Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they are implementing a special Form I-9 exception for employers who have implemented a “stay at home” work policy as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Here is what you need to know:
* Employers and workplaces that are operating remotely will not be required to review identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person and can instead inspect them remotely within 3 days of the employee’s start date.
* DHS mentions using video conferencing, fax, or email to conduct the remote verification
* Employer must obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the supporting documents, within 3 business days
* Employer must also provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee.
* If there are employees physically present at a work location, employers cannot avail themselves of this exception; however, if newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis
* This special allowance will last for 60 days from today or within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first
*Once a business resumes normal operations, the new hire has to report to their employer within 3 days for in-person verification of the documents.
* After in-person verification has occurred, the employer should enter “COVID-19” in the Section 2 additional information box or Section 3 (if the remote examination was for reverification purposes). They should also annotate “documents physically examined” and the date.
* Additionally, employers may designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2
* Effective March 19, 2020, any employers who were served NOIs by DHS during the month of March 2020 and have not already responded will be granted an automatic extension for 60 days from the effective date (DHS will later determine if an additional extension will be granted).
By John Fay for LAWLOGIX
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