As you do your HR planning for the rest of the year, you constantly need to keep abreast of the ever-changing COVID updates. Because so many businesses needed to start operating remotely, there have been quite a few regulatory and legislative changes that HR departments must keep in mind for their employee policies. One of the most important HR updates for 2020 is regarding I-9 forms. This article will discuss the latest HR updates for I-9 forms that you need to know right now.
The Latest HR Updates: Collecting I-9 Documents
Normally, the employer must physically inspect the documents that new hires bring for their I-9 form within 3 days of their start date. (They also need to fill out the first section of the form by the end of their first day of work.) However, if your business or organization is operating remotely due to COVID precautions, you can now remotely inspect the documents that your newest staff member provides. Note that if your employees are largely operating from the office, this remote inspection option isn’t applicable. Your new hires can scan and email the documents to you. You’ll look them over, then write ‘COVID-19’ in the Additional Information field. When your team does return to the workplace, or within 3 days of the COVID emergency being declared over, you’ll need to physically inspect the documents and add that date and ‘physically examined.’
This temporary remote option was set to expire on August 18th. However, the deadline has just been extended another 30 days. That means the remote option will potentially be ending on September 17th. If you hired, or are about to hire, anybody remotely during the pandemic, prepare to physically collect, inspect, and update their I-9 documents in your HR management system by September 20th.
The Latest HR Updates: A New I-9 Form If you haven’t been hiring in a while, you may not know that there is a new version of the I-9 form that you must use. If you hire (or have hired), anybody post May 1, 2020, you’ll need to use this new version. You can find it here. Should you use an old version, you’ll be in violation under section 274A of the INA as enforced by ICE. If you’re audited, you may wind up having to pay some hefty fees. If you use HR software like MP’s for onboarding, the new form will be uploaded for you already. If you don’t, make sure you find and use the new form.
Beyond the Latest HR Updates: Don’t Forget These Things
As you update your human resource planning to include these changes to I-9 form procedures, it might also be helpful to have a refresher of I-9 tips. Don’t forget these items:
- Make sure you get I-9 forms completed from the employee side quickly (though obviously post the acceptance of the job offer). Sometimes it can be difficult to get an employee to come back to the HR office to do paperwork once they’re busy with their new role.
- Ensure I-9 forms are 100 percent completed. If you’re audited, you could be dealing with a fine of up to $100 for every field skipped or $1,000 for every incomplete or missing form.
- You must have a competed I-9 for every new employee—citizens and non-citizens alike. Create a tickler system so you are aware of when a staff member’s work permits run out. You’ll need to take some sort of action then, as the employee will be illegally working for you if they no longer have a valid visa or citizenship.
- Don’t ask for specific documents, like a driver’s license and social security card, from new hires. You may be risking allegations of discrimination or document abuse. This could lead to fines, audits, or lawsuits.
- Consider using HR software like MP’s to manage your I-9 forms safely and securely. Our system will help keep these forms full of sensitive information secure. They’ll also make it easy for you to produce them within the legally required 3 days of a government request.
- Keep all I-9 forms for whichever is later:
- At least a year after the date an employee leaves the company
- Three years after the employee hire date
Are you updated on all the COVID-19 changes you need to make to your workplace? Listen to our webinar here.
Have questions about I-9 forms or other HR procedures? We have a top-notch HR services team you might be interested in working with.
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