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I-9 Forms & Document Management: How to Ensure Compliance, Avoid Fines

Ensure compliance by organizing legal forms in a document management system

Employment verification audits have risen dramatically over the past three years. According to Sol Schwartz & Associates in 2018 alone, audits of I-9 forms quadrupled to nearly 6,000 employers being audited. This resulted in criminal arrests increasing 460% and administrative arrests escalated 787%. The increase in audits, fines and arrests highlights the need for every organization to evaluate its current HR processes and handling of legal documents to ensure I-9 compliance.

Records Retention Policy Creation and Enforcement

I-9 compliance begins with having a solid records retention policy. One place to find this information is the Department of Homeland Security’s I-9 guide. Once you have a policy in place, document management software can be used as an enforcement tool. With automatic notifications from document management and workflow automation software, your HR department can easily identify potential records for destruction and create alerts for action to be taken.

Internal Audits

One way to assure that you can maintain compliance is to conduct an internal audit of your documents and business processes. These audits will highlight areas of improvement and any information gaps that may exist so that you are prepared for an audit from ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). With I-9 audits on the rise, ensuring that you can prove compliance is critical to surviving these audits. Document management is a tool that can help streamline both internal and external audits, making it easier for employees to find legal documents within seconds.

Ensure I-9 Compliance with Document Management Software

Document management software helps you meet compliance guidelines for the multitude of employee forms you need to track and maintain. These systems provide you with secure and immediate access to I-9s (and any other documents) during an audit or for internal access/review.

Document management also enables secure, electronic file storage. Once I-9s and supporting documents are indexed and uploaded into your document management system, access rights are applied to each document ensuring that only the authorized staff can view these sensitive documents. Document management software can also keep I-9s separate from the standard employee record—critical for ensuring compliance and avoiding discrimination claims.

Immediate File Access Regardless of Location

Whether your staff continues to work from home or split time between the office and working remotely, cloud-based document management works very well for organizations with multiple locations. If an audit were to occur at any office, appropriate staff can be granted immediate access to the I-9s for employees at that office from any location quickly and efficiently.

This eliminates the need to physically go to multiple locations to prove ongoing compliance. Auditors won’t even need to be physically present at your office once they are given electronic access to requested documents remotely, significantly minimizing the disruption to your business processes that the audit would normally cause.

Workflow Automation Further Ensures Compliance

Workflow automation software is also a powerful component of document management and can ensure that all required documents are acquired during the employee onboarding process. You’ll get an automatic notification if any required documents, such as an I-9, are not present during document processing. That way you ensure everything is complete and approved during the hiring process and you won’t have to scramble last-minute when you’re in the midst of an audit.

Practice Makes Perfect

Criminal indictments and convictions due to ICE’s worksite enforcement investigations are expected to continue to rise. Once your company is given a Notice of Inspection, by law, employers are given three business days to provide the required I-9 forms. Don’t wait until you get a Notice of Inspection for your business to implement a standard procedure for I-9s.

The more proactive your business is about having organized internal processes and a system for records management, the less hassle it will have when it’s getting audited. With MetaSource’s help, your company can implement comprehensive workflow automation, document management, and other services that ensure compliance with regulatory agencies.

MetaSource can help your internal audits run smoothly and be prepared for any actions that come your way. If you have any other questions about how document management software and workflow automation can help make your I-9 audit successful, feel free to contact us. You can also learn more about how you can better prove your compliance and reduce the risk of fraud via Origination Trailing Document, Custody, and Handling Best Practices.