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Forget the Glass Ceiling, Pass the Tequila
BY JEFFREY SOMERS, editorial@mediaplanet.com

Whether it’s tequila at the bar or surprises at the conference table, today’s professional woman sees opportunities instead of obstacles and thinks we need to retire the words “glass ceiling.”
As a young executive in China for the first time, Cate Luzio, global head of multinational corporate banking at HSBC Bank, was once told by a CEO that she wasn’t included in plans for cocktails because “You can't handle it. You're a young woman.”
“You know, I’m ambitious,” Luzio says with a wry smile, “women often hear ‛don’t be aggressive’ but I think men don’t hear they’re too ambitious or too driven or too young — those are all good things if you’re a man.”

Bertha González-Nieves, co-founder and CEO of Casa Dragones Tequila, has also encountered her share of awkward meetings. “In my experience, when I arrive at meetings sometimes people are like ‛where is she?’. I don't know what people expect — because there are stereotypes, that surprise that there's a woman doing this. But they're broken very quickly.”
Luzio and González-Nieves don’t view these experiences as “glass ceiling” moments, but rather moments that tested their resolve — and cultural knowledge. They join a growing number of professional women who think we need a new vocabulary for gender equality.

Perspective is the priority

These anecdotes were shared at the ENGAGED Forum in New York City, organized by the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and hosted by sponsor HSBC. One sentiment that arose repeatedly was that the time has come to reconsider terms like “glass ceiling.”
“I think the conversation should focus not so much on the roadblocks but on the opportunities,” González-Nieves says. “I think [in] using language like ‛glass ceiling’ you’re just talking about constant obstacles when you should be talking about human beings, not a gender, driving an industry forward.”
Luzio agrees. “Take the concept of ‛work-life balance,’” she says. “If we just keep talking about work-life balance, it’s presented as a roadblock. But it’s different for everybody. My work-life balance is my travel schedule — I’m on the road three weeks a month — but I don’t feel that’s a hindrance to where I’m trying to get to.”

See complete article here

Mexico: Decree Amending Articles 107 and 123 of the Constitution of the United Mexican States
By Mónica Schiaffino and Rodrigo Espíritu Santo on February 24, 2017

On February 24, 2017, Mexico's Official Gazette published the Decree issued by President Enrique Peña Nieto amending Articles 107 and 123 of the Constitution of the United Mexican States, which deal with labor proceedings and collective bargaining.

The Decree includes the following reforms:
a.Labor disputes will now be processed before federal or state labor courts that will be part of the Judicial Power of the Federation of each State. These courts will replace the current administrative Conciliation and Arbitration Labor Boards that resolve employer-employee disputes and are part of the Executive Branch of the Government.
b.The Decree establishes a required pre-litigation conciliation hearing held at specialized and impartial Conciliation Centers that will be created in each state. The conciliation stage will consist of a single mandatory hearing, with date and time expeditiously scheduled. Subsequent conciliation meetings will be held at the request of the parties.
c.At the federal level, the conciliatory function will be performed by an independent agency, which will also be responsible for the registration of local- and federal-level collective bargaining agreements, registration of unions, and all related administrative processes. This agency will have its own legal authority, assets and liabilities, and full technical, operational, budgetary decision and management autonomy.
d.In terms of collective bargaining, the Decree ensures free, individual, and confidential employee voting for resolution of inter-union disputes, execution of a collective bargaining agreement, and election of union leaders.

In accordance with these constitutional reforms, Mexico's Congress and state legislatures must correspondingly amend secondary laws to conform to the Decree within one year of enactment.  This means that the Federal Labor Law should be reformed within one year to adapt to the reforms contained in the Decree. Until these changes are made, both individual and collective labor disputes (as well as disputes between unions, the registration and administration of collective bargaining agreements, and the internal labor regulations) will continue to be administered by the local and federal Conciliation and Arbitration Boards.

Mónica Schiaffino is a shareholder in Littler’s Mexico offices and has been practicing labor law for over a decade. She is an experienced litigator, with extensive experience implementing pension plans, coordinating and implementing labor structures dealing with expatriates, employee  and business transfers, internal labor regulations and compliance, employee handbooks, policies and employment contracts, incentive plans; confidentiality agreement, conducting due diligence, and labor restructuring and collective bargaining agreements.
Rodrigo Espíritu Santo is an associate in Littler’s Mexico City office, and has been practicing labor law for over sixteen years. His practice is focused on labor and employment counsel and litigation.

