employee
September 30, 2016

How To Properly Document Workers

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Recently, dairy farmers from Michigan made the news for having improper documentation for Hispanic employees. What do you have to fill out and what should you keep on hand? No better time than now for a refresher.

Every employee must fill out an I-9 form that confirms identity of the person coming to work for you. The employee fills out Section 1 of the form. “You can help your employee if needed,” says Shannon Ferrell with Oklahoma State Extension. However, it’s important for the employee to fill out the document themselves.

Next the employer has to confirm the employee’s identity. To do so, you must see a physical copy of something from List A, or one document from List B and one document from List C. The most common documents used from List A include a U.S. Passport or a Permanent Resident Card. List B documents include a driver’s license, government ID card, school ID card with a photo, Military ID card or a Native American Tribal document. The most common document from List C is a social security card.

 “It can’t be two documents from B, or two documents from C,” Ferrell explains. “You must see one from each [list].”

Unless you’re an e-verify employer. Then you’re only required to see one document from List B with a photograph.

Next, as the employer it’s your job to determine two things, according to Ferrell. Does the document reasonably appear genuine? Does the document reasonably appear to relate to the person presenting it? “In other words, is the guy in the picture the same guy standing in front of you?” Ferrell questions. If the answer to both of those questions is ‘Yes’ you are ready to fill out Section 2 of the employee’s I-9.

Should You Keep Copies of The Documents?

Employers are required to keep a copy of the I-9 form. You are not required to keep copies of their identification documentation, according to Ferrell. “There’s not a requirement to keep that documentation,” he says. “It’s kind of a comfort factor for [the employer] that if they get inspected they can refer to it.”

However, there are a few things to keep in mind should you choose to keep copies of identification documents on file.

“If you keep them for some employees you need to keep it for all employees,” he says. Keeping copies for only a handful of employees could show discrimination.  Also, if you keep copies they need to be kept properly. “If you keep it, it needs to be in as high resolution as possible and locked up,” he says.  

Personal preference dictates whether you keep copies of documentation.

“Some people say if you don’t have it there’s no way for them to say you didn’t do an adequate job verifying [documents if you don’t keep copies],” he says. “Others want to have the documentation on hand to show and say ‘look at what I considered reasonably authentic.’”

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