Tag: employment

The Return of No-Match Letters

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has resumed sending employers no-match letters, Mary Pivec, an attorney with Keller and Heckman, told SHRM Online in an April 12, 2011, interview. The SSA stopped sending no-match letters after litigation arose in 2007 challenging a proposed no-match rule issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Match letters are issued by the SSA when a certain employee’s name does not match a valid SSN.  The proposed no-match rule was to declare that any no-match letter was not enough to declare a worker ineligible.  The proposed rule provides guidelines for employers to respond to the letters in compliance with immigration laws, but after the rule was challenged in federal court in 2007 it was enjoined from moving forward.
Employers now are left with the question of how to respond to no-match letters in the absence of a no-match rule, Pivec said. The no-match letter says that employers do not have to respond to the letter. However, if employers don’t respond, the SSA may refer the matter to the Internal Revenue Service or the Justice Department for criminal prosecution of Social Security fraud, Pivec cautioned.

Employers should give employees whose Social Security numbers don’t match their names a reasonable period to resolve a no-match, which Pivec said is 60 to 120 days. Employers should not ignore the letters, she cautioned. When the no-match letters come in, note the date they arrived and have an action plan on how to respond.  Once HR knows about the receipt of a no-match letter, it should make sure that the no-match didn’t result from a typo or other mix-up in its own records.

People who might receive the letters include the chief financial officer (CFO), a tax preparer and an outside accounting firm. Because HR probably will not be the recipient, HR should contact the CFO now to let that person know these letters may be coming in and what to do if they receive a letter.

The resumption of SSA no-match letters became effective as of March 22, 2011.

Happy 35th Anniversary!


Last Friday, I attended a dinner for one of my wife’s colleagues who was celebrating his 35th year with the company. It was a festive occasion with great food, drink, and stories (and the Blackhawks’ game was on the big screen).  The longevity of the celebrant’s career is something to behold. Why does someone stay with a company for 35 years? Why do we (my longest tenure with a company was 10 years) leave? Some reasons (in random order):

I stay with a company for 35 years because:

  • They treat me right
  • The pay is great
  • The office is 10 minutes from my house
  • They challenge me
  • They are growing and there is great potential
  • All my friends work there
  • I’m comfortable (I’m afraid of change)
  • I get a company car
  • The bigger we get the easier it is to hide
  • It is fun
  • I learn new things
  • I believe in the company’s mission
  • I don’t know how to find something else
  • I own it

I left before ever thinking about 35 years because:

  • I got fired
  • I had a great new opportunity (it was)
  • I had a great new opportunity (it wasn’t)
  • My boss was a bastard
  • I got passed over for a promotion (and should have been)
  • I got passed over for a promotion (and shouldn’t have been)
  • I died
  • The new company had a better commission plan
  • I have ADD
  • I started my own business
  • The company was in trouble
  • Someone else reminded me how valuable I was
  • I needed better work/life balance
  • I didn’t believe in what the company was trying to do anymore
  • I went back to school
  • I just needed a change

Under the right circumstances, 35 years of employment with one company can be a beautiful thing for both the individual and the business. While I believe this kind of longevity (some might say loyalty or attachment) is near extinction with Gen Y (maybe even Gen X), it was nice to celebrate the accomplishment with my wife’s colleague. What are you thoughts? Any reasons to add to the list?

4 Considerations When Creating Your Employment Application

Recently, I wrote a blog about employers asking for Social Security numbers on employment applications. Well, I just heard about a couple more and I just can’t help but call them on the carpet: Jim Beam Global Spirits and Wine and Home Depot. I went on-line and actually experienced it for myself. Beam Global Spirits won’t let you complete the on-line application unless you provide it and Home Depot has it as part of their “account” sign-up process on their careers website.

I have been in business and HR for a long time and I can’t think of one reason why I would need a candidate’s social security number to complete an application.

Does this strike a chord with any of my HR colleagues? Do any business executives have any other perspective to share?

Other than sharing the embarrassment for their mishap, there are a few key messages that are important for employers:

1. Test your own application process (and forms) as a candidate. Would you put your social security number in the box?

2. Minimize real and perceived discrimination. Don’t put your company at risk by asking for unnecessary personal information from candidates. Candidates can accuse you of using this information inappropriately during the evaluation and selection process. Defending that can be time consuming and expensive.

3. When you need that information, ask the candidate for it and clearly explain why you need it and how it will be used. This minimizes any assumptions and accusations.

4. How would you like it? It doesn’t take any special degree, certification or specific experience to know when something is just not right. If you put yourself in the candidate’s or employee’s shoes, most often you will see what is right and what is wrong. It is worth taking a step out from behind the executive desk!

I would welcome a response from the Chief HR Officers at Beam (Mindy Mackenzie) and Home Depot (Tim Crow) to understand what possible reason they have for asking candidates for this information during the application process. And if they do respond, don’t even think about using the excuse that the information will be used later in the process. They will have to do better than that!