Musings on Immigration
As a business owner, one of your most important jobs is having the “right” person on board, in each of the specialty occupations in your business. Whether it’s an office manager, billing coordinator, office or factory workers, or even landscaper, each position is integral to running an effective operation. It is also common knowledge, particularly in large cities, that getting the “right” staff can be almost impossible, given the dearth of applicants for many of these jobs. Obviously, employers also want to ensure that all employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. Starting July 1, 2013, the Georgia legislature wanted to ensure that all new hires for Georgia’s restaurant are, in fact, legally allowed to work.
Under current Georgia law (effective July 1, 2013) all Georgia employers with more than 10 employees on January 1, are required to enroll in the federal E-Verify program. This new law will supposedly be enforced by requiring the E-verify registration information be provided as part of the business license renewal process for 2014 business licenses. Nonetheless, it is quite clear that only a relatively small percentage of Georgia employers have enrolled in E-Verify.
As of 2008, the Small Business Administration estimates that there were more than 179,000 employers in Georgia. While that number may have shrunk since then because of the recession, no where near that many companies have signed up for E-Verify. As of September 17, 2013, only 28,081 Georgia employers had enrolled in E-Verify, which is less 20% of Georgia's employers. Although there is no current way to see how many of Georgia’s 179,000 employers have more than 10 employees, there is certainly more than 28,081 of them. Simply put, non-compliance is rampant under this new law.
What Georgia’s E-Verify requirement means for compliant employers is that they remain at a competitive disadvantage against those employers who do not have to comply, or who refuse to comply with this requirement (which is not the purpose of the law). It also means that people who might be working in the without an E-Verify check will find it hard to obtain new work from an employer who has complied with the law (which is the purpose of the law). None of these facts make us conclude that E-Verify is bad, but it is obvious Georgia’s E-Verify law is a badly thought out idea, with difficult consequences for employers who actually comply with the law.
Georgia intends to enforce the E-Verify requirement by requiring employers to sign an affidavit on E-Verify enrollment requirements when obtaining a renewal of the business or occupational tax license. Above all else, remember that E-Verify is only to be used to verify NEW employees. It cannot be used to check the documents or status of current employees, as of the date of enrollment If you are unsure of whether you are required to comply with Georgia’s new E-Verify rules, or how to use the E-Verify system, call us today and see what options, if any, are available to you. E-Verify is now the law in Georgia. It is a best practice to ensure that your business is compliant with this new Georgia Law.