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What You Need to Know About Florida’s New E-Verify Law

Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed into law one of his top priorities of the 2020 Legislative Session. The new law expands Florida's use of a federal database to verify an employee's immigration status. However, it is far from the sweeping change the governor wanted as it was watered down in the final days of session to make it optional for private employers. The new law will require changes in employers’ hiring to some extent beginning January 1, 2021.

On June 30, 2020, Florida joined the growing number of states to pass a version of a mandatory E-Verify statute when Governor DeSantis signed SB 664 (Chapter Law 2020-149) into law. It requires all public employers, including local school districts, public universities, and colleges, and state and local agencies, as well as their private contractors, to use E-Verify. This is a federal electronic database intended to aid employers in confirming with federal databases that the documentation provided by new hires to establish lawful employment eligibility are in fact valid.

Key Provisions
Beginning January 1, 2021, every public employer, contractor, and subcontractor in Florida must enroll in and use the E-Verify system to confirm the eligibility of all new employees.

Additionally, no public contract can be entered into without an E-Verify certificate. Any subcontractor working on a public contract must provide the contractor with an affidavit (which must be retained by the contractor during the duration of the contract) stating that the subcontractor does not employ, contract with, or subcontract with unauthorized aliens. Contractors will need to go through this process for all public projects.

Private employers are not required to use the E-Verify system unless they have a contract with a public employer, or they apply for taxpayer-funded incentives through the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

All employers must still complete and maintain “I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification” forms for the duration of employment, and for at least one year from the date the employee is terminated or three years from hire, whichever is later under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

In addition, under the new Florida law, any private employer who does not use E-Verify must also maintain copies of the documents used to complete the Form I-9 for three years (which is optional under federal law).

What You Should Do Next?
Florida public employers, and those who bid on public contracts, should be ready to comply with the new law by updating their new hire practices.

Private employers who choose not to use E-Verify should continue to complete and maintain I-9 verification records, including copies of the documents that were reviewed. The enforcement procedures under the new E-Verify mandate are significant; and if a public employer terminates a contract with a contractor for knowingly hiring an unauthorized alien who is not authorized to work under federal law, that contractor can not be awarded a public contract for at least one year.


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