The privilege to work and earn money is a basic foundation of American society. Working for a living is an important principle and one that both workers and employers understand. Unfortunately, the ability to make money also entices illegal activity, including illegal and undocumented workers. To help protect companies from hiring illegal workers, the federal government has provided means for employers to ensure employees can prove their identity and show that they are allowed to work in the United States. One of these is the I-9 form. Here’s how it works and why it is used.
Keeping Companies in Check
By the mid-1980s, there were around 3 million illegal aliens working in the United States. At this time, the government created the I-9 form to require these individuals to prove eligibility to work in the country. Today, the online form I-9 is available for employers to furnish to new workers. This eases and accelerates this checking process, and it also holds companies accountable. Organizations that fail to comply with electronic form I-9 requirements are subject to severe penalties. In fact, companies that knowingly hire and employ illegal workers can be fined anywhere from $375 to $16,000 per employee. There are also smaller penalties for minor technical violations of I-9 regulations. These include: failure to indicate the employee is under 18, failure to date the form and failure of the employer to complete the form within three days of the employee starting work.
Keeping the Prospective Worker in Check
Before online form I-9 was available, it was much difficult to get a handle on preventing companies from hiring illegal workers. This process is much simpler now, and it also goes a long way to keeping workers from even trying to get jobs. The unverified workers are aware of electronic form I-9, and they know the consequences of violating these regulations. Having these measures in place does not prevent but does minimize the problems that would otherwise occur. Undocumented workers are now much more inclined to verify their employment and get things in order so that they can become legal to work in the United States.
It’s important to know that online form I-9 is only required once employment is secured by the worker. It cannot be a condition of employment. Similarly, electronic form I-9 is not used to disqualify anyone from employment. Hiring and firing cannot be done based on national origin, race or ethnicity. This is discrimination and can result in significant lawsuits against the company. Simply put, these forms are used as a way to verify employment at the time employment begins and should not be used as a tool to call out a potential issue during the interview process.
If you are in a position in your organization where hiring is a significant part of your job, give serious attention to these guidelines and principles associated with form I-9. It will save you and your organization headaches and issues. It will also help ensure you are getting employees who have the right and ability to work in the U.S.
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