Federal law requires employers to only employ individuals who are eligible to work in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the U.S. Social Security Administration, has implemented an “E-Verify” system that allows participating employers to verify eligibility in a quick and cost-efficient manner. E-Verify is a free, federal database that compares information submitted by employees to Social Security and Homeland Security records. Employers who use E-Verify can quickly identify and reject persons who are ineligible to work in the United States. Once employers hire workers, they process their information through the E-Verify database. If the submitted records match, the new employees are eligible to work. If the records do not match, the database notifies the employers, who must then give the worker eight days to provide sufficient proof of eligibility.
The E-Verify system is mandatory for qualified federal contractors, but was previously voluntary for Florida agencies and contractors. During his 2010 campaign for governor, Republican Rick Scott vowed to require all Florida employers to use the free E-Verify system to ensure that their workers are legal. Immediately after being sworn-in as Florida’s 45th governor on January 4, 2011, Gov. Rick Scott moved toward fulfilling this promise by signing Executive Order No. 11-02.
Pursuant to Executive Order No. 11-02, all Florida agencies under the direction of the Governor must now use E-Verify system to check employment eligibility of their current and prospective employees. Executive Order 11-02 further requires the agencies to include in all state contracts a requirement that contractors must also utilize the E-Verify system to verify the employment eligibility of: (a) all persons employed during the contract term by the contractor to perform employment duties within Florida; and (b) all persons, including subcontractors, assigned by the contractor to perform work pursuant to the contract with the state agency.
During his campaign Gov. Scott promised to require all Florida employers to use the E-Verify system to ensure that their workers are legal. Executive Order 11-02, which applies only to the state and state contractors, is a step in that direction. It is unclear whether Gov. Scott still intends, in the face of opposition from the business lobby, to require all Florida employers to use the E-Verify system. In any event, Executive Order No. 11-02 will have an immediate impact on the state government’s operations, and the operations of employers who contract with the Florida.