Today’s world values inclusivity, diversity, and equity more than ever, and construction companies in Florida have a responsibility to respond to that. It’s not just about treating employees with respect and ensuring equal opportunities for all, either. Instead, it’s about meeting your legal obligations as you post and hire for Florida construction jobs. One of those legal obligations is now using E-Verify, and this one system can actually help to promote equal opportunities throughout the country.
What is the E-Verify Law?
As of July 1, 2023, all employers who had more than 25 employees in the state of Florida are now required to use the E-Verification system, developed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. E-verify is a system to verify the work eligibility of new hires. It cross-references the information given by a new employee on their I-9 form with various government databases.
How Does Using E-Verify Help Create Equal Opportunities in Florida Construction Jobs?
Wondering how adding time to the process of hiring a new employee could possibly help you create equal opportunity across the industry? It comes from the goal behind the law. Florida Representative, Ryan Mackenzie, was part of the creation of the law, and there were many reasons for his proposal. His concern was that there were so many construction employers hiring individuals who were not authorized to work in the US that it might be driving down wages, which creates an unequal playing field for all construction companies in Florida today. According to Mackenzie, another problem with construction companies in Florida that hire those who are not authorized to work in the United States is that the lack of authorized employees who pay taxes deprives the government of revenue that is designed to fund programs like unemployment compensation.
The legislation, According to Mackenzie, actually came out of direct discussion with stakeholders who were part of the construction industry. They had real concerns about companies that were employing unauthorized personnel as laborers and construction managers. That bill was created as a direct response to those concerns.
E-Verify works in another way too. It helps to protect anyone in Florida construction jobs under U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA regulations. This can help to ensure the safety and welfare of all of the employees in your company. Complying with a system like e-verify will help employees remain safe, healthy, and satisfied in their jobs, thus building a level playing field for every employer to compete on when it comes to new hires.
Doesn’t E-Verify Encourage Discrimination?
One real concern for many employers is that E-Verify actually encourages discrimination, as many employers may not even choose to work through the hiring process for someone they feel may not have the necessary documentation to work in the United States. The law, however, is quite clear on this point. The statute requires that just because you use E-Verify, you shouldn’t change your practices to be discriminatory. You must treat all potential new hires fairly and consistently.
In that situation, you should be working with anyone you would normally hire, have them complete an I-9, then run them through the E-Verify program regardless of their background or your own prior knowledge about their citizenship status. Thus the law doesn’t actually encourage discrimination. Instead, in many ways, it helps to prevent it entirely.
The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section Law:
The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section's stringent regulations ensure that E-Verify is utilized in a non-discriminatory manner, playing a crucial role in promoting fair and equal employment opportunities within Florida's construction industry. E-Verify, as outlined by the rules for Form I-9, is designed to confirm the work eligibility of all new hires, regardless of their citizenship or national origin, while maintaining the utmost respect for individuals' rights and privacy.
As stated by the IER, companies cannot "use E-Verify selectively based on a suspicion that an employee may not be authorized to work in the U.S., or use it to pre-screen certain applicants based on their citizenship status or national origin (real or perceived)."
By preventing employers from discriminating against individuals based on their immigration status or background, E-Verify guarantees that every worker has a chance to compete on an even footing, fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce that benefits the state's construction industry as a whole. This commitment to fairness and equality not only upholds the principles of justice but also strengthens the construction sector by harnessing the talents and skills of a broad range of individuals.
Is E-Verify Hard to Use?
One of the biggest concerns for construction professionals is the level of time it might take to use E-Verify as they work with new hires. The reality, though, is that those concerns are unfounded. E-Verify is a fairly simple system to use, and the laws surrounding the use of the system in Florida make it even easier for construction companies to apply. Simply have your prospective candidate fill out an I-9 form and collect copies of the appropriate documentation when they do so. Add the information to the system, and it offers you results in real-time to help you understand whether that individual can legally work in the United States. You have up to three business days to do so.
Finding an E-Verify Partner
Many construction companies are concerned about the time that it will take to implement this system in their own work, and that makes finding a partner who understands the system and can help you with your onboarding an absolute must. At Labor For Hire, we specialize in matching employers and employees to the right company. We understand the nuances of government compliances and can immediately start matching you to the right company or find the right employee. Call us today for support and guidance on e-verify and get matched with the right workers for a better future.