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What Florida’s New E-Verify Law Means for Compliance

E-Verify lets businesses electronically confirm their employees’ eligibility to work. On July 1, Florida joins 20 other states where using E-Verify isn’t just encouraged — it’s the law.

Introduced in 1996, E-Verify checks a digitally completed Form I-9 against records from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Florida’s E-Verify law isn’t the first of its kind. And it probably won’t be the last. As employment compliance evolves, even unaffected businesses should consider how a similar requirement in the future could impact their operations.

Let’s dive deeper into:

  • how Florida’s new law works

  • what businesses in the state should consider

  • why a truly an HRO model is key to overcoming this compliance challenge and others.

What does the E-Verify law mean for Florida businesses?

Effective July 1, Florida Senate Bill 1718 requires businesses with more than 25 employees to use E-Verify as a part of every new hire’s onboarding process.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 10. While it’s the state’s most recent E-Verify legislation, it’s far from the first. Since Jan. 1, 2021, businesses have had the choice to either share their employees’ I-9s with the state or prove they use E-Verify. Employers working for the state, however, must use it.

Florida’s E-Verify law — and those like it in other states — has two goals:

  • eliminate undocumented labor in the state’s workforce

  • raise the consequences for employers that knowingly hire undocumented workers

This law also gives businesses that comply written confirmation their new hires are authorized to work in the U.S. And businesses with this confirmation may not be liable for noncompliance if an individual is later proven ineligible to work. In other words, employers may not be penalized if an employee’s I-9 information was fraudulent and not initially caught by DHS.

The law doesn’t replace I-9 verification. While DHS and the SSA cross-reference I-9 data to confirm employment eligibility, using E-Verify isn’t a substitute for I-9 verification. All U.S. businesses must still retain their employees’ I-9s and make them available for federal audits.

How does Florida’s E-Verify law work?

The law requires any employee whose I-9 doesn’t match DHS and SSA’s information to prove their eligibility within 10 days of when their employer received the notice. If an employee fails to prove their eligibility within the allotted time, the businesses must end the individual’s employment or risk facing fines and other penalties.

The four steps summarize what would generally happen if DHS were unable to confirm a worker’s employment eligibility through E-Verify under this law:

  1. the business will receive a “tentative nonconfirmation” notice

  2. the business must immediately notify the affected employee

  3. the employee will have 10 days from the date their employer received notice to prove their employment eligibility

  4. if the employee can’t prove their eligibility within the allotted time, the business must end their employment

Again, the law applies to Florida businesses with 25 or more employees. Additionally, it only applies to workers hired on or after July 1. Employers won’t have to do anything for new hires brought on before this effective date, but it doesn’t forgo preexisting I-9 compliance.

While smaller businesses aren’t required to use E-Verify, the law can still benefit them. It states employers voluntarily and correctly using the service will be presumed to not knowingly hire undocumented labor.

The law also requires businesses to keep individual employment records for at least three years. It’s worth noting the current federal requirement is just as stringent (if not more so). I-9s must be retained either for:

  • three years after an employee is hired if they’ve worked at the company for less than two years

  • one year after an employee leaves if they worked at the company for more than two years

Florida employers will need to perform an annual certification to prove they’re using E-Verify correctly. Additionally, if E-Verify is down, businesses can still benefit from reduced liability if they show evidence of their attempts to use the service for each day it wasn’t functioning — like with a screenshot of the error message.

What are the fines and penalties for not complying with Florida’s E-Verify law?

Employers that don’t comply will face steep fines, but not immediately.

The law’s fines won’t apply until July 1, 2024, giving Florida businesses a year to prepare for the requirement. After the fines go into effect, employers will have 30 days to rectify their noncompliance.

Employers that don’t comply with the E-Verify law three times within 24 months must pay a $1,000-per-day fine until the issue is rectified. Businesses that violate the law four times in the same two-year period could have their operating licenses suspended or revoked for different lengths of time, depending on their size:

  • 30 days for 10 or fewer unauthorized workers

  • 60 days for 11 to 50 unauthorized workers

  • permanently for 50 or more unauthorized workers

How does a truly integrated HRO employment model help businesses comply with Florida’s E-Verify law?

E-Verify facilitates employers in swiftly confirming the work eligibility of their employees, yet they must still compile and submit the necessary I-9 data. This process can become burdensome and susceptible to errors, particularly due to the intricacies of legal documentation and the potential for human oversight when manually inputting data.

Opting for an HRO FullScope employment model means your account is overseen by a dedicated team that includes an HR Executive and a Labor and Employment Attorney. This team delivers a holistic strategy for managing your HR compliance and legal obligations.

You gain peace of mind, remain abreast of employment regulations, and access true expertise to handle the administrative tasks that protect your business.

Proactive compliance through an HRO model lessens the risk of:

  • Hefty fines

  • Random audits

  • Legal penalties, including prison sentences

  • Loss of assets

  • Cancellation of business licenses

Moreover, you will save time and resources. Finding opportunities to expand your business is essential, not a luxury. Your time is invaluable, and dealing with payroll, benefits, and compliance issues can detract from activities that drive growth. Allow an HRO model to empower your business growth, providing cutting-edge HR processes and on-demand expertise whenever you need it.

The result? Your business operates with greater efficiency and confidence, ensuring compliance with legal requirements while freeing up resources to focus on strategic growth.

Discover how HRO FullScope can streamline compliance and facilitate every aspect of the employee lifecycle.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.

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