From urban population centers to rural areas, ICE worksite activities jumped more than threefold in the first nine months of full year 2018 and restaurants are often a focus for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). And there’s no indication enforcement efforts will slow down soon. In fact, the Homeland Security FY 2020 budget calls for an additional $313.9 million for the hiring of an additional 1,000 officers and more than 600 supporting personnel.

For quick-service restaurants looking to get new employees into training and serving customers, the question may be how best to respond to this new reality?

As a first step, restaurants both big and small should consider additional training around and renewed commitment to accurate completion of Form I-9 when hiring new employees. Aligning with the requirements of Form I-9, which the government uses to verify a potential employee’s eligibility to work, is critical to mitigating the effects of a potential on-site investigation. This is especially important for employers still using paper forms. Estimates from law firm Jackson Lewis, PC suggest that 60­–80 percent of paper Form I-9s are missing, incomplete or contain errors. For restaurants still working with paper, maintaining compliance can be challenging.

It’s a 4-page form, but in total there are more than 900 pages of instructions from government handouts, guides and website on proper completion of Form I-9, according to Amy Peck, shareholder at Jackson Lewis, PC.  That’s a lot to remember for a quick-service restaurant manager, and whether they hire 50 or 5,000 new workers, businesses of all sizes can face I-9 audit compliance risk from errors on Form I-9 paperwork.

With high-volume hiring, common for most quick-serve managers, it’s important to be mindful about how employment eligibility is documented. ICE can levy fines based on both missing and incorrect Forms I-9. Based on our experience with Forms I-9 audit and remediation for employers nationwide, including many quick-serves, there are a few common errors that can help form the core of any training program for managers:

  • Incomplete employee personal information in Section 1
  • Missing employee personal information at the top of Section 2 
  • Missing employee signatures
  • Forgetting to check the preparer/translator box in Section 1
  • Completing the Form I-9 outside of the statutory time requirements. Section 1 of Form I-9 must be completed on or before the first day of work for pay, and the employer must sign and date Section 2 within three business days of the hire date.

Now more than ever, it’s critical for managers to be familiar with and able to complete Form I-9 paperwork accurately for each new hire. Re-training and refreshing HR teams and managers is a smart way to help avoid unnecessary business risks.

Brian Elfrink leads the strategic direction and development for the suite of I-9 Management and E-Verify, services at Equifax Workforce Solutions. He is responsible for new product initiatives, legislative analysis, product management and onboarding workflows for HR teams and hiring managers using automated I-9 management, including conversion to electronic I-9 storage and audit and remediation services for employer nationwide.
Employee Management, Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Story