related conditions include, among others, morning sickness, gestational diabetes, post-partum depression, and lactation.

This law expands employer obligations beyond what is already required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in that being entitled to a pregnancy-related accommodation does not require that the employee’s condition rise to the level of disability. Also, employees are entitled to accommodations even if they cannot perform their essential job functions on a temporary basis.

Possible accommodations include but are not limited to:

  • Providing more frequent or longer breaks
  • Modifying a food or drink policy
  • Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if their job requires standing
  • Observing limits on lifting
  • Providing job restructuring, light duty, or a modified work schedule

Employers cannot require an employee to take leave if a reasonable on-the-job accommodation is available. Like the ADA, the employer and employee should engage in the interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations can be provided. However, if the employer is willing to grant the employee’s request, the interactive process is not required.

Note that many states have already implemented pregnancy accommodation laws, some of which may be more generous than the PWFA. Employers need to apply the law—or the aspect of each law—that is most favorable to employees.

Undue Hardship Exception

Employers do not have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. Undue hardship is defined as “an action requiring significant difficulty or expense,” the same as under the ADA. This is a high standard for employers to meet.

Tips from CHR

  • Add a pregnancy accommodations policy to your handbook if you do not already have one. Contact the HR compliance team at CHR if you need help devising this policy.
  • If you are subject to a state law that provides similar accommodations, make sure your policy captures the most employee-friendly aspects of the applicable laws
  • Ensure that managers are aware of the law and types of accommodations that may be required.
Direct Deposit Scams: A Growing Phishing Threat to Businesses

Direct Deposit Scams: A Growing Phishing Threat to Businesses

Online and email scams are not new, but the ways in which bad actors perpetrate cybersecurity breaches are continually evolving. There are several types of fraudulent activity that affect payroll departments: deliberate worker misclassification by employers, pay rate alteration by malicious insiders, creation of “ghost” employee profiles, and direct deposit scams, which we focus on in this article.

What is a direct deposit scam?

A direct deposit scam, also called a payroll diversion scam, involves phishing emails that target a company’s HR functions—including HR and payroll managers—and is costing companies a lot of money and time.

This scam is rendered via a fraudulent email that is generated to look like a typical direct deposit bank change request. It appears to come from an employee to the human resources or payroll department, requesting a bank change for their paycheck direct deposit. The more sophisticated direct deposit scams address the correct person at the company directly as well.

How direct deposit or payroll diversion scams are implemented

The spoofers establish an email address using the real employee’s name and display name in the messages. At a glance, the email looks “real.” The cyberthief may ask for a company’s direct deposit change form or may include a completed form with the email, having located it online. The unwitting person in charge of direct deposits changes the bank routing number according to the request, which sends the affected paychecks to the scammer’s account. The employee is not paid timely and the employer is out the stolen money, which it must replace.

Payroll diversion emails usually have a sense of urgency about them (“must be done before …” “need this in time for …”) as well as something that personalizes the phishing email further. They are designed to invite the HR manager or payroll manager to help the employee as promptly as possible.

Increased working from home increases the threat

More employees working from home (WFH) means they are conducting more business over email rather than walking down the hall at the office. This increased WFH environment is making it easier for scammers to execute this cybersecurity threat. After all, human resource managers get many legitimate requests by email from employees, such as arranging paid time off or vacations. A bogus change request for their direct-deposit paycheck can be easily overlooked—especially as spoofing capabilities improve all the time.

Who is doing the payroll phishing?
Bad actors who engage in this payroll phishing scam may be a former employee who knows the inner workings and personnel of your company. The phishing may come from an external party through a data breach of your computing network. Or it could be someone who takes the time to research your organization and figures out who handles payroll and processes the direct deposit change requests. Creating the fake email is the easy part!

How to combat direct deposit scams

  • Training: The importance of employee training cannot be overstated. There are training programs to help your team more readily identify email phishing scams of all kinds, from executive spoofing to payroll scams. These trainings should be part of your standard operating procedures to keep up with savvy cybercriminals. Also, remind employees that they should remain vigilant and not respond to any suspicious emails; nor should they ever send sensitive, confidential information by email to anyone.
  • Policies and processes: Make sure to include a cyber policy and processes in your employee handbook. Your staff should be aware of and follow them in case of a breach, including what notices need to be given. Review these periodically to ensure they are current with evolving threats and update them as needed.
  • Proactive measures: Be wary of any requests coming to you through email. Always check the sender’s email address and verify this is someone who works for your company, with an established and exact email address you have on file.
  • If you aren’t certain the direct deposit bank change request is legitimate, call the employee on a known phone number to check it out.
  • Notify your HR or payroll manager and/or payroll provider if the request is not legitimate.

