- The Human Resource Initiative for a Legal Workforce today applauded the introduction of legislation viewed as critical to strengthening the nation's broken employment verification system and to helping prevent unauthorized employment, a key component of any meaningful immigration reform effort.
Known as the New Employee Verification Act (NEVA),
the legislation (H.R. 2028) would replace the growing patchwork of conflicting state and city laws with a superior, user-friendly electronic employment verification system.
"America’s employment verification process is in desperate need of repair, and now is the time for Congress to create an employment verification system that works,” said Laurence O’Neil, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. "Today’s legislation would create a better system to help ensure a fair, efficient and secure verification system that could eliminate virtually all unauthorized employment.”
NEVA would introduce a new paperless Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS), requiring employers to confirm eligibility by entering employee identification data through their state's "new hire" reporting program - an electronic portal they already use to enhance child support enforcement. The new program would be entirely electronic, eliminating paperwork and streamlining verification processes. Work authorization for citizens would be conducted through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and for non-citizens through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The bill also bolsters enforcement through enhanced employer penalties and by sharing with DHS information on employers with significant employee name/Social Security number mismatches.
“The federal government’s E-Verify system was not set up to handle a massive influx of users,” said John Engler, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “E-Verify’s significant error rate and reliance on paper-based identity documents often deny legal workers employment and can lead to fraud. Employers, in turn, are left vulnerable to sanctions through no fault of their own.”
As an added level of security, the legislation would also create a voluntary Secure Electronic Employment Verification System (SEEVS) that employers may choose to use in the verification process. This system would include a standard background check and the collection of a "biometric" characteristic - such as a thumbprint - to secure an employee's identity and prevent future fraudulent use of a Social Security number for the purposes of illegal employment.
"Document fraud and identity theft are increasingly common tactics used to circumvent the immigration laws,” said Lynn Shotwell, Executive Director of the American Council on International Personnel. “A Secure Electronic Employment Verification System will make it much more difficult to beat the system and will offer U.S. workers the ability to prevent their Social Security numbers from being misused by others.”
To ensure privacy and system accuracy, the legislation requires direct consultation with a panel of public/private sector experts in designing the system, and also by requiring annual reporting on system performance by participating federal agencies and the Government Accountability Office.
"Employers want to be sure that they know who their employees are and that they are working legally," said Daniel V. Yager, Chief Policy Officer & General Counsel of the HR Policy Association. "The current system gives companies no such assurances while exposing well-intended employers to potential paperwork and other inadvertent violations. Meanwhile, the states are now adding to this burden even though immigration is clearly a federal concern. This bill gives the government and employers the tools to build a better system."
The HR Initiative for a Legal Workforce includes the following organizations:
• American Council on International Personnel
• Food Marketing Institute
• HR Policy Association
• National Association of Manufacturers
• National Franchisee Association
• Society for Human Resource Management
For a bill summary, visit www.legal-workforce.