The governor of Florida recently signed Florida Senate Bill 1718 into law. The bill includes Florida’s new E-Verify law. Under the new law, private employers must use the federal government’s E-Verify system to confirm each new employee’s eligibility for employment within three business days after the new employee starts work. The above requirement applies to all private employers with 25 or more employees, including construction contractors and subcontractors.
There are stiff penalties for companies that do not comply with the new law. The penalties include a $1,000 per day fine until the employer proves the noncompliance is cured. But the fine only applies where it is found the employer failed to use E-Verify three times in any 24-month period.
Another penalty is particularly relevant to contractors and subcontractors—if a contractor or subcontractor is found to have violated the Florida E-Verify law, the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation may suspend any licenses the Department issued to a contractor or subcontractor.
Special Requirements for Florida Public Agency Projects
Contractors and subcontractors working on Florida public agency projects face additional obligations under the Florida E-Verify law. Those obligations apply to projects with any Florida “public agency.” That term is broadly defined and includes every public entity you could possibly imagine, including state agencies, boards, districts, cities, counties, “or any other separate unit of government created or established pursuant to law[.]”
Here is an overview of the special requirements for Florida public agency projects:
- Subcontractor affidavit: Prime contractors working on Florida public agency projects must get an affidavit from each of its subcontractors. The affidavit must state that the subcontractor does not “employ, contract with, or subcontract with an unauthorized alien.” Read literally, this means that a subcontractor on a Florida public project may not employ an unauthorized alien, even if that person does not work on the Florida public project in question.
- Applies to temporary construction staffing companies: The Florida E-Verify law defines a subcontractor as “a person or an entity that provides labor, supplies, or services to or for a contractor or another subcontractor in exchange for salary, wages, or other remuneration.” Under that definition, a company that provides temporary labor for a construction project (i.e., a temporary construction staffing company) cannot employ any unauthorized aliens if that company wants to work on any Florida public projects.
- Mandatory termination of contracts with companies employing unauthorized aliens: If a Florida public owner, contractor, or subcontractor has a “good faith belief” that an entity with which it is contracting has knowingly employed an ineligible employee, they must terminate the contract with that entity. This could lead to situations where a project is awarded to a contractor or subcontractor, the relevant agreement has to be terminated, and the project or scope of work in question ends up costing much more than estimated.
The full impact of the Florida E-Verify law is unknown, but it’s safe to say it is likely to result in significant changes to the way contractors and subcontractors do business on Florida public projects. Failure to adhere to the law can have significant consequences for both Florida public owners and contractors alike.
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