E-Verify is Now Law in Florida

What began as a voluntary system is now a mandatory program under Florida law as the state becomes the latest to make the use of E-Verify mandatory. From Jan. 1, 2021, all government employers, along with some private employers, will be required to use the federal electronic database to establish lawful employment suitability.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Verification of Employment Eligibility legislation on June 30 requiring all public employers and their private contractors to use E-Verify. The statute will affect state and local agencies, public universities and colleges, and local school districts.

E-Verify is a federal electronic database designed to help employers confirm lawful employment eligibility. New hires provide documents with their applications, which are validated against existing federal databases. To comply with this new law, employers in Florida will have to introduce some hiring process changes.

Main Requirements 

Florida’s new law requires all public employers, contractors and subcontractors to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm that new employees are legally entitled to work. Moreover, all public contracts require an E-Verify certificate before they can commence. When working on a public contract, a subcontractor is required provide the contractor with an affidavit that it does not employ, contract with or subcontract with unauthorized aliens. The subcontractor must keep this affidavit until the contract is finished. All public projects are required to have contractors follow this process.

The E-Verify system does not have to be used by private employers unless:

  • They have a contract with a public employer, or
  • They seek taxpayer-funded incentives through the state Department of Economic Opportunity

Under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, employers still need to complete and maintain I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms. These must be kept for the length of employment and at least one year from the date of dismissal (or three years after hire, whichever period is longer).

Important Change for Private Employers

According to the new Florida statute, private employers not using E-Verify are also required to keep copies of the documents used to complete the Form I-9 for three years. This requirement is optional under federal law.

Employer Readiness

Florida public employers and private employers who tender on public contracts should prepare for the new law by bringing their onboarding and new hire practices up to date.

Should private employers not choose to use E-Verify, they must continue to complete and maintain I-9 verification records, as well as copies of documents that were reviewed. The enforcement measures are substantial under the new E-Verify mandate. Failing to comply could result in business licenses being suspended or even terminated.

If you’re an employer, be prepared for more stringent government scrutiny of employment verification records—at both state and federal levels—as the COVID-19 pandemic diminishes. Periodically auditing your employment verification records helps ensure they are properly completed.

We also strongly recommend contacting an HR consultant to check whether your onboarding processes comply. The new E-Verify law leaves no room for error; having that extra professional perspective can make all the difference.

All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a James Moore professional. James Moore will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.