E-Verify for Maintaining a Legal Workforce

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Background checks have been increasingly used by employers to find the most reliable candidates for the right jobs. While at that, with more than 100,000 jobs being added to this year’s workforce according to the December 2010 Employment Situation Report, many employers are also hiring illegal workers in their organization. The government, on the other hand, has been busy increasing penalties on companies that hire undocumented workers and is scrutinizing employment practices within the country. US officials have been on the hunt for such organizations, and once again, background check has proven to play yet another role. E-Verify, a federal program, is gaining in popularity.

For a little bit of history, E-Verify was formerly known as The Basic Pilot Employment Verification System. It was initially created by US government to function as a user-friendly system to identify illegal immigrants working in the country. This is because in the early 2000, there was an estimated number of almost 9 million illegal immigrants in the country. The number only continued to grow, causing increase in government costs in terms of food assistance program, free lunches, Medicaid, federal aids to schools, prison and court systems. So, this system was developed to check the background records of unauthorized people, living and working in the country.

Today, E-Verify is a free, employment screening system that is operated by the U.S. government. It allows employers to electronically verify information provided by their employees. This permits the comparison of data from over 440 million records of the Social Security Administration and 60 million records of the Department of Homeland Security databases, against the Employment Eligibility Verification Form 1-9 of those enrolled. E-Verify enables employers to check the immigration status of newly hired employees, thus safeguarding themselves against hiring illegal immigrants.

The operation of E-Verify is very simple. When an employer enrolls into the E-Verify program, the employees’ Employment Eligibility Verification Form 1-9 is entered into the database. This can be done by the employer or a third party. Then the records of the new employee can be checked electronically.

To make the process even easier, a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent is available to employers who need aid in complying with the new requirement in checking background records. Employers who have chosen to use the assistance of a Designated E-Verify Employer agent have proven to exhibit precision in reports and are virtually free of errors in 1-9 forms. This in turn safeguards the jobs of documented workers and creates a legal workforce.

In the past, employers used to feel burdened by the government’s increasing penalties on employers hiring illegal workers, while imposing strict laws against workplace discrimination. The last year reported a high record of workplace discrimination charges, amidst its 500% increase in worksite enforcement action. Many years ago, employers were expected to hire and keep legal workers without being given any tools to do so. Today, employers can use this free web-based people records system, but not to screen potential candidates for a job. Instead, it is purely for newly hired employees to avoid discriminating practices.

E-Verify is currently compulsory to be utilized by federal contractors and subcontractors in all states.  More than 200,000 employers all over the country have started utilizing E-Verify to verify their employee’s records in more than 700,000 workplaces. Yet, many of these organizations are not keen to screen their existing employees as the current labor force consists of more than 5 million unauthorized workers.

The future seems to point towards E-Verify being used more extensively because the numbers of undocumented workers are only continuing to rise. Besides, the future trend of employment eligibility verification is definitely electronic in nature, and more and more states have legislations pending to make the use of E-Verify compulsory to all employers.

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