Currently, employment verification (I9 form) is required by all employers within 3 days of hire to ensure the employee is authorized to work in the United States. E-Verify, an online tool operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, allows employers to electronically verify employment eligibility after having completed the I-9 form. Currently, E-Verify is mandatory in Florida for public employers, as well as private employers who contract with local and state governments, including public colleges and universities.
On May 10, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 1718 into law. This new Florida law, effective July 1, 2023, creates a new requirement for all private employers with at least 25 employees to use E-Verify. There will also be an increase in penalties for noncompliance and for those employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Here are several takeaways for employers regarding this new law:
- Private employers with 25 or more employees must utilize E-Verify for employees hired on July 1, 2023 and thereafter. If the records do not match, the e-verify system will notify of a mismatch and an employer must give notice to the employee (no match process). The employee then has 10 days from the mismatch to notify the employer if they have resolved the situation. If there is no resolution, the eligibility to continue employment ceases.
- Employers must keep a record of the documentation for at least three years. Employers required to use E-Verify must also certify compliance annually and when making contributions to the state’s unemployment compensation system.
- Employers that use the E-verify system establish a rebuttable presumption that they have not knowingly employed an unauthorized worker. If the e-verify system is down for more than three days and the employer cannot complete the process in a timely manner, this presumption can be maintained by completing an I-9 form and taking a screenshot each day showing the system was unavailable (and retaining any official notice or communication about the systems being down.
The penalties for noncompliance will take effect July 1, 2024 (one-year delay in enforcement). The Department of Economic Opportunity will give 30 days’ notice to fix any non-compliance. If the business fails to use E-Verify three times within any 24-month period, the DEO will fine $1,000 per day until proper proof of non-compliance is resolved. The first violation puts the business on a one-year probation period. If requirements are not followed, it could result in revoking state-issued licenses.