Back in 1986, the passage of the Immigration Report and Control Act fostered the development of the I-9 form as a tool to ensure job availability for those individuals with legal standing. Although still part of employment environment, you probably noticed that a broader application evolved over the years. Today the process focuses more on identifying those who are not legally authorized to work and thwarting identity theft. Procedural requirements and penalties evolved simultaneously. Consequently, employers are seeking a way to perform I-9 Compliance more fully and accurately without exceeding reasonable budgetary constraints.
I-9 Compliance is now an integral part of the new hire process, even for employers with as few as three employees. Employee eligibility verification begins on day one when your employee completes the form. As an employer, you must review documents proving identity almost immediately. However, your obligation actually continues for years. Requirements include ensuring complete and accurate forms, re-verifying documents, which expire within 3 years of employment, and retention for the latter of 3 years after hire or 1 year after the date of termination.
Escalating consequences for failure to comply have accompanied the increasing administrative burdens. In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security continues to consider this one of their top four areas for audit. Penalties range from hundreds to thousands of dollars for such violations as hiring an unauthorized worker or a failure to keep complete records. Knowingly accepting falsified documents can also bar your company from government contracts and even invoke criminal charges against all individuals involved in the I-9 compliance process. Possibilities even include indirect consequences such as potential civil suits involving discrimination or identity theft.
Fortunately, alternative solutions such as outsourcing are keeping pace. New regulations in 2004 established parameters for electronic processing which infused outsourcing with new viability. Online software companies simplify your ability to obtain, complete and electronically verify documents. Services often also ensure up-to-date regulations and current forms. Some services can also verify fields, track timing for re-verification, and even provide online storage.
Ultimately, no employer can evade the additional responsibilities and risks related to I-9 compliance. Outsourcing probably provides the most cost-efficient method of complying with employee identity and eligibility verification. As a result, outsourcing can allow your business to more easily shoulder the increased community service aspects of the regulations and still minimize the potential costs to the business.