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What Contractors Should Know About Florida’s New I-9 Law

By Benjamin Briggs & Elliot Haney

If you own a company in Florida, be sure you know the details of a new law that went into effect on January 1, 2021.

You and your HR professionals are likely familiar with the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification required for hiring and onboarding new employees. You may also be familiar with E-Verify, a web-based system that enables employers to confirm new employees’ eligibility to work in the United States. The E-Verify system determines this eligibility by matching the information employees provided on the Form I-9 to information from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

In the past, E-Verify has been a voluntary option for most businesses. But on June 30, 2020, Florida passed a version of a mandatory E-Verify statute, which requires all public employers, including state and local agencies, public colleges and universities, and local school districts, as well as private contractors they do business with, to use E-Verify.

How This Affects the Construction Industry – Private Construction Projects

Effective January 1, all private employers must either utilize E-Verify for all new employees, or maintain copies of all documents required to complete the Form I-9 (driver’s licences, passports, etc.) for at least three years. Under prior Florida law, an employer needed only to review such documents in order to complete the Form I-9. Because of these changes, a private employer may be asked to provide such documentation to government agencies upon request to ensure compliance.

How This Affects the Construction Industry – Public Construction Projects

The new law provides even more stringent requirements for private employers performing work on public construction projects. As of January 1, every public employer, and every private contractor or subcontractor working on public construction projects in Florida must enroll in and utilize the E-Verify system. Merely maintaining Form I-9 documents is insufficient.

Also, every public contract requires an E-Verify certificate. All subcontractors working on public contracts must provide an affidavit stating they do not contract or subcontract with or employ any unauthorized undocumented workers. They are required to provide such an affidavit to their contractors, who must then keep it on file for a project’s duration. Contractors will need to follow this process for all public contracts.

Continued Usage of the I-9 Form

As preferred practice, all private and government employers should continue to complete I-9 forms for new employees. They should also retain the documents for the duration of each worker’s employment, as well as one year after the employee’s termination date or three years after the hire date, whichever is later.

Make sure that you and your team understand the new law and follow its directives. Compliance is the best way to protect your contracts, your employees, and your company.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.