Avoid Common HR Pitfalls with I-9s
Form I-9s are very simple new hire forms, yet complicated to complete correctly. They come with seven pages of very detailed, fine-print instructions to complete the entire two page form. The dates must be completed in the format required. All areas must be filled in as applicable and not left blank…there must be an “N/A” (not applicable) placed in the section, instead of leaving it blank. Non-maintenance of these forms can prove to be extremely costly for a business. Yes, I’m talking about the Form I-9, that each of us dreads (you know you do) completing because it must be explained very clearly to all new employees. There’s a reason for this, and it’s surprising how many employers are unaware of the importance this form represents for their organization.
Merely verifying that new hires have valid legal status is not enough to keep organizations safe. Regardless of how small the employer is, flying under the radar with the Federal Government in this area of compliance is becoming less and less frequent. I-9 completion, accuracy and maintenance are more critical than ever to employers.
If you don’t read this entire post, please read this: Take the necessary time to complete your new-hire Form I-9s correctly at the onset of employment. This will be time very well spent and may also save your organization a great deal of money in the long run.
Severe civil penalties can be imposed by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement if areas of the I-9 are not completed as instructed. In addition, the employer representative who signs off on the I-9 form must be prepared to address any issues that may arise with the employee I-9 form which comes into question. Employer impositions for negligent I-9 recordkeeping practices have been documented at $170,000 or higher in some cases. It no longer matters whether the employer “intended” to fully comply with the requirements. If the Form I-9s are not compliant, you are taking a big risk.
Remember, as a witness and representative of your organization for a new hire, you are personally acknowledging and attesting that the documents have been “reviewed carefully and verified” when you sign and date the form. Your name is on that piece of paper and you may need to answer to United States Immigration / Customs Enforcement if the form is found to be invalid.
If you have questions on how to properly complete Form I-9, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.800.771.7823. Our team of HR experts can help you stay in compliance and avoid costly penalties.