Employers that are hiring in the midst of these uncertain times are struggling with how to stay I-9 compliant during pandemic related closures. Many of these closures are affecting the validity of employee authorization documents and how employers can document special COVID-19 document extensions. By enlisting the help of a company that provides professional I-9 compliance guidance, employers may be better able to navigate the winding road ahead.
COVID-19 Temporary Guidelines For Hiring
As some companies continue to hire employees during these pandemic related closures, staying I-9 compliant is proving to be a challenge. To make things even more confusing there can be subtle differences on compliance rules depending on if a company’s entire workforce is working remotely or if at least some of their locations are physically open.
For companies that are entirely working remotely during the pandemic as of April 2020, there are some allowances being made for the virtual inspection of employee authorization documents through platforms such as web-based conferencing, fax, or virtual calls. To be eligible to do so, companies must do the following:
- Have the entire workforce work remotely
- Document the remote work policy with the Department of Homeland Security
- Document the method of virtual inspection on the Form I-9 in sections two and three
- Review tangible employee authorization documents in person within three days following the expiration of the end of the COVID-19 national emergency (or May 19, 2020) and then properly document this action
Companies that have at least some locations operating as normal, do not have the luxury of virtually inspecting employee authorization documents. However, they may be allowed to have a third-party act as an official authorized representative in reviewing authorization documents. Employers should note that some states may have more stringent rules on third-party designations than the national guidelines.
Whether employers are working remotely or have some physical locations open, it is crucial that they frequently check on government policy during this time of unprecedented change.
DMV Closures Affecting Employees Completing I-9 Forms
In this time of national business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, many states have Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that are either closed or offering only limited services.
Unfortunately, this can have an unwelcome trickledown effect on employees attempting to successfully complete a Form I-9 for their employer. The primary problem with limited or no DMV services is that employees may have no other choice but to use an expired driver’s license as a form of identification on an I-9.
To help combat this issue, some states are extending the expiration date of state IDs and/or driver’s licenses. While helpful, this presents a challenge for employers on how to document this unusual and temporary extension. The following steps may be helpful in this case:
- For employees with a driver’s license or state ID that is expired on or after March 1, 2020 in a state that has extended document expiration dates due to COVID-19, these forms of identification may still be acceptable as a List B document.
- To protect against I-9 violations, employers must document the acceptance of these documents in Section 2 of the form and enter the term COVID-19 EXT in the Additional Information Field.
- For added protection, employers should attach a copy of the DMV’s webpage or other supporting documentation as proof of the document extension.
Employers should check their state’s Motor Vehicle Administration or Department of Motor Vehicle’s website to confirm if they have or have not auto-extended the expiration date of driver’s licenses and state IDs.
How DMV Closures or Limited Services May Affect the E-Verify Process
Some companies either voluntarily or by mandate use the federal E-verify system to complement the Form I-9 process. Expired driver’s licenses and state IDs can cause some issues with E-verify as well.
In the case that an employee has an expired driver’s license or state ID that is eligible for an extended expiration date in their state due to COVID-19, employers should enter the actual expiration date of the employee’s document for E-verify purposes.
That said, the coronavirus crisis is causing many standard procedures to be reevaluated on an almost daily basis. Employers should check E-verify’s website daily for frequently asked questions to ensure proper procedure is being followed.
How Professional I-9 Compliance Guidance May Be Helpful
Learning how to stay I-9 compliant during pandemic related closures is just one of many issues that employers currently have on their plates, and it is overwhelming for many. Employers may want to consider enlisting the help of a company who specializes in professional I-9 compliance to assist with lightening their load and helping them stay on top of COVID-19 related compliance issues.
Lookout Services has provided I-9 guidance to employers for more than twenty years and offers digital I-9 compliance software that features the following:
- A digital solution for I-9 compliance
- Printable checklists for employees and employers to help keep everyone on task for completing the Form I-9 in advance of section deadlines
- Time sensitive alerts for employers regarding impending deadlines
- Minimization of frequently made Form I-9 errors such as incomplete fields, blank fields, and missing signatures
- Document tracking
- Document archiving assistance
Let Lookout Services assist you in learning how to stay I-9 compliant during pandemic related closures. Call us to set up a virtual consultation today.