As new federal and local government mandates are issued regarding the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants that have been forced to lay off workers are already grappling with how to be I-9 compliant as they anticipate quickly onboarding employees after the pandemic-related closures are lifted.
Differentiating between furloughs and layoffs, knowing if a Form I-9 and E-Verify is still required, and enlisting professional compliance assistance will help determine restaurant owners’ path forward. Understanding now how to rehire laid off restaurant employees will expedite the process when it is time to put a plan into action.
Rehiring: Furloughs vs. Layoffs
Although it is not uncommon to hear furloughs and layoffs in the same sentence, the two terms are entirely different in meaning and implication.
- Furloughs: A restaurant who furloughs workers is asking employees to essentially take an unpaid leave of absence. This is a temporary arrangement that is typically made in hopes of having an employee return to their job again in the not so distant future. In some cases, employees that are furloughed may even be able to retain some of their health benefits. For employers, the most important distinction is that furloughed workers generally do not have to go through a formal rehiring process.
- Layoffs: Restaurants who are forced to lay off staff are basically releasing employees from that particular place of employment. Unlike being furloughed, the act of being laid off is considered a permanent termination of employment including benefits. Depending on the amount of time an employee is laid off, those employees that choose to return to an employer are more likely to be required to endure the formal rehiring process, at least in part.
Will a Form I-9 and E-Verify still be needed for restaurant rehires?
While the coronavirus pandemic is causing some small changes to parts of the overall hiring process, as of April 2, 2020 the Form I-9 is still a requirement to being I-9 compliant, and those companies already required to use the E-Verify system must continue to do so.
As the pandemic continues and uncertainty looms, it is critical that restaurants keep a close eye on any potential changes to the rehiring process in order to stay I-9 compliant and avoid possible punitive consequences.
To be fined or punished for non-compliance would likely be detrimental for a restaurant still getting back on its feet in a post-coronavirus pandemic world.
What To Do When Rehiring Employees Within Three Years Of The Employees Original Start Date
Restaurants who intend to simply rehire laid off employees may have the advantage of less steps to walk through if the employees are being rehired within three years of the date on their original Form I-9.
If an employee is rehired within three years of the date listed on their original Form I-9, the employer has the option of relying on the previous Form I-9 or having the employee complete a new one.
Employers who choose to rely on an employee’s previous Form I-9 (completed in the three years since the date on their original form), are still required to follow several additional guidelines:
- Employees that remain employment authorized as indicated on the original Form I-9 are not required to provide new documentation. In this case, employers must complete Section Three of the original Form I-9, sign, and date it.
- Employees whose employment authorization has expired must have their employment authorization re-verified via Section Three of the Form I-9. Employers should note that Section Three on the current version of the Form I-9 must be filled out. Filling out Section Three on older versions of the Form I-9 are not acceptable.
- Employees that have a Form I-9 with Section Three already completed must complete the same section on a new form and keep it attached to the existing Form I-9 paperwork.
Rehiring Employees After Three Years From The Employee’s Original Hire Date
Restaurants who are hoping to rehire employees that have an original Form I-9 date that is older than three years from today’s date, are required to complete a Form I-9.
In other words, an employer that is rehiring an employee that has worked for them for more than twenty years must still require that employee to fill out a new Form I-9.
How Lookout Services Can Help
Rehiring an employee at any point can be time consuming from a compliance standpoint. However, with the added urgency of reopening a restaurant post-coronavirus pandemic, the work involved to rehire and stay I-9 compliant can be somewhat overwhelming.
With more than twenty years of experience, Lookout Services is uniquely positioned to help restaurants meet the challenges of the rehiring process via digital I-9 compliance software which offers the following benefits:
- A facilitated process that often saves time
- A digital I-9 solution
- Minimization of common Form I-9 errors including blank fields, incomplete fields, and missing signatures
- Printable checklists for employers and employees
- Time sensitive notices regarding multiple Form I-9 deadlines
- Document tracking and archiving
- Centralized reporting
If you are anticipating rehiring your restaurant employees post-coronavirus and require guidance on how to quickly onboard workers while still maintaining I-9 compliance, we hope you will consider enlisting Lookout Services as one of the newest members of your team.