Now that the election is over and we know who’s running the country for the next few years, is it too much to think that we might get some kind of comprehensive immigration reform? It seems that the time is right for a big change. Presidents Bush and Obama were not successful in getting Congress to take action. President Obama recently instituted some controversial but popular reforms on his own without waiting for Congress. The fact that those actions may have helped him get re-elected has not gone unnoticed by Congressional representatives, who are likely to take action. But the question is when.
The federal government does not move at the speed of business. So it’s important to plan based on current law, not on what might get through Congress next year or even later. The legislative process can take months, and laws enacted won’t go into effect until even later, after regulations have been drafted and vetted. It’s important to understand your current options and the timelines associated with them while you urge Congress to fix the broken immigration system in the future.
Here are some ideas about options the hospitality industry can expect to have available for 2013. The letter and number designations in the sections below are the government’s codes for particular employment-based classifications.
TN Status: Canadians and Mexicans in some professions can get employment authorization quickly
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides options for quick (often approved on-the-spot in less than an hour), inexpensive (as little as $50 in government fees), and long-lasting employment (up to three years at a time) of citizens of Canada or Mexico. The candidate must satisfy the minimally-described educational requirements for a limited group of professions, such as accountant, computer systems analyst and hotel manager. Management consultants are also possible, but don’t call someone a consultant just because there isn’t a NAFTA profession for the service you need.
Portland’s City Council may follow San Francisco and Seattle and soon enact an ordinance that would require all employees in the city limits to earn paid sick leave. The City Council could vote on an ordinance mandating paid sick days as early as the end of the year.
Seattle’s paid sick leave ordinance only went into effect September 1st, after lengthy negotiations to revise the original ordinance to make it workable for Seattle businesses. Seattle’s ordinance requires nearly all private-sector employers to provide employees who work in Seattle with specified amounts of accrued paid sick and safe time; employers with 4 to 250 employees are required to provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours an employee works. San Francisco’s paid sick leave ordinance has been in effect for about 5 years. There, workers accrue an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 5 paid sick days per year at smaller workplaces with fewer than 10 employees and up to 9 paid sick days per year at larger workplaces. A study in San Francisco by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that since the enactment of San Francisco’s paid sick leave ordinance, the average worker takes 3 sick days per year. Tipped employees take an average of 2 days off and return to work sooner because their paid leave cannot make up for lost tip revenue.
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.