Florida’s new “Verification of Employment Eligibility” statute

Beginning on January 1, 2021, Florida’s new “Verification of Employment Eligibility” statute went into effect, requiring many employers to use the federal E-Verify system before hiring any new employees. This new law could force significant changes to your hiring practices.

What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is a supplement to the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form. E-Verify compares information from the I-9 to information available from various databases.

E-Verify is required by all federal contractors, and, since 2011, E-Verify has been required on all state projects in Florida. With the new Florida law, all public employers – as well certain private employers – must use E-Verify.

What Does the New Law Require?

Every Florida public employer, along with their private contractors and subcontractors, must enroll in and use the E-Verify system to confirm the eligibility of all employees hired after January 1, 2021. No public contract can be entered into without an E-Verify certificate.

In addition to private employers who contract with public entities, these new E-Verify employment eligibility requirements will also apply to employers who receive taxpayer-funded incentives through the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

For private employers who do not contract with the state or receive state incentives, Florida law will now require these private employers to use E-Verify, or alternatively use the Form I-9 and maintain copies of the documents used to complete the Form for three years (which is optional under federal law).

If you choose not to use E-Verify for your private business, you should continue to complete and maintain Form I-9 verification records, including copies of the documents that were reviewed. It is prudent to audit your I-9 records periodically to ensure that your business is compliant.