I-9 Tip #2: Retain your I-9 records to avoid costly violations

by Tanya Eislle November 7, 2011

We’re continuing our series about common I-9 mistakes with a tip that focuses on record-keeping—specifically, how long employee I=9 forms should be retained. Managing employee documentation and I-9 forms is an important part of the compliance process, but many employers are confused about how long they should retain employee records and if it’s acceptable to discard records after an employee no longer works for the company.

Tip #2: Retain your I-9 records.

So how long are you required to maintain an employee’s I-9 form? The answer is: you must maintain an employee’s I-9 form either 3 years after the date of hire or one year after the date that employment is terminated—whichever is later.

It sounds simple enough, but failing to maintain records in this way can be a serious violation. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Handbook for Employers:

“If an employer’s action or inaction result in the alteration, loss, or erasure of electronic records, and the employer knew, or reasonably should have known, that the action or inaction could have that effect, the employers is in violation of section 274A(b)(3) of the INA (8 CFR Part 274a.2(g)(2)).”

Many employers simply opt to maintain all employee records on a permanent basis—that approach will work too, but it’s not a practical solution for everyone. Just make it a rule to follow the regulations put forward by the government in order to maintain compliance.

If you don’t want to wait for our next blog posts and would like to read all five of our helpful tips to avoid common I-9 mistakes, feel free to download our complimentary guide now!

We’re curious: Do you keep your employee records only as long as necessary, or do you retain them on a permanent basis?

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