Construction Today - June 2012 - (Page 78)
By Carl Shusterman
Avoiding I-9 Form Audits
orkforce disruptions at construction companies are always unwelcome, particularly when they are caused by agencies of the federal government such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Unfortunately, such disruptions are more likely to occur today than in the past because of a change in federal policy. Rather than staging isolated raids on a small number of employers, the current administration favors sending federal agents to comb through employment records of thousands of employers nationwide. In the last year, ICE has conducted audits of employee files at more than 3,000 companies, including construction firms. The government is looking not only for employers who knowingly have hired illegal aliens, but for those who have failed to comply with immigration-related paperwork requirements. Construction companies can be assessed tens, even hundreds, of thousands of
dollars in fines, not only for hiring illegal workers, but merely for making mistakes in completing and updating the Form I-9.
Managing the I-9 Process
An I-9 audit begins when a Notice of Inspection is served on a company by ICE to compel them to surrender their I-9 forms to the government. The I-9 form verifies the identity and the employment authorization of each employee hired by the company and must be completed for each hire. Here are recommendations for how to prepare for and manage this process. 1. Make sure each new hire completes Section 1 of the I-9 form the first day of employment. This is the section where the employee indicates his or her status – U.S. citizen, green card holder, or holder of some form of work authorization. Some construction companies and other employers allow employees to defer completion of this section. However, if the employee’s information is incomplete, it is the employer who pays the fine. If the employee has temporary work authorization, it is particularly important that he or she indicate when the temporary authorization expires. 2. Complete Section 2 of the form by the employee’s third day of employment as required by law. Show the employee the list of documents included on the I-9 form that the federal government accepts to verify employment authorization. Have the employee
CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM JUNE 2012
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