Onboarding & I-9 Administration – What Price Freedom?

I blog and write and speak a lot about the cost savings that come with implementing transactional onboarding software. For many clients, the ROI is immediate – they start saving money compared to their current, inefficient paper based system from day one. However, it’s not just cash in the bank that makes Universal Onboarding a sound investment. The risk reduction side of the equation makes this an attractive solution as well.

The Handcuffs are Coming Out

Hiring managers, HR directors, and even company CEOS face previously unheard of punishment for improper I9 administration. ICE made over 1100 workplace arrests for criminal violations of immigration laws in 2008 (compared to just 25 criminal arrests in 2002). More than 10% of those arrested were owners, managers, supervisors, and HR employees. In addition, over 5100 administrative arrests were carried out (click here for an explanation of what that term means).

That’s a pretty whopping increase in the number of employers and managerial staff facing serious jail time. Even if the charges are later reduced, there’s a good chance that serious or permanent damage has already been done to a company that is the subject of a raid involving arrests of key personnel. Some states and cities have a policy of revoking business licenses for companies that are exposed as hiring undocumented workers. And they don’t have to wait for a long criminal court case to be completed before they take that action.

Scrutiny Stricter Than Ever

Right now, the likelihood of a business owner actually going to jail for unintentional violation of immigration laws is not high. However, as criminal cases against knowing violators are successfully prosecuted, there’s always a risk that the line between accidental and willful transgression will start to blur. Even if you can prove you didn’t know what was going on at a worksite, there comes a point where ICE may say that you should have known but just didn’t care. Negligence is not an excuse that the judicial system looks upon favorably as a mitigating circumstance.

That’s why taking documented, proactive steps to enforce I9 administration rules is so critical for employers. Whether or not you decide to participate in e-Verify, you should absolutely have a system in place that ensures:

  • Every new hire completes an I9 including all required fields
  • Each I9 and supporting identification documents are reviewed by a qualified administrator within the 3 business day timeframe required by law
  • All I9s are retained on file in an easily accessible format for internal auditing and in the event of an ICE inspection

Our Universal Onboarding system can assist in this compliance process with our “no errors, no omissions” rules-based electronic forms. We can also help you connect with e-Verify if that is the next step your company needs to take in complying with ICE best practices. Remember – staying out of jail is something you can’t put a price tag on!

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