Since 1986, employers have been required to complete and retain a copy of the I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) for each and every employee. Over the past few years, the threat of being targeted by a federal audit for your I-9 forms has increased immensely. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched its new initiative in 2009. Since then, they have yielded a dramatic increase in employer audits, fines and arrests. To avoid costly fines and even jail time, it's critical that your Human Resources department store their I-9's in compliance with federal requirements and is able to quickly provide access to those documents in the event of an audit. An electronic employee file system can help HR keep I-9 forms secure, organized and accessible when the auditors come knocking.
I-9 Audit Penalties
Failure to produce an I-9 form requested during an ICE audit can cost your organization over $1,000 per employee. If you're dealing with an outdated filing system, you could easily be racking up penalty costs and not even know it. And these audits are becoming more and more common. This article from Business Management Daily describes the recent increase in I-9 audits and what they cost employers:
ICE last year audited more than 3,000 organizations for I-9 compliance, a number that is 12 times higher than in 2007, according to ICE statistics (see chart).
Total fines have grown from just $1 million in 2009 to nearly $13 million in 2012. Median fines were $11,000 for workplaces with noncompliant I-9s. Texas employers saw the most fines, followed by New Jersey.
Plus, ICE has made a big effort to publicly emphasize its criminal investigations of executives, HR and managers. Last year alone, ICE arrested 238 corporate officers, including a manager at an Illinois hiring firm who got 18 months in prison. - Business Management Daily
The statistics are scary. A lot of HR departments still store their I-9's in a paper filing system. We all know how easy it is for a filing cabinet to get disorganized. Losing files in such a records-heavy environment is extremely common. An electronic employee file system can help HR keep I-9's in order and protect the company in the event of an I-9 audit.
Electronic Employee Files & I-9's
Making the switch to an electronic employee file system provides numerous benefits to an organization. Efficiency is increased significantly and costs can be cut across the company. However, the way your system is implemented makes all the difference.
To ensure compliance in a paper-based filing system, you must usually keep a number of files for each employee. Separate personnel files, health files and confidential files are spread throughout the department to ensure that only authorized employees may view certain information. I-9's are usually kept in another separate file.
In an electronic employee file system, documents can be categorized into "document types". For example, tax documents, performance reviews, etc. This way, HR can assign specific access permissions to specific individuals or groups of users. These permissions allow or restrict access from specific types of files, I-9's for example, and detail which actions the users can perform (view, modify, delete, etc). With this level of controlled access, HR can now consolidate employee documents into a single file per employee. Users can log in and see only the information they are authorized to see so compliance is maintained.
How To Run An I-9 Audit Instantly
When using an electronic employee file system, running an I-9 audit is something that can be done extremely quickly. Since your employee documents are categorized, you simply need to have authorization to view documents of type "I-9" and a quick index search gives you what you need immediately. Here's how it works:
Do an index search for all documents of type "I-9".
This will search your electronic filing system for all I-9 forms for all employees.
You can limit the search further by adding a date range.
Maybe you only want to pull up I-9's submitted over the past 3 years.
You can limit the search further by selecting employment status.
In an electronic system, employee documents can be tagged with more than just "document type". You can also add fields like "employment status" or other additional identifiers to help further index your employee documents and retrieve them easier.
Wasn't that easy? This allows your Human Resources department to run internal I-9 audits at their leisure. With such a quick and easy process, there is no reason that you shouldn't pass your federal audit with flying colors. The best part is, when the ICE requests your I-9's, you can simply create a new user in the system for the auditer. Give them "view only" permission to your I-9's and they have what they need. No printing, copying, over-nighting or faxing required.
Want to learn more about how an electronic employee file system can help your organization improve efficiency and be ready in the event of an ICE audit? Contact us today! DynaFile's employee file system has been helping organizations manage their business critical documents for over a decade.