How CHR helps avoid direct deposit scams

CHR works very hard to protect clients. We can help your team draft cyber policies and procedures to protect your organization against nefarious phishing scams and leverage the power of our third-party partners to assist on the cybersecurity side for you.

We also encourage our clients to have their employees use our secure employee portal which encrypts emails. Your staff can manage and make direct deposit change requests there, providing a layer of protection for all parties. CHR uses multi-factor authentication to verify registered users’ identities and our technology meets the most stringent cybersecurity standards to prevent email spoofing scams from occurring. In short, our protocols are designed to mitigate the risk of cyber threats for our clients.

If one of our clients falls prey to the direct deposit change request scam, we will notify the bank(s) about this fraud and create a paper trail detailing efforts. We may also work with government or state agencies depending on the amount of money involved. Our services are used by 80,000 organizations and we handle $2 billion in payroll wages annually—so we’re always integrating new technologies to safeguard those payroll dollars and the companies we serve.

Contact CHR USA and keep out the scammers

We’re here to help your team avoid direct deposit and other email and payroll scams that will cost your organization precious money and time or incur legal action. Reach out to your account specialist or for more information.

Important Payroll Tax Compliance Dates

Payroll tax filings and tax payments are an important part of every employer’s fiscal responsibilities to their employees, federal, state and local agencies. From FICA to FUTA (federal unemployment tax) to local taxes, our clients never have to worry about filings, payroll taxes, and deadline dates. Our payroll team handles it all for you, timely and efficiently. And if you receive any notice from a state or federal agency, including rate change notices, all you need to do is send it to us for review and response.

We are sharing the dates below for your information and planning purposes.

General calendar notes

For monthly depositors, the payroll tax payment deadline is the 15th of every month (or the first Monday following that date) for the previous month. Funds are paid via electronic transfer to the IRS.

Upcoming 2023 payroll tax payment due dates

The monthly payroll tax payments must include federal income tax withheld and both employer and employee FICA (Social Security and Medicare taxes).

  • May 15, 2023
  • June 15, 2023
  • July 17, 2023
  • August 15, 2023
  • September 15, 2023
  • October 16, 2023
  • November 15, 2023
  • December 15, 2023

Quarterly payroll tax filings, FUTA deposits

These filings, using Form 941, report federal income tax withholding amounts, FICA from employee paychecks, and employer payments for those items for the previous quarter.

If you are required to make quarterly FUTA tax deposits on the following dates (paid for the previous quarter), we use Form 940. FUTA tax payments exceeding $500 for the calendar year require at least one quarterly payment.

  • July 31, 2023
  • October 31, 2023

With CHR USA on your team, you never have to worry about meeting these deadlines and remaining in compliance. Contact your CHR USA account specialist with any questions about IRS and state treasury requirements or notices.

Workplace Harassment: Who Is Affected?

Workplace Harassment: Who Is Affected?

Workplace harassment or discrimination is not limited to employees or direct victims of the act. Other people who can be affected by verbal, physical, or other harassment include anyone in the work environment who perceives the behavior as hostile. These may be co-workers who are sitting nearby and are bothered by it or a visitor to the office, such as a vendor or business partner, who is the object of or witness to an act of harassment.

Clearly denote harassing behaviors: what and where

Discriminatory harassment is covered under federal civil rights law. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).  According to the EEOC, examples of workplace harassment include offensive or derogatory jokes, racial or ethnic slurs, pressure for dates or sexual favors, unwelcome comments about a person’s religion or religious garments, or offensive graffiti, and cartoons or pictures.

In addition, instances of workplace harassment need not always occur on work premises. For example, being repeatedly pressured or bullied about any of the above-mentioned categories at an off-site work conference or on social media may constitute harassment that is reportable.

Make sure your employee handbook outlines all of this for everyone’s protection. 

