As Delta Variant cases rise, employers are reconsidering their return to work plans. Some employers chose to remain fully remote, which may create confusion about how to complete I-9 forms. Processing I-9 forms in full HR compliance is imperative for every business. The fines for non-compliance could range from $224-$2,236 per form. After 2018, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) drastically increased I-9 audits on employers, making compliance more urgent. Employers that remain fully remote have two options to maintain HR compliance with I-9 forms. Here’s what employers who are supervising remote employees need to know about I-9 forms right now.
Option 1: Delaying physical inspection requirements.
Until December 31, 2021, employers may continue to remotely inspect the documents new hires provide for their I-9 form. Typically, employers must physically inspect the documents supplied for I-9 forms within three days of a start date. However, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) developed this temporary solution to assist workplaces suddenly managing remote workers. This option was set to expire many times over 2020 and 2021. It has now been extended all the way until December 31, 2021.
Employers must note that they cannot include this option in their human resource planning if they have even one employee working from the office.
How to execute this option for full HR compliance:
When employers are onboarding a new hire who works remotely, they should request that the employee scan, fax, email, or share their I-9 documents over a video call. Employers will inspect these scans, then write “COVID-19” in the “Additional Information” field. When the employer returns their team to the workplace fully or implements a hybrid remote work arrangement, HR Compliance employees must physically collect and inspect I-9 documents for these hires within three days of the return date. The HR professional who inspects the document must add the date and “physically examined” to the “Additional Information” field.
Option 2: Long-term solutions for remote workers and I-9 HR compliance:
Employers may choose to utilize a notary or local service to physically inspect I-9 documents and complete the employer section of the form. This option will satisfy HR and compliance requirements in all scenarios—whether an employer has an all-remote team or has a hybrid remote work arrangement, whether the pandemic I-9 digital inspection is in place or not. If an employee may never come to the home office, even post-pandemic, this method would be a best practice for an employer.
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