When it comes to I-9s liabilities for staffing companies, there is an increasing sense of urgency for these businesses to pay closer attention to detail. With a reputation for getting open positions filled in record time, these companies can easily fall prey to sloppy hiring protocol, which then results in serious compliance issues.
Because the basic nature of staffing companies is to fill a wide variety of positions quickly and on an ongoing basis, it requires them to be proactive in fine tuning and streamlining their overall hiring process, particularly Form I-9 protocol. By taking this approach, staffing companies can be more prepared and better equipped to face an audit with confidence, especially when partnering with an I-9 intelligence company and utilizing digital I-9 software.
The Potentially Higher Auditing Risk for I-9s for Staffing Companies
In general, staffing companies can experience significant challenges in processing I-9s due primarily to issues such as the rapid deployment of workforce into lower paying jobs. This essentially means that:
- I-9s for staffing companies must be processed quickly in order to fill as many open positions as possible
- The high turnover rate often associated with lower paying jobs may contribute to staffing companies having to repeat the filling of some positions on an almost continuous basis, which in turn requires the almost constant processing of I-9 forms
Many staffing agencies feel like they have a target on their back, and with good reason. Historically, these agencies have been known to take hiring short cuts that compromise their compliance status in order to fill open positions quickly and appease clients. This history, documented by previous audits by the federal government, may make today’s businesses in the industry more susceptible to future audits as well.
Among the many areas staffing companies assist with placement for, parking lot attendants and warehouse workers can be two of the most frequently subjected industries to official audits by government agencies.
Both Large and Small Compliance Issues Can Cause Major Headaches for Staffing Companies
If I-9s for staffing companies are audited, it is typically by government agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These agencies are tasked with reviewing the hiring and I-9 protocol of a company to ensure they are meeting federal standards.
Even small compliance issues such as incomplete or blank fields on an I-9 form can be cited as a violation by auditors. More serious violations can include the employer missing the necessary List A, B, and/or C documents needed for work authorization, missing reverifications of these documents before they expire, and accepting documents with missing numbers or expiration dates.
Add to this that auditing agencies will cite a staffing company for violations they find per employee, and the consequences of not complying with federal law can go up dramatically. For example, if 65 employees were found to have I-9s missing approved documents for work authorization, it could result in 65 violations. If each of those violations comes with a fine, it can add up quickly.
Do you think your staffing company is immune to audits and penalties? As recently as 2022, an audit by government agencies found a staffing company to have approximately 1,400 violations that eventually yielded penalties of close to $1.5 million. The case, United States v. R&SL, should serve as a stark reminder about the importance of I-9s for staffing companies and overall compliance.
How I-9 Intelligence Companies and I-9 Digital Software Can Help
In addition to the fast pace placement of job seekers, staffing companies also face compliance challenges due to their own turnover in staff. This is an issue for many companies because if an employee that is well-trained in proper I-9 protocol permanently leaves their position, it not only leaves a staff opening but it means that whoever fills it must be educated and trained on compliance standards before being tasked with processing forms.
While the training of staff is still key to successful I-9 compliance, so is working with a reputable and knowledgeable I-9 intelligence company who offers helpful resources such as I-9 digital software. It can help streamline the hiring process and be an extra layer of protection against making common compliance mistakes.
Some of the ways in which digital I-9 software can assist with I-9s for staffing companies include:
- Printable checklists. A checklist can be one of the best ways to ensure everything needed for an I-9 form is done correctly and on time. For this reason, a good digital software program will offer printable checklists for both the staffing company as the employer and the employees they will be placing.
- Minimization of common errors. Should one or more of the I-9s for staffing companies have an incomplete or blank field, this software should flag the error and alert the employer to the issues before the form is submitted and a compliance issue occurs.
- Awareness of approaching deadlines for expirations. If there is a deadline approaching for a soon to be expired document that supports work authorization, digital I-9 software should alert the employer of the upcoming date. Addressing this type of issue before a document expires is critical to avoiding compliance problems.
- Help with archiving. The I-9 form comes with specific rules for storing and archiving these documents. The software can be instrumental in helping employers know which documents to keep and which to destroy in order to be compliant.
- Preparation for auditing. Good digital software will allow for transparent documentation for government audits as well as clear audit trails. This can be helpful in the event of an official audit. Most programs also allow employers to run reports periodically to check on their own compliance status rather than wait for the official audit to realize there is a problem.
With the right training and resources, I-9s for staffing companies do not have to be an area of constant concern. Reach out today to a reputable I-9 intelligence company to see how they can help ensure that your business is doing everything possible to eliminate compliance issues during an audit.