Define who is a potential victim—and a bully

As we noted in a prior post, the section of your employee handbook that deals with workplace harassment should clearly define who is a potential victim (direct or indirect). The target may not even consider the behavior as harassment or bullying; however, others in the environment who do feel the behavior is hostile or feel they are being bullied have the right to complain to supervisors, human resources, or other contacts within the organization without fear of retaliation.

By the way, the harasser does not need to be an employee. The bully can be an outside salesperson, customer/client, or anyone with whom your company does business and has access to your team. That person’s behavior can also cause a hostile work environment and company leadership cannot allow that to continue once a complaint is made or the behavior is observed.

Know who is protected from discrimination

It is incumbent upon leadership to maintain an environment free of discrimination, especially when it comes to protected classes of individuals. Although sexual harassment is often the type of bullying that is top of mind in today’s #MeToo world, discrimination and bullying behavior can show up around a person’s gender identity or gender expression, sexual orientation, nationality or heritage, race, age, creed, religion, marital status, medical status, military service history, or disability. These protected classes are defined by state, federal, and local laws.

Examples of people affected by workplace harassment and discrimination

  1. Pregnancy/family status
    • Sarah is a great employee and is now five months pregnant. Despite positive performance reviews, her employer took adverse action against her because of her pregnancy. The actions are an unwanted work schedule reduction, denial of overtime, and penalizing Sarah for taking lawful sick leave due to a pregnancy-related condition.
  2. Religion
    • Kareem, who is Muslim, prays five times daily according to his religious observance; two of those prayer sessions are during regular work hours. He has requested that his break times coincide with his prayer times; his supervisor has repeatedly refused to consider the request, even though these would not interfere with Kareem’s work, cause harm or expense to the employer, or negatively impact his coworkers.
  3. Sexual harassment
    • Carrie is a hostess at a popular restaurant. The general manager has talked about her physique directly to her and around other staff members, touched her several times in inappropriate ways without her permission, and he talks openly about her in a racy context. Carrie isn’t bothered by this behavior but other female staff members are offended and report this to the restaurant owner.

Workplace harassment and discrimination show up in numerous ways and can affect anyone associated with your company, directly or indirectly. If it’s time to review your company policies and expand your employee handbook to make sure your organization is prepared to prevent a hostile work environment that may result in harassment complaints and liability, contact Karen Roche at for guidance.

Workplace Harassment: Who Is Affected?

What is Workplace Bullying?

Sad to say, many people are victims or witnesses to workplace bullying. As defined by SHRM, workplace bullying is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more people by one or more perpetrators.” This persistent, pervasive, inappropriate behavior—direct or indirect—falls into several categories.

What is workplace bullying behavior?

  • Threats, intimidation, or humiliation
  • Verbal abuse such as slander, ridicule, or maligning a coworker or coworker’s family; sabotaging another’s work
  • Gaslighting (psychological trickery that distorts reality, to cause self-doubt or confusion in the other person)
  • Social or physical exclusion from workplace activities
  • Nonverbal, menacing gestures
  • Physical assault (pushing, kicking, shoving, tripping), sexual assault or harassment, or damage to the person’s property or workspace
  • Misleading an employee about a project deadline
  • Refusing or making it difficult for time off/vacation requests
  • Mistreatment during performance reviews
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Work sabotage – others taking credit for victim’s work.

Most employers do not realize the potential cost surrounding a hostile work environment where discrimination, workplace bullying or harassment persist. 

Financial impact:

  • Creation of psychological and mental torment for victims
  • Overall cost to employer:
    • Lower productivity
    • Loss of sales
    • Lower morale
    • Reputation damage
    • Employee turnover
    • Rehiring and training costs
  • Health care costs:
    • Sick leave and insurance costs:
      • High stress situations impact health of employees which result in medical issues such as high blood pressure, depression, migraines, anxiety.
      • Higher costs for retraining the Bully: rehabilitation, counseling fees, anger management training, leadership training, sensitivity training.

Legal ramifications:

  • Employer liability for hostile work environment resulting in increased workers’ compensation claims.
  • Employers who do nothing risk being sued and paying significant damages!
  • Employers should take a stance on workplace bullying which can help retain top talent, improve morale, and increase productivity.

