Archive | March, 2019

Hiring: I-9 Rule Compliance Concerns

27 Mar

An increase in Form I-9 Audits amplifies 2019 U.S. employers’ hiring compliance concerns.

ICE is fully committed to ensuring that employers comply with I-9 employment eligibility verification requirements, which prove employees are legally allowed to work in the country. Violations can result in severe penalties for the employer and, in the case of undocumented workers, arrest or deportation of the employee.

 

Important Statistics

  • ICE inspections and audits have skyrocketed during the past two years, resulting in an unprecedented number of fines and arrests. Fines can range from $110 to $1,100 for errors such as not completing a form, but they increase dramatically for knowingly or continuing to employ unauthorized workers – up to $14,050 for each violation.
  • From 10-1-17 through 7-20-18, ICE and its Homeland Security Investigations arm conducted 6,093 investigations, made 675 criminal and 984 administrative worksite-related arrests.
  • In fiscal year 2017, companies were ordered to pay a total of $97.6 million in judicial forfeitures, fines and restitutions in addition to nearly $8 million in civil fines.
  • ICE’s intensified focus on enforcement is an attempt to create a culture of compliance among employers and deter illegal employment.
Anyone involved in hiring new employees should be prepared for an audit. In fact, you should conduct an internal I-9 audit to make sure everything is in line before ICE comes knocking. Doing so ensures you’ll be able to produce the documents ICE requests within the required timeframe; if you receive a Notice of Inspection (NOI) from ICE, you’ll be required to produce all I-9 forms and supporting documentation within three days.
  • Note: Audits are different from an ICE raid, in which agents show up at your business unannounced with a criminal search warrant. Either way, it’s important to be proactive and have documentation on all employees. CalWorkSafetyConsultants are available to conduct an I-9 Audit for your firm as part of our services.  We can also train your team to perform these audits – and we strongly recommend an audit be performed at least once a year.

I-9 Compliance Maintenance

  1. Designate a member of your HR team as the point person to become an expert on the employee eligibility verification process. This includes creating a process for accurate completion of the I-9 form and responsibility for maintaining it. If you’re a one-person shop, schedule time on a regular basis to educate yourself on proper procedure and to make sure paperwork is completed accurately.
  2. Train any employee who might handle I-9 forms on how to complete them properly as well as all anti-discrimination practices. HR professionals can look to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ employer handbookfor assistance.
  3. Develop a system to track the immigration status of employees and make certain re-verification is completed on time. You can do this manually … just realize that it is time consuming and labor intensive. If an employee fails to submit completed paperwork accurately or on time, it can mean your company is non-compliant. Thus, using an automated system lets you enter I-9 information, provide employment authorization confirmation while also alerting you to any potential shortcomings.
  4. For businesses with remote employees, remember that work authorization documents must be reviewed in person. A scan or photocopy that’s emailed won’t work. You need to make sure any new hires who telecommute are aware of this policy and both of you are prepared to complete the I-9 process properly.
  5. It’s also crucial that you or your point person knows howto correct errors or omissions and what to do with incomplete or outdated I-9s.

Employer Takeaways

  • Be ready for an audit at any time.
  • If you receive a NOI, you’ll have only three days to produce the necessary paperwork.
  • It’s much easier to stay ahead of the game by verifying compliance with every new hire and re-verifying – as required – than to play catch-up during those three days.
  • You NEVER want to put your company at risk for any penalties, fines or physical removal of employees.
Employers are now under intense scrutiny to ensure employees are working legally and that company practices are compliant. Compliance failure can threaten the growth of a business and sometimes its very existence.