Outsourcing I-9 Compliance Management Can Reduce Cost and Complexity

by Blake Forrester December 2, 2010

All U.S. employers are required to verify the employment eligibility of any individual they hire to work in the United States. Under federal law, employers are required to complete and retain what is known as the Form I-9 or the Employment Eligibility Verification Form for each of their employees. The Form I-9 is used to validate employee identity, their Social Security numbers and their eligibility to work in the country. Employers are required to maintain an I-9 form on each employee for a period of at least three years until after the individual has left the company. The requirement applies to both citizens and non citizens and companies that are found to be in non-compliance can face federal audits and financial penalties.

For companies that only have a small number of employees, meeting the requirement can be fairly straightforward. However, I-9 compliance management can become a huge challenge for companies that have hundreds or even thousands of employees. To ensure proper compliance with I-9 requirements, companies need to maintain and store error-free forms, monitor for status changes and employment eligibility, and make sure that the forms are properly updated and modified as needed. Employers also need a way to ensure the forms are easily retrievable and properly disposed of when no longer needed. In addition to such challenges, problems can sometime arise from improperly or incompletely filled forms and inaccurate information. Employers can sometimes find it hard to verify an individual’s employment eligibility and can easily be tricked by and individual who provides false identification and Social Security numbers.

One way to mitigate such issues is to outsource the I-9 compliance management task to a third-party service provider. Numerous companies currently offer I-9 compliance management services as part of a broader portfolio of workplace screening services. Such companies typically offer business a way to electronically file and submit I-9 forms, store the documents in electronic format and retrieve it electronically as well. Outsourcing vendors can help alert companies to errors and inaccuracies in I-9 forms and keep them informed of changes and updates in I-9 requirements. They can help employers more quickly screen employment eligibility of contractors and temporary workers. Often I-9 compliance management services are offered in conjunction with other screening services such as background verification checks, due diligence reporting as well as employment, income and educational qualification verification. Such an integrated screening process can help companies identify and address potential employee eligibility issues before they become full fledged problems. Importantly, outsourcing the I-9 compliance management function to professionals allows companies to reduce the cost and complexity associated with performing the task internally and helps them focus better on their core competencies.

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