Employer best practices regarding workplace bullying

1 – Create a detailed anti-bullying policy

Employers are responsible, ultimately, for creating a non-hostile work environment free of discrimination or harassment of any kind. Therefore, companies are strongly advised to put a policy in place against discrimination, workplace bullying and harassment. Include it in the employee handbook under the umbrella of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment rules.

2 – Have a code of ethics and behavior expectations

Have a corporate code of ethics declaring the company’s commitment to diversity and creating a safe workplace for all. Be very clear about the expectation that all employees will be treated with dignity and respect, and that there will be repercussions to anyone who violates this anti-bullying policy.

3 – Make reporting procedures and harassment consequences clear to all

Implement a reporting procedure for victims or witnesses of bullying or harassing behaviors. This includes to whom they report, a statement of confidentiality, and assurance there will be no retaliation for coming forward. Inform employees that the company will fully investigate the complaint (the EEOC has issued approved investigation review questions to use), and the actions to be taken to investigate and combat any kind of workplace harassment and discrimination. Be sure employees understand the corrective actions the company will take and the disciplinary repercussions to them if found to be engaging in bullying behavior at work.

4 – Conduct employee training

Hold in-house training sessions periodically as a further step toward clearly defining workplace bullying. These can be via video or live sessions. Make sure managers recognize the various aspects of what constitutes harassment and the prohibited behaviors so they can be responsible representatives of your company.

DID YOU KNOW?  A supervisor can be disciplined for not reporting prohibited behavior or acting on it; this can include termination of the supervisor’s employment.

5 – Get employee signatures

Have employees sign off on all documents related to your workplace bullying policy. The signed document, noting the employee has read and understands the policy, should go into each worker’s personnel file.

This will provide a form of defense if an employee makes an allegation or an EEOC complaint is filed. It shows employees have been instructed and trained regarding your anti-harassment policy and demonstrates the company’s commitment to foster a non-hostile work environment. The perpetrator will be unable to claim “I didn’t know it was against company policy.” Plus, by all employees adhering to the Company’s well-established policies and practices of preventing harassment and bullying, fewer complaints will be filed with the EEOC for relief.  

DID YOU KNOW? The employer could be liable for instances of bullying and/or harassment arising from anyone coming onto the premises such as vendors, sales people, clients, customers, etc.  Employers must not ignore incidents of bullying or harassment by anyone on the premises.

Digital workplace bullying

Today’s workplace often includes digital media activity, from group chats to company pages to text messages. Although this depends on specific situations, you may want to create a policy against defaming, harassing, or manipulating coworkers on digital media anytime, to avoid workplace-related hostility and harassing behaviors.

Contact CHR

Workplace bullying is serious and can harm not only your employees but your company. If you need guidance to update your policy and procedures associated with this hostile behavior, contact us to discuss this critical HR compliance matter.

PTO requests

Managing PTO requests

Paid Time Off is an important benefit for employees and job seekers. If a generous PTO program helps you attract talent, you need to make sure employees can actually use it once they are hired. A confusing PTO process, or a culture that discourages vacations can lower morale and contribute to burnout. This decreases productivity, drives turnover and makes your company less desirable to job seekers.

PTO management starts with transparency 

How do world-class companies manage time off requests? Number one, they have a transparent, equitable policy and communicate it to their workforce. Number two, they make it easy for employees to monitor their accruals and request PTO. Number three, they train their managers to approve requests where possible, treat everyone fairly, and refrain from contacting their team members when off work. Number four, leadership and managers set a good example by taking vacations and encouraging all employees to do the same.

Automation makes it easy

An automated PTO system is essential for managing leave effectively. They are most powerful when integrated with employee timekeeping and scheduling.

How does a PTO system work?

  • Employees can see available PTO in the timekeeping system–including amount available for any future date
  • Employees submit a request in their timekeeping portal–just like an email but easier
  • Managers receive requests in the system
    • All requests are in the same place
    • Schedulers can easily review requests in light of shift schedules
    • Each request is time stamped
  • Approved PTO is automatically registered in the timekeeping system
  • The software updates pending or approved accruals in real time
  • Employees can check their balance on a mobile device 24/7, including forecasted balance for any future date

How does it benefit employees?

