Monday, February 2, 2009

Department of Homeland Security Green Disaster

In a ruling about a month ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the I-9 Forms used to verify and document employee eligibility to work would be changing. Some of the acceptable documents had changed. The form content was rearranged. And because every employer in this country is required to use one of these forms for every single employee they hire, that meant that every existing Form I-9 and every existing set of instructions for the I-9 form would have to be thrown away and replaced with new forms and new sets of instructions.

There was a very short time between the final release of the new form and the requirement to use a new form, and no option to ease into the new forms. So lots and lots and lots of paper was thrown away. A small portion was probably recycled. And new forms were designed and printed. And new books and instruction sheets and templates and FAQ's were printed in anticipation of a February 2nd deadline.

And then, yesterday, February 1st, less than 24 hours before the deadline, the DHS reversed itself, saying that the new forms would not be acceptable, the new requirements would not be in effect, and that employers must continue to use the old forms and old instructions at least until April 3rd of this year.

The same forms that people just threw away. Replaced. That companies like G.Neil and HRdirect and ComplyRight just reprinted in the new and now potentially useless format!

So what we have is a green disaster on two fronts:

First is the green environmental disaster. Millions of sheets of paper have been disposed of and will now have to be printed. Millions more have been printed and now may never be used. And potentially millions more will have to printed again when the DHS makes up its collective mind in April. And besides all the paper, we have all the ink (potentially toxic) and the eletricity that was used to do the printing and the gas that was used to drive the disposal and the delivery trucks!

And we have a green money disaster. Companies, already struggling financially, had to dispose of unused forms and other paperwork surrounding this form, and buy for print new forms and new paperwork. And that costs money they can ill afford. Now they are being told that they must again replace the I-9 form, but this time with the one they had before. And will possibly need to buy all new stuff AGAIN in April! Just what businesses on the edge of bankruptcy need -- more expenses with zero return.