Archive for March, 2011

Startup HR: I-9 Forms

March 14th, 2011

This is the next post in the Startup HR series. I’ll cover more of the minutia aka the paperwork of hiring. Please, try to contain your excitement-I’m only going to cover the I-9 form so you don’t go into paperwork shock. It’s a necessary evil so enjoy the ride.

So at least the day before you are hiring an employee let them know they’ll need to bring some identification in to fill out the I-9 form. The form is also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form put out by the US Citizenship and immigration Services and is required of all employers regardless of how many employees you have. As soon as they fill out this form they’re hired even if they don’t start until a later date. It makes sure that the people you hire are authorized to work in the US.

What kind of identification is a common question you’ll get from soon-to-be. If you have more than 15 employees you’ll want to make sure you answer appropriately so as to reduce your liability. If you just say bring in a driver’s license and birth certificate it may be construed as the grounds for a national origin discrimination claim. It’s best to avoid the hassle.

What you need is a picture ID (something that establishes identity) and something from the federal government saying they’re authorized to work. That can be a single form of identification like a passport or resident alien card. Or usually it is two forms of id like a driver’s license and a social security card or birth certificate. The 2nd page of the form has all the acceptable forms of identification-so it is 1 from column A or 2 total, 1 from column B and 1 from column C. That is also where you record the information on the form; but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Okay, so you have employee fill out and sign the top part of the form (Section 1) but make sure you can read what they put down because you’ll need to pass that info along later. Also make sure it’s complete-common mistakes are not checking one of the boxes or writing down a current date instead of their birth date.

Next, you’ll ask them for their identification. You can make copies if you want to but it isn’t required. If you do it, take copies of both the front and back and do it for everyone-otherwise you risk claims that you only took copies of people of a certain race or gender. If they don’t have it on their first day they have 3 days to get it to you. If they’ve applied for a new copy of a birth certificate or social security card they get 90 days to bring it in but they will need to bring in the receipt saying they’ve requested it. If that is the case write receipt along the side and the date.

So for each piece of identification you’ll record the following set of information from the document:

  1. Document Title (Driver’s License or SS card)
  2. Issuing Authority (State of Maryland or SS Agency)
  3. Document number (DL#740nh3kb8 or 678-91-0111 and # on the back A34059857)
  4. Expiration Date, if there is one (04/12/2034-yes Arizona DL’s expire when your 65)

Then you need to date it and sign it. By signing it you’re saying you swear in a court of law that you’ve seen the documents (not photocopies) and to the best of your knowledge the person is eligible to work in the United States. Section 3 is in case someone’s documents expire or you rehire them before you get rid of their I-9 form. For more details on the I-9 form and samples of what the documents look like you can refer to the USCIS Employer’s Handbook.

Now you’ll need to keep the I-9 form for as long as you employ that person (and a little after 1-3 years depending on how long they’ve worked for you before end their employment) but before doing so you’ll want to verify all the information with the government using a system called E-verify. Basically it will tell you if they have record of such a person that is authorized to work in the US. It isn’t a background check just a quick way to verify employment eligibility.

It doesn’t cost anything but you’ll need to enroll beforehand. Here is a video to walk you through How to enroll in E-verify. You’ll also need to be careful how you enter the information because they are looking for an EXACT match. For example if the employee’s social security card says John Albert Doe and you enter a misspelling or just his middle initial is A it will indicate the person isn’t authorized to work. Temperamental, I know.

One final tip, make sure you have the most current form by typing I-9 form and the current year into your favorite search engine. Also if you make copies instead of printing them out individually make sure you’ve got the multiple pages or the back of the form copied as well. Happy hiring!

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