Senate Bill 1718, which became law on July 1, 2023, brings significant changes to the employment landscape of Florida. As an employer, it is critical to understand the various requirements and implications of this new law.
Among the various provisions included in the law, the most notable change is to private employers with 25 or more employees. These employers are now required to use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s online E-Verify System for new hires. The requirement is applicable regardless of whether the employee is full-time or part-time. The E-Verify System determines an employee’s employment eligibility by comparing the employee’s information provided to the employer with government records.
Although this change may seem drastic, Florida has now become one of 27 states that have a similar law requiring the use of the E-Verify System. In fact, in 2021, Florida passed a similar law, but it narrowly applied to public employers only. Senate Bill 1718 closes the gap by extending to private employers as well. Under the proposed legislation, failure to comply with the new law carries severe consequences––such as being fined $1,000 a day by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity until the employer provides sufficient proof that the noncompliance has been resolved.
A private employer with 25 or more employees must use E-Verify to verify each employee within 3 days of hiring that employee. Employers must also retain a copy of the verification provided, and any other documents obtained through E-Verify, for at least 3 years. The only exception to this requirement is if the E-Verify System is not working. To adequately use this exemption, the employer must have documentation and proof to demonstrate that the E-Verify System, for whatever reason, was not working. Hence, the employer will still be fined if it uses the standard paper I-9 Forms but does not document the reason for failing to use the E-Verify System. However, if an employer has less than 25 employees, the employer still needs to comply with federal law by either using standard I-9 form or voluntarily using the E-Verify system.
At Ser & Associates, we understand the challenges employers must endure when hiring new employees or changing processes for current employees. If we can help you with any employment matters, please contact Ser & Associates at 305.222.7282 or Info@Ser-Associates.com.
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