Florida Broadens Requirement to Utilize the Federal E-Verify System, Employers Face Penalties for Failure to Comply

Multiple states have adopted various E-Verify requirements, making compliance tricky for employers operating in numerous states. In March 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that, among other things, broadens the type of employers that must use the federal E-Verify system to verify employment eligibility of new employees. Section 448.095 of the Florida Statutes previously required only public agencies to utilize the E-Verify system to confirm employment eligibility. Beginning July 1, 2023, all employers with 25 or more employees are required to use E-Verify to determine employment eligibility for all new employees. Fortunately for employers, this requirement applies only to new employees and is not retroactive. Penalties for non-compliance will commence January 1, 2024.

In addition to several State of Florida entities, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEC) will be responsible for enforcing this requirement. For a first offense, the employer will have 30 days from the DEC’s notice to cure the non-compliance. If the DEC finds that an employer failed to use the E-Verify system as required three times in any 24-month period, the DEC is required by law to impose a $1,000 fine per day until the employer has cured the non-compliance. Further, non-compliance constitutes grounds for the suspension of all state licenses, depending on the number of unauthorized employees.

To avoid such penalties and comply with this new statutory requirement, employers with 25 employees or more should enroll in and properly use the E-Verify system for new hires. It is imperative to retain proof that the employer is using E-Verify correctly. Per the statute, employers must retain for three years a copy of the documents submitted to the E-Verify system as well as any official verification generated from the system. Additionally, if the E-Verify system is unavailable for the first three days of the new employee’s work, the employer must take screenshots illustrating the unavailability of the system and use Form 1-9 to verify employment.

Read more issues of the National Employment Perspective >>