Is your company correctly verifying employment eligibility? An employer that fails to comply with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) employment verification requirements may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. These requirements apply to all employers, including:
- Agricultural associations, agricultural employers or farm labor contractors who employ, recruit or refer people for a fee; and
- Those who employ anyone for domestic work in their private home on a regular basis (such as every week.)
The following outlines some of DHS verification requirements:
- Employers must verify employment eligibility for all employees, including U.S. citizens and nationals. All employees must complete an Employment Verification Form (Form I-9) upon hire. DHS released a new Form I-9 on November 7, 2007. All employers were required to begin using this form by December 26, 2007.
- Employers only need to verify employment eligibility for actual, and not potential, hires.
- A Form I-9 must be completed when the employer gives anything of value in exchange for labor. Thus a property manager that provides services in exchange for free room and board must complete an I-9, even though he does not receive cash wages.
- An employer can terminate an employee who fails to either (1) produce the requested document(s) or (2) produce a recipe for a replacement document(s) within three business days. However, the employer must apply this practice uniformly to all employees.
- An employer that becomes aware, post hire, that the employee is not actually authorized to work cannot continue to employ the worker.
- Employees cannot present a photocopy of a verification document. With the exception of a certified birth certificate, all documents must be originals.
- Employers are charged with the responsibility of examining the employee verification documents to determine whether they reasonably appear to be genuine.
Employers are urged to review their hiring polices to ensure that they are complying with the current employment verification requirements. Employers who are not familiar with these requirements would benefit from contacting an employment attorney.