Undocumented workers: Protect your bottom line

The prevalence of undocumented workers increases in the spring and summer, when work picks up in the landscaping, construction, and other similar industries.

But hiring undocumented workers can subject any company to fines and penalties from the Immigration and Naturalization Service – even if they unknowingly hire them. Additionally, most states require workers' compensation benefits be extended to all employees whether or not they have proper documentation. However, if an injured employee is undocumented, they will not be allowed to return to work. This leaves a gap in employee resources, and the company runs the risk of having increased workers' compensation rates.

E-Verify: Free resource to help

To help employers determine the citizenship of their workers, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Social Security Administration (SSA) formed a Web-based system called E-Verify, which verifies Social Security numbers.

Employers must register to use E-Verify, and can obtain results in seconds. In return for verified results, employers must follow certain requirements highlighted on the website, such as:

• Employers must post a notice at work informing employees that they use E-Verify.
• E-Verify must be used for new hires only. It cannot be used to verify employment eligibility of current employees.
• E-Verify must be used for all new hires regardless of national origin or citizenship status. It may not be used selectively.

Visit the Department of Homeland Securities website to register for E-Verify.