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Miami business owners: Are your I-9 forms in order?

Employers have a lot of responsibility when it comes to their employees. For instance, they may be focused on providing a safe workplace, properly compensating workers and making sure their rights as employees are protected. However, employers must also be sure that they are in compliance with state and federal employment laws. For example, Florida business owners should be aware of their responsibility to employ only workers who are lawfully permitted to work in the U.S.

Employers are supposed to have their employees -- both citizens and noncitizens -- complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, also called the I-9 Form. The Department of Homeland Security requires that employers have these forms for each work in order to verify a worker's identity and to ensure he or she is permitted to work in the U.S.

Unfortunately, issues can and do arise when it comes to these eligibility forms. If you are an employer, you could find yourself facing some potential penalties if you are not in compliance. Non-compliance can come in many different forms, including:

  • Not having every employee complete a form
  • Failure to complete Section 2 of the form within three days of an employee's first day, or in some cases within the first day of employment
  • Accepting expired documentation to verify employee's identity
  • Failure to re-verify employment 
  • Providing false information on the I-9 form

In cases where an audit reveals there are violations in place, the employer could face civil and/or criminal penalties. These penalties can be quite severe.

If you are an employer in Florida and have questions about I-9 form procedures or have learned that you will be audited or investigated for potential compliance issues, you would be wise to consider consulting an attorney sooner rather than later. With legal support, you may be able to address possible errors or oversights and work to avoid or minimize the harsh consequences you could be facing.

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