SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE

Better bone up on I-9 form; it can be a bear

special dispatch from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System

If someone told you to do something because your job depended on it, you would probably sit up and and take notice, right? That’s what this article forwarded to The Blount Countian by the Extension System and condensed here, is telling you.

As it turns out, your job very well may depend on how well you comply with the new federal I-9 form, which was released March 8 and will go into effect on May 8. The form is one the government requires all business owners to use to verify an employee’s identity and to establish that the worker is eligible to accept employment in the U.S.

I-9 compliance, which many business owners, especially small business owners, already find difficult, will get even harder when this new form goes into effect, said Tommy Eden, an attorney with Constangy, Brooks, and Smith, a national law firm representing large and small business employees throughout the United States.

That law firm, along with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the National Federation of Independent Business in Alabama are offering free, comprehensive online training to help business owners comply with these new requirements.

The training, called “Untangling the New Form I-9,” is available at www.aces.edu/events.

Rosemary Elebash is Alabama director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

“It’s absolutely critical that employers and employees alike understand this,” she said. “It’s double the work – two pages instead of one – but it’s the penalty provisions that are most alarming.”

Penalties for failing to comply with I-9 requirements include civil fines as high as $1,100 for each employee whose I-9 form was not completed, retained, or presented properly. Penalties can run even higher – $3,200 to $16,000 – for first, second, and third violations involving employers who knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers.

The comprehensive online training prepared by Eden and Elebash is designed to help anyone assigned with hiring employees to understand all the facets of the new I-9 compliance provisions.

“This training not only introduces you to the forms and all the supporting documents, but also gives you step-by-step guidance on various hiring scenarios,” Eden said.

At worst, it could help you keep your job, survive a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit, and avoid civil and even criminal penalties.