What Do I Tell My Immigrant Employees?
Cindy Fetty, Senior Consultant, HR Annie Consulting, Portland, OR
I was sitting at coffee with a colleague of mine the other day who happens to be an attorney when she asked me what we are telling our clients to do about immigrant employees and all of their increased concerns in this heightened political climate. Ugh….that was my question for her.
I am an HR Consultant and my path crosses frequently with my attorney connections as we help our clients reduce liability and/or take care of them in situations where they navigate claims, internal investigations, trainings and more recently, how to help answer the question of how will they take care of their immigrant employees?
This advice has always been the same for me, although it does depend on the risk tolerance of certain clients. I tell them,
1. Ensure you are receiving proper documentation for newly hired employees;
2. Complete the I-9 forms accurately;
3. Annually audit your I-9 records (and all Personnel files for that matter) and;
4. Make sure whomever is completing the documentation understands what they are signing off on.
However, employers always take the risk of ensuring this is happening and that what they are being given is accurate. They will also weigh the risk of hiring employees and retaining their hard-working, loyal workers who are chasing the American dream and often supporting their families outside of the U.S.
My advice today is similar, yet now with this political climate, I might add a piece about sending a company-wide message to employees about being assured that you will do what you can to protect them, asking them that if they’ve been sitting on paperwork to expedite completing it, suggest that perhaps they take less risks that might expose things (don’t work or drive without a license) and to lay low in the meantime. There are still a lot of unknowns, but you must be real too: Things are happening, employees might be taking a risk, they know that, and so there is only so much an employer can do to balance protection with liability.
For now, keep on working and providing your employees with the opportunity to prosper. It’s still uncertain what immigration reform or enforcement President Trump will stand strong on, or what laws will change and when.
For more advice and up-to-date information, contact HR Annie Consulting team. We are here to help.
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