Los Angeles HR Firm Assists Local Employers

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<p><strong>West Hollywood, Calif. &mdash; Sept. 19</strong><br />CPEhr, an HR outsourcing firm, is helping California employers respond to the Department of Homeland Security&rsquo;s recent announcement to increase enforcement efforts and levy larger fines against businesses that employ undocumented workers. </p><p>The Los Angeles-based firm is offering on-site services to help small employers comply with the newly enforced regulations and avoid non-ompliance penalties.<br /><br />Effective Sept. 14, the Department of Homeland Security has begun enforcing new guidelines for employers that receive &ldquo;No Match&rdquo; letters from the Social Security Administration. </p><p>A No Match letter is issued when tax documents submitted for an employee do not match the information on file at the Social Security Administration. </p><p>In the new guidelines, the department states that improper handling of No Match letters might indicate knowledge by an employer that a worker is illegal, and it might lead to civil or criminal enforcement action.<br /><br />&ldquo;In the past, employers would get these letters and usually ignore them,&rdquo; said Peter Escalante, CPEhr human resources consultant. &ldquo;However, employers are going to have to start taking these letters seriously. Now, just by receiving them, employers are considered to have inferred knowledge and have to act on it.&rdquo;<br /><br />In early July, the Bush administration announced employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers may be eligible for fines up to $12,500 and a felony prosecution. </p><p>On the state level, the number of laws against illegal immigrants this year has more than doubled since 2006, to more than 170.<br /><br />With years of experience dealing with the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), CPEhr is offering customized services to create and implement aggressive I9 and employment verification policies, respond to No Match Letters and correspond with the Social Security Administration and INS for California-based employers.<br /><br />Escalante summarizes the process. </p><p>&ldquo;We check employee files for valid I-9s and confirm they are properly stored,” Escalante said. “If a client receives a letter from the SSA, we check it against their information on file. If the information is incomplete, we request completed documentation and recommend the client terminates the employee if it is not provided in a timely manner.&rdquo; </p><p>If a response to the agency is required, CPEhr manages the process on behalf of the client.<br /><br />CPEhr recommends all employers have an undocumented employee policy included in their employee handbook. </p><p>In it, employees acknowledges that if their Social Security number is challenged by the Social Security Administration, they have 30 days to produce valid documentation or be fired. </p><p>This type of involvement by the employer is extremely valuable, Escalante said, when faced with an investigation or fine by a governmental agency.<br /><br />&ldquo;If an agency finds the employer to be proactive in any regard, they will be more forgiving and typically reduce the severity of the penalty,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The government realizes employees have rights and employers can&rsquo;t just fire them. They are understanding of employers who have policies in place and show an effort to cooperate.&rdquo;</p>

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