Change in employment forms looms
For the second time this year, employers must begin using revised forms to prove new hires are eligible to work in the U.S., a situation that some observers say could cause confusion.
The revised I-9 forms, given to all new hires on their first day of work, take effect Sept. 18.
The last revision took effect in January, so some employers may not realize there is already a revision, said David Freedman, a partner in the immigration group at Lancaster-based law firm Barley Snyder.
"I would say that for employers with multiple locations, sometimes the hardest thing with a new form I-9 is just making sure everyone is using the correct form," Freedman said.
The changes themselves are minimal, he added, but there is at least one subtle tweak that employers should note: language on the new form says it should be filled out on the first day of work. Previous forms said they could be filled out by the end of the first day.
At a time of heightened attention to immigration laws, employers are better off having employees fill out the forms before they begin working, Freedman said.
"I say err on the side of caution with this because the fines can be pretty significant, even for technical violations," he said. Fines, he added, were boosted last year to a range of $216 to $2,156, up from $110 to $1,100.
In addition, he said, the U.S. government is stepping up enforcement efforts, including through immigration-related audits of employers,
Danielle Hoffer said companies should begin using the new forms now to avoid any problems later. She is human resources consulting practice leader at business services firm RKL LLP in Manheim Township, Lancaster County.
"The key would be make the transition as soon as possible and throw the other ones away," she said.
The form is available electronically, Hoffer added. New hires can fill it out before they begin working and then, on their first day, bring any documents they need to verify they are legally able to work in the U.S.
"If somebody's not, you actually are obligated to give them three days to provide additional documentation, but you're not supposed to have them on the job," Hoffer said.