PTO systems provide a transparent, standardized procedure which makes it easier for employees to plan for and use time off. A cloud-based system allows employees to plan vacations at their convenience outside of work hours. With 24/7 online employee self-service, they can do it all without the hassle, delays and risk of paper-based processes.

Not everyone is comfortable asking their manager for time off in a face-to-face conversation. An automated system makes it easy for less-assertive employees to ask for time off. A PTO system with a mobile app lets employees request time off from the comfort and familiarity of their smartphone. Mobile-friendly access creates an intuitive, employee-centric work culture.

Mitigate payroll errors 

An automated system also ensures that PTO use doesn’t cause payroll errors. Companies with pay check problems can expect frustrated employees to look for work elsewhere.

Mismanaged PTO is a common friction point for small business teams. Consider the following scenario:

In March, team member Kevin asks manager Natalie for the first week off in June to go to his sister’s wedding. Natalie tells Kevin, “I’m sure that will be okay, but I will confirm after looking at the schedule and reviewing the June workload.”

Natalie makes a mental note to write down Kevin’s desired dates in the Google calendar where she keeps PTO requests. Unfortunately, Natalie is pulled away before she makes it back to her office and forgets to write down Kevin’s request. A few weeks later, since Natalie hasn’t denied the request, Kevin assumes he can take the time off,

Meanwhile… in April, team member Kelly asks Natalie for the same week off in June to go on a cruise with friends she hasn’t seen since college. This time, Natalie remembers to make a note of Kelly’s request but doesn’t remember that Kevin had asked for the same week off. During a meeting a week before the time off, Kevin says he needs to discuss who will handle his accounts while he is away for his sister’s wedding. Kelly is surprised because she had planned to be away for the same week. Since it’s a small team, both employees can’t be gone at the same time.

What can Natalie do? What if she doesn’t remember when Kevin asked for the time off? How does she prioritize the requests? While a wedding is an important event, Kelly’s friends have taken time off and the group has put a sizable deposit for the price of the cruise. There is no way Natalie can solve this problem without disappointing either Kevin or Kelly.

Certainly, this type of PTO mix-up can cause resentment and frustration for hard-working employees that want to use a valued benefit.

How can a manager successfully manage time off? The solution is good PTO tracking software and a formal leave policy.

PTO workflows

When creating a paid leave process, consider the following:

  1. Define the method employees use to request leave: email, paper form, or automated system
  2. Determine whether unused PTO will roll over into the new year or ‘use it or lose it’
  3. How managers will handle overlapping requests
  4. How far in advance employees need to submit requests
  5. Blackout periods when nobody can take time off

Let the system do the work

With automated PTO tracking, you don’t need to waste time calculating PTO balances for future vacation requests. Instead, balances calculate in real time as employees build a time off request. Employees and managers can rest assured that time off requested is available. Balance calculations include accrual method and rate, PTO already used and pending time off already approved.

Keep moving forward 

Innovative small businesses use an automated PTO system integrated with timekeeping, scheduling and payroll. This creates efficiencies managers and employees expect while contributing to a positive work culture.

  • See clearly how time off impacts shifts
  • Alerts make managers aware of each pending request in shift context and who else is on leave
  • No more short staffing or missing skill sets due to lack of PTO visibility
  • Approved PTO instantly appears on schedules, whether published or still being built.
  • Schedulers have all the information needed to adjust schedules for full shift coverage while employees use leave
  • Timecards reflect PTO, ensuring accurate payroll processing

Effective PTO management improves productivity and engagement while lowering turnover.

Ready to learn more? Book a time with our CEO Brian Boffa


woman on smartphone working remotely

Managing mobile employees on-the-go

Millions of small businesses rely on mobile employees. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the number of mobile workers in the U.S. will reach 93.5 million by 2024 and will account for 60% of the total workforce. It’s no wonder mobile access to online information has become a top priority in nearly every industry.

In particular, home health, field service, and direct sales are examples of businesses with mobile workers. In addition, many organizations have employees that float between multiple retail establishments, restaurants, schools, or healthcare clinics. And there is a new breed of app-based business that serves customers on-demand with a 100% mobile team. Consequently, the need for mobile employees, contractors, and freelancers has exploded and will continue to grow. They are an essential part of the workforce and managing them effectively will help mobile small businesses continue to drive economic growth.

