Although many human resources professionals report that they are experiencing challenges with both the mandatory electronic verification system and the Form I-9 employment verification process used to assess the employment eligibility of individuals seeking to work in the U.S., employers continue to express strong support for the “E-Verify” system, according to the findings of a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in collaboration with the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI).

The survey, which was conducted between October 11 and November 18, 2016, polled 453 HR professionals from a randomly selected sample of SHRM’s membership. According to researchers, the current employment verification process, the Form I-9, uses paper documentation to verify the employment eligibility of people seeking work in the U.S., and is mandatory for all employers; whereas the E-Verify system relies on Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases to confirm that individuals are authorized to work in the U.S. They further noted that the use of E-Verify is mandatory for Federal contractors and subcontractors, and that 21 states and localities require the use of E-Verify for some or all employers.

The survey found that of the HR professionals polled, 83% said they would support a mandatory electronic verification system in general. However, the findings also indicated that the respondents’ levels of support would be even higher if such an electronic verification system helped employers avoid allegations of employment-based discrimination (95%), included a strong safe harbor to protect employers (95%), authenticated identity (94%), and eliminated the need for Form I-9 (89%).

The respondents reported experiencing a number of challenges when using the Form 1-9 verification process, including having to maintain records when keeping track of documents with an expiration date (37%). But the poll results also revealed that the respondents had encountered problems when using the current E-Verify system. Among the most frequently reported challenges were that the E-Verify system does not replace Form I-9 (25%), and that it has an unclear process for resolving issues when a worker’s eligibility for employment in the U.S. is not confirmed (22%).

Researchers emphasized, however, that the survey results point to opportunities for improving participation in E-Verify: of the respondents who said they do not participate in E-Verify, 37% reported that their reason for not participating is that use of the system does not eliminate the requirement to complete Form I-9. Researchers also pointed out that these survey results are timely, as the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal includes funding to support the mandatory use of E-Verify.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 60, Issue 5

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