In a move that disturbed many employers, but surprised few, Homeland Security has indicated that they are stepping up inspections and enforcement for I-9 Form violations.
You remember I-9 Forms, right? Those fun "prove to me you're allowed to work in the U.S. even though you were born in Queens, and have a Brooklyn accent and I've lived next door to your Aunt all my life" forms? The ones where employers get to look over bad driver's license picture and even worse Passport pictures and try and decipher crumpled birth certificates? Yeah, those forms.
Well, according to the people who create and enforce that kind of thing, those forms and the supporting documentation are no laughing matter, and they intend to prove it to you with a big boost in random door-knocking and file-reviewing.
So what is an employer to do? You could just hope that the only knocks on your door are from customers, Candygram delivery people and whoever it is who's giving out those oversized checks and balloons these days. Or you could:
1) Make sure the I-9 Forms you're using are the right ones. There have been several changes to the I-9 over the past few years, so check the version number and date on yours.
2) Review your I-9 files. Make sure you have completed I-9's on file for all current and past employees for the required record retention period. That includes temps, too.
3) Make sure you have not violated I-9 rules by copying documents, requiring too many types of documents, or accepting disallowed types of documents as verification for work-eligibility.
4) Keep all of your I-9 forms in a separate file or binder to allow for quick and easy inspection should your business come under the auditor's review.
5) Get a good guide to the I-9 Form and the I-9 audit process. This could be a trustworthy and up-to-date employment law book or the advice of your employment law attorney.
6) Designate one person in your business to keep track of I-9 changes, requirements and record retention.
If you're on top of the rules, and current with your I-9 records, an audit shouldn't be any problem. And who knows -- the next knock after that could be a Candygram!