The reality of the above is more prevalent today as organizations increasingly offer work-from-home options or have offices located around the country. New employees may never actually see an HR representative in person before starting their role. Since you know that the employer must complete Section 2 of the I-9 within 3 business days of the employee’s start date, what are your options to comply with that rule? Below I’ve given you a few suggestions for how to do this when someone isn’t in the same place as you. Some may seem cumbersome but are perfectly viable options.
Remember that “you must examine the documentation your employee presents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. You are not required to be a document expert. You must accept documents that reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the person presenting them. However, if your new employee provides a document that does not reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to them, you must reject that document and ask for other documents that satisfy the requirements of Form I-9.”
I don’t want to give you any more bad ideas, so let’s leave it at that.
Onto the good ideas!
Require new employees, regardless of location, to come to your headquarters to complete their I-9. The downside of this is that it’s gonna cost you. The upside is that your I-9 process will be streamlined and controlled. And it could be rolled into your overall on-boarding process.
Have a member of the HR team travel to the new employee’s location to complete the form in person. Again, this will cost you, but also allows for process uniformity.
If you have an office that is near where the new employee will be working (or is actually working there #obvi), then you can have a manager or someone else in that office complete Section 2. Bonus points for having a local HR person in the office there complete it.
If your organization has large numbers of off-site employees like those in the construction or agriculture industries, consider switching to an electronic system. This would allow a foreman or site manager to have a laptop or tablet, or maybe even a desktop computer, set up for employees to complete I-9s on the spot and allow that manager to complete Section 2 without delay.
Having the employee visit someone on their own, or even having a local manager or HR person complete the form, requires additional follow up on your part. You must ensure that the form is completed according to the appropriate timeline (day 1 for employee; within 3 business days for employer) and you must review the form when it arrives back to you. You should not allow an employee to keep their own Form I-9.
The takeaway here is that even if you don’t have this problem now, you probably will in the future. Make a plan ahead of time and you won’t have to scramble when the situation arises!