Pennsylvania Passes Legislation Requiring Public Works Contractors to Use E-Verify

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On July 5, 2012 Governor Tom Corbett signed into law the Public Works Employment Verification Act, which will take effect January 1, 2013. “The hiring of illegal workers increases our unemployment rolls, and contractors who do this may be skirting payroll and other taxes,” he said. “I am urging the state Senate and the governor to act swiftly on this legislation to help ensure that Pennsylvania jobs are reserved for Pennsylvania residents.” The law requires public works contractors and subcontractors on construction projects where the estimated cost is at least $25,000 to use E-Verify to determine whether their employees are authorized to work in the United States.

Effective January 1, 2013, contractors and subcontractors performing services under applicable public works contracts must sign an E-Verify usage certification form confirming that they have enrolled in E-Verify and will utilize E-Verify to verify employment eligibility of all new hires. Failure to enroll or utilize the Program as required will result in a written warning posted on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s web site (first offense), 30-day debarment from state public works contracts (second offense), or debarment from state public works contracts for a period of 180 days to one year (third offense). Willful violators will be debarred from state public works contracts for three years.

Penalties range from a warning letter from the Department of General Services for a first violation, to debarment for three years if a court finds willful violation. In addition, contractors and subcontractors face civil penalties of between $250 and $1,000 for each violation.

Fourteen states and the federal government use some form of E-Verify. In Pennsylvania, over 2,000 employers are voluntarily using E-Verify at more than 16,000 work sites.

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