The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recognized the manufacturers of a popular brand of preschool and toddler toys for its employment practices. The ICE has granted Step2 certification in the IMAGE (Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) compliance program. Step2 is one of only two employers in the Ohio to be granted the distinction.
Step2 is the largest manufacturer of toddler and preschool toys in the country. The company`s products are distributed to more than 88 countries and the company has a staff of 800. After the certification was announced in June, Chief Financial Officer James H. Smith of Step2 held a press conference to express how proud the company was to take part in the ICE program.
The IMAGE program is an initiative which encourages cooperation between the government and employers. Under the program, the government agrees to help employers understand and follow employment laws while employers agree to hire only workers who are authorized to work in the US. To get certification under the ICE IMAGE program, employers must meet a number of requirements:
1) They must take part in the E-Verify program within 60 days of registering for the IMAGE program. E-Verify is a federal program which helps employers check that they are hiring only authorized workers.
2) They must create a written employment authorization verification and hiring system. To be eligible for the IMAGE program, the written policy must include a company audit of I-9 Forms and this audit must take place at least annually. Form I-9 is used as part of E-Verify to ensure that all employees have had their employment authorization checked.
3) They must agree to an inspection of their Form I-9 filings. Under the federal programs, Form I-9 is not filed with the government. Instead, the employer must keep the completed form and make it available for government inspection when demanded.
According to the ICE, taking part in the IMAGE program leads to more secure and safer workplaces in the US. Employment verification is an important step of the hiring process in the US, as it ensures that only qualified workers are hired in the US. When unauthorized workers are hired, they tend to have fewer rights in the workplace than legal workers and are also subject to unfair wages. In addition, some experts believe that hiring unauthorized workers puts jobs at risk. The IMAGE program is designed to reward employers who hire legally, ensuring that more workplaces hire only authorized workers.