According to a recent article in the Beaufort Gazette, many employers in South Carolina are struggling to comply with the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act, finding the requirements both time-consuming and costly. Under the current law, all South Carolina employers with 100 employees or more must either participate in E-Verify or only hire employees who possess or qualify for a South Carolina driver’s license (or other state license with similarly strict requirements). The law will expand to include all employers in July 2010.
The Costs: A restaurant owner estimates he’ll need an office worker to devote three hours per week overseeing the E-Verify issue, which could cost him $5,000 to $6,000 per year. He recently spent $500 training a new employee on the law, only to see that person leave.
The Confusion: state law and federal guidelines don’t always mix well. In this case, the state law says that employers can either use E-Verify OR demand that new hires possess a South Carolina (or similarly strict) driver’s license. The problem is that many employers think they can go back and forth between these methods, whereas the E-Verify MOU dictates that once you start using E-Verify at a particular site, you must use it for all new hires at that site. There are also differing time deadlines: the state law gives employers 5 days, whereas E-Verify requires verification to be initiated within 3 days.
The Consequences: according to the article, state auditors have been visiting employers in South Carolina unannounced and asking for documents that are not covered under the law. This practice is compounded by certain local ordinances which allow county officials to conduct random I-9 audits and impose significant penalties including the loss of an employer’s business license.