As the New Year is now upon us many new laws have gone into effect. One which will undoubtedly have an effect on employees and employers in the Deer Valley Area is the new Legal Arizona Workers Act, or as it is more commonly know, the Employer Sanctions Law. For those of you who are curios here are some basics about the new law.
What is the Employer Sanctions law?
The primary purpose of the law is to make it an offense for a business owner in Arizona to “knowingly” or “intentionally” employ an undocumented worker after January 1, 2008.
A second purpose of the law is to require employers to check the legal status of their new hires using E-Verify, a free online federal program that checks names and identification documents to ensure that new employees are eligible to work. Employers are also responsible for insuring that current employees are eligible to work under the law.
The law also increases the punishment for identity theft, a crime frequently associated with illegal workers. It is now aggravated identity theft, which is a felony, to possess the identity information of someone else to seek work or to have such information for three or more people without their consent.
What is the penalty for an Employer violating the law?
The penalty for a violation depends upon whether the employer “knowingly” or “intentionally” violated the law. To “intentionally” violate law the employer must not only knew an employee wasn’t permitted to work in this country but also intend to have an illegal worker on the payroll. Violators who “knowingly” hire an undocumented worker can have their business licenses suspended up to 10 days for a first offense. Violators who “intentionally” hire an undocumented worker must have their licenses suspended for at least 10 days. There is no set maximum for a first offense if the violation was intentional. If there is a second violation the business license will be revoked completely.
Who is not affected by the new law?
The Employer Sanctions law does not apply to “consumers”. Consumers includes individuals who hire someone to complete a service for them. For example if you hire someone to perform yard work or other household type service you would not be responsible for verifying the individual’s eligibility to work.
What is E-Verify and how does it work?
E-Verify is the free program the federal government has set up for businesses to check the eligibility of workers. You can get more information about the program or register through the Web site for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, at www.uscis.gov.
To use the E-Verify system an employer will simply need the same information that the employer is required to gather when hiring a new employee including:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Citizenship status
- Type of documentation provided for I-9 form
- Proof of identity with expiration date
Hopefully this information has given you some insight into the new employer sanctions law. However, this article contains only a basic overview and should not be relied on for legal advice. If you have specific legal questions please consult with an attorney who can handle these matters.