By Randall Gates, special to Communities Digital News
WASHINGTON, September 7, 2012 — H.R. 2885, otherwise known as the Immigration Reform Act (IRA), is understandably a hot button topic this political season. America is a nation of immigrants; almost all of us have ancestors who arrived here from other lands.
Immigration fuels heated political debate on both sides of the spectrum. Reform advocates cite the billions of dollars in costs due to illegal immigration that burden the American taxpayer. The other side points to the economic benefits that illegal workers provide by adding to our workforce.
Which is it? Are illegal immigrants a net benefit or net cost to our society? There is no easy answer, and the issues aren’t all economic.
But let’s break H.R. 2885 down in terms of business sense.
Whether you are large or small, manufacturing or high tech, you should know and understand the crux of the proposed IRA law.
The Immigration Reform Act crosses both state and federal laws and begins with the enforcement of e-verify for vetting prospective workers.
Workers must provide valid documents such as social security numbers and birth certificates. Non-compliance can cost you and your company fines, starting at $2,500, and escalating to $5,000. Repeat infractions may result in jail time, up to six months.
So it makes sense for you to keep your hiring practices not only in compliance with the law, but also transparent to enforcement officials.
What do you need to do?
First and foremost, document your employees. You must verify that all employees have a valid work status in our country.
American birth certificates and work-visas are both tangible proof that a prospective employee has the right to work in this country. If you wish to hire someone who is not a citizen and who has a valid social security number, they will need to provide you with copies of documents showing their work status that you should retain.
As a business owner, keeping very organized files is critical to avoid fines or other repercussions. Certainly, no business owner would ever want to have their business raided and shut down due to undocumented workers.
One way to keep yourself organized is to use a software management system to help you keep track of employee documentation and rules compliance. The investment now can save you fines and lost income later. When you are facing federal authorities and need to provide valid information, the quicker you can pull the documentation, the better it will be for you and your businesses’ reputation.
It is hard to recover from a raid by federal agents. Don’t forget, every day your company is shut down money is lost. Being organized and compliant in all aspects of your employee’s work status will help keep your business up and running.
When employees are gainfully employed and legally working, your company profits from a stronger workforce. In turn, legal employees benefit your local economy with their salary and taxes feeding back into your community, and your customers, as well as to our country.
Running a profitable company and adhering to the Immigration Reform Act does not have to be mutually exclusive. You can run a successful business ventures, using ethical business practices and a sensible employee tracking system.
In keeping with the immortal words of one of our greatest American businessmen, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” –Henry Ford.
Randall Gates is a business professional who specializing in quality management systems and software. He frequently writes on these topics and currently blogs for cebos.com, a provider of compliance management software.