Keep up on those I-9’s!

As a small business owner, some of your tasks are both exciting and important (think meeting a new client). Others, however, are important but not exciting, like picking up your mail. The task we’re going to talk about today is certainly in the later category – ensuring that the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form is correctly filled out for every one of your employees.

This form is regulated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and its purpose is to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. There are 2 parts to the form that must be completed. Section 1 is done by the employee. Section 2 is done by the employer or an authorized representative and requires verification of the employee’s physical identification (such as a passport, birth certificate, drivers license, etc).

Something that many employers may not know is that the employee’s identification must be verified in person. This means that your employee cannot bring copies of their identification for review. It also means that if you have remote employees (a situation where verifying their identification in person is not possible) you must have your employee take their identification to an authorized agent for review and completion of section 2 of the I-9 form.

According to the USCIS, a notary public can be used as an authorized agent to verify identification in person and completed section 2. You can find more information here on remote employees I9 forms. We encourage our clients, or anybody needing advice on new hire procedures, to consult with an HR professional who is familiar with the requirements in your state.

One of the most difficult things about being a small business owner is keeping up on all of these small but critical tasks. Use this opportunity to ensure that you process is correct and also to look back at paperwork for existing employees!

Built Green Conference Recap

Earlier this Fall our Lead Accountant, Adrienne Kaylor, had the opportunity to attend the ‘Built Green’ conference in Everett, WA. We’d like to tell you about this amazing experience!

Built Green “is the holistic green home certification program of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish counties” (in WA state). They certify various ‘green’ building projects and cultivate a network of companies involved in the green building industry. You can read more about Built Green here. We at Joy Accounting were all excited for Adrienne to attend this conference because we enjoy learning about ideas that can help the health of our communities and planet, and building is certainly a big part of “going green”. Below are some highlights from the event.

Keynote Speaker: Alex Steffan, Planetary Futurist

With a title like ‘Planetary Futurist’, Alex Steffan is destined to give interesting talks. He did not disappoint.

Alex gave a fascinating talk on how the future of our planet ties directly to the building of our cities. He explained that as the world gets hotter, the more unstable it becomes; this causes a loss of predictability.

Cities need to become more ruggedized (designed or improved to be hard-wearing or shock-resistant) to survive this instability, and that’s expensive. Our cities are built based on predictability, making it difficult for infrastructure laws & practices to keep up with the changing planet. Alex said that by 2050, 70% of the world will be living in cities, making it all the more important to prioritize sustainability in building.

Breakout Session: ADU’s – Innovative and Affordable Density

Mike Hinrichsen and Robert Humble presented their knowledge of building ADU’s and DADU’s (accessory dwelling units and detached accessory dwelling units) and how they can be a creative solution to the housing shortage we are facing in the Seattle area.  

On July 1st, 2019, the city of Seattle adopted a new to encourage D/ADU’s. The new bill relaxes the land use rules, making it easier for homeowner’s to legally fit a D/ADU on their properties.

Mike explained the benefits of building these micro dwellings which included saving for retirement, aging in place, and adding long-term value to your property. Robert touched on design elements that make for a great D/ADU such as having a private separate entry, access to grade, functional storage, and having flexible/adaptive spaces within the unit. They also pointed out that you don’t have to pay a premium for green building with a D/ADU.

Breakout Session: Successful Air Barriers – Today, Tomorrow, and in Your Future

Before this session, we didn’t understand what an ‘air barrier’ was or why it is important to the health of a building. After Tom Schneider, Tadashi Shiga, and Dan Whimore shared their expertise and experience with air barriers in relation to passive house energy levels, our eyes were opened!

‘Passive House’ means your building is very well-insulated with an air-tight design that minimizes energy inefficiencies. Washington state energy code will reach passive house levels of energy efficiency by 2031. This shift means the permeability of your air barrier is of the utmost importance during the building process and should be prioritized on site.

Tom shared a ‘path to success’ that includes hiring a designated air sealing specialist, ensuring the air barrier is continuous through all building sections, scheduling pre-construction meetings, creating mock-ups, and planning for quality control.