Saturday, January 3, 2009

Employer Alert! Use Of E-Verify System Effective January 15, 2009.

Happy New Year, folks and welcome to all the fun on the labor law front for 2009.

Here's the latest ... Beginning January 15, 2009 and pursuant to an Executive Order signed by President Bush, the Department of Homeland Security will require private employers who provide goods or services to the federal government to use the E-Verify system in order to confirm their workers' employment eligibility. E-Verify is an online government database against which employers can check a person's work status. The system cross-references employee I-9 forms with records from the Social Security Administration to identify mismatches in submitted social security numbers. It also indicates whether an employee is authorized to work in the United States. The new mandate will apply to federal prime contracts having a monetary value in excess of $100,000 (known as the simplified acquisition threshold); however, the rule will apply to federal subcontracts having a value above $3,000.

The rationale for imposing this rule is to provide a more stable and secure workforce by eliminating the use of illegal workers on federal projects. Until recently, use of the E-Verify system was voluntary as a matter of law, but it will now be mandatory. While the rule generally applies to new hires, employers may elect to use the E-Verify system for all employees hired after November 6, 1986 to ensure compliance with immigration laws. There are several exemptions such as for short-term contracts (i.e., those to be performed within 120 days).

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other employer groups have filed suit seeking to overturn the Executive Order and its implementing regulations on the ground that they contradict current law with respect to the voluntary nature of the E-Verify system. Let the games begin!

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