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Mon 19 Jun, 2023 # Client Alerts

New Florida E-Verify Requirements for Private Employers

Effective July 1, private employers with over 25 employees must verify all newly hired employees through the E-Verify system.

In early May this year, the Florida Legislature passed, and Governor Ron DeSantis signed, sweeping regulations on the hiring practices of private employers. For the first time in Florida, private employers could face steep penalties for failure to verify that new employees are eligible to work in the United States. However, employers should be aware of key provisions in this new law before it takes effect on July 1.  

Who must comply? The new law applies to all private employers with 25 or more permanent employees. The new law does not apply to employers with less than 25 employees.  The new law defines an “Employee” as an individual filling a permanent position under an employer’s control. The law exempts casual laborers hired to work in private residences and independent contractors.

Do leased employees count against the employee threshold? Leased employees are generally considered employees of the leasing company. Unless your agreement with a leasing company says otherwise, compliance with the new law is the leasing company’s burden.

What is E-Verify? E-Verify is a federal database which checks an employee’s Form I-9 against a Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration database to confirm that the employee’s information matches against federal data.

How does a private employer comply? If a private employer meets the employee threshold, it must use E-Verify to confirm each new hire’s employment eligibility within three (3) business days of the first day the employee begins working for pay. The E-Verify system will notify employers of employee record-based ineligibility. The employee will have 10 days to verify records and regain eligible employment status.

  • Current employees do not need to be verified through E-Verify.
  • Employers must maintain copies of documentation and official verification for at least three (3) years or one (1) year after employment ends, whichever is later.
  • When making contributions to the Florida Unemployment System, employers are required to certify their compliance.

How is this law enforced?

  • Multiple state agencies are authorized to obtain records from private employers to ensure compliance with the law’s requirements.
  • Beginning July 1, 2024, the Department of Economic Opportunity (“DEO”) must notify any employer it determines to be non-compliant and provide the employer a 30-day period to remedy noncompliance before penalties are imposed.
  • If the employer fails to cure the noncompliance and fails to use the E-Verify system three times in a 2-year period, the DEO will impose a fine of $1,000 per day until compliance is met
  • If the DEO determines that an employer knowingly employs an unauthorized alien, it may impose additional penalties including:
    1. Mandatory quarterly compliance.
    2. Repayment of any economic development incentives.
  • Employers found to knowingly employ unauthorized workers face suspension or revocation of any state licenses.
  • Defense: An employer who uses the E-Verify system or the documentation required by the I-9 form for new hires establishes an affirmative defense against knowingly hiring an unauthorized alien.I

Each employer’s unique hiring and employment practices can vary widely. Consultation with your legal counsel is recommended to understand the effects of this law on your business, make any changes necessary for compliance, and monitor any changes to the law over time.

Hand Arendall Harrison Sale continues to monitor implementation of this legislation and other related legislation and guidance. Please reach out to one of our lawyers for further information and guidance so we can assist you with your individual business needs.