I-9s kept separately from personnel files

Does anyone have any knowledge if this is a requirement or just a safe administrative decision?


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  • This is just a safeguard because the I-9's contain ethnicity information.
  • It is not a requirement for private employers -- only for federal government, as an employer (see I-9 instruction book for employers, page 15, Q# 22 http://www.osha.gov/pls/epub/wageindex.download?p_file=F6844/I9_Handbook.pdf)

    However, if you don't keep the I-9s separate from your other personnel file materials, and if you are investigated/audited by DOL for immigration or wage and hour issues, the agency will have access to the entire file (and not just the I-9). So, it is unwise to store I-9s in with the regular personnel file.

  • From everything I have read, it is not required but a safe administrative decision.  
  • So for those of you who are keeping them separate, how do you file them, and how do you manage the ones for employees who have been terminated?
  • I have two separate binders - one for active employees and one for terminated employees. All of the I-9s are in alphabetical order.  The rule for terminated employee I-9s is that you must retain the I-9 for 3 years after the date of employment begins or 1 year after the date the person's employment is terminated, whichever is later. 
  • It is not required, but isgood recordkeeping practice for several reasons:

    1)   Employers may notdiscriminate against employees based on the following: gender, citizenshipstatus or national origin, all of which is contained in or can be gleaned fromForm I-9.  (Not an all-inclusivelist).

    2)   Many employersattached authorization to work documents to the Form I-9 which containsphotographs and additional confidential information that should not be used inthe decision making process for hires, promotions, benefits, terminations, etc.

    3)   You may keepthese documents off-site but if requested to produce them you have 3 days.  By having them in separatebinders/folders you can limit your exposure to other record keeping practices,somewhat.  This is not to say youwould intentionally hide information but why present more opportunities forerrors or sloppy record keeping to be exposed. Always mitigate your risk asmuch as possible.

    4)   Inspectors aremore likely to leave with a good impression if everything is neat, orderly, andappropriately controlled.  A messin one area may just get them to wondering if sloppy recordkeeping is systemicwithin the organization and if so, what else might you not be taking seriously.

    5)   This also allowsyou to have your recertification log up front, another impressive point.

    Ifyou are a co-employer, and use a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) for hiring,you are still the employer and are responsible for a completed I-9; the PEO ayrely upon the previously completed I-9 at the tie of the initial hire for eachemployee continuing employment as a co-employee of you and the PEO.


    If you contract with aconstruction company, for example to perform renovations, you do not have tocomplete I-9 forms for that company’s employees’, it is the constructioncompany’s responsibility.  However,you must not knowingly use contract labor to circumvent the law against hiringunauthorized aliens.



    - You must retain I-9 Forms for 3years after the date employment begins or 1 year after the date of termination,whichever is later. 


    - If you are an agriculturalassociation, agricultural employer, or farm labor contractor.


    - You must retain Forms I-9 for 3years after the date employment begins for persons you recruit or refer for afee.


































































  • [quote user="HReaction"]So for those of you who are keeping them separate, how do you file them, and how do you manage the ones for employees who have been terminated?[/quote]

    Actives by last name.  You do not need a separate folder for each one but if you like making labels, there's nothing wrong with this.

    Inactives by date of destruction.  A consequence of this is that every rehire must fill out a new form because dredging up the old one is too much of a pain.  On the bright side, it also means that you have less chance of old problems under prior HR people coming back to haunt you since everything has to be new.


    AUDIT your I-9 files quarterly or semi-annually.  Ensure each active employee has one and it's where it's supposed to be.

  • We also keep ours in binders, one for actives one for terms.  We do keep them both in alpha order but write the destroy date on the margin so we can go through the binder monthly and pull the ones to be destroyed. 

    I prefer it in alpha order so when I am auditing it is easier to see that we have them all and find misfiles but it does mean going through the whole binder every month.  It is a personal preference but I only have a couple hundred to go through.  If we had thousands, would definitely file by destroy date.

     As others have said it is not required but it is generally considered best practice to keep I-9s separate from personnel files.

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