Filing and Retention of Form I-9

As we near May 7, 2013, the date the new I-9 form is required to be used exclusively, I’ve been continuing my study regarding the form.  Today I want to suggest a filing system and discuss the retention requirements.

First of all, all current employees must have an I-9 on file and they should not be included in employee files.  They need to be maintained separately in a file (Electronic or hard copy) accessible only to the HR department.  Supervisors should not have access because of the protected information included on the forms.   I recommend that the I-9s be filed alphabetically by last name in a binder or in an expandable file to allow for easier auditing using a current payroll list. There should also be a “Terminated Employee” section in the binder or expandable file system which should be organized chronologically by retention date.

The “Terminated Employee” section is where the retention process is managed.  You must keep a terminated employee’s I-9 for the longer of one year from the date of termination or three years from the date of hire.  So for employees that have worked over three years, you retain their I-9s for one year after their termination date and for employees who have worked less than three years, you retain their I-9s for three years after their hire date. Since it can be a little complicated, here is an online calculator to help calculate the correct retention time.

Once the retention period has ended for a particular terminated employee, you should destroy the I-9 and supporting documents of that employee by shredding or burning so as not to compromise that employee’s protected information.

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