Challenges of e-Invoicing in Mexico and LATAM countries

Electronic invoicing for taxpayers is becoming a mandatory issue for companies throughout the world. The latest study on E-Invoicing/E-Billing International Market Overview & Forecast from Billentis calculates a volume of e-invoices exchanged that could reach 36 billion in 2017.

Countries across the American continent have been at the forefront in use of this technology for years, with Mexico and Brazil being the countries with the most advanced e-Invoicing legislations. Tax authorities within Central and South America are looking up to these models and adapting them to their own fiscal models, like those of Costa Rica and Colombia. However, in the United States e-invoicing is still in the initial stages of development in comparison to countries in Latin America and Europe.

Mexico has become a global e-invoicing leader through establishing a system which has influenced e-invoicing compliance on an international level. The Mexican CFDI has experienced updates since 2014 designed to ensure a better user experience, and to solve incidents that are detected over time with the application of this system.
This year, the CFDI will undergo a major evolution (VIDEO), introducing a new version 3.3 which will come into force on July 1, 2017. The new version includes changes in structure, data format, data features and data pools/catalogues, as well as in validations and calculation rules.

The update to version 1.2 of the Payroll Complement and the use of the Payment Receipt Complement, will also become mandatory this year, beginning December 1, 2017. México’s Tax Administration Service (SAT) also announced updates regarding the Foreign Trade Complement, where version 1.0 and 1.1 will coexist during 2017.
Globalization, the expansion of markets and legislative changes around the world means that companies are increasingly interconnected, and require secure and reliable communications to roll out international e-Invoicing projects.

Now that e-invoicing is extending to all continents, a main obstacle for multinational companies is to comply to these new systems. This is why EDICOM has developed a global electronic invoice platform that adapts to different e-invoice models that exist in the world and to the legislation currently in force in each country. This way companies need only one platform to operate in any market, allowing them to continue working from their centralized management system.
Would you like to know more? Download our free Expert Analysis on e-Invoicing in Latin America (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese).

EDICOM is an international company leader in EDI, e-Invoicing, B2B, B2G and B2C integration services. Our self-developed technological solutions are offered in SaaS mode and are adapted to the needs of each client, surpassing borders, legislative nuances, and technical complexities. The company has more than 14,000 clients in 86 countries.

Employers Must Use the New Form I-9 Starting January 22, 2017
By Sean M. McCrory and Jorge R. Lopez on January 17, 2017

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rolled out a new Form I-9 in November 2016.  Starting January 22, 2017, all employers must use the new Form I-9, which is dated November 14, 2016 (the edition date is on the bottom of the Form I-9).  Employers that do not use the new Form I-9 starting January 22, 2017 could face civil penalties.
The new Form I-9 has a slightly changed format, including a supplement that allows for the addition of more than one Section 1 Preparer and/or Translator.  Section 1 also contains a specific section for Other Last Names Used, and now allows for employees to insert a P.O. Box as an address.  There is also an additional space in Section 2 designed to accommodate further information, such as employment authorization extensions, which previously had to be recorded in the margins.

One of the most anticipated features of the new Form I-9 is an “electronic” or “smart” version.  Please note the electronic I-9 is not an electronic Form I-9, as defined in the regulations governing the storage and creation of electronic Form I-9s; it is instead a version provided by USCIS to fill out on a computer.1  The electronic version also has features including pop-up information boxes and drop-down menus for List A, B, C.  The menus contain document titles, and for some documents, the appropriate issuing authority.  But if an option is not available on the menu, then it will need to be inserted manually on the printed Form I-9.  Finally, there is also a “Click to Finish” button meant to ensure the Form I-9 is complete.  In the electronic version, all fields left blank should be marked “n/a.”

When printed, the electronic version has a Quick Response (QR) code for the use of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) auditors.  The QR code does not serve as a confirmation from USCIS that the Form I-9 was completed properly.  With stronger immigration compliance enforcement coming soon, now is a good time to be proactive and review Form I-9 procedures and compliance.

Sean M. McCrory represents and counsels employers in all matters of labor and employment law. He has experience litigating wage and hour disputes, non-competes, and Title VII matters in federal and state court. He regularly advises employers on Federal I-9 compliance issues, E-Verify and immigration-related employment discrimination issues.
Jorge R. Lopez focuses on corporate immigration, processing temporary and permanent corporate visa petitions, and all aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Act regarding visa benefits and Federal I-9 immigration compliance. Jorge often appears before the Department of Homeland Security on immigration benefits and compliance matters, as well as before the Department of State and other state entities regulating immigration compliance. He also represents clients in international forums on global migration issues.

