The specter of major fines for hiring mistakes, even for simple errors on I-9s, can make it seem like the federal government is out to get employers. But the government is also providing a way to improve the situation: E-Verify.
E-Verify is an online system that compares an employee’s I-9 to data from the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to confirm the employee’s employment eligibility. Its origins date back to 1997, but it really gained traction in 2007, when federal government entities were required to use it.
How It Works
Once a job candidate is hired, you process their completed I-9, which includes their Social Security Number and a picture ID, through E-Verify. The E-Verify system compares your data against more than half a billion Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records.
If all the information matches, E-Verify returns the result “Employment Authorized.” This is the green light to keep employing that person, and as of the end of 2010, 98.3% of employees run through the E-Verify system have gotten that result.
If the information doesn’t match, E-Verify returns a “Tentative Nonconfirmation” result. This means that the employee must be notified in writing of the mismatch, that the appropriate agency has been contacted and that the employee has eight federal government working days from the opening of his or her case to resolve the problem.
If the employee resolves the mismatch (which has happened about .3% of the time as of 2010), everything is back on track. If not, the employee has to leave the job, but not until the case is closed; the employee can’t be terminated or otherwise punished for contesting the Tentative Nonconfirmation while the case is pending.
How It Can Help Your Business
For starters, E-Verify helps you avoid employing unauthorized workers. Not only does that keep you on the right side of the law, where we all want to stay, it helps you considerably in the case of an I9 audit.
The second way E-Verify helps your business is as a selling point, showing that you do business ethically and with integrity. You can let your clients know that you will provide them with the highest caliber of contingent workers and help protect them from the liabilities that might result from hiring unauthorized workers. (Plus, E-Verify is a free service, so it doesn’t cost your business anything besides the time to check new hires.)
As of the first of the year, five states have introduced requirements that at least some businesses use E-Verify:
- Alabama’s requirement affects state contractors as of January 1, and will then be expanded to all employers on April 1.
- Georgia’s requirement applies to employers with 500 or more workers as of January 1, then to employers with 100 or more as of July 1, then to employers with 10 or more as of January 1, 2013.
- Louisiana’s requirement applies to private companies that bid on public projects and has been in effect since January 1.
- South Carolina required all employers to enroll in E-Verify as of January 1, and requires all employers to use E-Verify within three business days of a new hire.
- Tennessee’s requirements are similar to Georgia’s, but with different numbers and dates. Employers with 500 or more employees must use E-Verify as of January 1; those with 200 to 499, as of July 1; and those with 6 to 199, as of July 1, 2013.
Meanwhile, some states are reversing course, rescinding earlier requirements about using E-Verify. California has a new law that forbids municipalities from requiring that businesses use E-Verify. And early last year, Rhode Island’s new governor rescinded that state’s E-Verify requirements.
Regardless of what the laws in your area require or don’t require, using E-Verify can be good business. In the staffing industry, our product is people, and E-Verify can help us ensure that our product is the highest quality possible.