With the current labor shortages in Pennsylvania and across the country, staffing agencies are undoubtedly scrambling to find and place workers. Still, despite the rush, it is critical for staffing firms to comply with their obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Immigration Reform and Control Act and other applicable laws.
The IRCA requires most employers to verify the identity and work authorization of all new employees. For staffing agencies, correctly performing employment eligibility verification can be challenging. Nevertheless, a misstep may trigger financial penalties from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or even discrimination charges from workers.
Completing the I-9
Generally, employers have three days from the first day of employment to complete the first two sections of the I-9 for a new employee. With staffing companies, though, employment eligibility verification works a bit differently.
Staffing services have a couple of options for completing the I-9 timely. First, they may count from the employee’s first day of work at the contract job site. Alternatively, they may consider the employee’s start date to be when he or she enters the job pool for placement.
Either way, it is critical to treat all employees the same. That is, to avoid a discrimination complaint, staffing firms should usually pick one option and stick to it.
Participating in E-Verify
Staffing agencies that have government contracts or provide workers for sensitive projects may participate in the federal government’s E-Verify program. Like with the I-9, the agency may use either the employee’s first day of placement or the day he or she enters the pool to initiate E-Verification.
Ultimately, both to avoid legal exposure and to keep contracting employers happy, it is advisable for staffing companies to develop and follow precise employment eligibility verification procedures.