As more US companies prepare to return to the office, whether on a hybrid schedule or otherwise, in addition to grappling with COVID testing protocols and vaccine mandates (read more here), is the reality of re-engaging with compliance matters that may have been on “hiatus” for the last year.
One time-sensitive topic that may have been overlooked is Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification compliance.
While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has allowed some flexibility for US employers over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the relaxed rules will no longer apply once employees are routinely and predictably in the office. Without this flexibility, employers must act quickly to (1) update I-9s completed during the pandemic pursuant to ICE’s flexible rules, and (2) put in place or refresh protocols for I-9 completion and maintenance in a workplace that is always changing with shifting post-pandemic norms.
The issuance of post-pandemic I-9 compliance is time sensitive and the failure to act timely will result in higher risk of fines during an investigation. For many employers, this will be a time-consuming and overwhelming task in light of the moving parts and other elements of office reopening. As a result, planning now to ensure I-9 compliance is an absolute necessity.
In this article, we provide an overview of I-9 requirements and ICE’s I-9 flexibility relating to COVID-19, and propose five steps that all employers should take in advance of office reopening.
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Original article published in Law360.
Special thanks to the authors, Melissa Allchin and Matthew Gorman.