With a renewed focus on immigration enforcement by the federal government, now is a good time for employers to make sure all employee records and hiring practices comply with the law.
A recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News examining the impact the current political environment could have on immigration and restaurant operators quoted Dani Bennett, a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Bennett is quoted as saying, “Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files or banking records. All industries, regardless of size, location and type, are expected to comply with the law.”
All new hires must complete at least three documents within their first few days of employment:
- Federal withholding form (Form W-4);
- State withholding form; and
- Form I-9.
Form I-9 is the federal Employment Eligibility Verification. Employees must submit one or two types of identification to accompany this form, such as a U.S. Passport or a driver’s license and Social Security card. This information must be returned to the federal government within the employee’s first three days of employment, so it is a good idea to advise the new employee to bring this documentation the first day on the job.
It is also important for employers to note that they must complete the “Preparer and/or Translator Certification” section on Page 1 of the I-9. The most recent version of Form 1-9 can be found here.
We have recommended in the past that business owners preform occasional internal audits of their Forms 1-9 to make sure they are in order.
In addition to an I-9 form for each employee, some states, like Georgia, require employers use the federal E-Verify program to verify eligibility to work in the U.S.
Employers who have policy manuals should also have new hires sign an Employee Acknowledgement form stating that the employee has received a copy of the company’s employee policies.
Even after an employee leaves the company, voluntarily or otherwise, employers are required to retain those employee records. The federal government requires that employers keep I-9 forms for a minimum three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of termination, whichever is later. Records with employee name, compensation and tax information should be kept four years after the date the FICA or FUTA tax is paid, according to federal standards.
Each state has its own guidelines, so we advise that employers follow the more conservative retention schedule.
As always, please let us know if we can assist you in any way.