How long do they have to be stored seperate and should copies of ID be with them? When can they be place in former employee file?
It is legal for you to make copies of the supporting documents for the I-9, and it is a best practice in HR. However, if you do make copies of the supporting documents, they must be kept with the I-9, separate from other employee files.
There is no point at which the I-9 file (with supporting documents) should be merged with the personnel file. An I-9 form must be kept for one year after termination, or for 3 years, whichever is longer. At that point the I-9 can be discarded, although other personnel documents related to hiring and pay decisions should be kept.
One of the purposes of keeping the I-9 separate from the employee file is to show that supervisors did not have access to the info on the I-9 (race, color, age, national ancestry, citizenship status) and therefore could not commit illegal discrimination in employment decisions. Merging the I-9 and the personnel file defeats that purpose. If the two files are merged for terminated employees, how will you ever demonstrate that they were once separate?
You can periodically go through the I-9 files and purge them, but you should never merge them with the personnel files.
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