Understanding FL 1718: Florida’s Comprehensive Legislation on Employment Verification

On May 9, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 1718 (FL 1718), marking a significant change in the state’s approach towards employment verification. FL 1718 presents a broad initiative aimed at reducing the ability of undocumented individuals to live and work in Florida by requiring the use of E-Verify by most employers in the state.

FL 1718 is a sweeping piece of legislation that seeks to strengthen Florida’s employment laws beyond the existing federal mandates. It signifies an increased effort to ensure that only individuals who are authorized to work in the United States are employed in the state. Violation of this state law, such as knowingly employing, hiring, recruiting, or referring an unauthorized foreign national, can lead to serious repercussions, including the complete revocation of an employer’s state business license.

The law introduces stringent criminal penalties for those who utilize fraudulent identification to secure employment. If an unauthorized individual uses a false ID or another person’s identification documents for the purpose of obtaining a job, they face a hefty $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Furthermore, the law expressly forbids employers from continuing to employ an undocumented worker after gaining knowledge of their unauthorized status. Employers are now obligated to verify each new employee’s eligibility to work within three business days after their first day on the job, effective from July 1, 2023.

Notably, FL 1718 requires that private employers with 25 or more employees use E-Verify for all new hires, and keep a record of the relevant documentation and official verification for a minimum of three years. This usage of E-Verify must also be certified on unemployment compensation or reemployment assistance system returns, a requirement that extends to public agencies as well.

To enforce this law, FL 1718 authorizes state law enforcement agencies to request documentation from employers used for employment verification purposes. Beginning July 1, 2024, these agencies are allowed to conduct random audits of businesses to ensure compliance with employment verification obligations. If an employer is found non-compliant, they will have 30 days to rectify the issue.

The penalties for non-compliance are substantial. Employers found to have failed to use E-Verify three times in a 24-month period will be fined $1,000 per day until they provide proof of compliance. Repeated non-compliance can also lead to the suspension of all state business licenses until the employer cures their non-compliance.

FL 1718 goes further by stipulating that public agencies may not contract with private entities unless all involved parties, including subcontractors, register with E-Verify. Contracts may be terminated by a public agency if there’s a good faith belief that the contracting entity has knowingly violated the unauthorized employment provisions of the statute, without it constituting a breach of contract.

In summary, FL 1718 marks a significant tightening of employment verification procedures and penalties in Florida. With its enforcement, employers, especially those with more than 25 employees, are encouraged to review their existing processes and make the necessary adjustments to ensure they are in full compliance with this new legislation.

If you or your family members have any questions about how immigration and nationality laws in the United States may affect you, or if you want to access additional information about immigration and nationality laws in the United States or Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact the immigration and nationality lawyers at NPZ Law Group. You can reach us by emailing info@visaserve.com or by calling us at 201-670-0006 extension 104. We also invite you to visit our website at www.visaserve.com for more information.