Congress gives OK to maintain I-9 records electronically

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in Human Resources

Current law requires you to obtain a handwritten signature from each new hire on an I-9 Form to verify the person's work eligibility. And you must retain each I-9 in paper format or on microfilm or microfiche. But Congress passed legislation last month (H.R. 4306) that lets you process and store I-9s electronically if you choose. The president was expected to sign the bill.

As a result, you could gather new hires' signatures electronically (say, on an electronic pad, like at the grocery store). Plus, it lets you convert existing paper I-9 Forms into electronic versions for easier storage. The law would become effective 180 days after the president's signing.

Advice: Analyze whether electronic I-9s make sense for your organization. If so, approach IT and the top brass with your reasons (including the ROI) and your plan to implement the switchover.

Note: The bill doesn't change the retention rules; you must retain employees' I-9 forms for three years after their hire date or for one year after their departure, whichever comes later.

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