I was visiting with some of the Southeastern folks earlier this week, and talk turned to hiring practices. In many of those states, they have mandatory e-verify requirements, so hiring can be a more difficult process. During this process, Dusty Findley of Southeastern Cotton Ginners made a point that I had never considered – you may not need to fill out a new I-9 form for all your returning workers. You can click here for the full rule, but one paragraph in the Handbook for Employers states:
You must complete a new Form I-9 when a hire takes place, unless you are rehiring an employee within three years of the date of their previous Form I-9. However, in certain situations, a hire is not considered to have taken place despite an interruption in employment. In case of an interruption in employment, you should determine whether the employee is continuing in their employment and has a reasonable expectation of employment at all times. In other words, for seasonal employees, they may not be considered a new hire.
If the break in employment happened because the seasonal work was completed, and if the employee had a reasonable expectation that the job would resume when the work returned, and if the employer had a reasonable expectation that the employee would return when the work returned, then you can consider their return as continued employment, and you do not have to fill in another I-9 form. You will need to verify that the documents originally provided have not expired when the workers return. Get an updated document when the worker returns if the original one has expired.
Many gins simply re-verify all documents and fill in new I-9 forms every year, but this is another option to consider if you are trying to streamline your paperwork process.