When it comes to new hires, there is no shortage of rules and regulations for employees and employers to comply with. This sentiment holds even more true when it comes to navigating the Form I-9 and E-Verify, but there are six top points employers can get wrong when it comes to these hiring practices. Many of these are not intentional choices to disregard the rules, but rather are the mistaken reliance on ill-informed resources. Intentional or not, inaccurate information can lead to being non-compliant, and that can come with serious punitive consequences.
How Employers Often Get Connected with Inaccurate Information
It is worth restating that by and large, most companies do not make it a point to purposely deviate from standard Form I-9 and E-Verify rules and regulations.
For example, when people do their taxes for themselves, they use the Internal Revenue Service’s tax document but will use informative resources such as tax software to complete it. The document itself explains much of the information needed, but tax software is geared toward streamlining the process so taxpayers will not have to go line by line on the form with painstaking attention to detail. However, if using an inaccurate fly-by-night software program, it can easily create a tax nightmare.
Following the rules and regulations regarding the Form I-9 and E-Verify can work much the same way. Consider the following:
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act which essentially introduced the Form I-9 was passed in 1986.
- The E-Verify program was not established until 1996.
- In the last thirty years, group after group (not all reputable or trustworthy) has established additional resources for navigating the Form I-9 and E-Verify.
- There have been minor yet important changes to these employment verification tools over time.
When considering the amount of time that has passed since these regulations were established and the number of changes that have occurred over that time span, it is more than possible for rules and regulations to be reworded by an uneducated resource in a way that affects the original integrity of the statement. In other words, a resource who is not a stickler for details may present a watered-down version of a rule or regulation that could misrepresent the requirements and create compliance issues for an employer if audited.
The Top 6 Points Employers Can Get Wrong When It Comes to the Form I-9 and E-Verify
While bad information can abound when it comes to these hiring practices, the top 6 points employers can get wrong when it comes to the Form I-9 and E-Verify are:
1. Information Recording System.
The Form I-9 may only have three sections, but it covers an enormous amount of information. If a field or signature is accidentally left blank, it can lead to compliance problems. A piece of paper cannot warn an employer that they missed a required blank on the form, but digital I-9 software can. It only makes sense to trust your work to a system that helps catch mistakes before they become a compliance crisis. An added bonus to using digital I-9 software is that has integration with the government’s E-Verify site is that it will auto populate fields in E-Verify, which helps limit mistakes.
2. Process for multiple locations.
Employers that have multiple locations likely have hiring happening at each location simultaneously. Unless each of those facilities has dedicated personnel trained on filling out a paper Form I-9, it is all too easy for mistakes to happen in terms of completing and storing the form. For this reason, many employers who have more than one location choose to handle the Form I-9 digitally for increased consistency and oversight.
For both the Form I-9 and E-Verify, deadlines are an integral component of compliance, and Irules for Section One and Two of the I-9 are different and can be confusing to employers. It is key to remember Section One must be completed before the first day of work and Section Two of the form must be completed three days after the employee begins work. E-Verify submissions must be done within three days of the date of hire as well.
With a recent rise in the number of audits and investigations that American businesses are being subjected to, companies are regularly performing self-audits in an effort to stay ahead of the curve. However, a self-audit is only as good as the information being used to measure audit success. Digital I-9 software programs typically include a built-in tool to help employers more accurately apply effective auditing practices in their review of completed I-9s.
5. Form I-9 Disposal.
There are specific rules regarding the storage and disposal of the Form I-9. A form should be kept on file for an employee for the duration of their employment. Whether an employee is fired, quits, or retires, the employer should then count three years from the original hire date as well as one year from the date of termination. The later date is the one that should be observed in disposing of the Form I-9.
Effectively managing compliance of any sort starts and ends with assigning accountability for key resources to “own” the program’s success within an organization. The old saying that you measure what matters is also true for I-9 compliance. Assigning a program leader, training your staff who are completing all I-9s, producing quarterly leadership reports on the company’s compliance success and/or deficiencies, identifying issues, assigning actions and providing updates on issues being addressed internally to ensure 100% compliance. Visibility drives action, and action ensures success when the company values people’s time and energy to do things right, and to complying with regulations to avoid penalties.
To ensure you do not get tripped up by the top 6 points employers can get wrong when it comes to the Form I-9 and E-Verify, look for a trusted and well educated resource that offers the knowledge of employment attorneys, a comprehensive understanding of federal laws regarding hiring practices and compliance, and successful and proven digital I-9 software designed to accurately streamline the process.