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Retail and food service sales were up 1.1% in February.

BY Ken Clark

Data released Wednesday morning by the U.S Census Bureau, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences but not for price changes, shows $424.1 billion in retail sales, up 1.1% from the previous month, and up 4.6% above February 2012.

In the NAICS class 444 — “building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers” — sales closely followed total retail sales. The segment was up 1.1% for the month, and up 4.5% for the year.

The government estimated 444 businesses hit $25.603 billion in sales in February, up from $25.314 billion in January. 

The data also showed nonstore retailers were up 15.7% from the same month last year. And auto and other motor vehicle dealers were up 8.8% from last year.

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Larson Electronics releases light tower with dual LED lights

BY Ken Clark

Kemp, Texas-based Larson Electronics has announced the release of a new LED light tower designed to provide easy setup and powerful illumination.

Featuring a compressor-powered pneumatic tower that can extend to 18 ft. and a pair of 150-watt LED lamps, the PLM-18-2X150W-LED Pneumatic Light Tower is recommended for work sites, emergency scenes and anywhere mobile illumination is needed.

The PLM-18-2X150W-LED Pneumatic Light Tower from Larson Electronics is an 18-ft. extendable light tower equipped with two LED light fixtures producing a total of 29,580 lumens of light output. The two heavy-duty 150-watt LED lamps produce a wide spread of intense white light, allowing this unit to effectively cover large work areas with high-quality illumination. This tower is a three-stage unit that is extended to its full height via air pressure provided by an included compressor. The tower assembly consists of three sections, and rather than have to manually winch the unit to the desired height with a hand crank, operators can simply power on the compressor to extend the tower to any height between 8 ft. and 18 ft. To lower the tower operators simply bleed off the air pressure using a release valve built into the base of the tower. The lamp assembly consists of two powerful 150-watt LED lamps producing 14,790 lumens each.

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Time to start using new Form I-9

BY Roy Maurer

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced March 7, 2013, that the official  revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 will be made available in the March 8, 2013, Federal Register.

Employers should begin using this new form immediately. The new Form I-9 will contain a revision date of 03/08/13. The revision date is located on the bottom right-hand corner of the form.

Final changes to the Form I-9

The revised Form I-9 makes several improvements designed to minimize errors in form completion, the agency said. The key revisions to Form I-9 include:

• Adding data fields, including the employee’s foreign passport information (if applicable) and telephone and email addresses.

• Improving the form’s instructions.

• Revising the layout of the form, and expanding the form from one to two pages (not including the form instructions and the List of Acceptable Documents). 

60-day grace period

Prior Form I-9 versions (08/07/09) and (02/02/2009) will no longer be accepted after May 7, 2013.

“Employers must use the new Form I-9 immediately; however, USCIS recognizes that some employers may need additional time in order to make necessary updates to their business processes to allow for use of the new Form I-9,” the agency said.

USCIS recognized that modifications to electronic systems may be particularly necessary for employers using electronic Forms I-9.

For these reasons, the agency is providing employers 60 days to make necessary changes.

Employers may access the new Form I-9 online by visiting the USCIS website.

To order USCIS forms, employers can call a toll-free number (1-800-870-3676) or visit USCIS’s I-9 Central web page at uscis.gov/I-9Central.

A Spanish-language version of the new Form I-9 is available for use in Puerto Rico only.

Employers are required to maintain Forms I-9 for as long as an individual works for the employer and for the required retention period for the termination of an individual’s employment, which is either three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ended, whichever is later.

Failure of an employer to ensure proper completion and retention of Forms I-9 may subject the employer to civil monetary penalties, and, in some cases, criminal penalties.

USCIS noted that employers do not need to complete the new Form I-9 for current employees for whom there is already a properly completed Form I-9 on file, unless reverification applies.

What should HR do now?

The 60-day grace period will go by quickly so employers should act quickly to ensure timely compliance, said Ann Cun, immigration attorney and counsel for LawLogix Group, a provider of electronic I-9 compliance and immigration case management software.

According to Cun, some of the preparations HR professionals should be making include:

• Familiarizing your team with the actual form and ensuring your organization understands the requirements for each section as they relate to regulations.

• Ensuring your team has a dedicated individual or individuals to spearhead the transition to the new form.

• Identifying areas where business processes may need revising.

• Partnering with your electronic I-9 software developers to ensure a smooth implementation of the new form within the 60-day timeline.

LawLogix Group VP & General Counsel John Fay added that “it’s absolutely crucial for HR to develop new policies and guidelines around the new form in order to ensure a smooth transition and decrease the potential for confusion or inconsistent practices.” For example, he told SHRM Online, “we received a ton of questions concerning the telephone number and e-mail address fields, and so I can only imagine how this may impact organizations who hire on a frequent basis. It may seem trivial, but with I-9 compliance, every little change matters.”

A carefully constructed policy with input from counsel can save HR a lot of headaches down the road as the May 7 deadline approaches, Fay said.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him at @SHRMRoy.

©2013 SHRM. All rights reserved.

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, aToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). 

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