Mexico Projects Hub:
A new online database for Investment Projects

In accordance with the goals provided in Mexico’s National Infrastructure Plan and as a part of the agreements of the Investment and Infrastructure Agenda of the G20, the Government of Mexico has developed “Mexico Projects Hub ” (“The Platform”). The Platform is a website that provides a list of all the available investment projects in Mexico sorted by industry clusters.
Besides providing open access to information for worldwide users, Mexico Projects Hub is also a unique and innovating way to present and follow up projects. This reduces costs and helps investors identify investment opportunities, which have substantially increased since structural reforms took place.

The Platform
With the Platform, Mexico provides a service for investors to help them to determine which projects are already in place and which ones are available to be developed. The Platform also provides online updates of the project and is designed to give standard information in order to facilitate comparison.
The Platform has a consolidated database of more than 500 greenfield and brownfield projects from a variety of sectors: 54% of them are new, 31% are in operational phase and 15% are listed vehicles.
The objective is to match projects with potential investors so that they can have comparable information to assess the different opportunities and select the best ones to optimize their portfolios.
The Platforms delivers a wide range of information, from the latest investment vehicles that have been used by private investors, to the projects that are in bidding phase. These investment vehicles will be briefly explained in the next paragraphs.

A brief explanation about the latest vehicles:
Fibra E
A vehicle based on the US Master Limited Partnerships structure that can be used to finance mature energy and infrastructure projects. Currently, there is only one Fibra E operating in Mexico which has as principal asset the Mexico – Toluca highway concession and is planning to add another concession to the portfolio.
The purpose of this vehicle is to monetize assets with predictable cash flows and with a more attractive tax regime that ultimately fosters greater distributions to its investors. Its key characteristics are:

  1. It must be created according to Mexican law and the trustee must be a financial institution located in Mexico.
  2. The shareholders of the qualifying companies (sociedades promovidas) must be Mexican.
  3. 90% of the income must come from certain qualifying activities.
  4. It is required to distribute 95% of the tax profit to its holders each year. Distributions of tax profits to a non-resident holder generally will be subject to Mexican withholding tax.

2.Entities dedicated to the qualifying activities among which are included petroleum treatment, refining and storage; gas processing, compression and distribution; electricity transmission and generation infrastructure projects such as highways, ports, sewage and public security. Activities such as hydrocarbons exploration and extraction are not considered as part of the former ones.

The Fibra-E seeks to have a transparent tax regime by allowing the qualifying companies not to pay income tax and by letting all other shareholders to pay accordingly to their tax regime. This favorable tax regime follows the formula the FIBRA-E predecessor: the FIBRA.
A traditional FIBRA (based on the structure of a Real Estate Investment Trust) is designed to promote public investment in commercial real estate. Shares generally trade on an exchange and are relatively liquid.

CERPIs are financial instruments with similar characteristics to those of private equity funds which can invest in any industry, and receive funding from institutional investors. Therefore, they are able to manage different risk exposures. It is important to point out that the projects must be based in Mexico in order to allow Mexican mutual funds (AFOREs) to invest.
A difference with the older vehicle CKD is that the CERPI does not require approval from the issuing trusts technical committee for allocating money in specific investments.
Each holder of the CERPI pays taxes accordingly to its status and foreign investors may benefit from international tax agreements.
The first CERPI was issued by Mira (a real estate developer) and Barclays Mexico as broker last year. It intends to fund up to 4 billion pesos.

June 2017
This article was written by the Department of Economic Affairs of the Consulate General of Mexico in New York in collaboration with the Hogan Lovells Financing and Capital Markets Team.

Inclement Weather FAQs: Who Gets Pay for a Snow Day?
By Kim Rives Miers and Lauren Timmons on January 19, 2017

As winter progresses, employers may find themselves monitoring the weather and wondering how to handle numerous operational headaches. Should a worksite close? If so: when, and for how long? Who can work from home, and who must be paid for what time? The kids may be hoping for a snow day, but employers know that winter weather creates a host of complications, including dangerous commutes and school closings, as well as delivery and service delays.
In dealing with such disruptions, employers should be prepared to resolve payroll issues that stem from inclement weather. To that end, we review a few common weather-related wage and hour questions. In doing so, we are guided primarily by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), although state laws may come into play as well.1

Does the FLSA require employers to pay non-exempt employees if they cannot work due to the weather?
Under the FLSA, non-exempt workers must be paid only for the time they work. As a result, employers need not compensate non-exempt employees who are not working because of bad weather. Notably, it does not matter whether the absence is based on the employer’s decision to close a worksite or the employee’s decision to stay (or go) home. If the worksite is open, but the employee decides to stay home or to leave a shift early, the non-exempt employee does not need to be paid for the hours missed.

