QualityPro’s recently unveiled Version 6 (V6) came with some exciting updates to the program. Accreditation is not only intended for established companies but for younger companies trying to build a brand as well. Our program is designed to outline best practices for all businesses, and make sure that those best practices are codified and standardized. Through the standards, companies are led to pay attention to parts of their business they need to improve to scale-up. One of the new standards in V6 is about the Form I-9. The Form I-9 is required by the federal government for all new employees and is part of any QualityPro company’s best hiring practices. Availability online makes Form I-9 more accessible than ever, and since it’s a new requirement of our program, we wanted to take some time to discuss QualityPro’s expectations and suggestions.
WHAT IS FORM I-9?
Form I-9, more accurately the “Employment Eligibility Verification Form,” was designed to satisfy the requirements of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) that all employers verify newly-hired employees presented valid documentation verifying the employee’s identity and legal authorization to accept employment in the United States. The form is provided by the federal government specifically to meet that purpose. Form I-9 is designed for use with every paid, non-contracted employee hired after November 1986, and employers are responsible for both forms being filled out correctly during an employee’s first three days. Form I-9 is a vital measure against employment discrimination since it verifies an employee’s authorization to work and prohibits an employer from discriminating against work-authorized individuals or attempting to interfere with eligibility verification by trying to limit which documents an employee may present to establish identity.
STORING FORM I-9 AND ALL EMPLOYEE RECORDS
Form I-9 serves as an employee’s record of identity and place and serves as a bridge between a potential employee and a potential employer. Employers need to retain an employee’s original I-9 for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later. The forms should be stored separately from other personnel files and made available for inspection by authorized government officers. Separate storage is not required but encouraged to make it easier to meet the standard three-day deadline for official inspection. Ensuring clear and easily-navigated recordkeeping will make employers’ lives much easier.
Some best practices for storing employee records are universal— personnel files should be kept in a locked cabinet, confidential files should be kept in a locked cabinet with limited access (potentially the same as the former) and I-9s should be kept somewhere accessible by whoever would need to submit them in the event of an inspection. We suggest using a binder with dividers separating active vs. inactive employees so that, once the required retention period has ended, inactive employee documents can be safely separated and shredded. The binder method makes life easier for office personnel providing records for a Department of Labor inspection—the I-9 binder can be handed to the inspector rather than the entire personnel record, cutting down on excess work and avoiding potential issues if the inspector sees anything extraneous in the personnel file they feel requires a further inspection.
QualityPro’s HR partner Seay Management Consultants has provided numerous resources to QualityPro accredited companies, including a webinar on employee file retention practices. This webinar and others from Seay are made available to companies earning or who have earned QualityPro accreditation—contact the QualityPro team to learn more.
WHY IS QUALITYPRO REQUIRING FORM I-9?
On the one hand, QualityPro now requires Form I-9 because the federal government requires Form I-9. More to the point, QualityPro now includes a standard requiring all employers with four or more employees to complete Form I-9 as part of our hiring process standards. For larger, more established companies this may seem like unnecessary review, but our argument has always been that taking time to cover the basics of processes serves to shore up business practices early and ensure standardized service as the business grows. We want to make sure that smaller or newer businesses have all the tools necessary to build a solid foundation with scalable solutions to foster growth.
QualityPro exists to serve companies of all sizes, at all stages of their lifecycle, to help them succeed and continue the important work of professionalizing the pest management industry. Form I-9 is available to all companies through various sites online and our goal is to make sure all hiring processes are iron-clad and above reproach. QualityPro companies attract qualified potential employees because candidates prefer to work with companies whose practices are sound, and who treat employees with professionalism and respect. We encourage companies, QualityPro accredited or not, to take some time to review their hiring practices and make sure that they’re doing the best for their potential employees they could be.
As we move confidently forward into the next phase of QualityPro, we invite all companies, past and present, to join us in embracing the modernization of our standards.