By Jason Fry
HR leaders are having to get creative to compete for talent. Businesses have had to adapt to keep customers satisfied with unique approaches such as contactless shopping experiences, expanded curbside pickup options, greater investment in digital and ecommerce technologies and more - in addition to normal operations. With the sometimes expanded service offerings this means additional support is needed to keep businesses running. However the country is grappling with a sharp contraction in the labor market, and finding qualified talent can be a major challenge for HR and business owners.
HR teams seem to be considering rehire strategies to bring back former workers who may have been trained on and are probably familiar with the businesses processes and procedures. In fact, some states, including California, are considering or have already passed “Back to Work” legislation that would require businesses to offer any available jobs first to qualified employees who were laid off because of the pandemic.
There are a lot of potential benefits for rehiring former employees who are experienced:
They already know most of the ins and outs of the organization
They usually take less time to adjust to the work environment
They may not need as much training
But while the onboarding basics may seem clear, the actual rehiring process itself may be unfamiliar to business owners and managers.
There are, however, potential pitfalls to look out for if you bring back former employees. As an example, the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) Form I-9 guidelines for rehires are a bit nuanced. For rehires, if the employee is rehired within three years of the date that Form I-9 was originally completed, the employer may consider using Section 3 rather than doing an entirely new Form I-9. And while a new Form I-9 requires that employers must physically inspect an employee’s eligibility documents – for Section 3 it only applies if the original work authorization document has expired. The Equifax Workforce Solutions I-9 Management support teams also note that leaving the rehire date blank on Section 3 is one of the more common Form I-9 errors, which could indicate that some employers may not be as familiar with Section 3.
Because of the changing guidelines for Form I-9 and other complications that took place due to the pandemic, many businesses are choosing to use an I-9 service. Many businesses are in recovery mode, more aware than ever of expenses and risk. Since the employer bears the burden for Form I-9 compliance, it’s important to either know or have assistance when completing Form I-9 and other new hire notification requirements to help avoid potential fines - especially since fines for Form I-9 violations are at an all-time high. In this rehire situation, a check of new hire documents to find any that may have expired when employment was terminated could be needed for the rehire packet, as well as checking with the state for any other forms that have been introduced or changed since the employee last worked at the company.
Another hiring choice for businesses to consider is the benefit of tax credits that are potentially available for new hires. One of the 10 targeted groups for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is hiring long term unemployed which, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website is defined as “one who has been unemployed for not less than 27 consecutive weeks at the time of hiring and received unemployment compensation during some or all or the unemployment period.” The September BLS report showed that approximately 2.7 million of all unemployed workers in the U.S. have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. This means as hiring recovers, many new hires may qualify for the WOTC federal tax credit, so screening is an important part of hiring post-pandemic to help ensure employers qualify and apply for the tax credits that they are eligible for.
So while rehires might come to mind first for business owners and managers, it’s important for employers to be current on the process, requirements and opportunities for both new hires and rehires, including Form I-9 and WOTC. In addition, automating the paperwork and WOTC screening to help streamline the process of getting employees onboarded can help businesses rebuild more quickly and stay focused on service.
Want some help to get your I-9s on track? Check out our HR Checklist for I-9 Enforcement to get tips you can use today to help get and keep your I-9s in order.
Want to see how much you could be saving with WOTC each year? Take our WOTC calculator for a quick spin to see how WOTC can help have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.
To learn more about how Equifax Workforce Solutions can help your organization check out our I-9 Management and WOTC Services. And contact us if you’d like to chat with someone to see how we can help you with your hiring processes.
The information provided is intended as general guidance and is not intended to convey any tax, benefits, or legal advice. For information pertaining to your company and its specific facts and needs, please consult your own tax advisor or legal counsel. Links to sources may be to third party sites. We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.