The transportation industry is one of the largest components of the country’s infrastructure and much has been reported on the estimated 80k+ workforce shortage now facing this industry. New strategies and talent models are being deployed to help attract new talent and retain the existing workers in this sector. Transportation and logistics companies (including those in the public sector) have a host of government regulations and are not immune to the mandates of federal law regarding Form I-9 compliance.
This means that any business in the transportation sector has risk mitigation opportunities to ensure their compliance with federal hiring protocol. Leveraging technology in new ways will help avoid non-compliance and the related fines and penalties and will be essential to the industry’s future success. One web-based technology solution that would quickly support the reduction of a business’s compliance risk and streamline the onboarding process is enlisting the help of a reputable I-9 intelligence company that offers digital I-9 compliance software. An electronic I-9 software solution can be integrated into the employer’s Applicant Tracking and/or payroll/or HRIS systems, creating a desirable employee experience and elevating the employer’s program compliance.
Potential Form I-9 Compliance Challenges for the Transportation & Logistics Industries
High turnover and employee retention will continue to put pressure on the HR-related processes. A key focus for HR will be implementing operational processes to accomplish multiple goals, including increased I-9 and E-Verify compliance. Businesses in this industry would be wise to be prepared for potential compliance audits include:
- Warehouse and Distribution Centers
- Maritime Shipping
- Cruise Ships
- Ship Building
Businesses within the transportation and logistics industry should make every effort to be compliant with I-9 and E-Verify regulations. Doing so does, however, requires recognizing some of the potential compliance challenges they may face, such as:
- Fast-paced industry. The transportation industry is vast. When the obligation to keep America moving rests squarely on its shoulders, it leaves no room for squandering time nor responsibilities. Everything from new projects to new hires can move at breakneck speed, but it still requires meeting the criteria for I-9 compliance. This pace can be a challenge as it forces employers to handle hiring responsibilities correctly and quickly for multiple employees without slowing down the other work they must accomplish.
- Multiple office locations. It is not uncommon for businesses in the transportation industry to have multiple geographic locations. For example, a bus company that has several locations across the United States must still find a way to ensure that each of their offices is unified and properly trained in how to complete the Form I-9 for new employees and those that had changes to their status, as well as how to store documents. The distance between offices can complicate compliance if there is not a centralized hiring protocol being used the same way by each individual location.
- Virtual workers. Transportation in itself involves a lot of people in motion supporting their respective business and customers. On-boarding new hires and ensuring their paperwork completion and accuracy has been and will continue to be a challenge.
- High Turnover. Another challenge is the turnover rate of employees that the transportation industry may experience. Whether it be the position of driver, a mechanic, a turbine specialist, or another transportation-based position, individuals may float between different companies doing the same type of work. This can be especially commonplace when work is project-based only. The continuous influx of new employees can create a high volume of Form I-9 work for employers which could lead to an increase in compliance errors.
Knowing these challenges exist is only part of the compliance equation. The other is putting processes in place to prevent these issues from becoming a problem.
Consequences That Could Result from Not Being Compliant
Being found not compliant with federal law is more than just a headache, it can have serious consequences. It is an error in judgement for employers to think that a small violation will only equate to the proverbial slap on the wrist. In fact, it could be much more serious than that.
Violations can be issued for a variety of issues, including missing I-9 deadlines, leaving a field on the form blank, not following proper procedure for storage, and expired authorization documents. Not only can these things result in violations, but they may do so on a case-by-case basis. This means that if the same mistake is found on 25 forms, it will likely yield 25 separate violations that could also come with monetary penalties.
This makes it imperative for the employer to handle the process for each form with the utmost care to ensure that they are following the correct procedure and are not leaving themselves vulnerable to compliance complications. Keeping an eye on details can become substantially more difficult in the event that it is a particularly busy time of year for the company, there is a lot of turnovers, or there are multiple locations to coordinate processes with. And this is where the assistance of additional compliance resources is valuable.
Compliance Resources for the Transportation Industry
While the responsibility is great to continuously submit I-9 forms that are properly handled, the workload can be lightened with the help of additional resources, with the two most heavily relied upon being the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Handbook for Employers M-274 and an I-9 intelligence company who provides digital I-9 compliance software.
The handbook is around one hundred pages long and is thorough in its explanations of what employers are expected to do with the Form I-9 and how they might best do it. Yet, some users find the handbook so long and detailed that they do not have the time to become well versed in that protocol on top of their other professional duties.
In contrast, digital I-9 compliance software is designed to work in real time and will prompt the user with alerts and notices to help keep them on track and minimize errors. These programs can alert users about possible form errors before they are submitted so it does not turn into a compliance problem. The software can also warn users about documents that are soon to expire so employees have enough time to renew those documents as needed. In addition, the software can auto-populate fields in the E-Verify federal program which can reduce errors that occur when reentering data into the system. One of the features most appreciated by employers is the software’s ability to show the employer what a form-approved document’s appearance should look like.
If your business is a part of the transportation industry, simplify your workload and obtain more peace of mind by enlisting the help of an I-9 intelligence company that offers digital I-9 software.