The use of E-Verify has been mandatory in Florida for public employers and for private employers who contract with state and local governments or receive state incentive dollars. A new Florida law, however, will require all private employers with at least 25 employees to use the E-Verify system during their onboarding process beginning on July 1st.
E-Verify is an online verification portal for employers to verify the identity of a new hire and assure he or she is authorized to work in the US. It does not replace the requirement to complete an I-9 form for all employees; it is the step that follows the I-9 completion. Additionally, the E-Verify system must be used to verify all new hires regardless if they are US citizens.
Our friends at Fisher & Phillips (F&P), a well-known employment law firm, further explain some take-aways for employers:
1. Make sure you have a plan to comply by July 1st. Also, understand the process: if the info you enter doesn’t match the records in the database, the system will issue a tentative nonconfirmation which the employer must provide to the employee. The worker has 10 days to resolve the mismatch or discontinue employment.
2. Employers are required to retain documentation and any verification documentation for at least three years.
3. If an employer uses the E-Verify system in good faith, F&P states that the government presumes you have not hired unauthorized workers. They suggest that if the E-V system is down at any time and you can’t complete the process for a new hire, take a screenshot each day to document the system’s unavailability or certainly, retain any official notifications you receive.
4. Employers must certify use of E-Verify each year.
5. Penalties for noncompliance go into effect on July 1, 2024, resulting in a fine of $1000 per day until the employer can provide evidence of compliance. The employer’s first violation will result in a one-year probationary status prior to potentially having its license revoked.
Finally, businesses with less than 25 employees can choose to use E-V on a voluntary basis and also conduct the annual certification. F&P states this action will bring heightened immunity protections, definitely a win-win.