In this article, we are focusing mainly on client-facing mobile job roles:

  • Delivery drivers
  • Field service reps
  • Home health aides
  • Traveling salespeople
  • Employees that float between locations

(As we discuss mobile employees, keep in mind that we are not including those that work from home or a fixed remote location–though our solutions are ideal for these environments as well.)

What is a Mobile Time and Attendance system?

A mobile time and attendance system is also called a mobile time and labor system or simply mobile workforce management. It’s a cloud-based software platform that managers, employees and administrators access with a mobile device. Employees use company-provided or personal mobile devices to perform timekeeping and other HR tasks in the system.

When employees can use their personal devices, it ensures quick and universal user adoption for any mobile system. After all, your employees are comfortable using their smartphones and tablets to manage their personal lives, so it’s natural for them to use the same devices at work for timekeeping and HR.

Pew Research Center estimates that 99% of Americans ages 18-64 own a smartphone. The ubiquity of mobile devices creates a win-win situation when it comes to workforce management. Employees prefer a familiar and frictionless experience and employers save time and money on training and hardware costs. In fact, Cisco estimates that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies generate an average of $350 of value per employee annually. Mobile Time Tracking

Now, let’s discuss how a mobile timekeeping system works. The first thing to understand is that it automates and integrates time and attendance, employee scheduling, PTO management, shift-swapping and job code tracking. This is transformative for small businesses that have been using manual processes or disparate systems. In addition, the software syncs with your payroll service which eliminates manual data entry and ensures employees are paid accurately in accordance with workplace laws.

Clock-in and clock-out are at the heart of mobile time and labor management. As mentioned, employees can punch in and out for shifts with a mobile device. This is not only more convenient; it is more sanitary than clocking in with a shared time clock or kiosk.

Since you can’t operate without paying your employees, you want to track time correctly. And you can only do that if the employee can punch at any geographic location where their shift begins and ends. This keeps you from overpaying and going over your labor budget or underpaying and risking a compliance violation. Plus, if you invoice employee time per job, you need a way to track that. Similarly, if your contractors do the same, it makes expense tracking easy for them as well.

GPS-Enabled Mobile Location Management

GPS-enabled mobile location management is a feature of mobile time and labor systems. GPS brings accountability to mobile punching. It confirms that the employee is where they say they are when they clock in. (Note that the employee’s device must have location tracking turned on.) It can help you avoid expensive buddy-punching and ensure you have the right labor resources at the right location.

Geofencing is a key feature of mobile location management that strengthens accountability and oversight. With geofencing, a manager can designate an authorized worksite on a map, then assign one or more employees to the location. If an employee clocks in outside of the fence, the system sends the manager an alert.

How Mobile Time and Labor Helps Managers

Let’s discuss benefits to managers in more detail. Frontline managers have considerable influence because of their broad range of responsibilities. Above all, managers need to know what’s going on with their teams. This is more difficult when employees aren’t in one physical location. With a mobile time and labor solution, supervisors can see at a glance who is on duty and where they are located.

Centralize Communication with Mobile Access

Communication and mobile productivity go hand in hand. Managers and employees communicate about schedules, timecards, time off, and shift swapping bidirectionally through the system. When everyone can see changes in real time, it ends the back-and-forth texting so common in small businesses.

Scheduling is one of a manager’s critical tasks and can take up a lot of time. Though spreadsheet scheduling is a step up from pen and paper, it is slow and tedious, and it doesn’t allow managers to respond to changes. A mobile time and labor solution allows managers to build schedules quickly and staff shifts with a 360-degree perspective. A virtual trade board allows employees and managers to work together to keep shifts staffed. This keeps both managers and employees happy. With the board, employees can swap shifts–subject to manager approval, if needed. Managers can choose their level of oversight, but the system handles the heavy lifting.

Simplify Approvals for Managers on the go

Let’s discuss another ongoing managerial responsibility–approvals. Managers must approve timecards, PTO requests and, as mentioned previously, shift changes. If your organization is still doing approvals manually, you have a great opportunity to increase efficiency. It’s time to put modern mobile tech to work for your business!

Let’s discuss timecards, for example. A mobile solution creates timecards as employees punch in and out. The system tallies the hours for each shift and pay period as well as overtime and PTO accruals. The software doesn’t make arithmetic mistakes, so the manager doesn’t need to double check. They also don’t need to decipher sloppy writing or investigate missed punches.

