As more companies look for employees to work from home, they face more and more complex issues, one of which is Form I-9 compliance. This mandates you verify a potential employee’s application documents, including work permits and employment history, within three days. Many employers find this difficult enough to achieve when the position isn’t remote. The person needs to begin work as soon as possible, but they’re hundreds of miles away and can’t check in with a recruiter or HR anytime soon.
As if employers didn’t already have enough on their plate with an extensive public data check, they must review original documentation to verify eligibility and complete the Form I-9 within three working days. The fact that video technology can’t be used in this process confounds the matter further. This guide provides tips for a smooth employee verification experience.
1. Completing the I-9
Considering the many challenges, employers are advised to complete this form through a representative or agent. This can be anyone in theory, but you need a person who understands what they have to do and are willing to do it. Employees for work from home positions have to complete section 1 of the I-9, while the second section should be completed by the representative or agent of the employer. The documents cannot be copied and sent to HR to complete the second section, HR professionals warn.
Experts also recommend the employee obtain notarization of the form from a notary public in their area. To guarantee compliance, the company should have a clear policy that states who can represent it. To ensure a fast and smooth verification, you should select someone who has some experience with the Form I-9 process.
2. Observe Different Requirements
Different states have different requirements for the I-9. For example, not all states allow notaries to complete one. In California, the party completing the form has to be bonded as a consultant for immigration.
It’s important companies have clear and concise instructions. These might include directions to send the form back within the deadline, a completed form sample, or a series of frequently asked questions.
3. Review for Mistakes
All I-9s completed remotely need to undergo careful review, ideally within the framework of a unified process. Employers need to ensure all data has been entered correctly. Frequent errors include accepting the wrong documents, transposed or missing data, or failure to keep copies were mandated by E-Verify or the company.
Verifying Work History and Other Details
Organizations will request to verify any potential employee’s work history, including one who will be working from home. Apart from history, this will include information related to current employment. Typically, this comes with reference checks. What’s more, companies often get requests to verify employment from third parties, such as loan providers, who want proof that the loan recipient will be able to repay the loan on time.
Employment verification methods range from executed agreements and contracts, references, and paystubs to a “Proof of Employment” letter. The following section looks at the main reasons for these requests and the different ways, in which they can be complied with.
1. Job Offers
The most common situation, in which employment verification would be required, is when you’re making someone a job offer. Even though companies will often check references to confirm a candidate’s job history, they may require something a bit more formal, especially in the case of a work-from-home position. Such a document would be the PoE letter.
2. Validating Employment for a Work Visa Holder
To have a work visa reissued, the candidate generally needs to have gainful employment to be able to remain in the country. To renew an application, one has to provide proof of continued employment. If the person has changed or lost their job, they need to inform the issuing body.
Employment Verification Methods
To ensure employment detail requests are legitimate, organizations must inform the respective employee, be they a past or current one. It’s a good idea to do this before providing information of any kind to anyone. Then, they need to decide what the best way to present the information is.
This should come before collecting the data needed to respond to the request. Relevant considerations here include specific formats, in which the data has been requested. Some organizations need an informal reference only. Others provide a form.
The Proof of Employment letter is the most common employment verification method regardless of the type of position. It contains all the relevant details about someone’s job history. However, you can combine other methods for the same purpose.
This is a good idea to do in some situations. For example, it can be hard to get in touch with an employer. There are different reasons for this: poor HR support, a bad relationship with the former employee, and more.
As mentioned, other methods include references, pay stubs, agreements, contracts, and third-party services. The following section will describe each of these.
References detail the person’s general performance and position at the company. Their former coworkers or manager can recommend them. Most organizations get reference check requests occasionally.
Paystubs show salaries earned at a previous position. Sometimes, it’s illegal to provide this information. It’s also only relevant in the context of loan applications or other requests where the salary is at focus. Companies need to know the law or contact an attorney if they don’t to make sure they are providing such information legally.
3. Agreements and Contracts
These provide evidence that someone worked for a company, but this evidence is limited in the sense of the employee’s having accepted a job offer. There is no evidence the employee executed the contract. They may have quit before it ended.
4. Third-Party Services
Background check companies automate the employment verification process, taking this responsibility off the company’s hands. This is why more and more employers are turning to these providers, particularly when hiring for remote positions.
Sharing Information Legally
Requests for employment verification may involve information that companies don’t have to provide. In some cases, an employer may face legal consequences. As noted, earnings, remuneration, and health-related information are highly sensitive. New York City and California have prohibited companies from asking for information about previous earnings during the recruitment process. This is done with the purpose of protecting potential employees from having their earnings for a new job compared to those at previous ones. This is unfair in cases where people were receiving salaries below the market rate.
1. Health Information
Typically, it’s bad practice to share information about someone’s health status. This is because of the motives behind a verification request. A company’s recruiters may be attempting to create an attractive and unencumbered workforce. An insurance provider could be trying to find out about previous (irrelevant) conditions of a potential client. People’s disability information is explicitly protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits organizations from sharing that information with third parties.
Recruiters are allowed to ask for any information objectively needed to verify that a potential hire will be able to complete the tasks associated with the position. This extends to work from home positions in every event.