Last week, legislation to reform the federal government’s employment verification program cleared its first congressional hurdle.
As reported in the last HR Issues Update newsletter, the House Judiciary Committee was considering H.R. 2885, the “Legal Workforce Act,” which would phase out the paper-based Form I-9 and replace it with a modernized E-Verify system. On Sept. 21, the committee’s Republican majority approved the legislation on a party-line vote. Two other committees in the House are also considering the bill.
SHRM has supported H.R. 2885 because it strikes an appropriate balance between a mandatory, federal system and the employer’s role in the employment verification process. The bill would:
- Preempt conflicting state employment verification laws
- Indemnify employers from liability when using the E-Verify system
- Create an entirely electronic employment verification system, which would eliminate the Form I-9
- Require that only new hires be run through the E-Verify system, with some exceptions
- Establish a voluntary biometric pilot program, where an employee could "lock" their identity with a biometric marker.
SHRM has long advocated for these provisions and believes that the Legal Workforce Act will give HR professionals the tools they need to keep illegal workers off their payrolls and to hire legal workers quickly, fairly and with confidence.
Pending consideration by the other two House committees, the Legal Workforce Act is likely to go before the full House later this year.