There may be exceptions during a storm for waiting time, or on-call time. The FLSA considers employees to be “on call” if they must remain on the employer’s premises and are unable to use their time for their own purposes.2 Thus, for example, if employees are required to remain at a location that has lost power in case power returns, they should be paid for the time spent holding down the fort despite their inactivity.

Do other laws require compensation to non-exempt employees, even if they are not performing work during inclement weather?
Unlike the FLSA, state laws may require compensation to non-exempt employees in certain circumstances. “Reporting time pay” laws—found in several states as well as the District of Columbia—obligate employers to pay non-exempt employees who report to work as required or as requested by the employer, even if no work is then performed.3 These laws vary by jurisdiction, but typically they require employers to compensate employees who were scheduled to work a certain number of hours and then are not needed for any or all of the scheduled time.4 In California, for example, employers must compensate such employees for half of their scheduled hours, up to a maximum of four hours even if they do not work.

See complete article item here.

Kimberly R. Miers has experience in a variety of state and federal labor and employment law matters, with an emphasis on the Fair Labor Standards Act, wage and hour litigation, appellate matters, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission negotiations, Department of Labor matters, mediations, employment contracts and unfair competition under Texas law. She regularly advises clients in all areas of employment law practices and policies, including wage and hour audits, employee discipline and counseling and internal investigations.

Lauren Timmons advises and represents employers in a broad range of labor and employment matters, with an emphasis on wage and hour class and collective actions; wage and hour compliance; the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims; unfair competition disputes and drafting and enforcing employment agreements.

It's W-2 Phishing Season: How to Stop, and Respond to, Tax-Related Identity Fraud Aimed at Your Organization's Employees
By Philip L. Gordon on March 7, 2017

HR and payroll professionals nationwide have been, and will continue to be, targeted with e-mails apparently sent by a senior executive but actually sent by scammers who ask for a prompt reply with the 2016 W-2s for all of the organization’s employees. While reliable statistics are not yet available for the current tax season, the IRS revealed in 2016 that it had received more than 1,000 reports of tax-related phishing scams in January 2016 alone and that, in just the first half of last year’s tax season, it had already experienced a 400% year-over-year increase in these scams. In February 2017, the IRS issued an “urgent alert to all employers,” warning that the W-2 phishing scams have “evolved beyond the corporate world and [are] spreading to other sectors, including school districts, tribal organizations and nonprofits.”
Employers should take steps immediately to reduce the risk that HR and payroll professionals, eager to demonstrate their responsiveness to senior management, do not fall prey to these scams.  An organization hooked by a W-2 phishing e-mail can face a long list of damaging effects, including an angry, anxious and distracted workforce; potentially substantial out-of-pocket and imputed costs from complying with mandatory security breach notification laws; and in some instances, class action litigation.  Ironically, a few relatively straightforward changes in procedures, off-the-shelf technology, and some training can largely reduce the risk that an HR or payroll professional will be duped into sending W-2s to criminals who will electronically file false tax returns to obtain a fraudulent tax refund.

Five Steps to Help Prevent W-2 Phishing Scans
Most W-2 phishing e-mails have obvious clues that they did not originate with the senior executive who apparently sent it.  Some contain typographical or grammatical errors that a senior executive almost surely would never make.  For example, one phishing e-mail listed its subject as “RECORDS OF STAFFS.”  Other phishing e-mails have odd punctuation, such as the following message, which used commas rather than periods to separate sentences:  “I want you to send me the list of W2 copy of employees [sic] wage and tax statement for 2016, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.” 

While the name of a senior executive typically will appear in the “From” field of the received e-mail, the reply e-mail address usually is not a corporate e-mail address because the scammer usually does not have access to the apparent sender’s corporate e-mail account.  In a more insidious form of W-2 phishing, the scammer hacks into a senior executive’s corporate e-mail account and uses that account to send the phishing e-mail and to receive the W-2s.  Consequently, the reply e-mail address will not serve as a tip-off to the unsuspecting HR or payroll professional.

See complete article item here.

Philip L. Gordon has years of experience litigating privacy-based claims and counseling clients on all aspects of workplace privacy and information security. He has provided advice to businesses of all sizes on surveillance of employees' electronic communications, the Federal Wiretap Act, the Federal Stored Communications Act, workplace searches, location tracking and use of GPS-enabled devices, background checks, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, social media and other new technologies affecting the workplace, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, state data protection laws, responding to security breaches, the European Union Data Protection Directive, global data protection laws, cross-border transfers of human resources data, outsourcing as well as the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

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