HR concerns in a post-covid world are warranted. Much has changed, and yet it hasn’t. The Form I-9 still exists and must still be completed by the cited deadlines, but this becomes an unusual challenge for those who are hiring employees remotely. It is still the same form, just a slightly different process that must be abided by in order for an employer to maintain a compliant status.
Many employers are finding that in a job market where it can feel like they are constantly hiring, the workload is too heavy to bear alone. This is why an increasing number of human resource departments are turning to companies that provide I-9 intelligence professionals and software for assistance with streamlining in-person and remote hiring and staying compliant with federal law.
The Top 5 HR Concerns in a Post-Covid World
Since the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic into our world, it has impacted everyday business processes such as the hiring of remote employees. Suddenly the hiring process used in a pre-pandemic world has become much more of a challenge, and the top 5 HR concerns in a post-covid world include:
- How to complete the Form I-9 remotely
- How to complete Section Two of the I-9 for remote workers
- Who can assist with Section Two on behalf of an employer
- How to keep HR staff trained on proper protocol
- How to stay abreast of federal government changes to protocol
While hiring remotely can certainly prompt more questions than the above, we have found these to be the most problematic topics for employers.
Here is a closer look at each issue in further detail:
Completing the Form I-9 Remotely
Perhaps one of the most basic hiring concerns in a post-covid world is how to complete the Form I-9 remotely. Since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, protocol has dictated that employees and employers work together to complete the form in person. However, in response to the arrival of COVID-19 and the hiring of remote workers, the federal government set up rules specifically for remote hires.
The purpose of the Form I-9 is to help confirm the identity and work authorization of an employee. This central mandate must still be met for remote hires, so the three main sections of the form should still be completed:
- In the first section of the I-9, much of the responsibility falls to the employee to provide personal information to the employer before their first paid day on the job.
- Section Two of the form requires the employee to provide documents that confirm their identification and work authorization. This requires an employer to review these documents for authenticity.
- The third section of the form deals primarily with worker authorization renewal. If an employee has a temporary work authorization that expires and must be reauthorized, this section can come into play. It is also used if an employee is rehired, changes their name.
Of these three parts, Section Two of the Form I-9 has proved to be the most challenging for remote hires since authentication of documents is done in person.
Completing Section Two of the I-9 for Remote Workers
When it comes to Section Two of the I-9, remote workers are still required to present documents that help confirm their identity and authorization to work in the United States. Not much changes in terms of which documents an employee can submit.
Employees are required to submit either an approved document from List A or an approved document from both List B and List C. Employees can simply refer to the form itself for a listing of which documents are approved under each of these lists.
The point at which things begin to change for remote workers includes the presentation of these documents to their employer. Had the employee been hired in the office, the presentation of documents would have been done in person. But with an employee being remote and the ban of employees sharing documents with their employers via teleconferencing apps or something similar, a new process was needed.
Employers may choose a designated third party to assist with authenticating documentation, as well as recording the information required by the form.
Assistance with Section Two of the Form I-9 On Behalf of an Employer
With the knowledge that an employer can enlist the help of a third party for assistance with Section Two of the form, the question then becomes who that should be. With the handling of sensitive, personal information that will be happening, it is advised to choose a reliable and trustworthy individual that is at least one of the following:
- Company designated individual
- Notary Public
While it is a welcome convenience to have a way to continue process the hiring of remote workers through a third party, employers should note that they may nonetheless be held liable for related violations. In addition, should the employer ask their employees to return to the office, employees who had the second section of their Form I-9 authenticated remotely must then present that information within three days of being in the office.
Keeping HR Staff Trained on Proper Protocol
Of HR concerns in a post-Covid world, keeping staff well trained on how to properly process the Form I-9 for remote workers can also be a challenge. Although a third party may be enlisted to assist with the completion of it, the employer still bears responsibility in terms of storing the document and being able to access it as needed.
Particularly in those industries in which turnover can be high in the HR office and the greater office in general, it is essential that employees be regularly trained on the proper hiring process. This can keep knowledge gaps from occurring that may yield compliancy issues.
Staying Abreast of Federal Government Changes to Protocol
Employers should have a means of staying abreast of federal government changes to protocol. While these changes do not happen all that frequently, they do happen and can alter how business is conducted, as well as affecting the company’s compliance record.
By enlisting the help of a professional I-9 intelligence company, this can be largely delegated, allowing trusted professionals to alert employers to changes rather than employers having to seek them out.
HR concerns in a post-covid world can be abundant, and with good reason. The best way to obtain more confidence in the process and have added peace of mind is by working with I-9 professionals who intimately understand compliance and how to achieve it and to digitize your I-9 forms and automate your compliance responsibilities as much as possible.