So you’ve found the right candidate for the job. You’ve offered them the position and they said “yes.” Now it’s time to handle the onboarding, which involves having paperwork completed and building a file for this new employee. One of the things you need to make sure you are satisfying is the Form I-9 requirements. Every employer must have a For, I-9 on file for every active employee they hire; and plan on keeping it for the later of three (3) years from their hire date or one (1) year after they are terminated. To obtain the current version of the Form I-9, check the government website.
If you aren’t sure that the proper records have been maintained, for whatever reason, you may decide to be proactive and run a Form I-9 audit in-house. This is something we are acutely familiar with and have put together some tips on conducting such an audit. Remember, our lawyer has worked in HR before and for an in-house legal department, so she is all too familiar with conducting these audits and has picked up a thing or two to make it go smoothly.
Tip No. 1: Get Organized
Run a report of all your current, active employees. Technically we are only worried about employees hired after November 6, 1986, (that’s when the law putting this for, into motion went into effect) but for most businesses, that will be every employee.
Then run another report of all employees terminated in the past three (3) years. Add this report to the first one you generated.
Locate your files where the Forms I-9 are most likely to be stored. Keep them in a neat stack, binder, or in a file folder. (Remember, these forms are confidential and therefore should be kept separately from personnel files.)
Grab a notepad and pen, and get ready for some paper cuts. ;) And don’t forget when you’re done to calendar the I-9 Audit so you have a record of when you did it last.
Tip No. 2: Take a Deep Dive
Every form you review will be the same, so once you get the process down you’ll be on a roll. Starting with the one at the top of the stack, make sure you have the Form I-9 and the appropriate copies of that employee’s documents attached.
Start at Section 1 of the form. You’re going to want to check to make sure the following fields have been completed: Name, address, date of birth, social security number, citizen/immigration box, signature and dated.
Other things to keep in mind for Section 1 of Form I-9 is that lawful permanent residents need to have included their Alien Registration Number or USCIS Number. Meanwhile, aliens must provide their Alien Registration Number/USCIS Number or Form I-94 Admission Number or Foreign Passport Number.
Lastly, if a translator or preparer was used by the employee to complete this section, then that should be filled out as well.
Moving along to Section 2 of Form I-9. Is the employee’s name and number entered exactly as they appear in Section 1 above?
Here, you will also want to become familiar with the acceptable documents from List A and Lists B and C because one document will be needed from List A, or one from List B and List C. Which documents you have and which lists the employee provides documents for is fact-dependent on the employee.
Information from the appropriate document(s) must be entered in their corresponding section. And while not necessary, we strongly encourage you to maintain photocopies of the documents submitted.
Lastly, you want to make sure the employee’s start date is listed, as well as the business name and address. The company representative responsible for receiving the form should complete the Certification Section — meaning signed, printed their name, and dated it, all within three (3) days of the employee’s start date.
Section 3 of the form will only be completed in these instances: (i) If the employee’s work authorization expired; (ii) if the employee was rehired within three (3) years from their original start date; or (iii) if the employee reported a name change.
And if you are worried about managing and keeping track of expired work authorizations, we love calendaring them so you can check back with that employee and update the form accordingly. We even are offering you a copy of a reverification memo for we suggest using to document the communication with the employee regarding their expiring work authorization. Get it here. #FREE
Tip No. 3: Correct Issues
With that your I-9 audit is complete. You should’ve made a list of any issues so you can address and correct them. For any issues all you need to do is strike through the error and correct the information, adding your initials and the side of the correction.
If you found an employee does not have a completed Form I-9, then ask them to complete it as soon as possible. Go through the normal steps you’d take for a new hire, requesting and inspecting their original documents, and completing the rest of the form. Remember, don’t try to backdate the form, use the current date in all instances except their original start date in Section 2.
If you found a missing Form I-9 for a terminated employee, then just document the fact you found it missing in your audit it and add that note to the file. Never try to recreate the form.
Get Help From a Florida Human Resources and Employment Lawyer
Maintaining proper files for employees can be challenging, and keeping them organized, even more so. Employers should be prepared to conduct regular file audits, especially of Forms I-9. If you have any specific questions or concerns about employee I-9 audits, contact an experienced Florida employment law attorney for immediate assistance.