To minimize the number of issues you may encounter during an Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or a Wage and Hour inspection, it is important that you use the correct documentation.
The main forms the Wage and Hour division of the Department of Labor is looking for include the WH-516 and the WH-521. The WH-516 must be given to each migrant worker when they are recruited.
We have talked about recruiting in previous articles, but for those who hire workers onsite, you should have this form in your hiring packet. Be sure you issue this form to your workers at the same time they fill out their other forms, such as the I-9.
Hiring Forms’ Website
The Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association maintains a forms’ website, http://www.tcga.org/forms-page/, which contains the WH-516, the most updated W-4 and the newest I-9 forms. You should visit this page each year and download the updated forms prior to ginning season.
On the WH-516 form, you can fill in almost all the blanks online, then print the form. Go to http://www.tcga.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Sample-WH-516-from-DOL.pdf to see a sample form filled out in the way we believe is best for Texas cotton gins.
On the second blank in line two (ending period of employment), be sure to put “End of Season.” One line 7, there is a question about unemployment insurance. That box will always be a “yes” in Texas because we have a state unemployment insurance program. This may not be true in other states.
Fill out all the lines except for the first blank in line 2 and all blanks in line 3, as shown in the example. Then print a bunch of copies. Once you recruit a person, fill in the start date on line 2 and the wage rate on line 3. In other words, the only two blanks that change with each worker are these two. When all is said and done, the only lines left blank are the second and third ones on line three.
The wage rate is the rate the worker will initially receive. It is understood that this rate may increase or decrease as the year progresses. You are not required to update this form for any changes in wages after the worker is hired.
516 Form Documentation Tips
We are often asked about the type of documentation needed related to the 516 form. Some gins make a copy of the form and just note the worker’s name and the date the form was given to them at the top of the copy. That’s probably the safest way to document this. But you also might have a checklist inside the worker’s file and document the date the form was given to them there.
There is no federal requirement about documenting how the form was handed out. But if you are inspected, it is probably a good idea to have your system well documented. Be sure to fill in all the blanks on the form. If it is inapplicable, put “N/A.” If you have questions about any field on the form, give your association office a call.
I-9 Form Considerations
When you begin filling in the I-9 forms for your gin crew this season, consider using the on-line version. It allows you to enter all the information directly into the form, and then the form will check for errors before you print it. The online version will help your office detect any errors in the way it fills out the form, which might save you a lot of problems if you are ever audited.
This form is available on the TCGA forms’ page, referenced in the second paragraph of this article. When you click on the I-9 link, you will arrive at the I-9 webpage. The first link on this page will send you to the online I-9 form. The old form is also available on this page, but it would be a good idea to use the online version.
Instructions and help for filling out the form are also available here. Fill out the form on your computer, then touch the “finish” button at the bottom of the form. When you click this button, the form will check itself and let you know if there are problems.
Using this version of the form may take a little longer, but it will help ensure that your I-9 forms are filled out correctly. As with all safety issues, a little preparation before ginning season can save you a lot of problems during the season.
Kelley Green, TCGA director of technical services, contributed this article. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.