Good PTO management is essential for employee retention and a positive corporate culture. A mobile system helps you administer PTO so employees can take time off without impacting business operations. Employees request time off in the system and managers can see all requests in a centralized location. Importantly, managers can see PTO when building schedules. This ensures adequate shift coverage when employees are on leave. Simplified approvals are a compelling reason to use a mobile solution.

Alerts and Threshold Warnings

Alerts and threshold warnings are additional features that make a manager’s job a lot easier. In effect, they allow a manager to outsource their memory, schedule policing and compliance tracking. Managers can set alerts for no-shows, impending overtime, employee double-booking, missed punches and early punch-in for mandated breaks. When a mobile system automates timekeeping, scheduling and PTO, managers have more time to help their teams be productive and engaged.

How Mobile Time and Labor Helps Employees

The advantages for employees are just as significant. First off, mobile time and labor solutions provide employee self-service HR. This lets your team members track their own time and attendance, see their pay stubs, access benefits information, request time off and trade shifts.

Secondly, a mobile system pushes notifications to employees’ phones. This includes an alert when a schedule is posted or if there are changes to an existing schedule. Plus, the system will send a notification if an employee forgets to punch in or out, receives approval for PTO or can proceed with a shift swap. Consider that the average American checks their phone every 5 minutes ( Is there a better place for work notifications? Would schedule adherence improve at your company if your employees could check their schedule anytime, anywhere 24/7?

We have seen dramatic improvements in communication, employee satisfaction and labor dollar ROI when our small business clients adopt mobile workforce management. As an example, let’s discuss a field service business.

Case Study: Field Service Company

For 30 years, the company had required employees to clock in at the headquarters before they began their service calls. This meant that an employee who lived within a few miles of their first appointment had to drive to the office (which may have been across town from their residence) to clock in before they began their shift. At the end of the day, they had to repeat the process. When the company adopted a mobile workforce solution, they not only saved on fuel, the time savings allowed their reps to serve more clients. That’s just one example of how a mobile time and labor solution impacts day-to-day operations.

Is your business tracking time the same way you did ten years ago? If so, upgrading to a mobile solution is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to improved efficiency and cost savings.

How Mobile Time and Labor Helps Your Company Stay Compliant

It’s critical that small business owners understand regulations and create a culture of compliance. Accurate payroll is the foundation for compliance. If you don’t get timekeeping right, it can put you on shaky legal ground with the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service.

With a mobile time and attendance solution, compliance is a whole lot easier. A mobile system helps you:

  • Track all time for mobile employees, prevent off-the-clock work, and use geofencing for location confirmation
  • Calculate and pay overtime to non-exempt employees
  • Track FMLA and PTO separately and accurately
  • Follow all state and local shift scheduling laws (predictive scheduling, fair work week, stable scheduling, etc.)
  • Comply with rules for final paycheck and unused PTO
  • Classify employees and contractors correctly


You could do all the things mentioned previously and still fail this one if you don’t keep good records. When in doubt, don’t throw it out.

  • Keep payroll records for 3 years
  • Keep timesheets, piecework records, wage rate tables, work schedules, and record of additions to or deductions from paychecks for 2 years

A mobile workforce management system has tools to help with all of these!

How Mobile Time and Labor Helps Your Company Grow

Automating mobile workforce management will save money and time that would be better spent on things that generate revenue and help you expand your business. Unlocking value from mobile workforce management isn’t just about time and money, though. With the right solution, employers can also reduce their compliance risk and boost employee retention–both of which are essential for growth.

To recap, here are some specific ways mobile time and labor can help your business grow:

  1. Reduce administrative costs
  2. Lower the risk of a compliance violation that could set you back financially and tarnish your reputation
  3. Improve employee scheduling which elevates customer service, increases customer loyalty and boosts word-of-mouth advertising
  4. Avoid overtime and hours fraud (buddy punching, timecard manipulation)
  5. Establish trust between employees and management
  6. Generate labor data for better business decisions

Ready to grow your business with the only mobile time and labor solution designed for the mission critical needs of your small business? Schedule a meeting with our CEO Brian Boffa to get started.

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