However, employers are going to have to start taking these letters seriously. Now, just by receiving them, employers are considered to have inferred knowledge and have to act on it.
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (PRWEB) September 17, 2007
Effective September 14, the DHS began enforcing its new guidelines for employers who receive "No Match" letters from the Social Security Administration. A No Match letter is issued when tax documents submitted for an employee do not match the information on file at the SSA. In the new guidelines, the DHS states that improper handling of No Match letters may indicate knowledge by an employer that a worker is illegal, and may lead to civil or criminal enforcement action.
"In the past, employers would get these letters and usually ignore them," explains Peter Escalante, a human resources consultant with CPEhr. "However, employers are going to have to start taking these letters seriously. Now, just by receiving them, employers are considered to have inferred knowledge and have to act on it."
In early July, the Bush administration announced that employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers may be eligible for fines up to $12,500 and a felony prosecution. On the state level, the number of laws against illegal immigrants this year has more than doubled since 2006, to over 170.
With years of experience dealing with the SSA and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), CPEhr is offering customized services to create and implement aggressive I9 and employment verification policies, respond to No Match Letters and correspond with the SSA and INS for California-based employers.
Escalante summarizes the process: "We check employee files for valid I9s and confirm they are properly stored. If a client receives a letter from the SSA, we check it against their information on file. If the information is incomplete, we request completed documentation and recommend the client terminates the employee if it is not provided in a timely manner." If a response to the agency is required, CPEhr manages the process on behalf of the client.
CPEhr recommends that all employers have an undocumented employee policy included in their Employee Handbook. In it, the employee acknowledges that if their Social Security Number is challenged by the SSA, they have 30 days to produce valid documentation, or be fired. This type of involvement by the employer is extremely valuable, says Escalante, when faced with an investigation or fine by a governmental agency.
"If an agency finds the employer to be proactive in any regard, they will be more forgiving and typically reduce the severity of the penalty," he notes. "The government realizes employees have rights and employers can't just fire them. They are understanding of employers who have policies in place and show an effort to cooperate."
Founded in 1982, CPEhr (http://www.cpehr.com) is one of the largest, independently owned Human Resources and Professional Employer Outsourcing (PEO) firms in California. With 25 years experience in the California market, CPEhr has an advantage in its knowledge of statewide employment challenges. While its operations are primarily in California, CPEhr services 15,000 worksite employees at 300 locations in 35 states. CPEhr offers an array of integrated human resources services that includes: employee administration, human resources and labor law compliance, payroll and tax administration, benefits administration and compliance, workers' compensation administration, risk management, training and development and recruitment. CPEhr is a HR partner to small to mid-sized businesses. By outsourcing their human resources, CPEhr clients are able to focus on executing strategies that deliver profitability and cost-savings.