There may be no immigration reform coming up but, new—and potentially costly—demands on employers to ensure that their workforces are legal are coming up.
The New rules describe the obligations of employers when they receive no-match letters from the Social Security Administration or receive a letter regarding employment verification forms from the Department of Homeland Security. The rule also provides “safe harbors” employers can follow to avoid a finding the employer had constructive knowledge that the employee referred to in the letter was an alien not authorized to work in the US. Employers with knowledge that an immigrant worker is unauthorized to accept employment are liable for both civil and criminal penalties.
The clock would start ticking when companies receive a letter from the Social Security Administration indicating that employees’ names or Social Security numbers on tax forms don’t match federal records.
If work authorization or identity can’t be confirmed within about two months, companies would have to fire employees or face steep fines.
Currently, an employer is not compelled to do anything with what are called “no-match” letters. The document states explicitly that no assumption should be made about a person’s legal standing.
Many of our clients are in the Food services and processing, hospitality and construction industries, we expect them to be hit hard by all this. Proper planning will be required on employer’s part from now on.