Many of our clients have questions about E-Verify, the online system provided by the federal government for checking a new hire’s eligibility to work in the US. Here are the most common questions we receive about this very valuable, free online service.
What is E-Verify?
We’re all probably familiar with I-9 forms, which each new hire completes on the first day of work. The I-9 is required by law, but the process relies on a company representative to verify documents from the new hire in order to confirm that he or she is able to work in the US.
E-Verify goes a step further. It allows employers to instantly check the new hire’s information against federal government (Homeland Security and Social Security) databases, providing greater assurance as to whether they are able to work in the United States.
How can it help me?
According to E-Verify.gov, “E-Verify gives you, the employer, peace of mind that your employees are legally authorized to work in the United States…E-Verify complements Form I-9 by taking employment verification to the next level.”
How can E-Verify impact workers’ comp claims?
In Washington state, E-Verify is an especially important tool because of the risk of workers’ compensation claims being filed by employees who are not authorized to work here. An L&I claim cannot be closed simply because employment status changed or that employee has permanently moved out of the country. Your best defense is to avoid hiring unauthorized workers in the first place. You can reduce your company’s liability and chance of having an expensive workers’ comp claim by using E-Verify on the first day of employment for every new hire.
Is it mandatory that a company E-Verify?
Unlike I-9 forms, which are mandatory, E-Verify is voluntary for most employers. However, we highly recommend using it whenever hiring for positions in Washington state.
Is there a fine if companies do not E-Verify?
No, because E-Verify is still voluntary for most employers, there’s no fine for not using it. But remember:
- I-9 forms are still required and fines for I-9 violations can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Violations include simply not being able to produce an I-9 when asked during an inspection.
- If you decide to use E-Verify, you need to use it consistently for every new hire. Picking and choosing employees to E-Verify could expose your company to lawsuits.
How do you use E-Verify?
Complete instructions for registering your company are available at E-Verify.gov/employers. You need to designate one person to be your company administrator and can also select additional employees to have their own accounts on the system.
Does Approach recommend E-Verify?
Absolutely! The benefits of E-Verify cannot be stressed enough if used in a consistent manner. It allows responsible employers to screen all new hires to ensure their workforce is legal and potentially mitigate undocumented claim costs.
Remember, employers who choose to participate in the use of E-Verify should treat all employees equally when hiring, terminating and verifying employment eligibility and employers must E-Verify new employees on the first day.