To feel more confident in terms of onboarding and overall compliance, businesses should have a handbook of sorts on mitigating risk with I-9 compliance software and be aware of what every employer should know. While there is technically no official handbook for the process other than the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Handbook for Employers M-274, modern resources like I-9 compliance software are specifically designed to digitally help reduce the risk of fines and penalties associated with non-compliance.
How Does I-9 Compliance Software Helps Mitigate Risk for Employers?
Although manual procedures are still used by some human resource departments today, a growing number of companies are instead choosing to rely on digital tools such as I-9 compliance software. Overall, the switch often gives employers an increased sense of efficiency in onboarding, the confidence of consistency, and a decrease in compliance risks.
For employers, there is no avoiding the Form I-9 and all that it entails. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 mandated that employers verify the identities of employees as well as their authorization to legally work in the United States by having them complete the form, and that procedure is still in full effect today.
The process can sound deceivingly simple, but many employers find that I-9 compliance is not so simple. Some of the most challenging areas of I-9 compliance for human resource departments include:
- Ensuring there are no blanks on required fields before officially submitting the form,
- Completing each section of the form by the appropriate deadline,
- Understanding which types of and how many kinds of identification (List A, B, C) are needed,
- Knowing how to, in good faith, verify the authenticity of documentation,
- Transferring Form I-9 data to the E-Verify program manually,
- Handling Tentative Nonconfirmation returns in which an employee’s E-Verify data does not match records maintained by the federal government,
- Understanding how to process remote hires,
- Addressing an issue before it becomes a compliance issue,
- Retaining employee information as instructed by the Form I-9,
- Producing data required for official audits.
It is essential for businesses to understand mitigating risk with I-9 compliance software, and what every employer should know is that compliance risks are real, and violations can come with serious consequences.
It is worth noting that compliance violations are assigned per individual form, meaning that if a box requiring a signature goes unsigned on ten forms, there could be ten separate penalties associated with this error. In cases like these, a seemingly small mistake can quickly become a compliance violation that costs a company dearly in punitive measures.
While these errors and their potential to wreak havoc on a company are critical to know and understand, perhaps even more so is mitigating risk with I-9 compliance software by enlisting the help of trusted professionals with a proven digital I-9 software program.
How Using Digital I-9 Software Can Reduce the Risk of Non-Compliance
For many companies, having confidence in their onboarding system is the best route toward reducing the risk of non-compliance. This is often achieved through digital I-9 software which is designed to do just that.
Some of the perks for employers using this type of software include:
- User Friendliness. The main goal of using digital I-9 software is to make the onboarding and compliance process easier for employers. To do this effectively, it requires a user-friendly system.
- Deadline Reminders. Each section of the Form I-9 comes with specific deadlines that must be adhered to in order to stay compliant. When managing the onboarding of multiple employees simultaneously, it makes keeping track of each employee’s deadlines more difficult. Fortunately, the software should provide users with alerts on upcoming deadlines to help keep employers on task.
- Omission and Error Scans. If a required field of the Form I-9 is left blank, a digital omission scan assists with catching that type of mistake before the form is officially submitted and the oversight earns a noncompliance violation. In much the same way, the software can perform an error scan to help catch problems before forms are submitted.
- E-Verify Compatibility. For companies who are required to manually complete a Form I-9 and open an E-Verify case for each employee, it can amount to twice the workload and essentially double the risk for making errors. However, digital I-9 software is formulated to autopopulate E-Verify fields with the data entered into a digital Form I-9. In addition to limiting the potential of making more errors, the convenience also saves valuable time.
- Document Expiration Notifications. While an employee may be onboarded at a time when their documentation is still good, that documentation may expire while they are employed, in which case the documentation will need to be renewed to meet compliance standards. In a manual system, the employer must remember to address these expirations before they expire. Digital software helps by displaying document expiration notifications up to six months in advance on a user dashboard and via e-mail alerts.
- Audit Assistance. When a company is faced with an official government audit, it can needlessly spark panic. By using digital I-9 software that is designed to minimize compliance issues and provide details regarding software operation and audit trails, employers can have more faith in the process. Ideally, the company providing the software will also assist with the mass printing of records and attachments needed by auditors.
- Update Inclusion. There may be instances in which the Department of Homeland Security will temporarily change procedures of the onboarding process such as remote hiring. This requires employers to be vigilant in looking for these changes. However, a good digital I-9 software program will alert employers to any changes and update their software system accordingly.
- Program Support. Even the most user-friendly programs can inspire questions which is why reputable digital I-9 software will come with excellent user support via phone and email. Users should also have around the clock access to a web-based knowledge base compiled by industry professionals who specialize in I-9 compliance.
By mitigating risk with I-9 compliance software and learning what every employer should know, employers will be able to enjoy an increased sense of confidence in their onboarding and compliance processes.