In December 2018, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that there will be an increase in I-9 audits and worksite enforcement across the United States. After receiving a Notice of Inspection (NOI), employers only have three business days to produce their company’s form I-9s. The strict deadline and high-cost fines makes I-9 compliance unbearable for most businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. Although it may be out of the comfort zone and would require a certain amount, technology nowadays has turned risk management into an easy task.
With the use of technology, taking the necessary precautions and laying the groundwork for a potential audit can save you and your agency from hefty fines and a thousand headaches. As Benjamin Franklin said, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Paperless I-9 Management
Having employees accomplish I-9 forms digitally has great benefits such as reducing the number of errors and exclusion that is usually a result of human error during the I-9 manual process. As an example, when employees fill out a digital form, it is easier for the system to prompt them when fields have not been completed or if there are discrepancies between entries. Common I-9 form mistakes are missing signatures, incomplete sections, and incorrect dates.
This way, the process is made more efficient and secure, allowing both employees and employers to be alerted of any error as soon as it happens and enabling them to resolve the situation.
Keep an Immutable Audit Trail
Due to the recent rise of digital I-9 systems, ICE has also required that there be an audit trail for each I-9 record. An audit trail is a separate record of specific actions taken on a digital record. Aside from audit inspections, having an immutable trail of all accomplished forms and transactions is a crucial key to fostering a fair, trustworthy, and transparent relationship between employers and employees. This way, all parties involved are aware and can see whom and which changes were made in the system.
The most powerful advantage of having a digital audit trail as well, is being able to extract this data anytime it is needed with a click of a button. Really, who has time to dig through a mountain of paperwork with only three days to spare?
Real Time Alerts for Reverifications
On the top of the list of common I-9 compliance mistakes is failure to re-verify. It is mandatory for employers to track and update employee supporting I-9 documentation, such as work-authorized foreign nationals with documents that have an expiration. Manually tracking expiration dates is time-consuming and frankly an error-prone process. As a result, it’s important for businesses to have a system that can run a scan for upcoming expiration of I-9 documentation and is able to alert employers before the expiration occurs.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
As with any regulation, the best way is to prepare for an I-9 audit proactively. Your staffing agency might never be targeted, but wouldn’t it be a sigh of relief knowing that when it does happen, you have demonstrated in good faith to comply with the law and stayed one step ahead? Monitoring I-9 forms closely used to be a headache, but with the help of technology nowadays, not only does it make the process easier, it can also save businesses thousands of dollars in the end.